Rollback of Clean Water Rule Puts Drinking Water for 1 in 3 Americans at Risk

February 28, 2017

February 27, 2017

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

Washington, DC – President Trump today is expected to sign an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to abandon the Clean Water Rule, likely stripping protection from small streams and wetlands from which all of our rivers flow, and putting the drinking water supplies for one in three Americans at risk.

“Few things are more fundamental to our health than the water we drink. No one should have to worry about pollution when they turn on the tap,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers.

“Coming just days after he eliminated the rule protecting streams from coal mining pollution, President Trump’s order to roll back the Clean Water Rule is another major blow against river health and clean drinking water,” Irvin said.

The Clean Water Rule clarifies which streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act, and which are not. Over a decade ago, two U.S. Supreme Court decisions raised questions over which of the nation’s waters are subject to federal protection under the Clean Water Act, and this confusion placed millions of miles of streams, particularly headwater streams, and millions of acres of wetlands in jeopardy. The Clean Water Rule remedied that situation.

Across the country, small streams and wetlands contribute to the drinking water supplies of 117 million Americans and provide tremendous economic benefits to the public in the form of reduced flooding, pollution filtration, groundwater recharge, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.

“Without the Clean Water Rule’s critical protections, innumerable small streams and wetlands that are essential for drinking water supplies, flood protection, and fish and wildlife habitat will be vulnerable to unregulated pollution, dredging and filling, “ Irvin said.

More than 1,200 individually peer-reviewed studies provided the scientific foundation for the Clean Water Rule, and over one million comments demonstrated overwhelming popular support for strong protection for the country’s small streams and wetlands.

“President Trump just threw away carefully crafted safeguards that were based on strong economic arguments, sound science and broad public support, “ Irvin said. “As the nation’s voice for rivers, American Rivers will fight to safeguard the rivers and streams that connect us all, and to protect clean drinking water for American families and future generations.”


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.

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