In June, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the environmental community a reason to celebrate when it issued a new Clean Water Rule that will protect our smaller streams and stop polluters from taking advantage of regulatory loopholes.

The Clean Water Rule clarifies the type of water bodies that can be regulated by the EPA and includes ephemeral and intermittent streams, ditches, lakes and wetlands that contribute flows to major rivers. It resolves regulatory uncertainty over whether or not a body of water could be regulated by the EPA and will decrease the amount of time that the EPA spends litigating these decisions. The EPA will now be able to spend more time addressing its primary purpose: protecting our environment from pollution.

One of the very reasons this rulemaking was necessary was to close loopholes taken advantage of by industry. Polluters had changed their discharge practices to avoid regulation by dumping pollutants into non-navigable tributaries. Because the tributaries themselves were often considered “non-navigable”, the polluter could legally dump waste into those reaches even if the tributaries eventually joined larger streams. Moving forward, these smaller streams will now be protected.

Thank you EPA for holding polluters accountable!