Dismantling the Clean Water Rule puts people and parks at serious risk.
On June 27, 2017, the Trump administration called for a repeal of the Clean Water Rule, a federal regulation that clarifies which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act.
NPCA strongly opposes this repeal, which could lead to weaker protections on numerous bodies of water that are essential to the health of our parks and that provide drinking water to millions of people. There is simply no reason to put these vital resources at risk.
The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers issued the Clean Water Rule (sometimes referred to as the Waters of the United States rule) in 2015 to better protect the streams, wetlands, lakes and rivers that people and parks depend on. These agencies spent nearly a decade developing the rule, including engaging the public, community leaders, farmers, ranchers, hunters, anglers, and state and local governments.
What the Clean Water Rule Does
- Provides clear and predictable protections for many streams, wetlands, and other waterways while providing better guidance to federal and state regulators about what is and is not protected, which helps streamline the permitting process.
- Covers only the water bodies that the Clean Water Act has traditionally covered, such as intermittent headwater streams that have a defined bed and bank and flow to water already covered by the Act.
- Reiterates existing exemptions for farming, forestry, mining and other land use activities, and very explicitly for the first time excludes many ditches, ponds and other upland water features important for farming and forestry.
- Restores safeguards and protects streams, wetlands and other waters nationwide by providing clear science-based and legal framework for determining waterways that are protected by the Clean Water Act.
What the Clean Water Rule Does Not Do
- Cover any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act, such as groundwater. The proposed rule actually applies to fewer waters than were historically covered under the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations.
- Expand coverage to any new ditches. In fact, upland drainage ditches with less than perennial water flow are explicitly excluded.
- Cover any artificial lakes, ponds, and artificial ornamental waters in upland areas or water-filled depressions created as a result of construction activity. These areas are explicitly exempted by the rule.
- Cover agricultural practices exempt under current law. The most common farming and ranching practices, including plowing, cultivating, seeding, minor drainage, and harvesting for the production of food, fiber and forest products, are exempt under the Clean Water Act and that exemption is reiterated in the rule.
Clean water is essential for all people and vital for our national parks. NPCA will continue to defend this important federal rule and call on the administration and Congress to maintain the highest level of protection for our nation’s waters.
Urge the Senate to support the final Clean Water Rule
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