Protecting Our Sources of Water to Provide Clean Drinking Water

By Meghan Boian – American Rivers We all live downstream from something, as the old saying goes, so when it comes to ensuring our water is clean and safe, we have to look upstream – all the way to the source. Yet what we’ve seen in recent years when we look to our source waters hasn’t been pretty. Evidence suggests the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is part of a wider problem. And two years ago Toledo’s water supply was contaminated by toxic algae – algae that bloomed due to the polluted runoff going into our rivers. We can’t afford to let things continue the way they have. Across the country, too many Americans cannot trust that their water is safe. Nobody should have to worry about pollution when they turn on the tap. Fortunately, we’ve made some progress. By closing loopholes in the Clean Water Act last year, we put safeguards on unprotected drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans. The Clean Water Rule helps protect our drinking water by making sure the Clean Water Act can be applied to small streams and wetlands that feed into drinking water supplies. Polluters will no longer be able to dump toxic waste into small streams, and developers will have to stop bulldozing the wetlands that naturally filter the water we drink. Unfortunately, special interests are trying to block theses much-needed protections. The hysterical, arguably disingenuous criticisms of the Clean Water Rule — coming almost exclusively from corporate agribusiness and developers — inaccurately portray the protections as some sort of government land grab. The reality is that the long-standing rule...

How Serious Are We About Protecting Clean Water?

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director for Clean Water Action One year ago this week, we welcomed the Obama Administration’s completion of an important piece of clean water business.  For over a decade, Clean Water Action has worked with allies to fix a policy problem that dates back to the George W. Bush Administration, and that leaves critical water resources unprotected by the Clean Water Act. The “Clean Water Rule” finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is significant because it gets at the question of how serious we are about water protection. The debate over which water bodies merit protection didn’t start in the wake of confusing Supreme Court decisions in the early 2000s. In fact the effort to limit federal protections for water dates back to the debate over original passage of the Clean Water Act which finally became the law of the land in 1972. Why does it matter?  As EPA demonstrated in an extensive review on the science of streams and wetlands, what happens in small water bodies upstream impacts the larger water bodies downstream.  EPA has also demonstrated that leaving streams and wetlands unprotected impacts drinking water sources. For example, drinking water sources for over 117 million people remain vulnerable under current policies. As public attention is focused on drinking water in light of the crisis in Flint, Michigan you would think that clarifying that we want to protect all of our water resources would be a no brainer. But the Clean Water Rule remains tangled up in litigation brought by powerful special interests and some states,...