Clean Water Proposal Will Help Families, Homeowners Get Safe Drinking Water

WASHINGTON (November 17, 2014)—A proposed new clean water rule will help ensure Americans have safe drinking water by closing a critical gap in the country’s pollution laws, the Natural Resources Defense Council said.

In more than 60 pages of formal comments submitted late Friday to the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NRDC said the new Clean Water Protection Rule, by clarifying which water bodies are covered by the Clean Water Act, will significantly increase the protection for the streams, ponds, and wetlands that help filter pollution, curb flooding, provide valuable fishing and swimming opportunities, and connect to the drinking water for more than 100 million Americans. The rule, based on extensive scientific studies, was formally proposed in April and the public comment period closed Friday.

“Families, homeowners, businessmen, anglers, hunters and other recreational users all need clean water,” said Jon Devine, a senior attorney with NRDC’s Water Program. “This rule will help provide it.”

“We strongly support the rule, we think it can be improved, and we hope the two agencies will move quickly to implement it,” he said. NRDC’s comments were joined by the Sierra Club, the Conservation Law Foundation, the League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, and Environment America. 

In its comments, NRDC said that Congress intended the law to protect all critical waters and that the proposal is faithful to that intent.  The agencies developed the rule to restore protections to intermittent streams and wetlands that can impact downstream lakes and rivers. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 had thrown their status into question. The rule as published would protect fewer waters than had been covered since the days of the Reagan administration, and NRDC said certain parts of the proposal should be strengthened to comply with the Clean Water Act. 

Overall, NRDC said, “we believe the proposed rule to be a strong step forward that is largely consistent with the law’s central purpose and broad jurisdiction.”  However, NRDC urged the agencies to better protect waterways that the science shows impact downstream water quality or that have important effects on interstate commerce.  NRDC also asked the agencies to fix a provision in their rules that has allowed industrial polluters such as mountaintop removal coal mining operations to turn whole sections of natural waterways into private waste dumps.

The proposal has received strong support from the public, sporting groups, health organizations, craft beer makers and others, with more than 775,000 supportive public comments pouring into EPA since it was published. “This demonstrates that support for the rule is as broad as it is deep,” Devine said.

Read NRDC’s comments here:


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