Press Release

Izaak Walton League Applauds Restoration of Science to Rule Protecting Water Quality

01/03/2023

Biden Administration Acts to Restore Clean Water Protections

WASHINGTON, December 30, 2022 ----- For more than five years, the Izaak Walton League of America has been fighting to protect streams and wetlands from attempts to drastically limit the scope of the Clean Water Act and its ability to safely protect Americans’ drinking water.

Today, that determination has been rewarded as the Biden Administration issued a rule clarifying which waters of the United States are protected under the Act.

“By finalizing this rule, the Biden Administration is returning to a definition of Waters of the United States that recognizes inarguable science, follows the law, and just makes sense: pollution upstream affects water quality downstream,” said Izaak Walton League Conservation Director Jared Mott. "In order to achieve the objectives enumerated in the CWA, pollution in tributary streams and wetlands must be regulated to protect downstream waters."

“Water is such a fundamental part of everyday life for all of us. It affects our health as well as habitat for fish and wildlife. Protecting the foundations of good water quality shouldn’t be negotiable. The League appreciates the administration’s efforts to restore protections to tributary streams and wetlands as required in the Clean Water Act.”

The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have finalized a rule that returns Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and tributary streams that are crucial to improving water quality across the country. The longstanding protections were cast aside during the previous administration, putting clean drinking water of one third of all Americans at risk.

By returning to the long-accepted “1986 regulations” with amendments to reflect Supreme Court case law, the agencies have restored the long-accepted science establishing the connectivity of tributary streams and wetlands to downstream waters to determine which waters are protected, as instructed by Congress in the original Act.

Analysis conducted of Clean Water Act permit applications considered prior to the restoration of these protections concluded that nearly three out of every four applications to fill streams or drain wetlands were approved. Ignoring science and the plain language of the law led to a sudden rise in the number of wetlands and streams left unprotected by the Act and vulnerable to the pollution that occurred. The damaging effect of losing these protections highlights why the League fought so hard to have them replaced.

Jared Mott, Conservation Director, jmott@iwla.org, 301-548-0150 ext. 224

Michael Reinemer, Communications Director, mreinemer@ilwa.org, 301-548-0150 ext 220

Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League fights for clean air and water, healthy fish and wildlife habitat and conservation of our natural resources for future generations. The League plays a unique role in supporting community-based science and local conservation and has a long legacy of shaping sound national policy. See www.iwla.org. Learn about the League’s century of conservation leadership at www.iwla.org/100years.