The release of EPA’s final Clean Water Rule last week marks an important milestone after years of confusion left 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands at risk for pollution.
SELC submitted comments on the proposed rule to secure additional protections for Carolina bays, depressional wetlands found throughout the South Atlantic coastal plain. These wetlands play an important role for our region’s downstream waters, as they capture flood waters, filter pollutants and sediment, and provide critical habitat.
In the proposed rule, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers indicated that there was not enough scientific evidence to warrant additional protection for these waters. SELC’s comments included findings from extensive scientific studies, including EPA’s own, to demonstrate that these wetlands are significantly connected to streams and rivers and should be protected as a category under the final rule.
Although the agencies did not designate these wetlands as a category, they did provide significant new safeguards for them in the final rule: if a single Carolina bay in a watershed is protected because it significantly impacts an adjacent or nearby water, then all the bays in that watershed will be protected.
Despite continued Congressional attempts to delay and derail implementation of the final rule, SELC will continue working to ensure that guaranteed safeguards for these critical waters are upheld.
Read the Huffington Post story “EPA Announces New Rule to Clarify Protections for U.S. Waters”.