Property Owner Entitled to Farm Pond Exemption Under Clean Water Act.

The plaintiffs were cattle farmers, and the defendant was a neighboring landowner who sought to build a third pond on his property. The defendant initially stated that the pond was for recreational and aesthetic purposes, but later contended that it was to irrigate 3.5 acres of fruit trees that he intended to plant. The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency determined that the defendant was not required to obtain a permit to build the pond on his property due to the Clean Water Act’s farm pond exemption. 33 U.S.C. § 1344(f)(1)(C).  The plaintiffs filed a citizen suit contesting the agencies’ determination. The court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that because the defendant used the third pond for irrigation of his crops, he was entitled to a farm pond exemption and the agencies’ determination was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with the law.  The court also found that there was no evidence to establish that the recapture exception to the exemption applied. Finally, the court found there was nothing deceitful or illegal about the defendant’s actions.   Craig v. United States Army Corps of Eng'rs, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154388 (D. S.C. Oct. 29, 2014).

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