Protecting Our Drinking Water Sources

Sometime within the next month, your Senator and Representative will likely have to vote on whether to block an important initiative aimed at protecting the drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans. Do you know which way your elected official will vote?

Now's the time to make sure you do.

To underscore what's at stake in this fight, NRDC is running ads in POLITICO.COM, The Washington Post, and newspapers in two states, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

The upcoming vote concerns the proposed Clean Water Rule, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers are due to make final later this spring. The rule would restore protections to waters that have been weakened by court decisions. It would specifically restore protections to small streams, wetlands and other waters that feed into drinking water sources and are also used for fishing, swimming and economic development.

The agencies received more than 1 million comments on the proposed rule, with 87 percent in support. As my colleague Jon Devine has blogged here, here and here, there's been a torrent of misinformation about the rule, in an effort to obscure the overwhelming benefits it would have for our communities.

Pennsylvania's Senator Bob Casey and Minnesota's Senator Amy Klobuchar, both democrats, may well be the votes that determine whether the Senate blocks the Clean Water Rule or allows it to move forward. We need strong leadership from both to safeguard our clean water resources.

NRDC's ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer thanks Senator Casey for his most recent vote in support of the Clean Water Rule. More than 8 million Pennsylvanians - about 2 in 3 - depend on drinking water supplies that are vulnerable to dumping by polluters. The small streams and wetlands that would be better protected by the rule also help purify water, recharge groundwater supplies, and provide flood protection.

In Minnesota, Senator Klobuchar has said she's still deciding how to vote on the issue. She should be reassured by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's statements that the agency's final rule will reflect the input received through the public comment process. The Administrator has also been clear that nothing in the final rule will change the exemptions and exclusions agricultural producers have had since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.

Today's ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune urges Senator Klobuchar, long a champion for clean water and the environment, to retake her mantle of leadership on this issue. In 2009, Senator Klobuchar helped broker a legislative deal that would have restored greater protections to critical waters than what is currently envisioned under the Clean Water Rule, while maintaining historic exemptions and limitations for agricultural producers.

In Minnesota, the stakes are clear: about 1 in 5 Minnesotans get their drinking water from sources that rely on small streams currently vulnerable to pollution. The Clean Water Rule would better protect those drinking water sources, as well as the waters that support Minnesota's vibrant recreational industry. Minnesota's not known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" for nothing -- in 2011, more than $3.9 billion was spent on wildlife recreation in Minnesota, including $2.4 billion on fishing. Minnesota's fishing industry relies on the very small streams and wetlands that are currently at risk of development and pollution.

It's important that every constituent takes their job seriously - making sure your Senator knows what's important to you. If protecting our clean water resources matters to you, please make sure your Senator knows where you stand by accessing a list of Senators and contact information from this link. And, if you're a constituent of either Senator Casey or Senator Klobuchar, please make your voice heard today.


About the Authors

Karen Hobbs

Senior Policy Analyst, Water program

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