EPA: What water matters and what doesn’t

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Bill Heffernan, EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks at Heffernan's mid-Missouri farmA Missouri farmer says he learned some things from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that he’s doing right on his farm. Bill Heffernan and his partners farm 500 rolling acres of soybeans, corn, sorghum and cover crops in central Missouri. He was worried that one of his ponds would fall under the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. proposed rule in the Clean Water Act, about which, he has been very concerned. He tells Brownfield Ag News, “Oh absolutely (concerned). In fact, I’ve learned quite a bit hosting this. I know a lot more about my farm now than before.”

Heffernan says he found out his conservation practices exempt him from the rule, “The bottom line,  in a case like this you say what implications does it have for me and try to figure that out. And, in a sense, we can keep right on doing what we’re doing.”

Administrator McCarthy says her tour of Heffernan’s farm is the start of clarifying what water matters and what doesn’t on U.S. farms. McCarthy says, “The original rule actually DID regulate ditches and it wasn’t clear at all what ditches it didn’t regulate. When we started to explore that and put some clearer language in it raised everybody’s concern. We really need everybody’s input on what ditches matter and what ditches don’t. And, we think that, certainly for agriculture operations – the kind of ditches that are jurisdictional are very narrow – they’re very narrowly defined but we need help with it.”

McCarthy held a round table discussion with some Missouri farmers at the University of Missouri Bradford Research Center following this morning’s tour.  She will speak at the Kansas City AgriBusiness Council meeting on Thursday.

AUDIO: Interview with Bill Heffernan (6:00 mp3)

AUDIO: Gina McCarthy, Q & A with reporters after Heffernan farm tour (6:00 mp3)

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