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Groups to EPA: Science Confirms Importance of Streams and Wetlands

American Rivers
Environmental, public health conservation, and wildlife groups applaud the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for seeking scientistsí input on how streams and wetlands affect the health of larger bodies, and urged EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finalize a strong rule to protect these vital water bodies. EPA convened a Science Advisory Board panel meeting December 16- 18 to review a new report synthesizing the latest science on how streams and wetlands are connected to larger water bodies. At issue are Clean Water Act protections for half the nationís streams and tens of millions of wetland acres. These streams and wetlands feed the drinking water sources for more than 117 million people nationwide, protect communities from flooding, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and support local economies across the country.

The organizations and their coalition allies represent millions of Americans and are committed to mobilizing their members and supporters to ensure that the Administration finalizes a strong rule to protect these streams and wetlands. Excerpts from the expert testimony, along with statements from other organizations, are below.

"As the agencies develop a rule to restore Clean Water Act protections, it is vital they have the best scientific information at their disposal to inform their decision making," said Jennifer Peters, National Water Campaigns Coordinator for Clean Water Action, "Protecting small streams and wetlands not only ensures the health of ecosystems, it ensures the health of drinking water sources for millions of people."

"The importance of this initiative cannot be overstated," said Jon Devine, Senior Attorney in the Water Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The panelís work will help determine whether nearly two million miles of streams and countless wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act from pollution and outright destruction."

"Water is fundamental to life, and is critically important to millions of Americans. We must restore Clean Water Act protections to our nationís waterways, because they are interconnected to each other," said Chris Espinosa, Earthjustice Legislative Representative. "Thousands of pages of peer-reviewed scientific literature confirm this, but more importantly, families, anglers, hunters, and recreationists nationwide are calling for these key protections to ensure their communities have clean water."

"This report pulls together the science behind what for most of us is common sense," said Ally Fields, Clean Water Advocate for Environment America. "If we donít protect the network of streams, headwaters and wetlands upstream, we canít protect our nationís most treasured waterways, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Puget Sound."

"Small streams and wetlands are essential to the health of our rivers and communities," said Gary Belan, Director of Clean Water Supply at American Rivers. "The synthesis report and the work of the panel will be critical to inform efforts to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act and restore protections for the small streams and wetlands that contribute to our drinking water supplies, filter out pollutants, and help to protect us from flooding."

"The science is clear that upstream water quality is vital for our downstream communities. Now itís time for the administration to clearly protect those upstream waters everyone deserves clean water." Dalal Anne Aboulhosn, Senior Washington Representative, Sierra Club.

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