Abbott Threatens EPA With Lawsuit Over Proposed Water Regulations For "Ditches"

Aug 12, 2014

Credit EPA

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is threatening to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for a new set of proposed water protections. Abbott wants the EPA to scrap a plan that expands the definition of federal waterways.

The EPA wants to include seasonal and rain-dependent waterways. The agency said it would stiffen penalties for polluting those waterways that supply drinking water.

In his letter addressed to the EPA, Abbott said that would include stock tanks, small ponds and dry ditches on private land. Abbott accused the EPA of overreaching it’s authority beyond the Clean Water Act, which currently only gives them authority over waterways that can be navigated.

David Foster with the group Clean Water Action said the new rules would ensure clean water for 11.5 million Texans whose drinking supply is connected to these types of waterways.

“What they would do is restore full protections to streams and wetlands that dry-up part of the year but are hydrologically connected to the drinking water supply of Americans," Foster said. "So this is about public health.”

As far as Abbott’s letter, Foster said he sees this as part of a larger campaign put on by the attorney general.

"You know, he sued the EPA over carbon emissions, he sued the EPA over air pollution that crosses borders and this is just another piece of that campaign, you know, frankly to prevent the EPA from doing what Congress set it up to do, which is protect people’s health and the environment,” Foster said.

Foster said these proposed rules do not apply to all stock ponds or irrigation ditches and they restore protections that were in effect during the Reagan and Clinton administrations.