Public Participation Key to Advancing Lasting Protections
Gaithersburg, MD – The Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a long-awaited proposal today to clarify which waters of the United States are protected by the Clean Water Act. The draft rule is a great step toward restoring protections for upstream waters and wetlands that were eliminated over the last decade due to confusing Supreme Court rulings and agency rules. Now the American people have an opportunity to weigh in on how important clean water and healthy wetlands are to them, and the Izaak Walton League of America urges all hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to speak out in support of the proposal.
“The Corps and EPA are proposing balanced, science-based policy to restore essential protections for streams, wetlands, and other waters,” said Scott Kovarovics, Izaak Walton League Executive Director. “The proposal will better protect streams that provide drinking water to 117 million people and help conserve streams and wetlands that are vital to a vibrant outdoor recreation economy.”
Since 2000, at least 20 million wetland acres and nearly 60 percent of stream miles in the continental United States have lost protection from pollution and destruction. These important waters are left exposed to unnecessary threats by badly flawed policy from the George W. Bush administration that effectively ignores the well-established science on the connections between upstream and downstream waters.
Izaak Walton League water quality monitors have documented that pollution originating in small headwaters contributes to water quality problems in larger waterways. On multiple occasions, League volunteers traced pollution to runoff and other sources where no direct pipe or channel linked the pollution sources with the impaired waterways.
The draft clean water rule from the Corps and EPA would restore protections against polluting, draining, or filling for some of the waters and wetlands that lost such protections in the past decade. The draft rule includes exemptions for many land-use activities and certain waters, including ornamental ponds, that up to now have been opponents’ primary argument against clean water protections. The public now has 90 days to comment on the proposal. The proposed rule and information on submitting comments can be found on the EPA Web site.
“Americans who hunt, fish, boat, and enjoy the outdoors understand the importance of clean water and healthy habitat,” said Kovarovics. “Now’s the time to make your voices heard, to speak out for clean water, and help put essential protections back in place.”
Read more about this issue on our Protecting Clean Water Web page.
Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America (www.iwla.org) protects America's outdoors through education, community-based conservation, and promoting outdoor recreation.