Roadside Ditch Regulation Sparks Builder Lawsuit
Citing a new rule that runs contrary to the goals of the federal Clean Water Act and threatens housing affordability by adding excessive and costly regulatory burdens to home building, NAHB on March 17 filed suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the so-called “Philadelphia Ditch Rule.”
The rule directs Corps officials in the Philadelphia District to treat all upland ditches as navigable waters of the United States, triggering their regulation under the federal Clean Water Act.
“This action is not only unnecessary but contradicts the wording of the act itself,” said NAHB President David. Pressly.
“Once again, we find ourselves explaining to federal authorities what their own rules mean,” Pressly said. “You can’t regulate a roadside ditch like you do the Mississippi River. It’s excessive, it’s expensive, and ultimately, it’s reflected in the cost of new homes.”
Furthermore, the Corps issued the ditch rule without appropriate notice, preventing property owners and other advocates from commenting on the rule, the suit says.
NAHB maintains that under the Clean Water Act, upland ditches are regulated as “point sources.” The association asked the District Court to “declare the final Philadelphia Ditch Rule to be unlawful” and to “enjoin the Corps from relying on the Ditch Rule in making its jurisdictional determinations.”
“We all work to abide by the environmental regulations that guide home building and support the goals of the Clean Water Act. But this ditch rule is just uncalled for,” Pressly said.
The association has also filed friend-of-the-court briefs in two cases heard last month by the Supreme Court to decide the issue of the Corps’ jurisdiction over tributaries, Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. Army Corps of Engineers.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.