Conservation Leaders Seek to Clear Up Clean Water Act

Say confusing U.S. Supreme Court rulings threaten sensitive waterways

01-27-2010 // Richard Simms - The Chattanoogan

This excerpt is from an article in the The Chattanoogan about the need to restore the Clean Water Act

Conservation movers and shakers from across the country say U.S. Supreme Court rulings have muddied the Clean Water Act, threatening 787,000 acres of wetlands in Tennessee that SHOULD be protected under federal law.

It's a complicated scenario which basically revolves around the legal definition of the phrase "navigable waterways." Two Supreme Court rulings known as SWANCC (2001) and the Rapanos Decision (2006) left state and federal regulators, as well as landowners and manufacturers, befuddled regarding "navigable waterways," and which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and which waters are not.

Many have interpreted the rulings to mean that if a water body such as a marsh or wetland is not "directly connected" to a clearly navigable waterway (such as the Tennessee River), then it is not subject to protection under the existing Clean Water Act.

Mike Butler with the Tennessee Wildlife Federation said, "Different agencies have differing answers to the same question. That's what is feeding this situation that some describe as a big mess."

The National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited recently completed a specific study of five cases examples in Tennessee which best illustrate the confusion.

Read the full article...

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