Richard Bogren, McClure, Olivia J., Morgan, Johnny W.
(09/27/18) BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has joined a group of states where a 2015 rule regulating which waterways are subject to federal jurisdiction won’t be enforced for the time being.
The rule is suspended in 28 states pending a redefinition of “Waters of the United States,” often abbreviated as WOTUS.
Louisiana is covered by an injunction that was granted by a district court in Texas earlier this month. The state will continue under rules set by the 1972 Clean Water Act until the new WOTUS definition can be written.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers introduced a new rule in 2015 that changed the definition of waters of the U.S. — which bodies of water may be regulated by the federal government. That prompted concern among farmers and landowners, who feared they would come under stricter scrutiny for water and land use.
The new rule has not yet been fully implemented because it is being challenged in various federal courts.
“It’s a problem for farmers because irrigation water is an important component for many to grow their crops, and they just want to get some clarity,” said Naveen Adusumilli, an LSU AgCenter economist.
In a state like Louisiana with many small water bodies, Adusumilli said, landowners could face complications with getting permits for land and water management.
“Many of the drainage ditches and small streams in the state don’t affect the major water bodies because they don’t normally flow unless there is major rainfall,” he said. “And many of those small bodies of water are either dry for the major part of the year or simply evaporate before reaching a major water body.”
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture