The Environmental Perfection Agency is finally having its wings clipped.
The EPA has been trying to impose new regulations that argue water is a pollutant.
More specifically, they have been imposing bureaucratic edicts on local jurisdictions to treat storm run-off before it enters rivers and lakes.
The EPA has imposed storm water rules on three local jurisdictions so far. They apparently had plans to roll out similar requirements for cities and counties along 3,700 other water bodies for which it regulates sediments.
The cost to treat storm run-off would be significant. That means all of the rain that falls in Ceres, Hughson and Keyes that isn't absorbed into the ground would have to be funneled through wastewater treatment plants or else massive French drain systems would need to be developed.
The EPA's rationale is simple but twisted.
Storm run-off contains sediment. The EPA regulate pollutants in 3,700 bodies of water. Rain fall and snow melt is water which is protected by the EPA. However, water stirs up sediment when it moves so therefore water becomes a pollutant in itself.
U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady saw through the ruse stemming from an April 2011 EPA directive to Fairfax County in Virginia. The EPA demanded the county restrict storm water that flows into a 25-mile creek that is a tributary to the Potomac River.
In order to meet the EPA's demands, the county would have had to spend more than $200 million tearing down homes and businesses and replacing them with storm retention ponds or grass.
O'Grady ruled that the EPA doesn't have the authority to regulate non-pollutants, which in this case is storm water. The EPA had tried to argue that it could regulate storm water because nothing in federal statues prohibited the agency from doing so.
That prompted Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to counter, "if Congress didn't prohibit (the EPA) from invading Mexico, (does that mean the EPA has) the authority to invade Mexico?"
What is at stake is more than just extremely expensive federal government-imposed regulations.
Had the EPA prevailed, they would have secured enormous say over local land use across the United States. Their tentacles wouldn't have just been into jurisdictions adjacent to rivers and lakes. It would have touched any jurisdiction that had excess storm flow that managed to make it into a tributary of any river.
Several years ago, former Manteca City Manager Steve Pinkerton warned that if the EPA succeeded in regulating storm water runoff and required it to be treated in some form, it could easily double - if not triple - monthly municipal sewer rates.
The EPA's drive for environmental perfection is already levying a high toll on the Valley.
Despite the fact the Valley has reduced air pollution by half over the past 20 years, the EPA imposed even tougher standards. San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District officials note the only way we could come close to meeting the new standards is if every vehicle was removed from the Valley.
Add the storm water run-off regulation ploy and you might as well pull the plug on the San Joaquin Valley. You'd have to end all farming and create an exodus unmatched in modern times.
But hey, it's a small price to pay for environmental perfection.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.