It’s one word, one word in federal legislation approved in 1972, but an important word according to the head of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The word is "navigable", a word that Missouri Farm Bureau President Charlie Kruse says is vital to the Clean Water Act .

"The word navigable appears in the Clean Water Act 80 times," Kruse tells the Missourinet, "and it has been there since 1972."

Kruse wants it to stay there.

"Just imagine the frightening aspect of the federal government coming on your property, if you have a private pond, and regulating in so many ways what you can and can’t do with that pond," says Kruse.

Kruse says the word "navigable" in the Clean Water Act limits the reach of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency. He fears that eliminating the word would give jurisdiction to all waters, including private lakes and farm ponds. Kruse warns that an expansion of the federal government’s regulatory power could delay construction of any new lakes or ponds and greatly increase their cost.

Washington might be listening. Kruse, who owns a farm in Dexter, has testified before the United States House Small Business Committee, asking that the word "navigable" be kept in SB 787, known as the Clean Water Restoration Act.

Kruse says he feels good about the reception he received as he spoke not only for the Missouri Farm Bureau, but as a member of the American Farm Bureau board of directors. He likely spoke to some friendly ears. The House Small Business Committee’s ranking member is northwest Missouri Congressman Sam Graves , a Republican from Tarkio. Two other Missouri Congressmen sit on the committee, Republicans Todd Akin from the St. Louis area and northeast Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer .

Missouri, according to Kruse, likely has as many farm ponds as any state, nearly 315,000. He says all could be affected if the proposed change is made. Kruse points to experience with obtaining permits to farm in wetlands to back up his warning. He says it takes two-to-four years to get such a permit with the cost ranging from $29,000 to $270,000.

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)