Conservation groups petition to protect U.S. waterways from polluted runoff

Conservation groups across the U.S. filed petitions on July 10 requesting the EPA safeguard rivers, lakes and streams from polluted runoff.

Jul 17th, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC, July 17, 2013 -- In recent years, polluted runoff from commercial and industrial sites has become a large threat to local water quality and public health in many areas of the United States. Consequently, environmental conservation groups across the nation filed petitions on July 10 requesting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safeguard rivers, lakes and streams from polluted runoff.

Groups like the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and American Rivers, along with Anacostia Riverkeeper, Anacostia Watershed Society, Blue Water Baltimore/Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, California Coastkeeper Alliance, PennFuture, Potomac Riverkeeper, and the Shenandoah Riverkeeper, jointly filed the petitions for EPA Regions 1 (New England), 3 (Mid-Atlantic states) and 9 (Southwest states and California).

Much of untreated polluted runoff comes from sites such as shopping mall parking lots, industrial rooftops and other commercial surfaces that were built decades ago. The peitions call for these institutions to improve the management of their runoff that carries toxic pollutants, including lead, zinc, copper, nitrogen and phosphorus.

"The runoff problem, which affects water bodies small and large, in big cities and small towns from coast to coast, will only get worse with the more frequent and severe storms we are seeing due to climate change. A problem of this magnitude can't be solved stream by stream. It requires regional solutions to stem this tide of pollution and achieve cleaner water for everyone," said Christopher Kilian, VP and Director of CLF's Clean Water and Healthy Forests Program.

Additionally, the current petitions request that the EPA issue a permit to sources of stormwater pollution, requiring them to reduce their environmental through methods like green infrastructure. Green infrastructure such as permeable pavement and green roofs allow polluted runoff to filter into the ground instead of rushing off into nearby streams. If granted, the petitions could serve as a model for cost-effective clean water safeguards throughout the country to restore U.S. waters for swimming, fishing and wildlife.

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