New Dirty Water Rule Puts Maryland’s Water at Risk

Media Contacts
Kate Breimann

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 24, 2020


Kate Breimann, Advocate, Environment Maryland, 276-229-9108, [email protected] 

Emily Scarr, Director, Maryland PIRG, 859-221-4213, [email protected]


New Dirty Water Rule puts Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s drinking water at risk
Trump administration action defies common sense and sound science

BALTIMORE – 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.

“Marylanders care deeply about clean water – for drinking, swimming, fishing and sustaining nature. Yet this Dirty Water Rule will leave the Chesapeake Bay and other waters vulnerable to pollution and degradation, and put our drinking water at risk,” said Environment Maryland Advocate Kate Breimann. “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 Maryland’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay at risk. As unprotected wetlands become degraded or paved over, they will no longer help filter out pollution before it reaches the Bay. Last summer, the dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay was larger than it had been in decades; 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 Marylanders 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.

But lobbyists for corporate agribusiness, developers, and the oil and gas industry have long demanded that federal protections be removed for streams and wetlands. Pollution from agribusinesses contributes to toxic algal outbreaks, fish kills, dead zones, drinking water contamination and fecal bacteria that can make swimmers sick. Some developers are eager to build on wetlands and the oil and gas industry has countless pipelines running through them.

Maryland’s Members of Congress are speaking up too. Representative Ruppersberger, Representative Raskin, and Representative Brown recently co-sponsored a House resolution urging EPA to reverse course on the Dirty Water Rule and several other attacks on clean water.

“The dirty water rule is a moment of truth for every single representative in Congress,” said Kate Breimann. “And Representative Ruppersberger, Representative Raskin and Represenattive Brown are not sitting silently as this administration rips up protections for our rivers, our lakes and our drinking water.”