The Environmental Protection Agency announced a rule today that would implementing a definition of protected waters of the United States that excludes many waters currently protected.
Currently farmers are prohibited from using chemical pesticides and fertilizers that run into water bodies and contaminate streams and wetlands. Under the proposed rule this will be allowed.
The new rule will protect larger water bodies, but remove protections from seasonal streams and wetlands that are not overtly contiguous with a larger water body. It will only protect surface water, not underground streams or aquifers. This opens up important wetlands to pollution and degradation.
In an article in the Wall street Journal Brett Hartl from the Center for Biologic Diversity is quoted “If you just kind of go on common sense as if that’s better than science, you’re going to go, ‘Well, that’s clearly not a river because I can’t see it,’” Mr. Hartl said. “But the river’s flowing right underneath your feet. Maybe it’s 10 feet down, maybe it’s 5 feet down, but it’s there.”
The proposed rule has a 60 day comment period before the final draft is drawn up.