Topeka Most farm ponds in Kansans aren't subject to regulation under federal law, Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall says.
Stovall has issued a legal opinion on one of the most contentious issues of new water quality standards proposed for Kansas by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA proposed its tougher standards in July after settling a lawsuit filed by two Kansas environmental groups, the state chapter of the Sierra Club and the Kansas Natural Resource Council.
Those standards would require the state to regulate lakes and ponds on private land. Many state officials and agriculture groups criticized the standards as applying standards to farm ponds used to water livestock.
However, Stovall said nearly all farm ponds don't fall under the Clean Water Act because they are man-made. She said the federal law applies only to natural lakes and ponds.
She issued her opinion at the request of Clyde Graeber, secretary of health and environment. The opinion doesn't have the force of law.
After the EPA published its proposed standard for Kansas in July, the Kansas Farm Bureau, the Kansas Livestock Assn. and other agriculture groups immediately objected because the rules would apply to farm ponds.
During an Aug. 30 meeting with lawmakers, Geoffrey Grubbs, director of the EPA's Office of Science and Technology, said the ponds were included in the proposed rules because of a 1987 opinion written by former Atty. Gen. Bob Stephan.
Stephan's opinion said a state law that exempted them from the Clean Water Act was inconsistent with the federal law.
At the same meeting, Dennis Grams, administrator of the EPA's regional office in Kansas City, said that farm ponds could be exempt from regulation if Stovall issued a new opinion saying the state law wasn't inconsistent with the federal law.
Stovall did exactly that.