By William Robert (Bob) Irvin, President and CEO of American Rivers.

This was originally published at The River Blog


Big Hunting Creek, MD

Today, you delivered a victory for rivers. Thanks to supporters like you – including the one million Americans who submitted public comments – the Obama Administration finalized the Clean Water Protection Rule – a vital step toward safeguarding the nation’s clean drinking water. Few things are more fundamental to our health than clean water. No one should have to worry about pollution when they turn on the tap. This administration’s leadership in protecting our streams will benefit millions of Americans and our children and grandchildren.

The final Clean Water Protection Rule closes the loopholes that have allowed the drinking water sources of one in three Americans to be at risk for pollution. At a time when severe drought affects the supply of clean water for many communities, it is critically important that we do all we can to preserve and protect the water we have. Clean water is vital to life itself.

The Clean Water Protection Rule, written by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, clarifies which waters are, and which waters are not, protected by the Clean Water Act. The final rule has been needed since 2001, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in SWANCC v. US Army Corps of Engineers. That decision cast a cloud over which waters are subject to federal protection under the Clean Water Act. A subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court in Rapanos v. United States further confounded the scope of the Clean Water Act.  This confusion placed millions of miles of streams, particularly headwater streams, and millions of acres of wetlands in jeopardy. Without federal protection under the Clean Water Act, polluters are able to dump toxic waste into streams and wetlands, and developers are able to dredge and fill these critical areas that are essential for drinking water supplies, fish and wildlife habitat, and flood protection.


Big Hunting Creek, MD

The final rule is the result of extensive consultation with the public, local communities, state agencies, federal agencies, businesses, farmers, fishermen, tribes, and conservation groups, including American Rivers. The final Clean Water Protection Rule simultaneously addresses the concerns of stakeholders while also providing important protections for streams and wetlands across the United States.

As the nation’s leading advocate for protecting and restoring rivers, American Rivers applauds the Obama Administration for standing up for healthy rivers and clean drinking water. Protecting our clean water is an investment that will benefit the health of our families today, and will pay off for generations to come.

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