Today, in an effort to increase protections for Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes and streams and rivers across the state, Environment Minnesota delivered over 400 public comments and letters from people from across Minnesota to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The letters called for restoring Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and streams so vital to Minnesota’s rivers and thousands of lakes. Minnesota comments were added to the more than 100,000 public comments nationwide.
The comments support EPA’s report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters, which makes the scientific case for EPA to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that leave more than about half of Minnesota streams at risk of unchecked pollution, many of which feed and filter our lakes and rivers.
“Whether we’re fishing on Lake Calhoun, paddling the Minnesota River, or just drinking the water that comes out of our tap, all Minnesotans have a stake in clean water,” said Samantha Chadwick, Advocate with Environment Minnesota. “Minnesotans want all our precious waterways protected, it’s time for the EPA to act to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that leave many streams and wetlands vulnerable.
Minnesota’s public comments were among more than 100,000 collected across the environmental community during a short 45-day comment period and represent just a fraction of those across Minnesota who are concerned about the health of lakes and rivers.
The comments urge EPA to follow through on the science of the report, which states that polluting smaller streams and wetlands that are not currently protected by the Clean Water Act has a demonstrable effect on waterways downstream. In September, the agency announced that it is moving forward with a formal rulemaking to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act and ensure that the streams and wetlands that feed and filter Minnesota’s iconic waterways are protected.
“More than 100,000 people have made their voices heard: all our waterways deserve protection, from the Minnehaha Creek to Lake Superior to the Mississippi River” said Chadwick .“The science here is common sense. We can’t protect even our most iconic waterways without protecting the streams and wetlands that feed and filter them.”
The comments came from everyday people who depend on Minnesota’s waterways for drinking water and use our many lakes for recreation.
The delivery marked the end of the public comment period for the report, which will be reviewed at a public hearing in Washington, D.C. in mid-December. A draft rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act is expected to be formally proposed by the EPA in the coming months.
“We thank the EPA for moving forward with the sound science and taking steps to protect Minnesota’s waterways.” Chadwick said. “We urge them to move forward with a formal rulemaking to ensure that all waterways here in the land of 10,000 lakes get the protection they deserve.”