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The Truth Behind the Clean Water Rule

Wetlands and small streams are receiving a protection overhaul, and millions of people will benefit from clean drinking water. Over the past week, you may have heard about the new Clean Water Rule announced Wednesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Placing new regulations on our nation’s waterways, many are concerned about the details of this new policy.  Here’s the lowdown on the new policy.Environmental Protection Agency

Clean Water Background

According to the EPA, this new rule will ensure that the waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined and predictably determined.  This will make permitting less costly, easier, and faster for business and industry. This new rule will protect small streams and tributaries that feed into larger sources of water that are the foundation of local drinking water supplies. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a recent statement, “For the water in the rivers and lakes in our communities that flow to our drinking water to be clean, the streams and wetlands that feed them need to be clean too.” The agency stated that one in three Americans, nearly 117 million people, receive drinking water from waterways that were not clearly protected prior to this new policy. “Protecting our water sources is a critical component of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, sea level rise, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures – which is why EPA and the Army have finalized the Clean Water Rule to protect these important waters, so we can strengthen our economy and provide certainty to American businesses,” McCarthy announced.

What the Rule Actually States

What exactly does the new rule regulate? Here are the details:

  • Clearly defined and protected tributaries.

    The Clean Water Act protects navigable waterways and their tributaries.  The new rule provides protection for these tributaries.  A tributary must have the physical features of flowing water – a bank, a bed, and an ordinary high water mark – to receive protection. The EPA has stated that these features have a significant connection to downstream waters.

  • Provides exact safeguards for nearby waters.

    The rule protects waters next to rivers and lakes by setting physical and measurable boundaries for nearby water streams.

  • Protection of regional water treasures.

    Certain water features can function as a system that impacts the health of downstream waters. The rule protects prairie potholes, Carolina and Delmarva bays, pocosins, western vernal pools in California, and Texas coastal prairie wetlands when they impact downstream waters.

  • Focuses on streams-not ditches. 

    Protection is given to ditches that are constructed out of streams of function like streams that carry pollution downstream.  Ditches that flow only when it rains and are not constructed in streams are not covered.

The new rule hopes to significantly lower the use of case-specific analysis by creating clear and certain guidelines how protected waters and water features. For the full details of the policy, click here.

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source: EPA.gov

Clean Water Across the Country

This new rule is a step forward in the eyes of environmental groups, fishing and hunting organizations, and watershed conservation organizations.  Through efforts such as these, the environment, drinking water consumers, and the economy can benefit.  The Clean Water Rule hopes to combat climate change, rejuvenate the nation’s waterways, and provide a habitat for natural wildlife, fishing, swimming, and paddling. Cleaning up the nation’s water will be a long and difficult process. The Clean Water Rule just may be the step in the right direction for clean natural water.   Providing clean water in your home, on the other hand, is much less difficult. Enjoy clean water with ease with these clean water options.

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