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Support grows for ‘clearing the waters’ of Clean Water Act

By Public News Service

YANKTON — A change in federal clean-water rules appears to be popular with some major stakeholders, especially farmers, hunters and anglers.

Two federal court decisions had muddied the rules on where the Clean Water Act applies, but a new revision has been proposed to clarify the issue.

According to Jan Goldman-Carter, senior manager, wetlands and water resources for the National Wildlife Federation, people who deal with the Clean Water Act are happy to have the matter resolved. She described the confusion as a complicated mess.

Many farmers had voiced concerns that for them Clean Water Act rules could grow to become burdensome. But Steph Larsen, a farmer who also works with the Center for Rural Affairs, said her sense is that farmers are relieved to learn that isn’t the case with the new proposal.

“The exemptions related to agriculture are still the same exemptions,” Larsen said.

The revision doesn’t add any new regulations on farms, and outdoor groups have said they’re glad clean water rules would apply to many wetlands and headwater streams. The EPA is taking comments on the proposed rule now.