In Water law, Water policy, Water Pollution, Water Quality

49 Years of Clean Water Protections – Looking Toward the Future

The Clean Water Act is turning 49 and we have much to celebrate and much to look forward to in the year ahead. Let’s kick off the celebration by focusing on the wins of this past year and getting excited about the upcoming 50th Anniversary.

All eyes are on the Biden Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as they wrapped up their public listening sessions and comment period in early September regarding revisions to the definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Trump Administration’s Dirty Water Rule. While many were impatiently waiting for the new Administration to officially revise and fix the WOTUS definition, advocates took action, with recent wins for clean water protections in major cases. In Arizona, the U.S. District Court ruled the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (Trump’s “Dirty Water Rule”) to be seriously flawed and must be thrown out, in response to a lawsuit by Earthjustice representing six federally recognized tribes. In Hawaii, the federal district court required Maui County to obtain a permit to discharge into groundwater wells that have connection to surface waters, the first of its kind following County of Maui v. Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund. Check out our recent blog by River Network’s Policy Director April Ingle, which outlines the steps the EPA has taken so far on addressing rollbacks.

Join us in celebrating this year!

River Network and clean water advocates across the country are looking forward to the year ahead as we prepare to take on another 50 years of clean water protections and holding our agencies accountable for enforcing this bedrock environmental law. This year, our Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual, a user-friendly guide to the Clean Water Act, will be updated to reflect the changes to the policy and implementation that have occurred over the last 10 years, and include important topics like equity, climate change, and drinking water. To date, the Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual has been used to train over 12,000 water leaders throughout the U.S. on how to use the Act to fight for clean water protections. We look forward to supporting thousands more in the future with the latest version!

And what better way to celebrate this milestone than with all of your closest colleagues – both old friends and those you have yet to meet – at River Rally 2022 in Washington, D.C.! The week-long conference will gather water champions from across the country to learn, network, and share experiences, with a focus on the successes, struggles, and future of the Clean Water Act. To expand on the sessions and celebrations at Rally, we will also host, along with our partners at American Rivers, Action Day for Clean Water & Rivers to give network members the opportunity to have conversations with their Members of Congress and ask them to support clean water priorities.

Be sure to keep an eye and an ear out for exciting and engaging opportunities throughout this next year as the Clean Water for All Coalition launches its year-long Clean Water Act 50th Anniversary celebration with state and local events, advocacy opportunities, and ways to engage to inspire the momentum of the early days of the law that lead to the protections and improvements of our nation’s waters.

Let’s kick off this 49th year by blowing out the birthday candles and making a wish – nay, a pledge – for the future: clean, safe, and accessible water for all communities and in all waterways. And, let’s use the Clean Water Act to get us there.

Leave a Comment