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Utah's Waterways Affected by Clean Water Rule

PHOTO: Streams and watersheds in Utah and around the nation should have greater protections in place now that the Environmental Protection Agency has released its new Clean Water Rule. Photo credit National Park Service.
PHOTO: Streams and watersheds in Utah and around the nation should have greater protections in place now that the Environmental Protection Agency has released its new Clean Water Rule. Photo credit National Park Service.
May 28, 2015

GREEN RIVER, Utah - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers has released a new Clean Water Rule, which supporters say will better protect rivers and streams in Utah and across the U.S. from pollution.

Jay Banta, co-chairman with Utah Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, says the new rule will restore Clean Water Act protections for headwaters, some streams and wetland habitat left uncertain by two U.S. Supreme Court rulings. He says there is currently limited protections for streams, where one in three Americans gets drinking water.

"You look at places like the Colorado River, it's a huge water source," says Banta. "Not just for Utah, but for many users downstream, as are most of the streams."

In addition to drinking water, Banta says the at-risk waters also provide essential fish and wildlife habitat that helps to support Utah's multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy.

John Gale, conservation director with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers says proposed legislation in Congress (S.1140) seeks to undo the updated Clean Water Rule.

He says the rule-making process has been going on for years, and there's been plenty of time for all sides to make their case, so trying to derail it now doesn't make sense.

"It's been a long public process, with tremendous opportunities to comment over the last few years," says Gale. "We want to see a final rule put in place that restores these important protections."

Gale adds, during the EPA's rule-making process, nearly a million people have commented in support of the Clean Water Rule.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT