Futures |  Weather |  Grain |  Market News |  DTN Ag Headlines |  US Ag News |  Headline News |  Portfolio |  Livestock |  Options 
  UC Story  
  Cash Bids  
  Community giving  
  What is a cooperative?  
  Contact Us  
- DTN Headline News
Mapping the CWA
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 11:31AM CDT

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Farm groups are using mapping technology in their latest effort to block EPA from finalizing new regulations under the Clean Water Act.

A map of the state of Iowa virtually is covered in red -- a color that has agriculture groups burning mad at an image that represents all the waters that could be considered jurisdictional if the proposed Clean Water Act rule becomes finalized. An image from the South Dakota Farm Bureau maps the same waters painted green across easily two-thirds of that state -- mostly covering South Dakota's western half.

A number of ag groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Pork Producers Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, among others, have been undertaking the seemingly impossible task of mapping those waters that could be in EPA's control. In addition, this week the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is set to post online similar maps of all 50 states provided to the committee by EPA.

From day one agriculture groups have sounded alarm bells on what they say will be a large expansion of EPA's authority. EPA and environmental groups have downplayed those concerns as the product of a misread of the rule. The agency has stated the rule only codifies how the Clean Water Act is enforced already.

The Clean Water Act currently provides no definition of tributary to include ditches of any kind. "To tell us they are doing this in practice already -- where did they get the authority to do that?," said Don Parrish, senior director of regulatory relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation. The release of maps, he said, "will all of a sudden allow people to see in stark terms what the proposed rule will mean. You can see the absurdity."

Ag groups believe pictures are worth a thousand words -- that mapping those waters as defined by the rule could be a game-changer drawing wider public attention to the rule.


EPA Press Secretary Liz Purchia said attempts to map waters will not provide an accurate picture of jurisdiction.

"We have not reviewed any maps that may be released by outside groups, but it is important to point out that to actually reflect what is in the proposed rule, the maps would have to be based on ground surveys of specific tributaries and other waters," she said in a statement. "Hypothetical maps of what is or is not in the proposal by an outside group would likely be misleading. The maps would also need to account for the fact that streams that don't flow all the time are already protected under the Clean Water Act. And often due to the resolution of maps and inflated scale of waterways depicted, such maps can make waters appear more prevalent than is actually the case on the ground.

"For the past 40 years decisions regarding the jurisdictional status of particular waters have been made almost exclusively in response to requests for a jurisdictional determination. Mapping every jurisdictional water in the U.S. would involve ground surveys and be prohibitively expensive. Also, some waters are unique and require a case specific look before deeming it jurisdictional or non-jurisdictional."


EPA developed maps for all 50 states in 2005 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Rapanos v. the United States, Parrish said. The agency updated those maps in 2009 and 2013, yet the maps were not made public until this week by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Zachary Kurz, director of communications for the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, told DTN the committee received maps from EPA and plans to make those public this week. Agriculture groups hired a consultant to create a set of maps of at least 15 states, set for public release sometime next week.

"They're not being transparent," Parrish said. "I will tell you that it's going to hit everybody. The one thing that is most stark and breathtaking is the definition of tributary -- that as long as there is flow the duration of that flow doesn't matter to make the water jurisdictional."

Michael Formica, chief environmental counsel for the National Pork Producers Council, said ag groups retained engineering firm Geosyntec, http://tinyurl.com/…, a firm that has done work on total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs, in the Chesapeake Bay.

The firm is using U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic maps to create interactive maps. This will allow ag groups to show roughly where perennial, intermittent and ephemeral streams are located. States covered by the project include Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Florida, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Louisiana, among others.

Mapping waters has confirmed for ag groups that the proposed rule will give EPA widely expanded authority in the Clean Water Act -- something EPA has denied. Formica said based on his analysis, Iowa and Minnesota stand to be hit hardest by the rule. Minnesota regulates far more of its own waters than does EPA, he said. With those waters brought into federal control more Minnesota farmers could be subject to citizen lawsuits.

The red on the Iowa map generated by NPPC shows a higher resolution view that ag groups believe picks up just about 35% of all ephemeral drainage that likely would be waters of the U.S. EPA could have made the maps public years ago, Formica said.

"I assume that somebody realizes that the release of maps of the whole country makes their challenges more difficult," he said. "It creates a bunch of problems for them. My sense is the extent to which EPA is pushing back on this we've really touched a nerve there. Otherwise they wouldn't worry."

Some farm groups continue to meet with EPA over the proposed rule. Chip Bowling, first-vice president for the National Corn Growers Association, said on Tuesday that corn growers are planning to meet with EPA officials again in mid-September to talk about their concerns over the proposal.

Look for the release of maps on the CWA from the House Science, Space and Technology Committee here, http://tinyurl.com/….

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow Todd on Twitter at toddneeleyDTN


blog iconDTN Blogs & Forums
DTN Market Matters Blog
Katie Micik
Markets Editor
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 10:19PM CDT
Monday, August 25, 2014 3:43PM CDT
Thursday, August 21, 2014 7:38PM CDT
Technically Speaking
Darin Newsom
DTN Senior Analyst
Monday, September 1, 2014 3:23PM CDT
Sunday, August 31, 2014 5:27PM CDT
Sunday, August 31, 2014 3:41PM CDT
Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin
DTN Contributing Analyst
Friday, August 29, 2014 12:13PM CDT
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 1:46PM CDT
Monday, August 25, 2014 2:54PM CDT
DTN Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor
Thursday, August 28, 2014 10:27PM CDT
Friday, August 22, 2014 7:23PM CDT
Friday, August 22, 2014 1:13AM CDT
Minding Ag's Business
Marcia Taylor
DTN Executive Editor
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 6:26PM CDT
Friday, August 22, 2014 8:34PM CDT
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 8:23PM CDT
DTN Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson
DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
Friday, August 29, 2014 8:36PM CDT
Thursday, August 28, 2014 4:49PM CDT
Monday, August 25, 2014 4:46PM CDT
DTN Production Blog
Pam Smith
Crops Technology Editor
Thursday, August 28, 2014 7:40PM CDT
Monday, August 25, 2014 4:07PM CDT
Friday, August 15, 2014 7:13PM CDT
Harrington's Sort & Cull
John Harrington
DTN Livestock Analyst
Friday, August 22, 2014 6:26PM CDT
Friday, August 15, 2014 7:42PM CDT
Friday, July 25, 2014 9:40PM CDT
South America Calling
Alastair Stewart
South America Correspondent
Tuesday, September 2, 2014 3:07PM CDT
Friday, August 29, 2014 9:13PM CDT
Thursday, August 28, 2014 8:44PM CDT
An Urban’s Rural View
Urban Lehner
Editor Emeritus
Friday, August 29, 2014 11:58AM CDT
Monday, August 25, 2014 10:12PM CDT
Monday, August 18, 2014 6:37PM CDT
Machinery Chatter
Jim Patrico
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 3:32PM CDT
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 3:16PM CDT
Thursday, August 14, 2014 8:43PM CDT
Canadian Markets
Cliff Jamieson
Canadian Grains Analyst
Friday, August 29, 2014 4:21PM CDT
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 9:58PM CDT
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 10:18PM CDT
Editor’s Notebook
Greg D. Horstmeier
DTN Editor-in-Chief
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 6:39PM CDT
Thursday, August 14, 2014 11:16AM CDT
Friday, July 25, 2014 6:07PM CDT
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN