The industry reacts to the new WOTUS definition

By |  January 24, 2020
Alan Parks at Memphis Stone & Gravel’s former Love Plant. The one-time site is being reclaimed as a Bill Dance Signature Lake. Photo: Kevin Yanik

Memphis Stone & Gravel’s Alan Parks is pleased with the new Waters of the U.S. definition. Photo by Kevin Yanik

Aggregate producers were quick to applaud the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) replacement Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that provides a new definition for “waters of the United States.”

Alan Parks, vice president of Memphis Stone & Gravel Co., was among those who weighed in.

“For small businesses like mine, regulatory uncertainty and inconsistency result in real costs,” Parks says. “The new WOTUS definition continues to protect our nation’s water and provides clarity on several key exclusions such as ponds built on dry land, pits and basins associated with mining, and streams that only convey water after storm events.

“Knowing that our gravel pits and water treatment basins won’t carry an additional federal regulatory burden is very helpful,” Parks adds. “These changes will allow us to be even better stewards of our local natural resources, which results in a positive benefit to our community.”

The revised WOTUS rule replaces what the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) describes as a deeply flawed and overly expansive 2015 WOTUS rule that led to widespread confusion, delays and increased costs for aggregate producers.

For years, NSSGA advocated for a more reasonable rule that excludes dry streambeds, ditches and other marginal waters that have little impact on flowing waters. The revised rule better aligns with the Clean Water Act and Supreme Court decisions by including navigable waters, adjacent wetlands and tributaries as waters that are federally regulated, NSSGA says.

“The scope of federal jurisdiction over waters has been confusing for years, causing permitting delays,” says Mark Williams, environmental manager at Luck Companies who also serves as NSSGA’s Environmental Committee chairman. “The implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule made matters worse. We are pleased that the new rule provides important environmental protection of waters that need it most, while ensuring clarity to aggregates producers like Luck. It’s important that both the regulators and NSSGA members are able to understand when a federal permit is required so we can continue to provide materials for vital infrastructure projects.”

Michael Johnson, the president and CEO of NSSGA, offered some thoughts on the new rule, as well.

“NSSGA members have worked for years to get a WOTUS rule that aligns with congressional intent by providing necessary protections while allowing aggregates producers the regulatory certainty by which to plan and operate their businesses and provide the necessary infrastructure projects America needs,” Johnson says.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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