According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water can be regulated as a pollutant by the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA). In saying so, the EPA implicates the very thing it was charged to protect. Ironic?

In July 2012, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sued the EPA for a proposed plan to regulate the amount of water flowing into the Accotink Creek watershed. He was joined by the staunchly Democratic Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “I know a lot of people were scratching their heads over that,” Sharon Bulova, chairman of the board, said.

Their uncommon bipartisan opposition just goes to show how far federal regulation via the Clean Water Act has overreached. In the Accotink case, the EPA had proposed a plan to deal with sediment in the Accotink Creek aggravated by storm water runoff from Interstate 495. They issued a Total Maximum Daily Load limit to control how much water was flowing into Accotink and from where it could come.

Instead of regulating the sediment, the EPA effectively treated water as the pollutant. The plan would have cost Fairfax County $250 million and Virginia’s Department of Transportation another $70 million, despite the fact that the county has already been working on the problem.

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