Clean Water Act Rollbacks Met With Mixed Reactions

Sep 17, 2019

The rollback to the Clean Water Act will remove protection from intermittent waterways.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced rollbacks to the Clean Water Act. These rollbacks will repeal some of the rules put into place by the Obama Administration that protect smaller bodies of water and intermittent streams.

"So we're looking at this proposal as a significant weakening of the Clean Water Act and its 50 years of protecting our nation's water," said Cory Toye, the Wyoming Water and Habitat Program Director with Trout Unlimited. "We think that it's a deregulatory agenda based move that isn't based on science or common sense, to be honest with you."

He said this rollback will put fish and wildlife, and even humans, in danger.

"The biggest concern for us with small tributaries is that during high flow events or rain events, anything, maybe pollution or otherwise, that has been placed in those systems will make their way downstream and can affect not only fish and wildlife habitat, but water that cities in Wyoming and different municipalities depend on for drinking," said Toye.

He also said that sportsmen and women are some of the biggest advocates for clean water because they see firsthand the importance of tributaries on larger bodies of water.

The Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB) though, thinks that the rollbacks are the right move.

"The Wyoming Farm Bureau feels that the moves made by the EPA lately help clarify and bring common sense back to the Clean Water rules," said Todd Fornstrom, WyFB's President. "There are still water clean water rules in effect, they're more local than they are federal, and we would prefer to be dealing with our local regulators."

He said it made no sense for people who weren't from or in Wyoming to regulate the waters of Wyoming.

"Well, the 2015 rules really kind of made the water a little bit murky. It was hard to tell where and who was regulating what water. I mean, you could walk out on your ranch, and you wouldn't know who you're supposed to talk to about what regulations for what, and the new rules clarify that," he said.

Fornstrom said farmers and ranchers are some of the biggest advocates for clean water because of the industry's focus on longevity.

The rollback of these rules is the start of a long process by the Trump administration to scale back the Clean Water Act.