We worked very hard to not only make sure the proposed rule doesn’t have a negative impact on agriculture, but that it actually benefits those involved in farming, ranching, and forestry.
For the past three years, EPA and the Army Corps have listened to important input from the agriculture community. Using the input from those discussions, the agencies then worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that concerns raised by farmers and the agricultural industry were addressed.
All agricultural exemptions and exclusions from Clean Water Act requirements that have been developed over 40 years have been retained or expanded.
Through coordination with USDA, EPA and the Army Corps have ensured that 56 conservation practices that protect or improve water quality will not be subject to Clean Water Act dredged or fill permitting requirements. This is being done through an interpretive rule that was published at the same time as the proposed rule and will go into effect immediately. Here are a few examples.
To qualify for this exemption, the activities must be part of an established farming, forestry, or ranching operation, consistent with the statute and regulations and be implemented in conformance with Natural Resource Conservation Service technical standards.
Farmers and producers will not need a determination of whether the activities are in “waters of the United States” to qualify for this exemption nor will they need site-specific pre-approval from either the Corps or the EPA before implementing these specified agricultural conservation practices to qualify for the exemption. The farmer will engage with NRCS to undertake these practices, not EPA or the Army Corps.
Through a memorandum of understanding, EPA, the Army Corps, and USDA have set up a process for working together to implement these new exemptions and for periodically identifying, reviewing, and updating NRCS conservation practice standards and activities that would qualify under the exemption.
Input has played an important role in shaping the proposal.
EPA and the Army Corps consulted extensively with stakeholders for the past several years.
The agencies also carefully considered about 415,000 comments received since the Supreme Court decisions.
Stoner 915 am tuesday
Waters of the U.S.
Waters of the U.S. Proposed Rule
Clean Water Act
for streams and wetlands
Provides More Benefits to Public Than Costs
Mitigating impacts to streams &
wetlands from dredged or fill material
Taking steps to reduce pollution to
Providing wildlife habitat
Supporting hunting & fishing
What the Rule Does NOTDo
Does NOT protect any new types of waters
Does NOT broaden coverage of the Clean Water Act
Does NOT regulate groundwater
Does NOT expand regulation of ditches
Does NOT remove any exemption currently in the statute or regulations
Input from agriculture community
shaped the proposal
All Exemptions and Exclusions Preserved
• Normal farming, silviculture, and ranching
• Upland soil and water conservation
• Agricultural stormwater discharges.
• Return flows from irrigated agriculture.
• Construction/maintenance of farm or stock
ponds or irrigation ditches on dry land.
• Maintenance of drainage ditches.
• Construction or maintenance of farm,
forest, and temporary mining roads.
• Artificially irrigated areas that would revert
to upland if irrigation stops.
• Artificial lakes or ponds created by
excavating and/or diking dry land and used
for purposes such purposes as rice
growing, stock watering or irrigation.
• Artificial ornamental waters created for
primarily aesthetic reasons.
• Water-filled depressions created as a result
of construction activity.
• Pits excavated in upland for fill, sand, or
• Prior converted cropland.
• Waste treatment systems (including
treatment ponds or lagoons).
56conservation practices exempt
from dredged or fill permitting
Riparian forest buffer
Wildlife habitat restoration
Permit not needed for the specific NRCS practices
Public input was considered
4+years of dialogue