On December 11, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced its changes in what waters in the U.S. are considered protected under the Clean Water Act. The act originally protected most forms of water in the United States from pollution and under President Obama, even smaller waterways were protected. However, as of yesterday, some major changes were made to the waterways that are considered regulated under the federal government.
What waterways are included?
Unfortunately, there are only six categories that are touched upon in the new EPA plan. A few of the categories that are protected by the federal government are: “traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those navigable waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, and wetlands that are adjacent to water covered by the rule”. The new rule completely excludes entities such as stormwater control features and waste treatment systems, and nearly every type of groundwater. In an article written by CNN, addressing the EPA changes, Theresa Pierno, the president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, explained that this release of groundwater protection is going to set back clean water efforts by five decades due to its constraints of protection and the potential result of more pollution in these waterways. While Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the EPA argues that this policy shift will be helpful for the environment and for the American people as it will reduced costs, its reduction in size of protection also leaves people without jobs.
What you can do to protect ALL waterways
While the EPA changes don’t protect all waterways, you still can. In order to make sure our clean water efforts aren’t led astray, its important to do as much as you can to conserve water, and prevent pollution in waterways. In order to conserve water as best as possible, consider taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet when it is not in use while doing dishes or brushing your teeth/washing your face. You can also create things like rain gardens so that maintenance on them is low and you’re also still contributing plants and nutrients to the environment.
When looking to prevent pollution in water ways, its important to know that even the most minuscule things you hadn’t thought would pollute the water, still do. Things such as paint, chemical cleaners, and even detergents from washing your car can enter drains and pollute the water ways. As with all other environmental issues, littering plays a huge part in making sure that waterways are clean. Plastic and cigarette butts are two of the most common polluted items that are found in water and not only hurt the water ways but the inhabitants of the waterways as well. Compost is fantastic for the environment but not in waterways. Not only does it clog them up but it also ends up polluting beaches and creeks if not properly disposed of.
Under the new EPA regulations most groundwater resources are not protected, which is why it is so important to be conscious of pollution to help protect the waterways.