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Federal Government Seizes States’ Water Rights

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posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 10:12 AM

A columnist who generally pens light-hearted articles about outdoor recreation and nature for several Indiana newspapers is uncharacteristically raising alarms about the federal government seizing states' water rights.

In bringing this to ATS, I hoped members could help shed more light on what this could mean to states and individuals. Are we going to end up with meters on our wells and who exactly owns that farm swimming pond?

Jack Spauding, in his column The Inside on Indiana's Outside wrote this week:

Federal Government Seizes States’ Water Rights

In early June, I noticed all along the corridor of the newly designated construction route of I-69 there were signs… lots of signs. Through the area north of Bloomington and on through the Martinsville area were literally hundreds of signs posted in the construction area at every river, stream, ditch, wetland and even farmland grass covered drainage areas. The signs simply stated, “Waters of the US.”

I thought it odd to see the expense gone to proclaim all of the waterways to be “Property of the US.” This is Indiana, not an area bordering another country. Why would there be a need to blatantly proclaim this message to the general public traveling the newly emerging section of I-69?

In a partial answer to my question, a friend forwarded me an article from The Washington Times. It was written in late May by Joseph Curl and revealed a bold step being made by our federal government. The administration in Washington, DC has moved to nationalize all the waters of the country and place them under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The seizure of riparian rights from the states comes under the authorization through the Clean Waters Act. The federal officials are saying it is being done to try to help businesses comply with regulations.

EPA head Gina McCarthy was reported by The Washington Times as having said, “We are finalizing a clean water rule to protect the streams and wetlands that one in three Americans rely on for drinking water. And, we are doing that without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all previous exemptions and exclusions.”

No new regulations? What about the signs? And, last I checked, we have a DNR and an Indiana Environmental Protection Agency watching over the waters of the State of Indiana.

Spaulding cites that Indiana is filing a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s final “Waters of the United States” rule. Other states have as well apparently. Are individuals, farmers, businesses concerned about this new "sign" about who owns the water? In light of the severe droughts in the Western U.S. and around the world, these are important distinctions.

Spaulding poses basic questions this new move raises for the outdoorsman,

It doesn’t take long to see the possible unintended consequences of federally controlled water, and it raises a lot of unanswered questions.

Who would have jurisdiction over the fish swimming in federal waters? If it is federal water, the fish would be federal fish. Would an individual need a state fishing license to fish in federal waters? In declaring water the property of the United States, would the reassignment of ownership someday make water a taxable commodity? Would special accommodations be made to western states in need of water like the construction of massive pipelines from the Great Lakes to the waterless areas of the west?

I look forward to hearing the thoughts of ATS on this battle between the Federal and state governments and also what it means for the future. Interesting times.
F ull column link

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 10:23 AM
a reply to: DancedWithWolves

My thoughts???

Seems to be a lot of speculation over the placement of signs.

I get that people have fears that there is more going on than what has been explained, but until it can be shown that there is more going on then I am not concerned about "what if" scenarios.

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 10:29 AM
a reply to: grimpachi

Lawsuits by several states over these rights would seem to suggest we have moved beyond a "What If" stage. What if this sign was on your property? Thanks for the input and I understand your concern about speculation.

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 10:39 AM
a reply to: DancedWithWolves

Well, even the article goes back to

No new regulations? What about the signs?

My speculation is that someone involved in writing the legislation to put up the signs stood to make some money from it.

Jim the politician probably knows or is partners with Dale the sign maker and either favors or money traded hands for the contract.

The names used are fictitious and the scenario used is simply to demonstrate how these things happen way to often.

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 10:56 AM
a reply to: grimpachi
The lawsuit from Indiana based on this column lists Federal jurisdiction over state waterways as the concern, not signage.

An example:

In November of 2014, Governor Pence and Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, as well as the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, sent letters to the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging them to withdraw the proposed rule that redefines “Waters of the United States” protected under the Clean Water Act.

In their letter in-part to the United States Environmental Protection Agency Governor Pence and Lt. Governor Ellspermann wrote: “We write to share our deep concerns about the proposed rule defining the scope of “waters of the United States” protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that was released on March 25, 2014, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) (collectively, the “Agencies”). We urge the Agencies to withdraw the proposed rule and re-engage stakeholders to craft a set of rules that creates clarity, not confusion.”

…..” Our agriculture industry is particularly concerned that the proposed rule expands federal jurisdiction over wet features, rendering normal farming practices like fence construction and drainage maintenance subject to federal permitting requirements. We cannot stand idly by and allow this result.

Indiana’s agriculture industry is working hard to help feed the world with 83 percent of land devoted to farms and forests and ranking 8th nationally in agriculture exports. Yet, agriculture finds its efforts thwarted by increasing federal regulation.

I will check back in. Have to be out for awhile but I do appreciate your thoughts on whether this new rule impacts jurisdiction or will only amount to large legal fees from state tax payers in many states in next year's budgets.

Water...the new gold.

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 11:03 AM
a reply to: DancedWithWolves

Those who control the water and the food control the people!

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 11:13 AM
a reply to: DancedWithWolves

It would be helpful if the article had posted exactly what the "new rule" said.

From what I read the article says there are those who are concerned a new rule "may" change things.

Before becoming overtly concerned the question needs to be answered. Does it change things and what exactly is being changed?

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 11:14 AM


(2) The following are not “waters of the United States” even where they otherwise meet the
terms of paragraphs (o)(1)(iv) through (viii) of this section.
(i) Waste treatment systems, including treatment ponds or lagoons designed to meet the
requirements of the Clean Water Act are not waters of the United States.
(ii) Prior converted cropland. Notwithstanding the determination of an area’s status as prior
converted cropland by any other Federal agency, for the purposes of the Clean Water Act, the
final authority regarding Clean Water Act jurisdiction remains with EPA.
The Clean Water rule published on June 29, 2015 in the Federal Register (80
(iii) The following ditches:
(A) Ditches with ephemeral flow that are not a relocated tributary or excavated in a tributary.
(B) Ditches with intermittent flow that are not a relocated tributary, excavated in a tributary,
or drain wetlands.
(C) Ditches that do not flow, either directly or through another water, into a water identified
in paragraphs (o)(1)(i) through (iii) of this section.
(iv) The following features:
(A) Artificially irrigated areas that would revert to dry land should application of water to
that area cease;
(B) Artificial, constructed lakes and ponds created in dry land such as farm and stock
watering ponds, irrigation ponds, settling basins, fields flooded for rice growing, log cleaning
ponds, or cooling ponds;
(C) Artificial reflecting pools or swimming pools created in dry land;
(D) Small ornamental waters created in dry land;
(E) Water-filled depressions created in dry land incidental to mining or construction activity,
including pits excavated for obtaining fill, sand, or gravel that fill with water;
(F) Erosional features, including gullies, rills, and other ephemeral features that do not meet
the definition of tributary, non-wetland swales, and lawfully constructed grassed waterways; and
(G) Puddles.
(v) Groundwater, including groundwater drained through subsurface drainage systems.
(vi) Stormwater control features constructed to convey, treat, or store stormwater that are
created in dry land.
(vii) Wastewater recycling structures constructed in dry land; detention and retention basins
built for wastewater recycling; groundwater recharge basins; percolation ponds built for
wastewater recycling; and water distributary structures built for wastewater recycling.


I don't see anything nefarious here, but may be worth keeping an eye on.
edit on 10-7-2015 by introvert because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 02:40 PM
a reply to: DancedWithWolves
My thoughts? About time.

Polluting the waters would now be a federal crime wouldn't it? Everyone needs water. If it is contaminated and the local water treatment plant cannot filter out extra contamiments, it would either wreck the water treatment plant, or cause a health crisis.

With more people using more water, there needs to be a way to regulate it. Like it or not, the water table is all connected. Rain water feeds aquifers. When you have people collecting it, it affects everyone down the line while they hold onto it for their own selfish reasons.

Now if only they would stop letting corporations use as much as they want...

posted on Jul, 10 2015 @ 03:14 PM
a reply to: DancedWithWolves

If they 'own' it, even though all is funded by WE the taxpayers...and I need water...well guess what !#$@@^%!$holes, I'll 'steal' it the same way you claim to 'own' it.

Can't tell me I don't have the right to life giving water.

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