Runoff from farm fields is a primary cause of high levels of nitrate, phosphorus, and other nutrient pollution in many U.S. watercourses. Defined in the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 502(14), 33 U.S.C. §1314(f), as a nonpoint source, such runoff is exempt from direct control under the CWA. Despite this regulatory gap, spotlighted by a recent federal district court dismissal of a water utility action against an irrigation district, Bd. of Water Works Trustees v. Sac County Bd. of Supervisors, No. C15-4020-LTS, 2017 WL 1042072 (N.D. Ia. Mar. 17, 2017), the problem may be abated through farmers’ growing use of cover crops.
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