Sportsmen need clean water to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations. Farmers need clean water for livestock and crops. And every American needs clean water to drink, swim in, boat on, and enjoy. The clean water rule will restore protections for small streams and wetlands that were eliminated due to confusing Supreme Court decisions and agency rules.

Trump Administration Puts America’s Waters at Risk

On February 28, 2017, the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order to rescind or revise the Clean Water Rule. This president directed the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to consider defining waters protected by the Clean Water Act based on an extreme minority opinion from the Supreme Court. Under this opinion, the Clean Water Act would not protect small streams, such as headwaters, unless they flow continuously. Moreover, it would also deny protection for many wetlands – including prairie potholes critical to migratory waterfowl and other wildlife – that lack a continuous surface connection to larger waters.

To protect our nation’s drinking water resources and economy, revisions to the Clean Water Rule must not rely on Justice Scalia’s opinion to define waters protected by the Clean Water Act.

Warning sign for polluted water (Photo credit: iStock)

IWLA's Statement on the President's Budget Proposal

On March 16, 2017, President Trump released his budget outline that reflects the broad priorities of the administration. On virtually every issue of importance to the League the administration’s priorities are sharply at odds with our priorities. Read more...

League Testifies Before Senate To Support Clean Water Rule

Former IWLA national president Charles “Chuck” Clayton testified in August 2016 in support of the Clean Water Rule at a U.S. Senate field hearing in Rapid City, South Dakota. He emphasized that protecting clean water and wetlands is vital to outdoor recreation, public health, and the economy in South Dakota and across the nation and highlighted how threats to clean water and healthy wetlands have grown as Clean Water Act protections have been weakened. Read the full testimony.

IWLA Executive Director Scott Kovarovics testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife in May 2016 in support of the Clean Water Rule. Georgetown University law professor William Buzbee testified on the constitutionality of the clean water rule.

Consolidating Court Challenges

In a decision announced February 22, 2016, a federal court of appeals decided that all challenges to the Clean Water Rule will be considered by it in one case. This decision means the challenges will be handled more efficiently and hopefully will yield a decision on the substance of the rule more quickly. The League believes the rule should be upheld and implemented as soon as possible to protect streams, wetlands, and drinking water supplies for 1 in 3 Americans.

Clean Water Rule Temporarily Suspended Nationwide

In a decision issued on October 9, 2015, a federal appeals court temporarily suspended implementation of the clean water rule nationwide. This decision is procedural only – it does not overturn the rule or address the merits of the arguments for or against it. Following the decision, League Executive Director Scott Kovarovics made the following statement:

“The decision to temporarily halt implementation of the clean water rule is disappointing. In making this decision, the court prioritized the status quo that existed before the new rule was finalized. The ‘status quo’ means uncertainty about which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. It means that waters essential for hunting, fishing, and the outdoor recreation economy remain at risk. And it means that drinking water supplies for 1 in 3 Americans remain threatened.

For Izaak Walton League members nationwide, the status quo is not acceptable. We look forward to a speedy resolution to this case and a final decision that upholds the clean water rule and common-sense protections for our nation’s waters.”

It is impossible to predict how long the judicial process will take. While the clean water rule is suspended, EPA and the Corps of Engineers will use regulations that had previously been in effect to determine the specific types of waters protected by the Clean Water Act.


The Clean Water Act was signed into law in 1972 to safeguard our country’s most precious natural resource, and did so successfully for decades. But after Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 led to badly flawed administrative policies, at least 20 million wetland acres and nearly 60 percent of stream miles in the continental United States – around 2 million miles – lost clearly defined protections against draining, filling, and polluting simply because they are smaller or farther upstream than other waters. Moreover, these small streams contribute to drinking water supplies for 117 million Americans. The League ​has been working to restore protections for small streams and wetlands and ensure America’s waters are safe for fishing, swimming, and other uses.

Read more about the Clean Water Rule:

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