Clean Water Rule Repeal. What you need to know.

Send in Your Comments to the EPA.




Science-based conservation for the rivers of Tennessee.
Send in Your Comments on the
Clean Water Rule Repeal to the EPA!


Comment period open for 30 days, until September 27, 2017.
What you need to know about the Clean Water Rule: 


The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adopted the Clean Water Rule in May 2015 to clear up longstanding confusion over which water bodies the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act protects. The rule more clearly defines what kinds of waters get guaranteed coverage and which ones are exempt.


It is based on extensive research, more than 1200 publications of peer-reviewed science, and was reviewed by the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. The Rule also took into account more than one million public comments received on the proposed rule. The EPA and the Army Corps held over 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country to get feedback on the proposed rule and then numerous other meetings with stakeholders after the final rule was released to ensure those impacted would understand what the final rule did and didn’t do.


The water bodies at the center of the Clean Water Rule serve critical functions. Notably, more than 117 million Americans (1 in 3 Americans) receive drinking water from public systems that draw supply from headwater, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams. Wetlands cover roughly 110 million acres in the continental U.S., which filter pollution from contaminated runoff and replenish groundwater. An acre of wetlands can also store upwards of a million gallons of flood water, and wetlands provide essential fish and wildlife habitat, supporting a robust outdoor recreation economy.


The Rule expands protections for small streams and wetlands because science tells us that small streams and wetlands are connected to and have a strong influence on the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream waterways such as rivers.


What makes the Clean Water Rule so important to preserve is:

  •  It acknowledges the importance of small waterways on downstream pollution, extending protection to smaller waterways and water bodies. What matters under this rule is how connected a water body is — not its size or whether it flows year-round.
  • It protects wetlands and streams which weren't clearly covered under the Clean Water Act because they aren't necessarily "navigable." Nevertheless these waters, 22 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous U.S., as well as upwards of 2 million miles of streams and some small, isolated bodies of water, such as the shallow wetlands of the Prairie Pothole Region of the Great Plains, are now protected.
  • It lets irrigation ditches and farm ponds be. The expanded protections do not regulate groundwater, nor does it increase federal oversight of irrigation or drainage ditches —  and many other small water bodies — like farm and stock ponds — which are exempted from the Clean Water Act.


Repealing the Clean Water Rule will put streams and wetlands throughout the country AND the drinking water for more than 117 million Americans at risk of pollution and destruction.



Why we need it:
  • We can't support and grow small businesses by putting the natural water infrastructure they rely on at risk of destruction.
  • We won't protect public health by ignoring the science that water quality throughout a watershed depends on what happens to upstream waterways. 
  • Nearly 45 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, we have made tremendous progress, but many of our rivers, lakes, and bays are still not safe for swimming or fishing. Rolling back the Clean Water Rule will set that progress back.
  • Small and rural communities, who rely on private wells or whose water systems lack the resources to deal with polluted sources, may be hit the hardest by the roll back.
  • Low income communities and communities of color are already disproportionately affected by contaminated water. Contaminated water can cause a variety of health problems, especially for children. Repealing the Clean Water Rule could put many of these communities at further risk.
  • Protecting rivers and streams is essential to our heritage and is an important part of passing a legacy of stewardship on to the next generation.
  • Clean water is essential to the outdoor economyIn 2011, hunters spent $34 billion, anglers spent $41.8 billion, and wildlife watchers spent $55 billion.
  • Anglers and hunters know that clean water is essential to fish and wildlife. Repealing the Clean Water Rule will put streams and wetlands throughout the country at risk of pollution and destruction.

    The Clean Water Rule is about stopping pollution before it happens
The Effects in Tennessee: 
  • If the Clean Water Rule is repealed, at least 60% of Tennessee’s stream miles will again be at risk from pollution and destruction from development, oil and gas production, and other industrial activities.
  • 55% of Tennessee residents get their drinking water from sources that rely on small streams that are protected by the Clean Water Rule.
  • The Clean Water Rule restored protections to 10,585 miles of streams that feed into Tennessee’s drinking water sources. 
  • EPA estimates that the rule will provide at least $339 million and up to $572 million annually in benefits to the public, including reducing flooding, filtering pollution, providing wildlife habitat, supporting hunting and fishing, and recharging groundwater.