Farmers, Ranchers Worry Proposed Water Rules Could 'Take' Land

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ANDALE, Kan. (KAKE) -- There is growing concern among Kansas farmers and ranchers that the Environmental Protection Agency will use the Clean Water Act to expand federal authority.

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts says the EPA wants to take control of all waters not just navigable waters.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Roberts says, "The Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Agriculture have proposed a rule that after careful review and study…I believe would allow the EPA to further expand its control of private property under the guise of the Clean Water Act."

Andale area farmer and Sedgwick County Farm Bureau President Kent Winter says landowners are very concerned about this proposal.

Winter says, "We feel like it's a broad overreach into our business and into our property rights."

Winter says, changing federal authority from controlling navigable waters to all waters could include water runoff in ditches from farm fields and water standing in fields after a heavy rain.

He says producers are concerned the EPA could require permits for daily farm tasks which have to done in a timely manner to be effective.

Winter says, "So much of what we do relies on us being able to be timely and prompt with our field operations which means at many times we have to make snap decisions and react quickly after certain weather events,which means getting in the field and get things done on time. So this proposal will be a huge road block and impediment to that process."

Senator Roberts says it's an overreach on the part of federal regulators.

Roberts says, "For the folks back home, the issue of the EPA trying to control more water, whether or not it is actually 'navigable' is not new.

We have been down a similar road before with the agency wanting to regulate all of the water in the country, even small farm ponds that no self-respecting duck would ever land in."

"Just like before, the public and many of us in Congress are working hard to stop the latest version from going forward."

Posted by Greg Palmer