Lee Pitts: Wading too deep with Waters of the U.S.
May 17, 2016
"Who are you and what are you doing? I didn't give you permission to come on my property."
"I don't need your permission. I'm an enviromeddler from the Enviromeddle Protection Agency and we got a heads-up from the environmedlle group called the Snitches, Witches and B…"
"Whoa right there. There's no need to use that kind of language in front of the children. And I still don't know why you're here."
"The Snitches and Witches have a drone in the area and they reported to us that you had created waters belonging to the United States of America."
"By filling up that child's wading pool you created waters that belong to the United States. That's according to a recent EPA rule lovingly known down at headquarters as WOTUS."
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"No WOTUS. It says that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have complete authority over all waters of the United States, which generally include everything from puddles to stock ponds to lakes. By misusing U.S. water, you could be subject to fines of $37,000 per day."
"But it's my water. Out of my well."
"At the EPA, we've been trained to identify U.S. waters. I can smell it 50 miles away. I can assure you that is U.S. water."
"What if I just drain the pool and squirt the kids with water instead?"
"By draining the pool you would be creating a wetland which would also be U.S. property."
"YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING?"
"I assure you I am not. And please, there's no need to yell, after all, you are the one who created this problem in the first place by creating Waters of the United States. Boy, it sure is hot today, could I possibly get a drink of water?"
"I'd like to help but it sounds like I might be creating Waters of the United States if I gave you a drink. Tell me, If I can't just dump it, can I put it in the creek that flows through our property?"
"I wouldn't do that if I were you, because you can't discharge water into a body of water that has been deemed a "Water of the United States". According to the Administrative Procedures Act that would require an Approved Jurisdictional Determination, or what those of us around the water cooler down at the office call a Gotchya."
"Can I get one of those Approved Jurisdictional Determinations?"
"It's not very likely. The last guy who tried was back in 2012 and his case is just now going through the Supreme Court."
"If I can't drain it, dump it or discharge it how about if I just let it evaporate?"
"You can't legally do that either because you'd be destroying waters of the United States."
"According to your rules, does all the water on my place belong to the United States?"
"Am I creating waters of the United States when I pee or take a bath?"
"You take a bath? I'll pretend I didn't hear that."
"Getting back to the wading pool, what are my options."
"At the Enviromeddle Protection Agency we don't provide answers, heavens no! We just create problems. If I were you I'd get myself a criminal lawyer."
"Aren't they all?"
"I can give you my brother-in-law's business card. He works for the law firm of Steele, Robb Cheatum and Moore, but I'll warn you, he charges five hundred bucks per hour and it will cost hundreds of thousands in legal fees. Even then we'll probably end up owning your place anyway. That's why our motto at the Enviromeddle Protection Agency is, "Even when we lose, we win." ❖