Coalition Calls for Restored Clean Water Protections (4/2/09)
For Immediate Release
April 2, 2009
Coalition Calls for Restored Clean Water Protections
New legislation seen as best way to reverse wetland rollbacks
WASHINGTON – A coalition of hunting, fishing and conservation organizations today applauded the introduction of the Clean Water Restoration Act and the members of Congress focused on finding a lasting legislative solution to our national clean water and wetlands protection crisis. At risk are a host of important ecological features, such as prairie potholes, playa lakes, and intermittent and ephemeral streams, which provide many important societal benefits like clean drinking water, healthy fish and wildlife populations, flood and erosion control, and recreational opportunities.
“The Supreme Court rulings from 2001 and 2006 questioned the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enforce the Clean Water Act on certain waters,” said Jan Goldman-Carter of the National Wildlife Federation. “As a result, protections for some of our most environmentally productive and important waters have been severely weakened. There is much at stake for millions of America’s hunters and anglers. Congress must move quickly to restore these long-standing protections for wetlands, lakes, and streams.”
“Existing EPA and Army Corps guidance in the wake of SWANCC (2001) and Rapanos (2006) make it clear that a legislative solution is needed to protect America’s drinking water,” said Scott Sutherland of Ducks Unlimited. “Ducks Unlimited values Senator Feingold’s leadership in reopening this debate, and looks forward to continuing to work to reach a solution that best protects these critical wetlands.”
Indeed, the impact from this loss of protections is wide-ranging. The EPA estimates that 111 million Americans receive drinking water from streams that are now without federal protections. Additionally, some 20 million acres of wetlands and 59% of all stream miles in the continental United States are now vulnerable to pollution unless these original protections are restored.
“After a year of droughts, historic floods, and devastating hurricanes, one lesson should be clear: we must protect our natural water supplies,” said Steve Moyer of Trout Unlimited.
"Only Congress can restore lasting protection to the streams, lakes and wetlands that provide our drinking water and critical habitat for fish and wildlife," said Scott Kovarovics, Conservation Director at the Izaak Walton League of America. "Senator Feingold is taking an important first step toward achieving that goal this year."
“Hunters and anglers know first-hand the importance of wetlands, lakes and streams,” said George Cooper of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We cannot allow the vital habitat, clean water and flood control functions that these resources provide to continue to deteriorate – to do so would come at great public cost.”