New Rule Threatens Important Protections for Wetlands, Creeks, and Groundwater

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2018

Contact: Cade Kistler, Program Director

ckistler@mobilebaykeeper.org. 251-433-4229. 


Many wetlands and creeks important for clean drinking water, hunting, and fishing would lose protections under the proposed rule change

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(Mobile, Ala.) - A proposed rule change announced today would strip the Clean Water Act of important protections. Analysis by the Southern Environmental Law Center and the EPA shows the proposal would remove critical safeguards from nearly 60% of Alabama’s 130,000+ miles of creeks and 75% of the state’s wetlands.

 

“These protections are critical for Alabamians to drink clean water, hunt, fish, and swim,” said Casi (kc) Callaway, Executive Director and Baykeeper for Mobile Baykeeper. “Allowing this rule change would let industrial facilities, sewage plants, and developers impact many previously protected creeks and fill wetlands without restrictions, harming our local economy and way of life.”

 

“We depend on clean water as a source of recreation for swimming, fishing, hunting, and boating, but we also depend on it for the health of our economy – for industries like seafood, tourism, and real estate who rely on clean water to be successful,” Callaway continued. “Clean Water is a way of life in Coastal Alabama and protecting our waters against pollution is a top priority.”

 

What’s at Stake?

Drinking Water

Big Creek Lake, the drinking water supply for more than 300,000 people and thousands of businesses in Mobile and Baldwin counties, is dependent on clean water flowing from small streams and wetlands into the lake. Changing the rule would remove critical protections from small upstream waterbodies that flow into the lake and could put our drinking water at risk.

 

Hunting and Fishing

The proposed rule change would be bad for hunting and fishing too. Conservation organizations have explained that wetland protections are essential for millions of waterfowl. The new rule would remove regulations that protect many important wetlands. Even the smallest bodies of water serve as habitat for waterfowl and fish. Unfortunately, the rollback of this important rule will place important habitats at risk.

 

Groundwater

The proposed rule also removes Clean Water Act protections from groundwater. Groundwater is used as a drinking water source for millions of Alabamians and is often connected to larger bodies of water. The proposed rule would allow pollution entering our groundwater to go unchecked. Groundwater pollution can come from a number of sources, Mobile Baykeeper has extensively investigated groundwater pollution from Plant Barry's coal ash pond. Under the new rule coal ash pollution and similar types of pollution could be exempted. 

 

What Won’t Change

Normal Farming Activities

Activities like plowing, planting, and harvesting will continue to be exempt from Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations. Regular farming activities are not currently regulated by the CWA and will continue to occur without being regulated by the with or without this rule change. The proposed rule instead eliminates regulations important for protecting our wetlands and streams.

To learn more about the proposed changes to the Clean Water Rule, please click here.

To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper’s work and events, http://www.mobilebaykeeper.org/ or call 251-433-4229.

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Mobile Baykeeper is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that works to provide citizens a means to protect the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and our coastal communities. For more information, please visit www.mobilebaykeeper.org.