Bob Helland, GCSAA director of congressional and federal affairs, joined a number of agricultural, commodities and other groups May 19 to discuss the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) with the EPA's Office of Water.
This meeting was part of a series of stakeholder discussions the Office of Water is holding to review the NWPR before it decides what aspects to amend or change. GCSAA supports the NWPR because of the clarity it provides superintendents in determining whether activities at their facilities affect federal waters. Helland urged regulators to respect the balance that the NWPR struck between protecting the environment and allowing activities on golf courses to continue.
Representatives from the EPA’s Office of Water, the Army Corps Engineers, and the United States Department of Agriculture were also present.
Discussion focused on the NWPR and the rule it replaced (the Clean Water Rule, commonly known as “WOTUS”). GCSAA opposed WOTUS because of its overreach. Waters such as tributaries, for example, could be regulated by the federal government even if they were wet for only a limited time each year (i.e. ephemeral). And wetlands could be regulated even without a surface connection to a navigable water. NWPR improves on this by excluding ephemeral waters from federal jurisdiction and by requiring a surface connection for wetland regulation.
Helland discussed the role that water plays on a golf course as well as the role superintendents play as stewards of water. Of the 150 acres on an average golf course, 11 acres are comprised of streams, ponds, lakes and/or wetlands. Superintendents use agronomic best management practices to manage the quality of these waters. What they don’t need is a “one-size-fits-all” approach from the federal government that would subject them to complicated federal permitting and onerous fines. Helland stressed that a collaborative approach with golf and other stakeholders would work best.
GCSAA continues to be a voice for golf course management in federal regulatory decisions over water and to make sure superintendents have a seat at the table.