January 16, 2015 – The release of EPA’s final report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence, shows that streams, regardless of their size or frequency of flow, are connected to downstream waters and strongly influence their function, and that wetlands and open waters are key to their integrity and sustainability. The findings confirm what Waterkeeper Alliance and 54 other Waterkeeper organizations stated in comments submitted to EPA on the proposed definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (WOTUS) this past November.
Following is a statement by Kelly Foster, Senior Attorney, Waterkeeper Alliance:
“The EPA report establishes the groundwork for a broad, clear definition of ‘Waters of the U.S.,’ which is critical to protecting our waterways. In addition, it reinforces what Waterkeeper Alliance and partner Waterkeeper organizations have stated about not categorically exempting ditches, which often transport animal waste generated by industrialized meat production facilities to downstream waters. The report finds that buried and ditched streams have eliminated aquatic habitat, increased downstream export of runoff and contaminants, and eliminated stream functions that could benefit downstream water quality.
Waterkeeper Alliance is encouraged that EPA’s final report definitively documents the importance of protecting all streams and wetlands in the WOTUS rule and is a step forward in enacting the strongest rule possible to defend our nation’s waters.”