JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 9 will consider formal opposition to regulatory expansion of the Federal Clean Water Act.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead brought the proposal to the board's Economic Development and Environment Committee Tuesday night at the County Office Building. It was approved and now moves on to the full board.
Stead said the request to oppose regulatory expansion of the 1972 U.S. Clean Water Act came from the Fulton County Farm Bureau.
"The federal government is really trying to expand the [act]," he said.
Stead said expansion would be on top of authority over wet and dry areas on private lands, The act limits federal jurisdiction of "navigable waters" of the United States, he said. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions affirmed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water Act jurisdiction over "navigable waters" is limited and doesn't extend to all waters.
But Stead said the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are now trying to expand their authority.
Background supplied by the county for the Oct. 9 resolution notes the farm bureau's opposition extends to expanding regulations to all waters, including: groundwater, pipes, farm and stock ponds, ditches, culverts, erosional features and cropland. The bureau also feels act regulatory expansion could include more permits, restriction on the use of nutrients, burdensome federal oversight of state and local water quality programs, and regulatory and legal barriers to routine business decisions.
"There are people across the country in jail because of this, and [people] being fined," Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan said of act violations.
The Fulton County Farm Bureau requested the county board go on record urging the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw draft Clean Water Act proposals.
Stead said the bureau wants the federal government to work collaboratively with state and local governments to enforce the current scope of the act, while respecting state and local authority to ensure protection of water resources.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org