March 25, 2014
(Washington, DC) – The Obama Administration today publicly released a proposed rule to clarify the scope of protections for small streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Small streams and wetlands contribute to the drinking water supplies of 117 million Americans. They support healthy habitat for fish and wildlife, help to store floodwaters, and filter out pollutants.
Despite nearly thirty years of protection under the Clean Water Act, two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 put safeguards for small streams and wetlands into question. Confusion and uncertainty over what waters were protected under the Act left these waters vulnerable to pollution as delays increased and enforcement declined. The Obama Administration’s rulemaking is an effort to reduce uncertainty around the scope of the Clean Water Act. It provides greater clarity about what waters are and are not protected under the law.
“What happens in small streams and wetlands upstream affects the health of our rivers and the communities that depend upon them downstream,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers. “The proposed rule released today by the Environmental Protection Agency relies on sound science to clarify the scope of protections under the Clean Water Act for these critical upstream waters that contribute to our drinking water supplies and protect us from flooding. This is an important step forward to better protect and restore our nation’s rivers.”
While these clarifications are an important step forward, American Rivers will continue to urge the Administration to go further to restore historical protections under the Clean Water Act through the public comment process.
About American Rivers
American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 250,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.