Save our drinking water! Stop the attack on the Clean Water Rule.
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Every morning Americans wake up and depend on water for a variety of daily activities. Water is used for hygiene and cleaning purposes, to manufacture goods and keep business running, as a source of energy for the nation, in agriculture and most importantly for consumption and survival. A minimal percent of usable water is shared across the world and managing this supply is critical to sustaining life.
In February 2017, Donald Trump signed an Executive Order directing the head of the EPA Scott Pruitt to begin dismantling the Clean Water Rule. A technical regulation jointly authored by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, the Clean Water Rule was introduced in 2015 to clarify which U.S. waterways fell under the protection of the Clean Water Act of 1972.
Although, the Clean Water Act of 1972 calls for broad protection from environmental pollutants in U.S. waterways, numerous streams, wetlands, and marshes fell into a proverbial “gray area”. Consequently, disputes often arose over which bodies of water were intended to be protected from pollution. These disputes had to be settled in lengthy court battles, burdening the justice system and leaving Americans vulnerable to exposure to contaminated drinking water.
As a result, the Obama administration tasked the EPA with providing a clearer definition of what constituted a “waterway” within the United States. After reviewing substantial scientific research, the EPA expanded the definition of protected waterways to include “intermittent, ephemeral, or headwater streams” and outlined clearly what deserved protection under Federal jurisdiction.
It is vital that these smaller waterways remain protected. The EPA states:
“In the continental United States, about 117 million people, over one-third of the total U.S. population, get some or all of their drinking water from public drinking water systems that rely at least in part on intermittent, ephemeral, or headwater streams. In the continental U.S., 357,404 total miles of streams provide water for public drinking water systems. Of that total, 58% (207,476 miles) are intermittent, ephemeral, or headwater streams.”
In addition to America’s drinking water, the Clean Water Rule also protects waterways that contribute billions of dollars annually to the U.S. economy from recreational fishing, boating, and other types of ecotourism. Removing critical protection for these vital sources of drinking water places nearly 1 in 3 Americans at risk of exposure to toxic substances in their drinking water and produce they consume.
Allowing pollution to enter U.S. waterways not protected by the Clean Water Act is detrimental to the environment and the US economy. This is unacceptable. It is critical that the Trump administration and Scott Pruitt stop the attack on water sources protected under the Clean Water Rule and focus instead on the expanded protection of US waterways.
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