July 18, 2007 Family Farm Alliance, F O R I M M E D I A T E
R E L E A S E
by NORM SEMANKO, Idaho Water Users Association
Idaho Water Leader to Testify on Clean Water Act
Semanko will represent Western water users at committee
A Western water leader will tell a Congressional subcommittee
tomorrow in the nation’s capital that proposed legislation
revising the Clean Water Act (CWA) will create more problems
rather than solving a wide range of problems with the Act that
Norm Semanko, executive director of the Idaho Water Users
Association (IWUA), is testifying on behalf of the National Water
Resources Association (NWRA) and the Family Farm Alliance
(Alliance). He will tell members of the House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure that passage of the proposed
Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 (CWRA) would seriously erode
the well-established and long-respected right of the states to
manage their water resources and protect water quality.
Semanko’s testimony puts the NWRA and the Alliance squarely on the
Congressional record as opposing the legislation.
“Significant problems are already being encountered by water
providers with the existing Act and these challenges are expected
to continue,” said Semanko, whose written testimony is available
on the Family Farm Alliance web site:
Semanko will cite a variety of crucial reasons why the proposed
revision of the CWA should be blocked. The proposed legislation is
supposed to reaffirm the original intent of the CWA, to end legal
wrangling about what Congress meant when it passed the CWA in
1972, and to prevent the judicial branch from rewriting or
redefining the scope and application of the CWA. Semanko believes
the CWRA fails to accomplish any of these goals.
“CWRA ignores the Congressional intent underlying the CWA and will
give rise to more litigation, not less,” said Semanko.
Representatives from NWRA and the Alliance are pleased that
Semanko has this opportunity to speak directly to the author of
CWRA, Committee Chairman Oberstar (MINNESOTA).
“The case for expanding federal jurisdiction through the proposed
legislation has been greatly exaggerated,” said NWRA executive
director Tom Donnelly. "After reading the justifications provided
by the bill’s drafters, one not familiar with this nation’s regime
for regulation of the environment would understandably conclude
that there is some giant gap in the regulatory scheme that is
allowing unchecked pollution in waters that are not currently
within the jurisdiction of the CWA. Norm is the right guy to tell
the committee this is simply not the case.”
Agricultural water users fear that the proposed legislation would
have disastrous impacts on agricultural and municipal water supply
“The CWRA will extend jurisdiction to virtually all agricultural
irrigation facilities, subjecting them to water quality standards
the facilities were not designed for and are not operated to
support,” said Dan Keppen, Alliance executive director. “Such a
jurisdictional extension will paralyze the ability of water users
to efficiently operate and maintain these facilities.”
One of the stated purposes of CWRA is to “clearly define” the
scope of CWA jurisdiction. To accomplish this goal, however, the
bill proposes to assert jurisdiction over “all interstate and
“The proposed bill does not clearly define jurisdiction,
introduces new uncertainties and ambiguities that will ultimately
need to be resolved through more, not less, litigation,” said
Semanko will conclude his testimony by telling legislators that
significant problems are already being encountered by water
providers with the existing Clean Water Act and these challenges
are expected to continue.
The Family Farm Alliance and the National Water Resources
Association strongly oppose the CWRA because it is
unconstitutional, unnecessarily and unjustifiably expands federal
jurisdiction over intrastate waters, and would have significant
adverse impacts upon agricultural and municipal water providers.
“We urge clarity, not expansion of the Clean Water Act,” said
The Family Farm Alliance advocates for family farmers, ranchers,
irrigation districts and allied industries in 17 Western States.
The National Water Resources Association is a collection of state
water associations and represents the collective interests of
agricultural and municipal water providers in the Western States.