Apr 28, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Navigable Waters Protection Rule was published in the Federal Register by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army on April 21. The publication of this final rule formally replaces the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and is the final result of Trump Administration efforts to re-define and contain the reach of the Clean Water Act of 1972.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule divides U.S. waters into four categories and also identifies those waters not subject to federal control, labeling them as “jurisdictional” and “non-jurisdictional.”
Of major interest to rice farmers, prior converted cropland and the treatment of ditches are considered “non-jurisdictional” hence not included in the definition of WOTUS and not subject to federal jurisdiction.
“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule gives the U.S. rice industry a definite advantage when it comes to water management on our farms,” said David Petter, an Arkansas rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Committee. “We have an unparalleled record of sustainable farming practices and the clarification provided by the new rule will allow us to continue those successful conservation practices.”
Barring court challenges or Congressional action, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule will go into effect on June 22, 2020.