John Crabtree: Water is life

Here in the west, we understand that there is much truth in the old joke that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting. Rural and small town America depend on water and our neighbors downstream count on us to preserve the quality of that water for their use as well. And farmers and ranchers are the tip of the spear when it comes to protecting water quality because much of our surface water falls first on American farms and ranches.

Recently, I testified at a U.S. Senate field hearing in Lincoln, Nebraska, regarding the Waters of the U.S. rule ( The rule seeks to cut through the chaos and confusion surrounding Clean Water Act enforcement arising from Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. The rule goes to great lengths to ensure that farmers and ranchers benefit from preserving water quality but are not overly burdened with the rule’s implementation.

Naysayers more concerned about protecting industries’ right to pollute should stop muddying the water with nonsense about regulating puddles, ditches and raindrops.

Water is life, for crops, livestock, and wildlife as well as farms, ranches, business, industry and for hundreds of millions of us who depend upon clean water from our rivers, lakes and streams. It is in all our interest to protect this vital natural resource. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers should continue to listen to concerns, make improvements to the rule, and move it forward to finalization.
John Crabtree
Center for Rural Affairs
Lyons, Nebraska

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