U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- As wetlands delineation becomes a major issue
passage of amendments to the federal Clean Water Act, a report by the Water
Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council has urged
adoption of a single regulatory definition and policy manual. The report
recommends that the federal government prepare a new manual delineating what
a wetland is while incorporating numerous technical improvements.
In particular, the report flies in the face of U.S. Department of
policy by stating that there is no scientific justification for a special
definition of agricultural wetlands from similar wetlands located outside of
The long-awaited report by the board's Committee on Wetlands
provides a "reference definition of wetlands which can provide a standard by
which regulatory definitions and actions can be assessed," said Sheila David,
who directed the study for the National Research Council. The committee
maintains that it is important to have such a reference definition that
stands outside the context of any particular agency, policy, or regulation.
In addition to stating that wetlands in farming areas are no
those outside of agriculture, the report also says that riparian zones along
rivers and streams cannot be wholly defined as wetlands. The report notes
that if riparian zones are to be protected, it must be through separate
legislation that recognizes the unique attributes of streamside areas.
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