Pollutants in small streams and wetlands eventually affect water quality in bays and lakes downstream. The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a rule that will protect the water that one in three Americans rely on to drink by strengthening the Clean Water Act of 1972.
The new rule will apply to over half of America’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands. It will require companies that discharge water to obtain permits for doing so and make oil spill contingency plans. In September 2013, EPA released a report that demonstrates the connection between smaller streams and wetlands and downstream waters. It drew over 150,000 supportive public comments from citizens.
Objections have come from the oil, gas, and electric utilities, as well as agriculture, construction, mining, and manufacturing. All these companies must spend more money preventing pollution under these proposed EPA-Army Corps rule. On the other hand, much less money will be required for cleanup.
Environmental interests have noted several points counter to the objections of industry. The clean water rule simply reflects common sense. It adds no “new” waters to those already covered under the Clean Water Act. Also, it meets the standards set by the Supreme Court’s 2011 and 2016 readings of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.