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EPA Holds Meetings with Farmers to Quell Fears Over Water Rule

A proposed change to the Clean Water Act has some farmers worried they'd be subject to more regulation. (Amy Mayer/IPR file photo)

Proposed changes to the Clean Water Act have some Midwest farmers worried that, if enacted, they could be subject to additional regulation. 

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency are trying to assuage those fears.

The proposed Waters of the U.S. rule would redefine what kinds of streams and waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act. EPA officials say the changes are meant to clarify, but when government agencies start tinkering with rules, farmers get wary. In response, the EPA is holding educational meetings with farmers to get their feedback.

“When we have that opportunity to really engage people,” says Rebecca Perrin, an EPA policy advisor, “oftentimes some of the things we hear [are], ‘I thought this was really going to impact me, and now I don’t quite see how it is.’”

Still, some small business groups, farm organizations and politicians, including Iowa Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, characterize the changes as government overreach.

Farmers and others can offer public comment on the proposed rule through mid-November.

As KUNC’s reporter covering the Colorado River Basin, I dig into stories that show how water issues can both unite and divide communities throughout the Western U.S. I produce feature stories for KUNC and a network of public media stations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada.