INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Farm Bureau is celebrating the repeal of a specific rule under the federal Clean Water Act that many farmers felt represented government overreach.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday formally revoked the 2015 Waters of the United States rule. WOTUS expanded the types of waterways that can receive federal protections under the Clean Water Act. 

Farm groups criticized the rule, saying it would regulate bodies of water as small as farm ponds, or roadside farm ditches that fill-up after heavy rain.

“The 2015 WOTUS rule was an overreach of power. It made conservation more difficult, and created uncertainty and liability for farmers,” said Justin Schneider, Indiana Farm Bureau’s director of state government relations.

Shortly after taking office, President Trump issued an executive order directing EPA to review and possibly replace WOTUS.

“Repealing the rule is a major win for American agriculture,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Farmers and ranchers are exceptional stewards of the land, taking great care to preserve it for generations to come.”

The repeal sets the stage for regulators to develop a new WOTUS definition, one that would provide “greater regulatory certainty,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

According to an EPA news release, the two federal district courts that have reviewed the merits of the 2015 rule found that the rule suffered from certain errors.

“Indiana farmers share the goal of protecting our nation’s waters, but the 2015 WOTUS rule was unworkable,” said Schneider. “The repeal of the 2015 WOTUS rule will allow us to move forward with a new rule that provides certainty and clarity, protects natural resources, and reestablishes the balance of regulatory authority between the EPA and the states.”

According to the EPA, with this final repeal, the pre-2015 regulations will be re-implemented. The final rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.