BEND, Ore. - The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, is proposing new rules to protect streams and wetlands in an effort to clarify what types of waterways should be protected under the Clean Water Act.
The new rules would change the language for what types of streams and wetlands can qualify for protection. Namely, bodies of water that sometimes run dry would be protected under the new rules.
An Oregon conservation group, Environment Oregon, says the rule will better protect the streams and wetlands that feed into rivers, and will make water healthier and safer.
However, Central Oregon Builders Association Vice President of Government Affairs Andy High said Wednesday the rules would be an infringement on the rights of property owners, and would unfairly broaden what can be considered a body of water.
"It's basically taking small bodies of water, or rain puddles like you see on the street, and potentially putting them under the Clean Water Act," High said. "That could stifle development, could stifle growth and development of business."
A spokeswoman for the Division of State Lands said the EPA's proposed rules shouldn't affect Oregon laws.
Julie Curtis said Oregon already has similar laws in place regulating streams and wetlands. She said her department is currently reviewing the proposal and examining how it could affect Oregonians.
The proposed rules will soon be open for a 90 day public comment period.
More information on the proposal can be found at epa.gov