Preserving Pennsylvania’s Wetlands and Small Streams
Wetlands prevent flooding by soaking up rain and releasing it slowly. They provide habitat for many plant and animal species too, including lots of threatened and endangered species. Pennsylvania has already lost half of our wetlands, and can’t afford to lose any more.
The Campaign for Clean Water is working to strengthen state regulations that protect our wetlands. We are focusing on improving protection for wetlands and small headwater streams, which are vitally important to our water quality. Current state rules give very little protection to smaller streams, waiving permit requirements for disturbing streams that drain less than 100 acres.
Research by the Stroud Water Research Center and others suggests that small streams deserve as much protection as larger ones…perhaps even more! They provide benefits to our overall watersheds far greater than their size, helping enhance stream biodiversity and keep sediment and pollutants out of the lower reaches of the stream system.
As the state considers changes to its rules on Wetlands and Stream Encroachments, the Campaign for Clean Water will be working to make sure that small streams are protected.
The Campaign is also working to encourage federal action to reverse regulations adopted during the previous Administration that have removed protection for many small streams and isolated wetlands.
Using some unfortunate decisions by the US Supreme Court as their rationale, the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers adopted new rules in 2002 that limit protection under the Clean Water Act to streams that are navigable.
This decision puts the drinking water of almost 8 million Pennsylvanians at risk, and could remove protection for 59% of the streams in our state. It also has limited the ability of the EPA to regulate discharge of pollution into smaller streams, causing the EPA to drop or downgrade hundreds of lawsuits designed to stop excessive or illegal pollution. Without a change in the rules, even more cases will be at risk, allowing dischargers to pollute our streams without any legal limits!
The Campaign for Clean Water encourages the EPA to withdraw these regulations and to return to the interpretation of the Clean Water Act that was used by every previous Administration, from the term of President Nixon forward! We also urge our Congresspeople and Senators to support the Clean Water Restoration Act which would officially ensure that all of the nation’s waters are protected under the Clean Water Act.