Little kids and small streams deserve the Clean Water Act

By Chris Wood

The Little Cacapon is a small river in West Virginia with a few awesome swimming holes. The river is part of the headwaters of the Potomac River which flows through the nation's capitol. My family and I gather frogs, look for crawfish, rough-house, catch bluegill and rockbass, and generally enjoy each other's company in the Little Cacapon. The Little Cacapon is like 60 percent of the rest of the rivers and streams in America in that parts of it dry up in the summer months. It is what is called an intermittent or ephemeral stream. 

An executive order just issued by the Trump Administration would remove the protections of the Clean Water Act for the Little Cacapon, and hundreds of thousands of miles of other headwater streams. President Trump ordered the EPA and the Corps of Engineers to "rescind" the rule that lent protections to small headwater streams, and to rely on an extremely controversial non-majority opinion of the Supreme Court that would remove protections of the Clean Water Act for 60 percent of the nation's stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands.

If successful, this means an energy developer would no longer need to get a permit under the Clean Water Act if they wanted to dredge the creek upstream of our swimming hole. They wouldn't have to get a Clean Water Act permit to build a road through it or channel and divert the river to create settling ponds. In other words, the protections of the Clean Water Act would no longer apply to the Little Cacapon.

The kids are young and resilient, and they would likely think the heavy machinery needed to do that kind of work is cool. But those of us passionate about fishing know how damaging those kinds of activities can be on the small streams that provide spawning and rearing habitat for trout and salmon, and drinking water for one in three Americans.

This executive order is the opening salvo of what will be a long fight to help protect the lands and waters that define our great nation. The Little Cacapon and my kids—and the future we leave for them—will motivate me. Whether you do it for clean water, better fishing, or for your kids, get involved today. Support Trout Unlimited, and our efforts to protect the small streams that grow big fish.  

Chris Wood is the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. He works from TU's Arlington, Va.-based headquarters. 

Comments

 
said on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

The "Clean Water Act" was probably the biggest land grab in the history of our country. Every acre of private land in the country was subject to the dictates of the federal government. Even rain falling on the desert Southwest came under the control of the government. My goodness, a rancher wasn't even going to be able to build a stock tank without federal approval. Good riddance!  

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said on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

What is being done is not going to just hurt the stream mentioned in the article. It was also announced today that funding for the Great Lakes Watershed restoration are being cut by 95%. This includes the funds used to try and keep the asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Please write your elected officials and let them know that these actions will not be accepted.

 

 

 

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said on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Totally agree with Flintsteel.  If water passes through my property, I should be able to put anything I want in it.  That water is mine. Why should the federal government regulate the introduction of heavy metals, industrial waste, animal manure or even coal mining waste to water that is on my property.  It's not like there will be any downstream effects.  

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said on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

I suggest that everyone read the National Law Review article to get a better idea of the status of the Clean Water Act. http://www.natlawreview.com/article/trump-executive-order-seeks-to-limit-scope-clean-water-act

Apparently the "restrictive order" proposed by Obama that would drastically change the scope of waters of the United States has currently been stayed by court so the rules and regulations prior to 2015 are in effect.  My personal feeling is that the Obama rule is extremely restrictive and needs review.  That is what the Trump order requires “rescinding or revising” the Obama order.  We don't know what the final result will be and it will be years before a determination has cleared the courts.  I would hope some compromise could be reached.  I have been a member of TU for years and have always admired the way TU goes about working with landowners or purchasing land in a civil manner rather than the legal hammer that some other environmental groups work.  I look at this as a challenge to TU to continue to work toward its mission of protecting our wetlands and waters in the way that it has historically done.  No matter what the final outcome of these orders may be, I am convinced that TU and like minded groups like Western Rivers Conservancy will be up to the task. A little bit of optimism could be good for all of us.  Carry on TU!

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said on Saturday, March 4th, 2017

While not as eloquent as ErichT , I agree the quality of our water needs to be protected, there should be a fair way to simplify the regulations .  That's what has been the burr for most land owners.  The burden of maintaining water quality should be shared and what has been perceived by landowners as "heavy handed" regulations need to be changed.   I have been fishing and hunting for most of my 62 years , been a TU member 30 + years and personally helped my local TU chapter raise somewhere over $200,000 which we earmarked primarily  for education and local improvements for streams in  GA.  Let's protect our waters but do it fairly without stepping/stomping on folks that own land .

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said on Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Jeffshasu you don't honestly believe that "you should be able to put anything you want in the water" and that there will be no downstream consequences!!!  That is an absurd statement.  We have a stream in PA that has NO viable life because heavy metals were dumped in upstream and killed everything from that point downstream.  It's ridiculous to think whatever you put in the water will have no downstream impact.  ErichT and WilliamSummer are correct in their assessment, we need to protect our waters using a scienitically proven, common sense approach things that are sorely missing in our country today.

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said on Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Dear BigD... 

sarcasm noun [ U ]

 US ​ /ˈsɑrˌkæz·əm/

 

literature remarks that mean the opposite of what they say, made to criticize someone or something in a way that is amusing to others but annoying to the person criticized:

 

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said on Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Jeffshasu a big apology sent your way.  I think I'm letting some of what is going on in PA these days have a deleterious effect on me.  I should heed my own advice and use some common sense.  Thanks for pointing out my stupidity in a very nice way.  

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