WOTUS weariness as the issue drags on (and on)

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made quite a splash when it released its final rule for defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) on Dec. 30. Immediate criticism and support for the new rule surfaced as many undertook the unenviable task of interpreting the rule’s 514 pages of text. Perhaps some enjoyed the challenge of deciphering the latest development in WOTUS. But I wonder how many responded with a bit of weariness, asking what this “new” rule really means for agriculture and, more importantly, does it really matter?

What does the new final WOTUS rule mean for ag?

There are several answers to this question. The first and most practical answer is that the rule changes which waters are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Through its permit programs, the CWA aims to protect water quality by preventing discharges of pollutants, dredge, or fill into a water that fits within the rule’s definition of “waters of the United States.”… Continue reading