Rollback of Clean Water Rule Puts Americans’ Drinking Water at Risk

June 27, 2017

June 27, 2017

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency today put the drinking water supplies of 1 in 3 Americans at risk when it took official action to roll back the Clean Water Rule.

“The move by the Trump Administration to roll back the Clean Water Rule is another major blow to clean drinking water and the health of American families,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers.

“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,” Irvin said.

More than 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 by providing clarity as to which streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act, and which are not.

Said American Rivers board member Jo Ellen Darcy, “Every American deserves clean drinking water, and the public deserves clarity and predictability in decision-making. Today’s move to rescind the Clean Water Rule creates more risk for river health and more uncertainty for federal agencies, landowners and communities.  By tossing out years of scientific study and public input, Scott Pruitt and the Trump Administration are muddying the very waters the Clean Water Rule sought to clarify.”  Ms. Darcy was Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works in the Obama Administration and co-author of the Clean Water Rule.

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.

“Administrator Scott Pruitt and President Trump are throwing 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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