Headwaters Matter! New rules protect water quality

Yesterday (May 27) the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers issued new Clean Water rules that restore long-standing protections to headwater streams and adjacent wetlands under the Clean Water Act.  From TU's Colorado press release:  

Colorado anglers stand behind new clean water rule

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Anglers in Colorado support a new rule announced today that restores protections for America’s headwater streams under the Clean Water Act.

“The waters this rule protects are the sources of our nation’s coldest, cleanest water,” said Trout Unlimited President and CEO Chris Wood. “Not only do they provide the needed spawning and rearing habitat for our trout and salmon, they are the sources of our iconic rivers and streams—they provide the water we all use downstream. The EPA and the Corps were right to craft this thoughtful rule in a way that protects our headwaters and our fish, but also protects the downstream uses of our nation’s water.”

Wood said the rule doesn’t require any new actions on the part of existing water users, but it does require anyone wishing to pursue a new development that impacts small streams to get a permit to do so.

The rule restores protections to America’s headwater streams that were removed after two politically charged Supreme Court decisions in the 2000s. The court ruled that there must be a proven nexus between these small, sometimes-intermittent waters and the larger rivers they feed in order for the former to receive Clean Water Act protections. Armed with the science that proves such a connection, the EPA and the Corps crafted this rule that simply protects the clean water sources of America’s rivers.

“Colorado is a headwaters state, and we understand the importance of protecting the sources of our great western rivers,” said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. “The new rule restores long-standing protections to these small streams and wetlands, which ensure healthy waters downstream and support our state’s $9 billion outdoor recreation economy. Anglers understand that healthy rivers depend on healthy tributaries—this rule simply acknowledges that reality.”

“TU members in Colorado are grateful to the Corps, the EPA and the Obama administration for developing the new rule, and we are thankful to many members of Congress who have defended it from attack,” said Drew Peternell, director of TU’s Colorado Water Project. “The rule is the product of many months of consultation and input from Americans and Congress. The agencies listened to the concerns of diverse interests and found an approach that will ensure clean water for our communities, industry, farms and ranches, and environment.”

“This is a rule for everyone,” Wood continued. “The most important thing this rule does is restore Clean Water Act protections to headwater streams, and that means the world to anglers who understand the importance of these waters to their success in the field. But these waters are important to everyone, not just anglers. If you turn on a tap, this rule helps make sure the water that comes out is clean and fresh.”