SELC: Eliminating clean water protections threatens Southern waters

The Clean Water Rule aims to make sure upstream waters don’t send pollution downstream. (© Beth Young)

Today was the deadline for filing comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed suspension of the Clean Water Rule, which safeguards streams, wetlands, and other waters that feed drinking-water sources for nearly 20 million people in our region.

“The administration’s latest effort to eliminate protections that keep our local waters clean without listening to the public or considering the impacts is just as illegal as its past efforts,” said Managing Attorney Blan Holman. “The suspension of the Clean Water Rule’s protections would be costly and dangerous. We cannot protect our families and our communities from polluted waterways and wetlands without commonsense safeguards. A future of dirty rivers and lakes across the South, threatening the health and safety of our kids and our way of life, is unacceptable.”

The Clean Water Rule, the result of a multi-year process of public and scientific input, clarifies which bodies of water are protected by the landmark Clean Water Act. The rule affirmed crucial protections for more than 60 percent of our nation’s streams—streams that are critical to the South’s special natural resources and $12 billion tourism industry. The current administration is in the midst of a multi-front effort to eliminate these basic clean-water safeguards, including suspending the Clean Water Rule’s protections. Without protections provided by the Clean Water Act, industrial operations, sewage-treatment facilities, and other polluters may be able to directly dump into these waterways without any public notice, threatening drinking-water supplies, and harming families and communities.

The full comments from SELC and a coalition of organizations that share a common commitment to clean water and healthy wetlands are available here.

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