We’re All Connected Downstream

Jeff Wiedner

American Rivers

It seems logical: small streams lead to rivers and what happens upstream affects those downstream. If they are all connected, then small streams should have the same protections as rivers, right?

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Over the last decade, two Supreme Court rulings have created confusion about which waters are covered by the Clean Water Act. This has made it difficult for the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] to enforce the Clean Water Act consistently, which has allowed polluters to get away with dumping toxins into small streams and wetlands without repercussions.

But the good news is the EPA released a draft rule that should help close some of the loopholes polluters use to avoid penalties. [1] It would also reduce some of the uncertainty around existing regulations, helping to ensure the Clean Water Act is enforced consistently for everyone.

Right now, the EPA is accepting comments from the public on the rule. Can you tell the EPA that you support improving protections for our small streams and wetlands?

Approximately 117 million Americans rely at least in part upon small streams and wetlands for their drinking water supply. That’s more than one third of the entire population.

These streams also provide buffers for absorbing and reducing the impacts of flooding, help recharge groundwater supplies, and retain and filter nutrients that can cause water pollution. [2] So it is critical that protections are restored.

Please send your comments today in support of the Administration’s efforts to better protect our clean water and the health of our communities. And as always, thanks for your support!

1 Proposed Rule Marks an Important Step for Clean Water

2. Where Rivers Are Born: The Scientific Imperative for Defending Small Streams and Wetlands