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LSU AgCenter water economist helps farmers, foresters interpret new Clean Water Rule

Kate Archer Kent

A federal rule that revises which bodies of water are subject to the Clean Water Act will take effect Aug. 28. Some Louisiana farmers are concerned that the new Clean Water Rule is overreaching.

The biggest change is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is defining ditches, according to LSU Ag Center water policy economist Naveen Adusumilli. Any ditch that is part of a tributary or connected to a previously jurisdictional waterway would now have to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act.

“Those ditches which were not previously regulated could now be jurisdictional water. I think that is the primary concern for most farmers. Would those lands now be under federal control?” Adusumilli said, who is based at the Red River Research Station in Bossier City.

The Clean Water Rule brings land in 100-year flood plains under jurisdiction. Drainage ditches and irrigation runoff are not specifically regulated, but there could be cases where they are called into question. Adusumilli notes previous agriculture exemptions are still in place.

“The EPA has clearly mentioned that all those exemptions for agriculture that existed in the old rule will continue to exist. They haven’t rolled back any of the exemptions,” Adusumilli said.

Adusumilli urges anyone with a body of water on their property to contact the EPA’s Region 6 Office to find out if it is subject to the Clean Water Act. Adusumilli is designing a handout to help LSU AgCenter extension agents get up to speed on the changes.

He says an EPA water quality violation could bring a fine of up to $37,000 per day. Attorneys general in more than two dozen state are challenging the new rule in a lawsuit.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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