On January 15, 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency released a scientific report demonstrating the importance of small streams and wetlands to downstream water quality. The report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters, is based on current scientific research, specifically 1,200 publications from peer-reviewed scientific literature. The EPA’s report concludes that there is an undeniable chemical, physical, and biological connection between small streams, wetlands and floodplains to downstream waterbodies such as lakes, estuaries, oceans, and larger river systems.
The report will be used to help finalize the proposed Clean Water Protection rule, which was first proposed in the spring of 2014. The final rule will restore protections to over half of America’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands. Although these important waters contribute to the drinking water supplies of one in three Americans they are currently vulnerable to degradation.
This report demonstrates that the Clean Water Protection rule is grounded in science. The report makes the sound, scientific case for what we have long known- what happens upstream will affect downstream. We have to protect the smaller streams and wetlands in order to comprehensively protect larger bodies of water. Anyone who has an interest in healthy rivers – for drinking or recreation – can appreciate this report and should support the proposed Clean Water Protection rule.