Statement of Emmie Theberge, Federal Project Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine

“The Trump Administration’s proposal to scrap the Clean Water Rule is the wrong move for Maine and for our country. If finalized, this ‘Dirty Water Rule’ would strip safeguards from streams and wetlands across the country. In a state like Maine, it would harm drinking water, hurt tourism, and put communities at risk for increased flooding during storm events.

“For more than 46 years, the Clean Water Act has made our waters safer for swimming, fishing, and drinking. Today’s move would do the opposite. While there’s much more to be done to ensure everyone has access to clean, healthy water, the Trump Administration wants to turn back the clock to a time when there were fewer protections from harmful water pollution for people and wildlife.

“Maine has more than 6,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 5,000 miles of coastline. Clean, healthy waters are vital to our day-to-day lives. They provide safe drinking water, habitat for fish and other wildlife, and recreational opportunities that make Maine a special place in which to live, work, and play.

“About half of Maine’s drinking water is fed by small streams now protected by the Clean Water Rule. Maine is known for its clean drinking water supplies: For example, Sebago Lake, the drinking water supply for one-in-six Mainers, has such outstanding water quality that it is one of only six American drinking water reservoirs not needing filtration or treatment. The way to keep Sebago Lake and other reservoirs clean is to keep the streams that flow into them clean.

“Maine’s economy depends on tourism, and our clean water helps bring tourists here. Maine lakes generate $3.5 billion for Maine’s economy annually and sustain 52,000 jobs. Maine’s fishing industry also depends on clean water, and brings $400 million to the Maine economy. People come here to fish for brook trout that thrive on clean streams and stream-fed ponds. Maine has more cold water brook trout habitat than the rest of the Eastern U.S. combined. If we don’t protect our streams, we are putting this critical fishing habitat, and the industry that depends on it, at risk.

“Streams and wetlands act as natural filters and sponges, keeping our drinking water supplies safe while preventing floods. Wetlands are essential to so many towns in Maine. They absorb huge amounts of floodwaters and prevent pollution from contaminating water supplies. As more and more communities are facing climate change, with its stresses to water supplies and supercharging storms, the last thing we should do is wipe out safeguards for streams and wetlands.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ‘Dirty Water Rule’ is bad for Maine. If finalized, it would jeopardize the drinking water our families rely on. It would undermine the streams and wetlands that filter pollution, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and absorb floodwaters. We urge Maine’s Congressional delegation to oppose this clean water rollback and for the EPA to withdraw its ‘Dirty Water Rule.’”

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