Press Release Jun 9, 2021

Clean Water for Parks and Communities Back on the Table

Federal government concludes that recent rollbacks to clean water protections lead to “environmental degradation,” calls for a rewrite


Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association

“The clock is ticking and rivers, lakes and other waterways in our national parks and across the country will continue to face increased pollution and other damage until EPA and the Army Corps get rid of the so-called Navigable Waters Protection Rule and adopt new and stronger safeguards.

“Humans need clean, safe water. It is also key to the health of our park waterways to provide critical wildlife habitat and safe recreation for millions of people each year, who visit to see alligators in the Everglades, fish for trout in the Yellowstone River or kayak along Chesapeake Bay. Today’s announcement is a critical first step in reinstating protections for America’s waterways. But it cannot be the only step. With so many communities living with unsafe drinking water, the administration must act now, to restore and strengthen protections.”


The original Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, was finalized in 2015 after years of bipartisan-supported efforts. The rule aimed to end longstanding confusion about which of our nation’s streams, wetlands, lakes and rivers — the source of drinking water for 117 million Americans — are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Under an executive order by the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers were tasked with revisiting and ultimately dismantling the Clean Water Rule.

The National Park Service oversees thousands of miles of waterways and coasts throughout the country – from trout streams in Yellowstone to wetlands in the Everglades. For more than 20 years, national park visitors have consistently ranked water quality or water access as a top-five most valued attribute when visiting national parks. The Outdoor Industry Association found that consumers spend $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation, with nearly $140 billion on kayaking, rafting, canoeing, scuba diving and other water and recreation activities, all of which takes place in our parks.

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