OPINION — The Clean Water Act regulates the discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and establishes quality standards for surface waters. Federal laws governing jurisdiction over waterways have been debated since 1899, but the objectives of the Clean Water Act are clearly stated: “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters.”
What is at issue now is what constitutes the “Waters of the U.S.” because only those waters will be afforded protection under the Clean Water Act.
If the administration’s latest “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” is adopted, the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act will be drastically reduced. Millions of miles of headwater streams and half of our remaining wetlands will lose protection from pollution and destruction. The benefits they provide – flood protection, groundwater recharge/storage, wildlife habitat, recreation and clean sources of drinking water – will be threatened.
Climate change is already contributing to weather extremes, with more flooding and longer droughts anticipated. Coastal and floodplain communities are at risk. Over a million species are facing extinction.
We simply cannot afford to have the political influence of special interest groups like the Farm Bureau, the oil and gas industry, mining companies and housing/golf course developers override protection of our nation’s waters.
Science says all waters are connected in one way or another. And they all deserve protection under the Clean Water Act.
Submitted by ERIC WECK, St. George.
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