Attorney Trey Wilson - RL Wilson Law

17 June 2009

Clean Water Restoration Act On Sentae's Agenda for Tomorrow -- Ranchers and Sportsment Remain Opposed

It appears as if the United States Senate will take up the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) tomorrow. This act would significantly expand federal jurisdiction over private ranches, and many ranching intersts believe that this bill amounts to a giant federal land grab and would be disastrous to U.S. agriculture.

Under current law, the federal government has jurisdiction over "navigable waters of the United States." However, the CWRA would bring federal oversight to activities that affect all "waters of the United States" as opposed to merely "navigable waters" as called for in the original CWA.

"Waters of the United States" is broadly defined in the legislation to include "all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments."

By removing the word "navigable" from the definition, the CWRA would expand federal regulatory control to unprecedented levels-essentially putting road ditches, drainage ditches, and stock tanks on my family's farm under the regulatory strong-arm of the federal government. Further, under the Clean Water Restoration Act, something as simple as constructing a duck blind on private land on or near prime hunting waters could require hunters to submit to a costly and time-consuming permitting process. Like hunters, fishermen and recreational boaters would also find it more difficult to engage in their sports under the CWRA because the construction of fishing piers and boat docks, which can already require a permit under the CWA,18 would likely see enhanced scrutiny under the CWRA. Such construction could be regulated in nearly every instance, as nearly every body of water would qualify for federal oversight.

In my opinion, this bill represents an expansion of federal government into private property rights, and should be opposed.

Trey Wilson --Named By Scene in SA Magazine As One of San Antonio's Best Real Estate Litigation Attorneys -- September 2008 -- As voted on by peers