Since September, 2013, a number of organizations and writers have been describing a ticking time bomb coming from EPA to be delivered to all landowners. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have sent a draft regulation to the White House which looks like another EPA grab for power over all the surface water and ground water in the U.S.
Every environmental group appears to be enthusiastically behind EPA. Apparently EPA proposes to control water runoff in the U.S. Readers need to make their Congressmen aware of EPA's scientific support and the proposed regulation which could give EPA jurisdiction over every seasonal stream, isolated wetland, ditches, ponds, puddles, and trickles of water.
EPA issued a 331-page review draft in September, 2013, entitled "Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence." EPA says this document is a draft, and we should not cite or quote so that all of you can be kept in the dark.
The report was prepared by three national EPA research centers plus EPA's own Office of Research. The listing of authors and reviewers is an enormous list of PhDs from EPA as well as a couple of PhDs from USDA. Support for the report, which means they probably wrote it, comes from two longstanding EPA trough feeders.
The "contract support" is by organizations who have received millions of dollars of your tax dollars from EPA.
The report provides the support for EPA to attempt to grab regulatory authority over all surface and ground water in the U.S. This, of course, is done under the legal authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA). EPA experts do not discuss the CWA in their report, but make the case that all waters impact all other waters. (Another government job creation program.)
The EPA report "synthesizes" all scientific literature and peer reviewed scientific literature on the "connectivity" or isolation of streams and wetlands as they relate to large water bodies such as rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. The report also reviews surface and shallow subsurface connections from small or temporary streams, nontitled wetlands and certain open waters.
The experts, not surprisingly, says that all tributaries "…including perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams, are physically, chemically, and biologically connected to downstream rivers via channels and associated alluvial deposits where water and other materials are concentrated, mixed, transformed, and transported."
Translation: Everything is connected to everything.
Wetlands are critical and have, the report says, "Bidirectional hydrologic exchanges with streams or rivers…"
Wetlands that lack "bidirectional hydrologic exchanges" include prairie potholes, vernal pools, and playa lakes. These wetlands include the storage of flood water, retention and transformation of nutrients, metals, and pesticides. The report refers to these wetlands as "unidirectional wetlands" but affect the condition of downstream waters if there is subsurface water connection.
Even if there is not a subsurface water connection, the wetlands are generally on a gradient of connectivity which suggests there may be an effect on downstream waters. (It is surprising to some that water does run downhill.)
So, farm, ranch, timber, and other property owners: get ready to learn a new definition of "connectivity."
The report defines connectivity "…as the degree to which components of a system are joined, or connected, by various transport mechanisms."
"Connectivity" is determined by the characteristics of both the physical landscape and the biota of the specific system.
EPA's experts basically claim that even if there is no stream or wetland, currently carrying or holding water and serving an actual function it has the "potential" to provide an environmentally beneficial result when any fluid material enters it then environmental conditions change. As stated, "Potential functions play a critical role in protecting those waters from future impacts."
Farm and ranch organizations are correct in being outraged at this grab for power by EPA bureaucrats. This study and presumably the proposed regulations give private homeowners, farmers, energy producers, loggers, manufacturers, miners, and state governments an idea as to how EPA is going to run roughshod over your interests and property rights with "connectivity."