Clean Water Act has a new twist for farms

The ditches and streams on your farmland will fall under new standards if regulations become the law of the land.

Under proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rules, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) will be given an expanded view of the waters regulated by the Clean Water Act. This expanded view is seen by some as a major change and by others as a minor tweaking of the wording. On June 20, EPA staff from the Wetland Division and the Office of Water facilitated a webcast presentation, which provided updated information on the proposed changes and their implications for agriculture.

The intention of this webcast was to educate the public on the contents of the proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule. The webcast was hosted by The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center and has been archived so it can be viewed in order to allow the public to comment on or before July 21, 2014. To help with the many questions and concerns amongst the agriculture community, the presenters are asking for your comments. You can comment on the proposed rule through the EPA website on or before July 21, 2014.

Because of the scope of this topic, this is a presentation that every farm should take the time to view. It is clear that under these expanded rules, the Clean Water Act will reach nearly every creek, stream and ditch across America. How the EPA proceeds with the enforcement will determine how much of an impact you will see on your individual farm. Take the time to learn more and be sure to provide your comments before the July 21 deadline. This issue along with other information related to farm management can be found on the Michigan State University Extension FIRM web page.