Wetlands and Streams in the Great Plains Threatened by Proposed Rule: Your Voice May Help Save Them

The EPA and Corps of Engineers recently held the one and only public hearing on a Proposed Rule that, if adopted, will redefine “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in a way that will eliminate regulatory protection for most wetlands in the Great Plains and many thousands of miles of streams, including most tributaries that flow into larger streams and rivers.

If adopted by the agencies, isolated wetlands (not connected to major rivers), along with countless streams and sections of rivers that would be removed from WOTUS, will no longer be protected by the Clean Water Act of 1972. The wetlands and streams removed from recognition as WOTUS will not be protected from pollution by EPA or the Section 404 permit requirement for dredging, draining and/or filling administered by the Corps of Engineers.

Comments from the public and organizations will be accepted until April 15, 2019.

Click the button or link below to file comments online, or view instructions for submitting comments by mail:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149-0003

Some of the potential points to include in your comments can be viewed as Word or PDF documents.

Streams that fall through the cracks of regulatory oversight are still being destroyed. In this case, a meander of a Kansas stream is cut off and a new channel is dredged along the edge of the nearby hill after all of the riparian forests were cleared (soon after this photo was made).

Streams that fall through the cracks of regulatory oversight are still being destroyed. In this case, a meander of a Kansas stream is cut off and a new channel is dredged along the edge of the nearby hill after all of the riparian forests were cleared (soon after this photo was made).

Make Your Voice Heard: Why and How to Get Involved Now

(1) It is vitally important for as many people and organizations as possible to file comments to express their individual and/or collective views on the proposed changes in the definition of “WOTUS.”Specifically, individuals and other entities need to indicate if they think that isolated wetlands and streams that are not constantly flowing are worthy of protection—as previously recognized by the Clean Water Act of 1972 and later revisions (including the revisions of 2015). The Clean Water Act was designed to protect WOTUS from pollution, the impacts of dredging, drainage and filling in the case of wetlands, or channelization and other forms of destruction in sections of streams and tributaries of rivers that will no longer be listed. 

(2) We need to indicate that these ecological and associated resources are important and outline why they should continue to be protected by the Clean Water Act. Without protection from pollution in tributary streams, it will be more difficult and expensive to treat downstream water for domestic purposes.  We believe that “Clean Water for All” is an objective that should remain at the forefront of water policy in this country.  Clean water is not only important for drinking water, but also for recreation, fish and wildlife, our economy and all of the ecological services that are provided by a healthy environment.

(3) EPA and the Corps will be required in the review process to answer questions and comments for the record. It is appropriate to ask if they have evaluated the economic costs and other impacts of reduced protection of streams and wetlands from pollutants, dredging, filling, channelization and drainage.  Wetlands and natural stream courses provide major benefits in reducing downstream flooding, and reduction of siltation of lakes.

As we all know, wetlands in the Great Plains are critical for waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans), wading birds (including Whooping Cranes, Sandhill Cranes, herons and egrets), shorebirds, other water birds (including pelicans) and many other species of birdlife and wildlife.

For more information on isolated wetlands (most of which will be dropped from WOTUS if the current rule is adopted), view this fact sheet developed in 2002.

Click the button or link below to file comments online, or view instructions for submitting comments by mail:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149-0003

Some of the potential points to include in your comments can be viewed as Word or PDF documents.

Wood ducks by Bob Gress,    Birds in Focus

Wood ducks by Bob Gress, Birds in Focus

Clean Water for All

Audubon of Kansas is a campaign partner of the Clean Water for All coalition, and promoted consideration of the conservation message at the WOTUS hearing in Kansas City on February 27-28, 2019.

Here is Ron Klataske’s statement presented at the hearing.

A video of the coalition news conference can be viewed here.

Clean Water for All is dedicated to clean water, for drinking, for fishing and other recreation, for economic stability and for community health. The Clean Water for All Coalition brings together advocates with diverse backgrounds and interests at local, regional, and national levels, to promote and conserve clean water for everyone.

A short NPR report about the planned rollback of protection can be heard here.

"RON KLATASKE: This is the greatest rollback of conservation and protection of ecological resources that has occurred ever."


 
Ron Klataske  Executive Director

Ron Klataske

Executive Director

Ryan Klataske, PhD  Special Outreach Director

Ryan Klataske, PhD

Special Outreach Director

 

Support a Worthy Cause

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