Lately there has been a proliferation of misinformation in the media concerning the Clean Water Act of 1972. Everyone needs to read the original act before accepting somebody’s opinion as fact.

The act is a subsection of Title 33 of the U.S. Code, which deals with navigation and navigable waters. Basically, it gave the EPA authority to set pollution standards in navigable waters of the U.S. Navigable waters are defined as those used to transport interstate or foreign commerce.

In the intervening years, the EPA has promulgated a complex set of rules contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Each administration has tweaked those rules in accordance with their own political agenda. The result has been an unending series of federal lawsuits.

The latest court battle stems from the previous administration’s effort to change the rules to include isolated wetlands, ponds and rivers/streams that temporarily contain water (after a rain) in the definition of waters of the U.S. in an attempt to provide protection under the Act. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that waters of the U.S. include only those relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water.

The current administration is proposing to eliminate those changes to make the CFR more compatible with the original intent of the 1972 Act.

A recent edition of The News contained an assertion from a speaker at a local event that the current administration is taking a sledgehammer to the Act. This is a total distortion of the facts.

Jim Harris


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