“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire in Ohio. Back then, rivers were often used for dumping industrial waste and raw sewage, and it wasn’t all that uncommon for waterways choking on these chemical contaminants to spontaneously burst into flames.
When the Cuyahoga River fire caught national attention, people rallied together across party lines and mobilized to protect our waterways. The event inspired action that eventually led to the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972.
The Clean Water Act is at the heart of the work we do as Waterkeepers. It gives all citizens the power to protect swimmable, fishable, drinkable water after decades of neglect had turned our rivers into flowing dumps of flammable trash, chemicals, and debris.
American citizens have quietly been given only 60 days to have their voices heard on the Clean Water Rule proposal that is attempting to strip away decades of federal Clean Water Act protections across the country.
The proposed revisions to the Clean Water Rule by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers is without question the most far-reaching attack ever attempted on the Clean Water Act. It would roll back decades of hard work and remove historically protected rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and other waterways from its Waters of the United States definition.
We need a strong national clean water policy because all water is connected. What happens upstream ultimately flows downstream and affects us all. A clear, broad definition of Waters of the United States is critical to protecting the drinking water for millions of Americans, reducing the public’s exposure to toxic metals and pollution, and preventing the contamination of thousands of miles of vast, interconnected waterways across the country.
Rivers don’t often catch on fire anymore. But the job is not done. This is a time when we should be doing more, not less, to protect clean water. And it is definitely not the time to reverse course on water protections. Tomorrow, April 15th, 2019, is the last day to speak up in opposition of this revised definition of Waters of the United States.