Due to confusion caused by federal court decisions, millions of miles of streams and tens of millions of acres of wetlands lacked clear protection under the Clean Water Act. As a result, water sources that feed drinking water supplies for 117 million Americans were vulnerable to pollution. So were wetlands that provide important flood protection and wildlife habitat.
NRDC urged the federal government to clear up legal uncertainties that undermined the Clean Water Act and exposed important headwaters, streams, and wetlands to dangerous pollution. And after we, along with our partners and more than 800,000 Americans, pushed for a federal rule to clarify which waters were protected under the act—about 60 percent of the nation's bodies of water—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers finalized the Clean Water Rule in May 2015. The new rule protects a variety of streams, ponds, and wetlands, including those streams that one in three Americans relies on for drinking water.
But as the oil and gas industry and others aim to fight the new rule, we will continue to work with our allies to defend our waters, provide firm rules for industry, and make it easier for the EPA to enforce the law.