Who Owns The Water? - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Who Owns The Water?

     The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to expand their authority of water and many ranchers feel like big brother is over stepping their boundaries.

A 380 page rule was put out by the E.P.A. describing the waters it's claiming jurisdiction over. This includes ditches, rivers, ponds and even estuaries that don't currently have water.

 The proposed rule for the waters of the United States encompasses any water that may be on your property. The basis of this rule is to regulate the cleanliness of the water.

Michael Kelsey, Executive Vice President for the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association is in opposition of what the E.P.A. is trying to do.

 ”We view it as one of the most powerful private property rights grabs that our federal government has ever imposed in our opinion,” said Kelsey.

Tommy Henderson, a farmer and rancher, said the EPA’s rule goes beyond common sense.

“If you take it to the extreme, they can regulate the water that falls in your dog dish if you have a dog dish outside,” said Henderson.

“Here's how i like to explain it,” said Kelsey. “If you have a bottle of water in your possession, that's under your jurisdiction. If you pour that water out, then under this proposed rule, that water would become EPA’s jurisdiction. That's why we view it as so far reaching.”

The new rule will require cattle ranchers to get the permission of the federal government anytime they need to expand, do maintenance or perform routine activities like driving a tractor through a pasture.

“Obviously this is an extremely controversial proposed rule,” said Kelsey.

The EPA is currently under a comment period where farmers and ranchers can voice their opinions on the EPA’s web page.

The comments period ends in October where the EPA will review those comments and take them into consideration before expanding their authority.

We reached out numerous times to the EPA and left several messages but never heard back.

Stay with six as we continue to follow this story.

Brody Carter, Newschannel 6
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