WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2014— The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its proposal to re-define "Waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

NACD submitted comments today on the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) proposal, noting that it would substantially expand CWA jurisdiction. The rule would grant EPA broad authority to regulate wetlands and other water bodies remote from traditionally navigable waters, NACD said. 

"We support the mutual goal of clean water and acknowledge the successes of the Clean Water Act throughout its 40 year existence," said NACD President Earl Garber. "While we appreciate the opportunity to provide our input on the proposed rule, we are asking the EPA and Army Corps to take additional time to obtain local input for any rule making. To that end, we are requesting that the current version of the rule be withdrawn."

NACD noted that EPA and USACE have estimated the rule would result in a three-percent increase in CWA jurisdiction.

“The amount of expansion is difficult to predict with any meaningful precision; however, if the rule were to encompass all adjacent waters and most isolated wetlands and ditches, NACD estimates it would be significantly greater than three-percent,” the organization said. “Regardless, even a three-percent increase in jurisdictional areas would be significant, considering the total number of acres affected and the associated potential economic impacts”

The conservation group concluded that an expansion of CWA jurisdiction would take away from the current voluntary approach to conservation and that the government should not make a final ruling until EPA and USACE “have vetted and approved clear provisions that are predictable when applied on the local level.”

In its comments, NACD also requested additional clarification on the following definitions: tributaries, adjacency, other waters, and significant nexus.

"It is our philosophy that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," said Garber. "Less-costly preventative measures are being implemented on the ground every day due to voluntary and incentive-based conservation practices."

NACD's full comments can be found here.

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