Letters to the Editor

Letter: EPA target

June 16, 2014


To the editor:

The Douglas County Farm Bureau thinks Kansans should know the Environmental Protection Agency wants to use the Clean Water Act to dictate how landowners use their land.

The EPA’s proposal says farm ditches, flood control levees or golf course ponds could be under its power. It even includes low spots that only hold water after it rains.

Home builders, developers, country clubs and farmers would have to get a permit before working around these “waters” even for just a few days out of the year. If they don’t, they could be fined more than $37,000 per day for simple tasks like putting up a fence, spraying for weeds, moving dirt or grazing cattle. Fines like that would drive any small company — the backbone of our Kansas economy — out of business.

Cities and counties would have to change their watershed and storm water management plans. They’d have to get permits to treat wastewater and might have to get additional pesticide permits. The costs of those permits and requirements would be passed on to taxpayers.

For more information, or to express your opinion on this matter, go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the directions for submitting comments. You may also email ow-docket@epa.gov with any questions.


Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm very concerned about the issues that are presented in this letter, but I'm struggling a bit on how exactly those issues are in reality going to occur. For instance, I pulled up the proposed regulations and in each section, there seems to be a pretty explicit exemption for the kinds of private lands and wastewater systems that this letter is concerned about:

"(b) The following are not “waters of the United States” notwithstanding whether they meet the terms of paragraphs (a)(1) through (7) of this section -- (1) Waste treatment systems, including treatment ponds or lagoons, designed to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act. (2) Prior converted cropland. Notwithstanding the determination of an area’s status as prior converted cropland by any other federal agency, for the purposes of the Clean Water Act the final authority regarding Clean Water Act jurisdiction remains with EPA. (3) Ditches that are excavated wholly in uplands, drain only uplands, and have less than perennial flow. (4) Ditches that do not contribute flow, either directly or through another water, to a water identified in paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section. (5) The following features: (i) Artificially irrigated areas that would revert to upland should application of irrigation water to that area cease; (ii) artificial lakes or ponds created by excavating and/or diking dry land and used exclusively for such purposes as stock watering, irrigation, settling basins, or rice growing; (iii) artificial reflecting pools or swimming pools created by excavating and/or diking dry land; (iv) small ornamental waters created by excavating and/or diking dry land for primarily aesthetic reasons; (v) water-filled depressions created incidental to construction activity; (vi) groundwater, including groundwater drained through subsurface drainage systems; and (vii) gullies and rills and non-wetland swales."

So please, Farm Bureau, provide me with some resources that shows that this language does not directly address your concerns by explicitly exempting these lands.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 10 months ago

wow you just disproved everything he claimed in one simple paragraph

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 10 months ago

You are right Amy, and I am so glad that he did put that on here as not very many would take the time to look it up. I am now so aware of the need to research things to find the truth and thank God for the Internet that we can do that and I do feel blessed that I have the Internet at home.

Thank you, Ken.

Mike Ford 3 years, 10 months ago

that's easy to do with fact deficient pro-business Kansas GOP people. Of course, Kansas acts as if the EPA and the CWA doesn't matter anyway with the SLT and the Topeka Shiner fish.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 10 months ago

The EPA has the ability to write its own regulations and enforce them as it sees fit. I can appreciate that Ken Lassman has expounded on the regulations as they are now written. That does not preclude the EPA from changing its mind and doing as it darn pleases. This is an agency that is the worst nightmare of big government. I can anticipate the name calling I will get on this but the EPA and the reach that it has, scares the heck out of me.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

Clarification: the quoted section are the PROPOSED regulations, which have to go through a public response period. Seems to me though, that they've already addressed the issues that the Farm Bureau is all excited about. In fact, when reading more about why these regulations are being written, it seems that much public monies have been spent in the courts with folks challenging whether or not the EPA has jurisdiction, resulting in a very clear court record of where they have jurisdiction and where they do not. This law follows very closely the outcomes of all of those lawsuits and will hopefully result in a much clearer picture for landowners, municipalities and the courts in the future so monies will be spent doing something useful instead of wasting taxpayers money in courts going over the same issues time and time again.

And Scott, I hope you don't spend too much time worrying about laws that MIGHT be written, as well as those that MIGHT NOT be written. Life is too short for the trying to sort out the laws that are already on the books, let alone the infinite number of additional laws that could theoretically be put on the books!

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