Last Thursday the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released the Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act. The draft guidance attempts to answer a very critical question — which streams, wetlands and other waters are protected under the Clean Water Act? The guidance attempts to clear up confusion and protection problems following two Supreme Court decisions which muddied the waters on the question of “jurisdiction” or which waters receive Clean Water Act protections from pollution, dredge and fill, and other harmful activities.
This is the first important step to enable the federal government to once again recognize what science and Mother Nature have known for a long time – the waters of the United States are connected. In their announcement, the Obama Administration recognized that all waters of the U.S. (including critical wetlands, small streams and streams that flow part of the year) must be protected if we are truly going to enforce the Clean Water Act.
This guidance is a very important first step for those of us who are working hard to protect and restore their home waters. In the next few months we must speak up forcefully in favor of a strong guidance document and strong rules to restore these essential protections.
WHAT IS NEXT
HRWC will be contributing comments on the guidance with the help of our national partners such as the River Network and the Clean Water Network. Our local examples of how the guidance will protect the local streams and wetlands will be the most valuable information we can bring to the table.
To learn more about President Obama’s commitment to clean water, click here to read his Clean Water Framework.
Thanks to the River Network for their help on this issue.