This blog was written in response to Executive Order 13777, "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda," which Scott Pruitt's EPA is attempting to use to essentially revoke or significantly alter regulations that polluters deem too burdensome. We encourage you to comment here by Monday, May 15th.
October 18, 2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1251 et seq. (1972)), probably the most important legislation prioritizing and protecting the public's right to fishable, swimmable and drinkable water. The difference in the quality of our public waters prior to its enactment and now is palpable. It's hard to believe that, at one time, rivers caught on fire and were so polluted that communities could not rely on this important, public resource.
As a Riverkeeper, my work has relied on the Clean Water Act and its enforcement. Specifically, the Clean Water Act was the legislation relied on to advocate for clean water protections in the Waccamaw River where coal ash was discovered to be polluting ground water and surface water and threatening the communities that rely on the river to provide them with clean drinking water and economy boosting recreational opportunities. The same is true on the Lumber River, again where coal ash pollution is threatening those communities, both human and natural.
Those are just two of many examples where the Clean Water Act has protected our citizens' right to clean water. The Clean Water Act and other environmental regulations have been the catalysts by which rivers have been cleaned up, wetlands and their important ecological services have been protected, and communities have enjoyed their right to fishable, swimmable and drinkable water.
The Clean Water Act affords us so many benefits, providing an important set of rules and guidelines to protect water quality for the benefit of our families and our future. Clean water is essential to economic growth, providing drinking water, revenue generating recreational benefits and supporting the sustainable growth of our communities. A clean waterway is essential to the environmental and economic health of our communities.
Yet, we fight off repeated attempts to weak current environmental protections such as the Clean Water Act. As Riverkeepers we use the Clean Water Act to hold polluters accountable, protecting threatened communities and their life sustaining water resources. Rather than weaken the Clean Water Act and its requirements, we continue our fight for strong regulations and vigilant enforcement of this law and other environmental laws that are needed to ensure clean water, healthy communities and protection of these public resources for the benefit of all citizens.