Pacific Institute provides analysis on EPA's finalization of Clean Water Rule
The Pacific Institute has provided analysis on the Environmental Protection Agency's recent finalization of the new Clean Water Rule, or "Waters of the U.S." rule, designed to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation's water resources from ongoing pollution.
OAKLAND, CA, June 1, 2015 -- The Pacific Institute, an independent think tank focused on water issues, has provided analysis on the Environmental Protection Agency's recent finalization of the new Clean Water Rule (CWR), or "Waters of the U.S." rule, designed to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation's water resources from ongoing threats of pollution and degradation (see: "EPA, Army finalize CWR for protection of U.S. water resources").
The Pacific Institute noted that the new rules are long overdue -- reflecting the complicated nature of watersheds, hydrology and politics of water. Earlier versions of these rules were long opposed and delayed by political interests seeking to limit the authority of the EPA over industrial and agricultural activities that had downstream impacts on water quality.
The rules define three groups of waters: those waters covered by the Clean Water Act, those that are excluded, and a middle category of waters that will still be evaluated over time on a case-by-case basis. And these rules are definitional only: the next step is for the EPA to develop and implement regulations on specific efforts to cut water pollution.
These new rules are a crucial step to clean up the waters of the U.S., the Pacific Institute stated. They are a compromise among competing interests, but they should bring clarity to the approach the EPA must take to reign in remaining uncontrolled pollution. The rules will be especially relevant for "non-point source" pollution -- those diffuse flows of pollution from agricultural lands, some kinds of urban and suburban storm flows, and other practices that continue to lead to contamination of streams, rivers, lakes, and ultimately the oceans throughout the U.S.
Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, explained that "these rules will help cut pollution still flowing off agricultural and urban landscapes. They will, for example, reduce the risk of toxic algal blooms that recently shut down Toledo's water supply, or clean up the massive dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. And they offer the best chance to finally tackle the massive flow of pollutants off millions of acres of agricultural lands."