What Happened: Sept. 28 marked the close of comment period on the first step of a two-step rollback of clean water protections under the Clean Water Rule. Trout Unlimited members and supporters came out in force to express opposition to this proposed rollback and to share concerns about protections of headwaters and small streams so essential for healthy fish and habitat.
Over the course of the comment period, more than 2,500 TU members and supporters took action using TU’s online advocacy portal to comment to the EPA and to their elected members in Congress. In addition, more than 280 individual chapters and councils of Trout Unlimited submitted a letter to the EPA expressing opposition to the proposed action and describing the importance of clean water protections.
Why This Matters for Trout Unlimited: America’s headwaters are the genesis of our country’s iconic rivers. The Clean Water Act — and the Clean Water Rule — were designed to ensure that our nation’s small waters remain intact, and that the water flowing from them is fresh and clean. These waters are the spawning and rearing waters for trout, salmon and other wild and native fish that contribute greatly to the $50 billion recreational fishing industry in the United States. What’s more, these streams send clean water downstream, where it’s used to water our crops, cool our industrial generators and provide clean, fresh drinking water for our cities and towns.
Our main practical concern with the change in these federal standards is that we would lose the protection for seasonal streams and for wetlands from being dredged or filled in — protection that currently is provided. … Allowing those areas to be degraded will in turn have ripple effects downstream onto our drinking water supplies and our important fishing and recreation rivers.
What comes next (EPA two-step process):
The Clean Water Rule of 2015, which was a critical step in protecting headwaters streams and wetlands across the country, was the result of a multi-year process which utilized the best available science and drew more than one million comments before being finalized.
The EPA has promised a two-step process:
Step One (Repeal): proposal to rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule; public comment closed on Sept. 27th.
- More than 2,500 people commented through TU online advocacy center;
- Over 280 individual chapters and councils of Trout Unlimited sent a letter to EPA.
Step Two (Replace): During the second step, the EPA plans to re-write the rule to substantially narrow the current protections. the “replace” step will likely reduce protections on thousands of miles of streams.
- Trout Unlimited will be an active participant in this process, working with volunteers, staff and partners to provide information to the record and to ensure our concerns are heard during both steps.
Thank you to all of the TU advocates who took action to make your voice heard during this first step.
— Kate Miller