For roughly a decade the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been working on clarifying and strengthening certain aspects of the Clean Water Act, specifically by more clearly defining the term “waters of the United States.” The new rule would include protection for “headwaters,” and seasonal and rain-dependent waters which have a direct impact on downstream water quality. The agencies based the Clean Water Rule on robust science, hundreds of meetings with stakeholders and roughly 800,000 public comments, and introduced it in June.
Yesterday a joint resolution passed the Senate (S.J. Res. 22) which “Nullifies the rule submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency relating to the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act…” Not only would this move send the ACE and EPA back the drawing board but it also jeopardizes some of current rule making capabilities under the Clean Water Act.
Far from remote or occasional supplies, these are water sources which contribute to the drinking water of one in three Americans. They also greatly affect the water quality in streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs in national parks (more than half of which are already currently considered “impaired” under the Clean Water Act). That means that anyone swimming and fishing in that water is taking an unnecessary health risk. Is that really the condition we want to keep our national parks in?
If not, tell your representative to reject S.J. 22.
Learn more from the National Park Service about water protection in national parks.
Image of Browns Canyon NM courtesy BLM/US Forest Service.