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Sunday, July 14, 2019

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Lafourche Joins Other Parishes in Concern Over Proposed Federal Rule Change

Lafourche Joins Other Parishes in Concern Over Proposed Federal Rule Change

Lafourche Parish Government officials are opposing a possible federal rule change which threatens to undermine and complicate the process of constructing levees and improving drainage.

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers jointly released a new proposition that could change the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act.

According to parish officials, one of the biggest problems with the proposed rule change would be how waterways are defined.

The proposition resulted in a resolution that was submitted and voted on by the Lafourche Parish Council in June opposing the expansion of federal control under the Clean Water Act.

Currently, waters of the U.S. are thought of as being navigable waters and any waters significantly connected to navigable waters. The new proposition could potentially complicate issues by forcing parish officials to acquire federal permits before ditches and low tracts of land could be cleaned or altered in any way.

“This would undoubtedly be a problem for us from both a financial and timeliness standpoint,” Parish President Charlotte Randolph said. “We have many improvement projects on the books, and what we don’t want to see is more federal intervention that could potentially put a halt or slow down the work on any of these important levee and drainage projects.”

Aside from many parishes, the National Association of Counties is very concerned about the precedent this ruling would set.

Via its website, the EPA said the rule change would not cause serious problems for local governments, but implications of the proposition are unknown.

“Counties (parishes) are strongly encouraged to submit written comments on potential impacts of the proposed regulation to the Federal Register,” as stated in a policy brief from NACO. Public commentary will be accepted through Friday, November 14.

Randolph went on to say she is hopeful the proposed rule change never becomes law.

To learn more about the rule change and its potential effects on local government entities, including Lafourche Parish, visit