WASHINGTON ( September 17, 2013)--A proposed rule to better protect the drinking water supplies of more than 100 million Americans was sent for review to the White House today by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The action would help close a loophole in the Clean Water Act by restoring federal pollution protections to many smaller streams, wetlands and headwaters that are not now clearly protected under the law. EPA also released for public review a detailed overview of the scientific evidence of the importance of many of these waters.
Restoring clear protections to the nation’s waters is of paramount importance. Nearly two million miles of streams and the wetlands that support them lack clear Clean Water Act protection against pollution and destruction. More than 117 million Americans receive drinking water from systems that draw supply from headwater and other vulnerable streams. Approximately 20 percent of the over 100 million acres of wetlands in the continental United States have been effectively written out of the law for more than a decade. Also, federal law enforcement has moved away from certain classes of water bodies, effectively taking the cop off the beat in critical places.
Jon Devine, a senior attorney in the Water Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, made this statement:
“These actions by EPA and the Corps demonstrate their commitment to making our drinking and recreational waters safer and cleaner and to let the science lead the way in clean water policy. That’s good news for families, homeowners, and recreational users. Now we’re counting on the White House to move the proposal forward so that it can be released for public comment promptly and not languish as other health and safety protections have.
“Separately, we are disappointed that the administration has failed to implement the guidelines that would have improved protections for these vulnerable waters but that stalled at the White House more than a year ago. We need these safeguards now.”
For more background, see Jon’s blog: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jdevine/