AUSTIN - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today finalized a rule that leaves half the nation’s wetlands and thousands of streams -- which help provide millions of Americans with drinking water -- without the federal protection of the Clean Water Act.
"Texans care deeply about clean water - for drinking, swimming, fishing and sustaining nature. Yet this Dirty Water Rule will leave waterways from Barton Creek to Galveston Bay vulnerable to pollution and degradation, which harms wildlife and puts our drinking water at risk,” said Anna Farrell-Sherman, Environment Texas Clean Water Associate. “Polluted water can make anyone sick -- no matter where you live or your politics. This move defies common sense, sound science, and 50 years of bipartisan support for clean water."
The Dirty Water Rule puts Galveston Bay at risk. As unprotected wetlands become degraded or paved over, they will no longer help filter out pollution before it reaches our streams, springs, rivers and aquifers. Galveston Bay is already facing dangerous oil spills and pollution from industry along the coast; degrading the streams and wetlands around it will only make that problem worse.
The rule also opens our drinking water sources to pollution. According to U.S. EPA’s own data, intermittent and ephemeral streams help provide drinking water to 117 million Americans. The Dirty Water Rule removes Clean Water Act protections for many of these streams, putting the drinking water of one in three Americans, and 11.5 million Texans at risk.
Noting the nexus among streams, wetlands, and larger waterways, the Dirty Water Rule was recently rebuked by EPA’s own science advisors.
Public support for maintaining Clean Water Act protections is widespread. More than one million Americans -- including business owners, local officials, scientists, and hunters and anglers -- provided comments to EPA, urging the agency to protect streams and wetlands under the Act.
“With the Dirty Water Rule, the administration has put the interests of polluters over those of the public and our drinking water,” concluded Farrell-Sherman. “We’ll be calling on Congress and the courts to uphold the Clean Water Act.”