Farming groups in the US are partnering to oppose legislation to significantly expand the federal jurisdiction of The Clean Water Act (CWA).

The National Association of Counties’ (NACo) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) are concerned that the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) would needlessly expand the federal reach of CWA and result in significant negative impacts on farmers, ranchers, local governments and local economies without improving protections of the nation’s critical water resources.

Both organizations stressed that they support current CWA provisions and enforcement of state and local environmental protection laws.

The groups have expressed their concern to Congress that eliminating the word “navigable” from the definition of “Waters of the United States” would result in an unprecedented expansion of federal authority.

NACo President Don Stapley, supervisor, Maricopa County, Ariz., said that NACo supports CWA provisions that protect wetland habitats and rivers and streams of the U.S., but does not support federal efforts to change the definition of the Clean Water Act from navigable waters to “waters of the United States.” In addition, NACo opposes federal efforts to further expand the authority and responsibilities of the federal agencies in regard to these waters.

“The legislation would drastically expand federal clean water jurisdiction and create significant bureaucratic obstacles and lead to increased costs to counties without necessarily enhancing environmental protections of waterways and wetlands,” Stapley said.