As early as this week, the Senate will consider a funding bill for Energy and Water Development, and will be asked to undermine safeguards for a host of water bodies under the Clean Water Act. Senators Barrasso (R-WY) and Heller (R-NV) intend to offer an amendment to the bill that will hamstring efforts to protect critical water bodies, especially certain kinds of wetlands and small or irregularly-flowing streams, like the one pictured to the right, which runs through the outdoor adventure park where my family and I spent our Friday day off.
If the Dirty Water Rider passes, unless and until Congress changes the law, the Corps would be permanently prohibited from changing its rules defining what waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, or changing a pair of policy memoranda that EPA and the Corps issued during the Bush administration – memos that have had the real-world effect of denying Clean Water Act coverage to countless streams and wetlands. As I have previously written, EPA and the Corps have begun to take critical steps to overhaul their guidelines and update their regulations to better protect important waters, so this rider seeks to kill this good government initiative.
Consequently, the rider threatens resources that are critical to public health, safety, and aquatic ecosystems. Headwaters and wetlands absorb flood waters, they filter pollutants from contaminated water, they contribute to the drinking water supply of over 117 million Americans, they support fish and waterfowl prized by anglers and hunters, and they feed our iconic rivers and lakes.
NRDC is working with our partners in numerous conservation groups to defeat the Dirty Water Rider. We have set up a website to provide information and relevant materials about the issue and the fight, and I urge you to poke around.
After you do so, please take action. Call or otherwise contact your Senators and ask them to oppose the Dirty Water Rider to be offered by Senators Barrasso and Heller. You can get their contact information right here and they really value hearing from their constituents.