Clean Water Rule

It’s been stayed by the court…

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers finalized the Clean Water Rule, but multiple states - including Tennessee - challenged the rule as exceeding the scope of EPA’s jurisdiction. As of October, 2015, the rule has been temporarily stayed nationwide by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Here’s a summary of the cases.

These rules fulfill the intent of the Clean Water Act’s protection of hundreds of thousands of miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands. Once implemented, these regulations will ensure protection of Tennessee’s valuable water resources, especially those small streams and creeks whose headwaters are in the Great Smoky Mountains or originate outside the state. Despite the challenges by several states and misinformation being spread from some industries and agriculture groups these rules do not increase EPA’s or the Corps’ oversight. Read the facts.

These rules:

  • Provide protection of drinking water sources for more than 117 million Americans. Headwater and smaller streams feed into public drinking water systems. Tennessee has a lot of communities that get their drinking water from these small streams.
  • Protect 20 million acres of wetlands, especially seasonal wetlands, which provide flood control and are essential to wildlife.
  • Guarantee protection for 60% of this nations’ waterways.

Real Impact:

  • Marginally increase the percentage of waterbodies covered under the definition of “waters of the United States” - an estimated 3% increase.
  • Enormously improve clarity about what waters are covered and those that are not.
  • Codify a number of exemptions that had previously only been followed as a matter of practice and specifically exclude a category of “ditches” from the definition.

These rules don’t:

  • These rules do not go too far to protect water quality. There is a lot of incorrect information out there.
  • These rules do not regulate farm ponds, ditches, or agricultural stormwater. Agriculture is almost entirely exempt from the Clean Water Act and these rules do not change that. The National Farmers Union and other farmers support these proposed rules.
  • These rules do not regulate waste treatment systems, groundwater, artificial lakes or ponds.