Farmers are exempt from needing permits to plow their lands under the Clean Water Act. But the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, implemented by Obama in 2015, prohibits plowing below the clay beneath the topsoil that keeps vernal pools, which count as wetlands, from draining. Duarte’s land does, indeed, include some vernal pools. He said the field was plowed only from 4 to 7 inches in depth, and maybe a foot deep in one place. And farmers can till land with vernal pools as long as they don’t destroy the pool’s existence, he said.