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EPA looks to clarify regulatory waterways

Updated: Tuesday, May 20 2014, 08:20 AM EDT

BY: Adam Del Rosso


Hancock County farmers are learning about some proposed changes the federal Environmental Protection Agency is looking to make and some are not happy about the news.


A meeting was held Monday night in New Manchester to go over the proposed new rule.


Officials with the EPA say the whole point of the rule is to clarify what waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act; however, some farmers see it differently.


"This is a radical shift from the original intent of the Clean Water Act and it greatly expands the jurisdiction of the EPA," says Joan Harman with the West Virginia Farm Bureau.


Right now, the act focuses on navigable water sources like rivers. This change would add creeks and streams to the list, even if they only exist temporarily after periods of rain.


In a press release, EPA Director Gina McCarthy says, "We are clarifying protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities. Clean water is essential to every single American, from families who rely on safe places to swim and healthy fish to eat, to farmers who need abundant and reliable sources of water to grow their crops."


Some farmers say it'll just make their job more difficult and more expensive.


"You're going to have restrictions in applying pesticides or fertilizers or digging, or if you want to create a pond or if you need to create a road, anything that might impede the flow of water," Harman said. "It's just a federal power grab in our view and there is no benefit to the water, to farmers, or other industries by doing this."


To look over the proposed changes the EPA wants to make in more detail, follow this link: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm


To submit a public comment (accepted until July 21), follow this link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880-0001

EPA looks to clarify regulatory waterways

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