By Jennifer Peters – Clean Water Action National Water Programs Director – Follow Jennifer on Twitter (@EarthAvenger)
Nothing is more fundamental than clean water. Though many of us take it for granted until it dries up or becomes too polluted to use. Not only do we all depend on water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, but water is the major economic driver in every sector in our economy. From farming to manufacturing to tourism, I bet you can’t think of a business that does not depend on clean water to thrive. Clean water is needed by everyone everywhere, all the time.
Despite our nation’s dependence on clean water, vital water sources have been at risk of pollution or destruction for more than a decade. This includes many of the streams and wetlands that feed the drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans. For the first thirty years of its existence our nation’s landmark Clean Water Act (CWA), clearly protected nearly every river, lake, bay, wetland or stream in the country. But in the early 2000’s the same polluters who opposed the original CWA were successful in getting the Bush administration to rollback protections for certain streams and wetlands. Clean Water Action and our partner organizations have been fighting to close these dangerous polluter loopholes ever since.
This month we are one step closer to finally fixing this huge problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently sent a final draft of the Clean Water Rule to the White House Office of Management of Budget (OMB) for review. Over the last several months, EPA staff have read through over one million public comments, 87% of which support a strong rule to close polluter loopholes in the Clean Water Act. EPA has also held over 400 meetings with state and local officials, farmers, businesses and other stakeholders to listen to concerns and answer questions.
When EPA finalizes the Clean Water Rule later this year, over two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands will be better protected from pollution, benefiting millions of Americans who rely on drinking water sources feed by these waters. Also benefiting from clearer protections will be farmers and other business owners like craft brewers and textile manufacturers who depend on reliable clean water sources to deliver their products to their customers. State and local officials will also benefit from consistent protections, as rivers and streams do not follow political boundaries.
Learn more about the broad and diverse support for the Administration’s Clean Water rule at: www.protectcleanwater.org