Appeal Begins in Case of Man Convicted of Digging Two Ponds

Aug 31, 2017

Oral arguments before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals began in the appeal of 78-year old Joseph Robertson. Robertson was found guilty of “digging two ponds in Montana, one on federal land and the other on private property, without a permit.” Joseph Robertson is serving an 18-month sentence for violating the Clean Water Act and for destroying federal property. Robertson thought he was digging the ponds on private property. The government accused him of polluting the “waters of the U.S.” “The nearest navigable river, the Jefferson, is 60 miles away.” The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers say that tributaries and wetlands where the ponds were built have a “significant nexus to traditional navigable waters.” Attorneys for Robertson say that the definition of “navigable water” is vague and “leads to violations of individual’s property rights.”