Clean water is a basic necessity for life, and here at the Surfrider Foundation we highly value the recreational opportunities that clean, coastal waterways and beaches provide to our families and our communities. We also know that clean water at the beach starts with healthy headwaters upstream, but unfortunately the Environmental Protection Agency has released a proposal that will put these critical headwaters at risk.
It has been estimated that more than half of our country’s remaining wetlands and millions of miles of streams would have their Clean Water Act protections stripped away by the EPA’s new ‘Dirty Water Rule’. This would put the drinking water for millions of Americans at risk. It would also leave wetlands that absorb floodwaters and support water quality along our coasts unprotected from destruction and pollution. With climate change causing more frequent and severe coastal storms, we should be doing everything we can to protect healthy wetland systems and resilient coastlines.
No body of water should be open for pollution or destruction, but that is exactly what this proposal does. The Dirty Water Rule makes no scientific, legal, public health, or fiscal sense. Wiping out necessary protections for important headwaters will put larger streams, wetlands, lakes and ultimately the ocean at risk of pollution and destruction, without consequence to those who pollute our waterways to increase their corporate profits.
The EPA is accepting public comments on this new proposal that redefines the “Waters of the U.S.” that receive protection under the Clean Water Act through April 15th. The Surfrider Foundation is joining environmental groups around the country in sending in our comments against this rule. We are instead asking the EPA to do more to protect clean water and public health, not less.
You can join us and send in your comments too by clicking on this link. We have an email prepared for you to send to the EPA Administrator, but please edit that letter and personalize the language to explain why clean water is important to you and to describe where you and your family recreate in the water. See the personal testimony written below as an example.
Template letter to EPA with an example of personalized text in italics
I strongly oppose the revised definition of the Waters of the United States under the federal Clean Water Act. This proposed rule would weaken protections for critical streams and wetlands that are necessary to protect clean water in downstream, navigable waterways and at the coast.
I live in East Hampton, New York on Long Island. Clean water is important to me because my family and I enjoy swimming, surfing and paddling in the ocean and all of the beautiful coastal waterways that surround our community. I take my children to explore in all the little creeks and inlets that are protected from runoff and storm surges by functioning wetlands. Likewise when I visit my parents in upstate NY, I take my children to swim and paddle in lakes and streams throughout the Adirondack Park. It is very important to me that the water that my children and I are recreating in is clean and free from pollution that could make us sick. It is also important to me that the coastal area that I live in remains resilient to coastal storms by robust, functioning wetland systems.
I urge you to reconsider your proposal and instead issue a revised rule that would protect all tributaries, including ephemeral and intermittent streams, as well as wetlands with and without direct surface connections to other jurisdictional waters. The majority of Americans expect the federal government and specifically the EPA to be doing more to protect our public health and clean water, not less.
Mara Dias, Surfrider Foundation Water Quality Manager