By Dalal Aboulhosn, Sierra Club
Today, we celebrate World Water Day,a global day of action to ensure that every person on the planet has clean, safe and affordable water.
And while EPA head Andrew Wheeler this last week acknowledged the global crisis of reliable drinking water, he ironically has been systematically rolling back the most basic protections of our own Nation’s water supply.
The most recent example? Announcing this week that the EPA is refusing to extend the public comment period on their proposed Dirty Water Rule. This plan will wipe out Clean Water Act protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands and millions of miles of streams. The waterways they are targeting feed drinking water sources for millions of people in the U.S.
Americans have overwhelmingly expressed their support for strong clean water standards. Tens of thousands have already spoken out against the Dirty Water Rule, which will sacrifice our drinking water to developers, the dirty fuel industry, and the other corporate special interests who call the shots with this administration. The number of clean water supporters is growing every day. We’ve made huge strides in the health and quality of our water in the last three decades. The Dirty Water Rule threatens to erase that progress.
Wheeler is trying to rush through the process and silence the voices of the people in favor of polluting interests. They think they can fly under the radar with their drastic plans to pollute our streams, rivers, wetlands and drinking water supply. We’re not going to let them.
We’re collecting stories from all across the country about what clean water means to people and what bodies of water are most important to them. Here are some of the stories we’ve heard so far:
“I am from West Virginia, which had a water crisis a few years ago due to a local chemical company’s negligence…Getting rid of the Clean Water Act is the LAST thing people in my home state need. They’ve been exploited by outside industry for the state’s entire existence, and no one stands up for them.”
“I grew up canoeing, fishing, and waterfowl hunting with my father. It is difficult to describe how these activities impacted our relationship. The fondest memories I have of my father all involve these activities. These past times all depend on clean water. I am now teaching my 7-year old son to fish and we have paddled extensively through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, as well as on the upper Mississippi, Rum, Knife, and other of Minnesota’s rivers. Passing this legacy on to my son depends on the preservation of these waterways, as well as others we’ve yet to explore.”
“I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Water is already scarce here because of the drought. We do not need more of our drinking water endangered by pollution. Please protect our water and protect our people.”
We will make sure Wheeler hears these stories and understands that people in this nation want clean water. We will call for this administration to recognize, not only the global threat to drinking water, but the risk they are putting on our own waterways.
The 60-day comment period is open until April 15th. Make sure you tell the EPA that you want to protect clean water in your community and reject the Dirty Water Rule. Share your own story about the waterways that are meaningful in your life.