Clean Water Rule campaign ends

IFB, Illinois farmers submit comments on proposed rule.

Illinois Farm Bureau members sent about 1,900 comments to federal agencies in support of the proposed Clean Water Rule before the 60-day comment period ended April 15. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

Final numbers are in: Illinois Farm Bureau members sent about 1,900 comments to federal agencies in support of the proposed Clean Water Rule.

Members sent more than 1,700 text messages and 144 personalized comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers. The comments highlighted years of voluntary conservation practices by Illinois farmers and the importance of a clear definition of “waters of the U.S.”

They were submitted as part of an organization-wide campaign in support of the proposed rule. The agencies’ 60-day public comment period closed April 15.

“I really want to thank our members who participated,” IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. told the RFD Radio Network®. “It was really important.”

Published on Feb. 14, the proposed rule would establish six categories considered “waters of the U.S,” including: traditional navigable waters; tributaries to those navigable waters; ditches used for navigation or affected by tide; certain lakes and ponds; impoundments; and wetlands adjacent to “waters of the U.S.”

It also specifically lists features excluded from federal jurisdiction, including prior converted cropland, groundwater, most ditches, stormwater control features, and wastewater and waste treatment features.

In addition to member comments, IFB submitted comments on behalf of the organization. Lauren Lurkins, IFB’s director of natural and environmental resources, testified during a public hearing in Kansas City. IFB also signed onto the Ag Nutrient Policy Council’s comments.

EPA and the Corps will review the public comments and issue a final rule. The timetable remains unclear.

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