Proposed EPA Rule Supports Clean Water – Comments Due Friday, November 14th


Runs 11/7/14 through 11/14/14

This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Proposed EPA Rule Supports Clean Water – Comments Due November 14th

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently accepting public comments on a proposed rule to protect clean water. Without the new rule, 90 percent of New Mexico’s rivers and streams are threatened by unregulated dumping of harmful pollutants. Because New Mexico is an arid state where less than 10 percent of the rivers and streams flow year-round and because many of the water resources are located in closed basins, New Mexico is disproportionately vulnerable to pollution. The comment period ends on Friday, November 14th. A sample comment letter for you to use is available on the Amigos Bravos website at

Since 2008, over 400,000 requests have been sent by a wide variety of groups, including farmers, environmentalist, state and local officials and members of Congress, asking the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to make the Clean Water Act easier to understand. In response, the federal agencies collaborated with all interested parties to create a new rule that clarifies existing law and ensures clean water protections for streams and wetlands.

Clean water protections for many of New Mexico’s waters have been in question for more than a decade. As a result, some waters have been opened up for industrial dumping, while others have become harder to protect. The proposed rule would clarify that tributary streams, including those that are intermittent and ephemeral, are protected.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory there are many non-perennial drainages that are not protected. For example, there are waters in the canyons that do not flow all the time, but when they do, they can flow to the Rio Grande. The rule is essential to ensure that these waters are protected and restored.

The new rule updates the definition of “waters of the U.S.” It clarifies existing laws, increases government efficiency and makes the water cleaner by better defining which rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands the Clean Water Act protects from industrial pollution, oil spills and outright destruction. Special consideration for agricultural concerns is addressed and the new rule will bring certainty and predictability to agriculture.

Smaller streams, creeks and wetlands help reduce flooding, supply drinking water and provide critical support and habitat for fish and wildlife in downstream waters. These smaller waters provide access to adventures, exploration and wildlife and they can be some of the most treasured places. The proposed rule ensures automatic protection for all streams and wetlands scientifically proven to have significant connections to downstream waters.

Rachel Conn, Projects Manager at Amigos Bravos, said, “Water is precious in New Mexico. This proposed rule will help ensure that our watersheds stay healthy and species, like the bald eagle and river otter, will once again thrive.”


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