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New Clean Water Act Rule Can Affect Washington Farmers

Streams and drainage systems are imperative to farmland not only to keep fields properly irrigated but also to prevent flooding, especially in times of excess rain. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)1 along with the Army Corps recently issued a new rule under the Clean Water Act2 that may add costs and complications to a farmer’s management of the stream on the land.

Previously, the Clean Water Act and its many requirements only applied to navigable waterways. However, the new rule extends the definition of “waters of the United States” to include many streams, small tributaries, and wetlands. Federal officials justified the expansion of control by stating that even these smaller waterways can have a significant impact on the environmental preservation of large bodies or water that are downstream. Because many streams or ditches used by farmers empty out into bigger waters, they could be considered to be tributaries by the EPA and could be subject to federal regulation and compliance.

Farmers with qualifying waterways will now have to apply for and obtain the necessary permits to use and manage waterways. They will also have to undergo inspection into the quality of the water that runs through their land. If the waterway is not up to standards, a farmer may have to initiate significant changes in operations in order to comply with the law and receive the necessary permit. This process can be complicated and costly and all farmers who may be affected should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney who understands all relevant environmental laws.

Call an experienced Tacoma environmental law lawyer to discuss your situation today

If you are a farmer or landowner in Washington and would like assistance on complying with the Clean Water Act or other environmental laws in the most cost-effective way possible, the qualified Tacoma environmental law lawyers at the Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess are here to help you. Our attorneys understand the complex web of environmental laws and the implications of new rules issued by the EPA and other government agencies. If you would like a fee 15-minute consultation to discuss how we can help, please call 253-572-1000 today.