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EPA’s Draft Strategy for Achieving Clean Water

September 28, 2010

On August 20, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft strategy for improving clean water goals by “reinvigorating EPA’s approaches to achieving clean water in America.”  EPA is currently reviewing comments submitted by interested parties.

This strategy presents mostly general goals; however, it could ultimately lead to new regulations designed to implement the Clean Water Act.  For example, the EPA lists among its general strategies to “[i]ncrease focus on protection of healthy waters” and “[r]educe pollution entering our waters.”  It then describes methods for protecting healthy waters, including, to “[p]ropose changes to the federal water quality standard regulations that would clarify and strengthen antidegradation regulations to protect high-quality waters.” 

EPA provides suggestions in its draft strategy that could affect agriculture.  Specifically, the strategy focuses on using the “total maximum daily load” (TMDL) program to address “nonpoint” sources.  The EPA intends to use the Chesapeake Bay as a demonstration for how strengthening TMDL plans and improving monitoring of restoration might work.  Other suggestions that could affect agricultural practices include (1) implementing federal land management practices that protect forests and wetlands to better protect headwaters and (2) proposing a national rule that could bring more animal feeding operations (AFOs) under regulations similar to those designed for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). 

The EPA’s final strategy, which should be released by the end of the year, will hopefully provide further insight into how EPA intends to implement its goals.         

If you have any questions about this post, please contact me at KMoore@dunncarney.com

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