The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule has been a contentious source of debate in the halls of Congress and in rural America. The Obama Administration’s WOTUS rule drew much criticism from rural America as overreaching. The Trump Administration is working on a new rule. The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee met on Wednesday to talk about definitions and qualifications of just what is a water of the U.S.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst was one of the more vocal opponents to the original WOTUS rule. She commented at the EPW meeting that the Obama-era rule would have given the Environmental Protection Agency jurisdiction over 97% of Iowa’s land. She said she was happy to see different groups come together on the rule and oppose it.
One area Ernst was focused on was over ditches. Ernst says while the new proposed WOTUS rule changes the ditch language, it still doesn’t seem to have a much clearer definition. Ernst asked Doug C. Goehring, Commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture if he thought clearer definitions were needed.
Goehring responded the term ditch is a way to generalized term, and that states and municipalities are already following the rules of the Clean Water Act.
This is still going to be an ongoing debate as terminology gets sorted out on a replacement WOTUS rule.