New Dirty Water Rule puts Mississippi River and Iowa’s drinking water at risk

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Trump administration action defies common sense and sound science

Environment Iowa

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today finalized a rule that leaves half the nation’s wetlands and thousands of streams — which help provide millions of Americans with drinking water — without the federal protection of the Clean Water Act.

“Iowans care deeply about clean water – for drinking, swimming, fishing and sustaining nature. Yet this Dirty Water Rule will leave the Mississippi River and other waters vulnerable to pollution and degradation, and put our drinking water at risk,” said Len Montgomery, Field Director. “Polluted water can make anyone sick — no matter where you live or your politics. This move defies common sense, sound science, and 50 years of bipartisan support for clean water.”

The Dirty Water Rule puts the Mississippi River at risk.  As unprotected wetlands become degraded or paved over, they will no longer help filter out pollution before it reaches the Mississippi River. And pollution from unprotected streams will flow into the Mississippi River as well.  The Mississippi and other rivers in Iowa are already facing pollution from agriculural runoff; degrading the streams and wetlands around it will only make that problem worse.

The rule also opens our drinking water sources to pollution.  According to U.S. EPA’s own data, intermittent and ephemeral streams help provide drinking water to 117 million Americans.  The Dirty Water Rule removes Clean Water Act protections for many of these streams, putting the drinking water of many Iowans at risk.

Noting the nexus among streams, wetlands, and larger waterways, the Dirty Water Rule was  recently rebuked by EPA’s own science advisors.  

Public support for maintaining Clean Water Act protections is widespread. More than one million Americans — including business owners, local officials, scientists, and hunters and anglers — provided comments to EPA, urging the agency to protect streams and wetlands under the Act.

“This dirty water rule is a moment of truth for every single representative in Congress,” said Len Montgomery. “Who will speak up and who will sit silent as this administration rips up protections for our rivers, our lakes and our drinking water?”