One of the plot devices in Robert Heinlein’s iconic ’60s novel Stranger In A Strange Land was the sharing of water, a sacred Martian ritual which bonded its participants forever as “water brothers”—even if they were sisters (See Robert Heinlein at 100 – How the science fiction master created the template for our looser, hipper, more pluralist world¹). But that was in a time long ago in a universe far, far away. In our own, where the grasping claws of leviathan are never more than one misguided court ruling away, we are in danger of being saddled not with water brothers, but with water tyrants, and their object is not to share but to control. For 10 years, bureaucrats in the EPA have seethed over certain Supreme Court decisions that limited federal jurisdiction over some of the country’s waterways:
[…] over the past decade, interpretations of Supreme Court rulings removed some critical waters from Federal protection, and caused confusion about which waters and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. As a result, important waters now lack clear protection under the law, and businesses and regulators face uncertainty and delay. The Obama Administration is committed to protecting waters on which the health of people, the economy and ecosystems depend.(EPA Website – Clean Water Act Definition of “Waters of the United States”)
But all that is about to change:
On Wednesday, April 27, the Obama administration’s US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) jointly released a new draft guidance for the federal Clean Water Act that aims to dramatically expand both the scope of what constitutes a “water source,” as well as the legal power federal agencies can exert over those water sources.
If enacted, the proposal will basically allow the EPA and ACE to control any stream, pond, or even puddle that they determine “has a physical, chemical or biological connection” to any larger body of water, which includes even privately-owned water sources. (EPA, Army Corps draft new Clean Water Act guidelines that threaten to seize control of all water supplies)