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EPA Releases Draft Report on Wetlands Connectivity

September 20, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science Advisory Board is now soliciting comments on a draft scientific report – Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters.  Once finalized, this report will serve as the basis for a joint EPA/Army Corps of Engineers rulemaking that concerns the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act.

This report and the forthcoming rulemaking are in response to two Supreme Court decisions that resulted in confusion regarding how to interpret whether rivers, streams, and wetlands are connected to or isolated from other waters that are subject to the Clean Water Act.  This rule is an important step toward ensuring the protection of our nation’s wetlands, streams, and other waters by clarifying the Clean Water Act’s scope.

EPA announced that the rule has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for inter-agency review, and in the meantime invites the public to comment on the draft report.  (The proposed rule itself will not become available for public comment until after the inter-agency review process.)

The draft report synthesizes the available scientific literature regarding the connectivity of smaller, isolated bodies of water to larger bodies and makes the following conclusions:

  • Streams, regardless of their size and how frequently they flow, are connected to and have important effects on downstream waters;
  • Wetlands and open-waters in floodplains of streams and rivers and in riparian areas are integrated with streams and rivers [and] strongly influence downstream waters by affecting the flow of water, introducing nonpoint source pollution, and exchanging biological species; and
  • There is insufficient information to generalize about wetlands and open-waters located outside of riparian areas and floodplains and their connectivity to downstream.

You can submit comments on the draft report by October 31st, 2013 at www.regulations.gov under docket: EPA-HQ-ORD-2011-0806




Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment

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