County opposes changes to Clean Water Act


By Dustin Ensinger

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Delaware County commissioners plan to throw their weight behind an effort to slow the implementation of a rule that would broaden the Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction.

Commissioners plan to send a letter to Congress urging them to pass legislation to delay the changes to the Clean Water Act that would that could add much smaller bodies of water to those which the EPA already has oversight.

“The federal EPA has overreached on this,” said Commissioner Barb Lewis on Monday.

Under the current incarnation of the 43-year-old Clean Water Act, “waters of the United States” are defined as those which are “navigable.”

However, changes to the language could include smaller bodies of water, including streams and wetlands.

County officials have said the changes could stymie development and lead to costly compliance.

The EPA has said the changes are necessary to protection the nation’s supply of drinking water.

“We need clean water upstream to have healthy communities downstream,” the federal agency says on its web site. “The health of rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depend on the streams and wetlands where they begin. Streams and wetlands provide so many benefits to communities by trapping floodwaters, recharging groundwater supplies, filtering pollution and providing habitat for fish and wildlife.”

The organization has also said the changes will not impact private property rights or address land use.

Commissioners last year unanimously approved a measure to formally oppose the changes.

Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.

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