In Genesis 1, verse 1 of the Bible, it is recorded that God made heaven and earth. From there He went on to make everything we enjoy and have on this planet, which we never should forget. He also states in this chapter of Genesis that what He saw that He created was very good. In verse ten, the forming of dry land and water is mentioned, and since that very beginning it has been under His control. But, if the U.S. Senate has its way with the Clean Water Restoration Act currently being considered up in D.C., all waters falling on the USA from the heavens above may soon be under the control of the U.S. government. If it rains in your gutter and runs down your down spout, don’t get too attached to it, because it won’t be yours. It will belong to Uncle Sam and we all know how well he takes care of things.
It is reported that for the first time in the 36-year history of the Clean Water Restoration Act, activities that have no impact on actual rivers and lakes would be subject to full federal regulation. God may send the bounty of rainwaters, but the government wants to control it once it hits the atmosphere.
Since its enactment in 1972, the Clean Water Act has regulated “navigable waters,” or waters of the U.S. The legislation up in D.C. right now deletes the term “navigable” and replaces it with “all intrastate waters” and adds a lot of confusing language allowing the federal government to regulate “activities affecting these waters.” This all means that if it rains on a dry lot in Tennessee, any water left standing would be impacted by the legislation.
The legislation will grant government jurisdiction over all wet areas within a state, including groundwater, ditches, pipes, streets, municipal storm drains and gutters. It would grant authority over all activities affecting those waters, regardless of whether the activity is occurring in water or adds a pollutant.
If you take the language of this legislation and give it to the courts to explain, they could even restrict the use of a mud puddle in the middle of your drive or yard. Permit costs and waiting periods that could be associated with this new legislation will put the agricultural industry right in line for added cost and regulation it just doesn’t need. The term “all intrastate waters” used in the legislation will include every drop of water that hits the ground once it falls from the sky and will come under the guidelines of the federal government and our court system. Is that not a scary thought?
The American Farm Bureau Federation also believes that by deleting the term “navigable” as a condition for regulation under the Clean Water Act, it would allow for an extraordinary expansion of federal jurisdiction, giving the federal government the right to exert inordinate control over private property, while opening the door for activists to sue landowners whose activities they don’t like.
The Clean Water Restoration Act, S. 787, is simply government regulation over-kill. Tennessee farmers would be greatly impacted due to the number of normal farming practices that can be subjected to citizen-suit provisions in the act, so says the AFBF. However, there are those who don’t see it that way and if we are not involved in getting it defeated, then get ready for the federal government to have a say in how you get that backed up rainwater out of your gutters. This legislation could be that far reaching.
- Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com