Vail Daily letter: The repeal of the clean water rule | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: The repeal of the clean water rule

Editor’s note: Find a cited version of this letter at http://www.vaildaily.com.

The Clean Water Act turns 45 years old in October. It is a landmark law that has saved lakes and rivers and has been used to hold polluters accountable for decades. It contains a bold vision — making all of our waters safe for fishing and swimming and eliminating pollution discharges. Unfortunately, after nearly 45 years, we still have work to do. Many of our rivers and lakes are still not safe.

And it is about to get even harder.

In February, President Donald Trump signed an executive order initiating an effort for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw a rule clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act. Just this week, the agencies officially proposed repealing this rule, known as Waters of the United States or, more simply, the “clean water rule.”

The clean water rule protects the small streams that feed the drinking water for 70 percent of Coloradans. It safeguards millions of acres of wetlands that filter pollutants, absorb floodwaters and provide habitat for wildlife. These streams and wetlands are vital parts of our natural infrastructure.

Here in Eagle County, our economy strongly relies upon tourism and recreation — much of which is tied to our streams and rivers, such as rafting and fishing — and the tourists appreciate the nice, clean water they get from their hotel room faucets. Our local breweries and distilleries depend upon that clean water, as well. Without the clean water rule, federal protections for these water bodies are up in the air and communities throughout Colorado will be at risk.

Americans are rightly concerned about their water. We expect our elected officials to do more, not less, to protect clean water. Repealing the clean water rule will result in more polluted water and set us even further back from our goal of swimmable, fishable, drinkable water throughout the country.

Our water hasn’t been this at risk in a generation. Repealing the clean water rule will put the drinking water of 117 million Americans and our local economy at risk. Learn more at protectcleanwater.org.

Holly Loff

Executive director, Eagle River Watershed Council