ASWM seeks to provide current information on items of interest. Please check this section periodically for recent updates.

 

(December 2011) Federal guidance on Clean Water Act jurisdiction

Over the past decade, two key decisions in the U.S. Supreme Court have addressed the extent of federal jurisdiction over “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. In a 2001 decision in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC), the Supreme Court addressed the question of jurisdiction over “isolated” waters. The court’s decision in the more recent (2006) Rapanos v. United States decision addressed the question of federal jurisdiction over headwater streams and adjacent wetlands, but failed to provide a majority decision on many issues.

In order to clarify remaining questions regarding the limits on jurisdiction, the U.S. EPA proposed new federal guidance in April of 2011. The EPA is currently considering comments on this guidance, including letters from ASWM and other state nongovernmental organizations, and from the NCSL. Additional information and opinions regarding the proposed guidance, and the potential for federal rulemaking, are posted here: http://aswm.org/wetlands-law/cwa-guidance.

Other information:

The Compleat Wetlander: Will Congress Prohibit Rulemaking to Clarify Clean Water Act Jurisdiction?

 

 

(December 2011) Wetlands and Natural Hazards

During 2011, many states struggled to cope with natural hazards associated with extreme weather conditions – including flooding along the Mississippi River, and hurricanes that produced flash flooding in the northeast, and storm surges along the east coast. The existence of wetlands can help to minimize damage not only from these headline storm events, but from routine rainfall and runoff. Where wetlands no longer exist because of past land practices, restoration projects to provide “green infrastructure” can be a cost effective way of minimizing storm damage. For more information on state programs, click here.

 

(December 2011) Wetland Conservation, Agriculture and the Farm Bill

A significant percentage of wetland preservation and restoration has been carried out through voluntary programs, with incentive funding through the Farm Bill. Wetlands may be restored and preserved under temporary or permanent conservation easements – with payment to the landowner – through programs such as the Wetland Reserve Program, and Conservation Reserve Program. Restored and protected wetlands in turn help to store water and replenish groundwater supplies to meet agricultural and other needs during periods of drought. Wetland buffers also help to protect stream quality and minimize erosion of adjoining fields, while providing wildlife corridors.

Continuation of conservation incentives programs to farmers are an important link in public/private wetland partnerships. For additional information regarding Farm Bill programs, click here.