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Clean Water Proposal Aims to Help Farmers

By Ken Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency
When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, it didnt just defend the mighty Mississippi
or the Great Lakes; it also protected smaller streams and wetlands from pollution. The law
recognized that to have healthy communities downstream, we need healthy headwaters upstream.
EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took targeted action in March to protect the clean
water vital to our health and our economy. Science clearly shows us what kinds of streams and
wetlands impact water downstream so our proposal protects those waters.
Theres been some confusion about EPA and the Army Corps proposal, especially in the
agriculture community. We want to make sure you know the facts.
The agencies intent is to protect clean water without getting in the way of farming and ranching.
Normal farming and ranchingincluding planting, harvesting, and moving livestockhave
always been exempt from Clean Water Act regulation, and our proposal doesnt change that. We
worked with USDAs Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Army Corps of Engineers
to exempt 56 conservation practices familiar to many farmers, such as range planting and
wetland restoration, who know their benefits to business, the land, and water resources.

Despite the myths were hearing from some critics, the Clean Water Act only deals with the
pollution and destruction of waterwaysnot land use. Nor does this proposal affect private
property rights. Also, the proposal does not regulate new types of ditches, does not apply to
groundwater, and does not change the exemption for stock ponds.

With the western U.S. in historic drought and after seeing how water pollution can threaten
communities like Toledo, Ohio and Charleston, West Virginia the proposal is more important
than ever. Paul Schwartz, a farmer from Hotchkiss, Colorado, agrees. [EPAs proposal] will
provide needed clarity and help address very real water challenges, he said.

EPA is not interested in a final rule that will make farming more difficult. The agencys job is to
protect our natural resources so farmers can keep doing what they do bestfarming.

We understand that people have legitimate questions and concerns about the proposal, and we
are committed to listening to Americas farmers and ranchers. But we can all agree that
protecting the long-term health of our nations waters is essential. The public comment period
for the proposal is open until October 20, and your input will make sure we get to a strong,
achievable final rule.
More information is at: http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters