CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published on April 21, 2014 a notice of availability and public comment to announce the availability of an interpretive rule regarding the applicability of the exemption from permitting provided under section 404(f)(1)(A) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for discharges of dredged and/or fill material associated with certain agricultural conservation practices based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practice standards that are designed and implemented to protect and enhance water quality.
The public comment period on this was extended to July 7, 2014. The interpretive rule was effective on April 3, 2014. Under the CWA, section 404 regulates the discharges of dredged and/or fill material into waters of the U.S. and section 404(f)(1) includes a list of activities that are exempt from regulation under section 404. Section 404(f)(1)(A) provides an exemption for discharges of dredged and/or fill material from “normal farming, silviculture, and ranching activities, such as plowing, seeding, cultivating, minor drainage, harvesting for the production of food, fiber, and forest products, or upland soil and water conservation practices.” The rule clarifies that certain NRCS conservation practices that are designed and implemented to protect and enhance water quality are included under these “normal farming, silviculture, and ranching activities.”
The USEPA, the Corps, and NRCS developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to guide future coordination on the exemption. The rule, MOU, and list of NRCS practices that meet the exemption, can be viewed on the EPA website: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/agriculture.cfm and http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters as well as on the Corps website under Latest News: http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/RegulatoryProgramandPermits.aspx.
Submit public comments on this rule by July 7, 2014 to the Federal eRulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov; or email to email@example.com (include EPA-HQ-OW-2013-0820 in message subject line); or mail (original and 3 copies of comments) to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington DC 20460 (Attn: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2013-0820).
For more information contact Ms. Stacey Jensen, Regulatory Community of Practice (CECW-CO-R), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 441 G Street, NW, Washington DC 20314; telephone 202-761-5856; email USACE_CWA_RULE@usace.army.mil (and include EPA Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2013-0820) in the message subject line.