Restoring the Clean Water Act
Wetlands and small streams provide crucial flood abatement, water purification and wildlife habitat. But these waters are at increased risk of losing Clean Water Act protections just when we need them the most to adapt to a changing climate.
Did you know that more than one-third of Americans get their drinking water from thousands of small streams that are currently vulnerable to pollution? That almost 60% of the nation's stream miles are at increased risk? Or that millions of wetland acres providing prime waterfowl habitat and flood storage are being dredged and filled?
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The Clean Water Act is the primary tool used to protect our vital waters. Find out what the loss of Clean Water Act protections means for your state.
Why are all These Waters in Jeopardy?
In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to protect all "waters of the United States." For 30 years, both the courts and the agencies responsible for administering the Act interpreted it to broadly protect our Nation's waters.
However, in two decisions, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC) (in 2001) and Rapanos v. United States (in 2006), the Supreme Court ignored congressional intent and narrowly interpreted the scope of waters covered by the Act, putting in doubt pollution safeguards for many vital wetlands, lakes and streams.
After the decisions, the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers excluded numerous waters from protection and placed unnecessarily high hurdles to protecting others. These decisions shattered the fundamental framework of the Clean Water Act.
How do we Fix the Clean Water Act and Safeguard America's Wildlife and Waters?
Successful administration action will restore and clarify protections for millions of wetland acres and stream miles, restoring the Clean Water Act and ensuring a clean water future for all.
On April 27, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers released draft Clean Water guidance, a first step to restore Clean Water Act protections to many of the waters that were protected prior to the Supreme Court's rulings.
The public demonstrated broad support for the guidance and rulemaking to follow. In February 2012, more than 250 state and local sportsmen organizations, watershed groups and outdoor businesses from 11 Great Lakes, Southern and Western states called on the administration to act quickly toward this end. To read their letters, click here. A 2012 poll showed that 79% of hunters and anglers favor restoring Clean Water Act protections.
To read joint comments from National Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League of America, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, and the Wildlife Society on the 2011 clean water guidance click here.
The next step is final agency action to restore and clarify the Clean Water Act protections.
>> Act now to urge the President to approve final agency action!
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