Legislation introduced to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act would put agricultural production practices at risk and create additional economic burdens on producers, warns the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

H.R. 2421, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007, would remove the term “navigable waters” from the 1972 Clean Water Act, expanding the scope of areas and activities covered by federal regulation to virtually all wet areas in the United States.

H.R. 2421 replaces the term “navigable” with a new legislative definition of “waters of the United States” that includes all “intrastate waters” and all “activities affecting these waters.”

NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chairman Bill Chase warned of the serious consequences of this new legislation. “This bill would be the most far-reaching expansion of the original Clean Water Act, extending federal jurisdictional reach to everything from ditches and gutters to groundwater,” Chase said.

“The original intent of Congress when it passed the Clean Water Act was to broadly regulate pollution without federal oversight of every isolated puddle in the nation. This legislation muddies the water.”

Chase noted that corn growers continue to be committed to the protection and restoration of wetlands. However, he said regulating ditches, culverts and pipes, desert washes, dry arroyos, farmland and treatment ponds as “waters of the United States” and subjecting those waters to all of the requirements under federal regulation will only result in confusion and not in water quality protection.

Furthermore, he said, the legislation fails to adopt important regulatory exemptions for prior converted cropland and waste treatment systems.

NCGA urges Congress not to rush to changing the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act, and urges producers to contact their members of Congress, letting them know they do not support the legislation.