On June 11, Warren "Dusty" Williams, General Manager/Chief Engineer, Riverside County, California, Flood Control and Water Conservation District testified on behalf of the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA), before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment at a hearing, "Potential Impacts of Proposed Changes to the Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Rule." Williams' testimony
focused on the role counties and public agencies play in Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations and outlined several challenges that the new proposed rule would present for counties and public agencies.
The hearing, led by Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Ranking Member Timothy H. Bishop (D-N.Y.), focused on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposed rule, introduced earlier this year, that would amend the definition of "waters of the United States" within the Clean Water Act (CWA) and dramatically expand the range of waters that fall under federal regulation including stormwater management facilities and roadside ditches. Once a ditch is under federal jurisdiction, the CWA Section 404 permit process can be extremely complex, time-consuming and expensive, leaving local governments and public agencies charged with public safety vulnerable to citizen suits.
"These delays are extremely significant to local agencies responsible for maintaining public infrastructure, such as roadside ditches, flood control channels and stormwater systems designed to protect public safety by funneling water away from low-lying roads, properties and businesses to prevent accidents and flooding," Williams said.
"Expanding the number of ditches that are regulated will increase necessary public infrastructure projects' budgets and timelines," he continued. "The cost of operations and maintenance for public infrastructure, such as existing flood damage reduction systems, will also be increased and will take more time to accomplish than it should for an existing facility – potentially putting public safety at risk and increasing flood damages."
Williams was joined by J.D. Strong, Executive Director, Oklahoma Water Resources Board, on behalf of the Western Governors Association and Western States Water Council; Mark Pifher, Manager, Southern Delivery System, Colorado Springs Utilities, on behalf of the National Water Resources Association and Western Urban Water Coalition; Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation; Kevin Kelly, President, Leon N. Weiner & Associates, on behalf of National Association of Home Builders; and Eric Henry, President, TS Designs, on behalf of the American Sustainable Business Council.
Earlier this month, NACo launched a new information hub
for counties to obtain information about the proposed federal definition of "Waters of the U.S."
On June 10, the agencies announced they were extending the public comment period for "waters of the U.S." 91 additional days. Public comments are now due October 20, 2014.
To view NACo's "waters of the U.S" information hub for counties, click here
To view NACo's policy brief and comparison chart on the proposed rule, click here
To view Mr. Williams written testimony, click here.
To view the webcast of the hearing, click here
Pictured here (L to R): J.D. Strong on behalf of the Western Governors Association and Western States Water Council; Mark Pifher, on behalf of the National Water Resources Association and Western Urban Water Coalition; Dusty Williams on behalf of the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies; Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation; Kevin Kelly on behalf of National Association of Home Builders; and Eric Henry on behalf of the American Sustainable Business Council