Georgia Water Coalition Supports Proposed "Waters of the US" Rule

Call to Action, Submit Comments before November 14, 2014

Do you want to ensure full protections to Georgia’s waters so there is enough clean water for everyone?
Do you care about the long term health and safety of Georgia’s tributaries, wetlands, rivers and lakes?
Please make a difference and submit a comment letter to improve protections for waters of the United States (“WOTUS”).

 
WHAT CAN I DO? Submit an individual public comment or a comment on your organization’s letterhead.  Tell the Environmental Protection Agency:

HOW DO I SUBMIT MY COMMENT?  It’s easy – you can send an email directly to: ow-docket@epa.gov.  Make sure that you place this phrase in the subject line of your email: Docket identification (ID) No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.  If you’d like to send your comment letter via US Postal Service or other means, follow this link for more details.
 
Or, you can head to GWC partner Environment Georgia’s resource page and tell EPA it’s time to protect all of our waterways.
 
WHEN DO I NEED TO SUBMIT MY COMMENT?  Before the deadline, November 14, 2014.
 
BACKGROUND:  Under existing regulations, the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) protects “navigable waters,” which the CWA defines as “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.”  However, the CWA does not clearly define “waters of the U.S.”  This means the CWA has given federal agencies latitude to interpret what “waters of the U.S.” means.  As one might imagine, this has led to confusion regarding what water bodies are and are not protected under the CWA.  The level of confusion has also been compounded by two Supreme Court’s rulings in 2001 and 2006 that questioned the regulatory scope of the CWA.  The Supreme Court created uncertainty about the jurisdiction of “other waters” that do not fall under the category of waters susceptible to interstate commerce, interstate waters, the territorial seas, tributaries or adjacent waters.
 
Given the uncertainty about the regulatory scope of the CWA, Congress and the Supreme Court urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clarify regulations on the definition of “waters of the U.S.”  In response, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposed a rule on March 25, 2014 to clarify protection under the CWA for streams and wetlands across the U.S. The proposed rule will apply to all CWA programs – for example, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and Section 404 discharge of dredge and/or fill permitting –  and reflects the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of CWA jurisdiction.
 
For more background on what the proposed rule will and will not do, please visit the Georgia Water Wire.
 
For more information on mis-information spread by opponents to EPA’s proposal rule for WOTUS, visit: River Network’s blog; EPA’s “Ditch The Myth” portal; and this NRDC blog post and “tweet report card.”
 
For more information on the proposed rule, see EPA’s webinars presented on April 7, 2014 and July 16, 2014.