Yesterday the Trump administration finalized its plan to repeal critical safeguards that prohibit the dumping of industrial and agricultural pollution into sensitive waterways that provide tap water for more than 117 million Americans.
The repeal of the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS, will remove protections for many small streams and wetlands, which were put in place under President Obama, in 2015. The rule determines which streams, rivers and lakes are protected from pollution by the federal Clean Water Act and extends protection for millions of acres of wetlands that filter drinking water.
Small streams are where big rivers start, and the best science confirms that dirty streams lead to even dirtier rivers. Millions of Americans drink water directly connected to 234,000 miles of small streams that will now be unprotected as a result of the repeal.
In 30 states, small streams provide some percentage of drinking water for 1 million or more people. As a 2017 analysis by EWG showed, more than 40 million of those people are in New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California.
“Much of the nation’s drinking water sources, already threatened by pollution from industry and agribusiness, will now be left unprotected as a result of this action,” said Craig Cox, EWG’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “The decision to announce the repeal of the water rule from the headquarters of an industry lobby group that represents many of the nation’s worst polluters says it all: Under President Trump, the EPA is no longer in the business of safeguarding our resources and protecting us from pollution, but is openly working to advance the agenda of those who profit from fouling our water and threatening our health.”