Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition
Press Release

Coalition Supports Clean Water Rule

Public comment period closes today on rule upholding Clean Water Act protections for streams, wetlands essential to drinking water, Great Lakes

By - Nov 14th, 2014 08:34 am

Ann Arbor, Mich. (November 14, 2014) – Seeking to reverse a decade of uncertainty in which smaller surface waters across the country were put at risk for pollution and destruction, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and 51 of its members, representing hundreds of thousands of people across the Great Lakes, today submitted comments to the U.S. EPA in support of an Obama Administration rule clarifying Clean Water Act protections to streams and wetlands. The groups hailed the rule as an essential step in the effort to protect drinking water supplies that millions of people depend on—and to restore Great Lakes streams and wetlands and, ultimately, the health of the lakes themselves.

“This rule is good for our communities, our economy, and our Great Lakes,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “At a time when we’re seeing federal Great Lakes restoration investments deliver results across the region, this rule will help ensure that those gains are protected and not undermined.”

Read the Coalition’s comments and list of signatory groups at: http://bit.ly/1pVCKDH

The Obama Administration proposed the rule after two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 created uncertainty about what types of waters the Clean Water Act had jurisdiction over—particularly small streams, intermittently flowing waters, and some wetlands. Under the proposed rule, waters that had historically enjoyed protections under the Clean Water Act would be protected once more. Public comment on the rule closes today.

“This is a strong rule that should not be weakened,” said Ambs. “We encourage members of Congress who have championed Great Lakes recovery to support this rule. The original Great Lakes restoration plan called for the restoration of more than 1 million acres of wetlands—a goal that will be all but impossible to reach if Clean Water Act protections are rolled back.”

Over 117 million Americans get their drinking water from surface waters. In the Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York more than 30 million people get their drinking water from currently ambiguously protected intermittent streams. In fact, 83 percent of the population in Great Lakes states are dependent on public drinking water systems that rely on intermittent, ephemeral, and headwater streams. And without the clarity this rule provides, these streams are at risk of increased pollution and destruction because they do not flow year round.

See table at end of release showing how many people in each Great Lakes state rely on public drinking water systems relying on intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams.

In its comments, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition expressed how important this rule would be to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

“Protecting waters upstream is vital to water quality downstream,” said Ambs. “Small streams and creeks flow together, eventually becoming the tributaries that make up the Great Lakes. Protecting these waters is critical to realizing the goals of the Clean Water Act and to protecting the Great Lakes. After all, it isn’t called the Partially Clean Water Act.”

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 115 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on twitter @healthylakes.

State Population reliant on public drinking water systems relying on intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams
Illinois 1.6 million people
Indiana 1.7 million people
Michigan 1.4 million people
Minnesota 0.98 million people
New York 11.0 million people
Ohio 5.2 million people
Pennsylvania 8.0 million people
Wisconsin 0.39 million people

Total

30.3 million people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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