County commissioners sign resolution opposing weakening of state water rights

News Editor

The Hays County Commissioners Court approved a resolution that opposes newly proposed rules expanding the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The new rules state that previously unregulated waters like ditches, farm ponds, dry waterways and isolated wetlands will fall under the power of the CWA, according to a Hays County Commissioners Court press release.

The resolution states,  “Hays County strongly opposes the proposed new rule to define ‘waters of the United States’ in that it increases the need for burdensome and costly permitting requirements, infringes on private property rights and circumvents the legislative process.”

The resolution also says that “Congress, not federal agencies, make the laws, and therefore any such change in jurisdictional power of the federal government should only occur as a result of the passage of federal legislation.”

If the new rules are approved, they will “impact private property rights,” said Ray Whisenant, Precinct 4 commissioner, in the press release.

“In the past, both the (Environmental Protection Agency) and Corps of Engineers have been criticized by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives for enacting expansive rules without congressional oversight, and this appears to be another attempt to disregard states’ rights,” Whisenant said.

The rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers would be an infringement on the state’s rights to regulate its own waters, said Hays County Judge Bert Cobb, M.D., in the press release.

“These two federal agencies failed to expand the CWA through legislation and are now trying to gain more control by expanding their rules,” Cobb said in the release.

The court unanimously approved to oppose the rules with their resolution.