Water Quality
September 09 2014

Restoring Clean Water Act Protections Upstream

by Mara Dias

Many of the water quality problems we have at the coast begin upstream, in small streams that may only flow during the wet season.  These small streams contribute to our drinking water supplies and can affect the health of larger, downstream rivers and ultimately the coast.  Likewise, wetlands play an important role in flood protection and help keep fresh and tidal waters clean by filtering out pollutants.  

Despite thirty years of comprehensive protections under the Clean Water Act, two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 made it unclear whether these small streams and wetlands were still protected.  Enforcement and compliance have since been decided on a case-by-case basis, costing tax payers, industry and environmental groups all unneccessary money, and often leaving important waterbodies and wetland areas unprotected from damage and pollution.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are currently undergoing a rulemaking process to clarify protected Waters of the US under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  This rule proposes to restore CWA protections to intermittent streams and wetlands as previously defined before the Supreme Court made enforcement unclear.  Learn more about this administrative rulemaking process on EPA's website.

The EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule until October 20, 2014.  The Surfrider Foundation has submitted comments in support of this rule. Download Surfrider's comments here.

You can take action today and send in your support for clean water to the EPA via Surfrider's action alert system.

You can also show your support for Clean Water by joining the EPA's Thunderclap social media campaign.

Here's how it works: you agree to let Thunderclap post a one-time message on your social networks (Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr) on Monday, September 29 at 2:00 pm EDT.  The below message will be posted on everyone's walls and feeds at the same time.

 "Clean water is important to me. I want EPA to protect it for my health, my family, and my community. www.epa.gov/USwaters"

Sign up to join the Thunderclap for Clean Water: http://thndr.it/1rUOiaB