No Oversight In Place For Arizona's Dry Washes Once EPA Rule Change Final

By Bret Jaspers
Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 10:21pm
Bret Jaspers/KJZZ
The reverse angle of the dry wash that empties into Dude Creek.

Arizona expects to lose federal oversight over a large chunk of its waterways once a new Trump administration rule goes into effect.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new definition of “Waters of the United States” is slated to be in place by spring. The change would remove from federal regulation certain urban lakes and so-called “ephemeral” streams, which only run due to rain or snow. 

The proposal has been out there for months, and the administration has already repealed a 2015 Obama administration definition

Trevor Baggiore, director of the water quality division for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said the new rule will remove a significant number of Arizona waterways from protection under the Clean Water Act.

“We expect 85 to 93% of currently regulated waters to no longer be regulated once the proposed definition is finalized,” he said.

Baggiore is asking stakeholders for input on possible state regulations. 

At a meeting on Tuesday, he told a gathering of water professionals that the state process could require legislation and take over three years. That means, because the federal change will likely be in place much earlier than that, there could be a lengthy period of no regulation for discharges into ephemeral streams.

Seven Arizona state departments declared support for the proposed rule in their comments. At the same time, they asked for a delay in implementing the definition in order to craft a new state policy.