House Holds Hearing on Proposed Waters of the United States Rule

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing to examine the impacts of EPA’s proposed “Definition of the ‘Waters of United States’ Under the Clean Water Act” rule on July 9th. The full Committee hearing, entitled “Navigating the Clean Water Act: Is Water Wet?”, provided members the opportunity to ask EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe questions about the rule. The Honorable Perciasepe was the only witness at the hearing and members grilled him about specific issues in their districts.

During his opening statement, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) showed a picture of all the intermittent and ephemeral streams in the Western United States that would be regulated under the proposed rule. He noted that “EPA’s rule is so vague that it does little more than extend an open invitation to trial lawyers and government drones.”

Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52) focused his questions on the difference between a concrete drainage ditch that leads to a “waters of the United States” and a swale drainage ditch that leads to a “waters of the United States”. Mr. Perciasepe indicated that the concrete ditch would need a permit to discharge into the WotUS but the swale might not. He said “as a general matter drainage swale are not jurisdictional”. Upon further questioning about the text of the proposed rule and its implications for green infrastructure design, the two gentlemen indicated they would continue to have dialogue on this issue.

Rep. Schweikert (R-AZ) questioned Mr. Perciasepe about the status of the Central Arizona Project under the proposed rule. The two gentleman engaged in a spirited dialogue about what parts of project might be regulated under the rule, the aqueducts, reservoirs, or pumping plants. The issue was left unresolved and they will continue to engage on this issue.

The webcast of the Committee hearing along with additional information can be viewed at: http://science.house.gov/hearing/full-committee-hearing-navigating-clean-water-act-water-wet