Guest Post by Beth Baranski, LWV Jo Daviess County Illinois
The League of Women Voters' structure and approach allow members to play an instrumental role in efforts to address complex issues. Organized at the local, state, regional, and national levels, League efforts and resources can be scaled up and down as appropriate. With a formal process for studying issues important to voters and coming to consensus before taking action, the League has become widely respected for its non-partisan, fact-based, educational approach.
In Jo Daviess County, Illinois, the local chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV-JDC) is creating a model that showcases how "The League Way" is working with residents in this rural area on the locally controversial, nationally important, and globally critical topic of water resource management. Here are some highlights:
And the work continues...
Act Now to Protect the Clean Water Rule
With much fanfare, the Trump administration announced in July that it is proposing to rescind EPA's Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule. The infographic to the left shows what this rule was meant to do, clarifying and making consistent application of Clean Water Act protections for water. At a time when nutrient runoff and other water pollution is jeopardizing the health of our rivers, now is not the time to move backward on the Clean Water Rule.
Now is the time to tell the US EPA and Army Corps of Engineers that you OPPOSE going back on protections for wetlands and small streams under the Clean Water Act! The agencies propose to rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule and to re-codify the prior regulatory text that defined the "waters of the United States." A docket is open for public comments on the proposed rule changes.
Go to regulations.gov to submit your comments. The Docket ID No. is EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203.
Your own words are best. We suggest covering the following points:
The docket is open until August 28, 2017, with an extension to September 27. THANK YOU for standing up for cleaner water!
LWVUS approved this request for action for LWV Lake Michigan; LWV Upper Mississippi River Region is forwarding it to our members as well.
On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly announced a final rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The rule revises regulations that have been in place for more than 25 years. Revisions are being made in light of 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings that interpreted the regulatory scope of the CWA more narrowly than the agencies and lower courts were then doing, and created uncertainty about the appropriate scope of waters protected under the CWA.
According to the agencies, the new rule revises the existing administrative definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with the CWA, legal rulings, the agencies’ expertise and experience, and science concerning the interconnectedness of tributaries, wetlands, and other waters and effects of these connections on the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream waters. Waters that are “jurisdictional” are subject to the multiple regulatory requirements of the CWA. Non-jurisdictional waters are not subject to those requirements.
The League of Women Voters worked to help pass the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 and has continued working to see it strengthened in the decades since. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 (the SWANCC and Rapanos decisions) created uncertainty about whether certain waters were covered by the CWA, thwarting regulators' ability to protect those waters. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drafted a rule to better define the "Waters of the United States," that are subject to the CWA regulations. The rule provides clarity and went into effect in August, 2015.
Subsequently, several lawsuits objecting to the rule were filed by states. The Sixth Circuit Court put a stay on enforcement of the regulation while other lawsuits continue. The standards in the rule have not yet been applied.
Sources used in this article:
All events take place in Itasca State Park: Google map showing park location and Park map showing features
Come and join the Board of LWV Upper Mississippi River Region for this event!
October 1 – Lake Itasca boat tour with naturalist followed by group photo at the Headwaters
Coborn’s Lake Itasca Boat tour: $16/person for a 1.5 hour tour of Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi, with narration by a naturalist. We are hoping to have a group of more than 18 persons so we can make a reservation - please contact Gretchen Sabel (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are planning to come. Meet at the tour boat dock at 1:30pm; boat leaves at 2pm.
Group photo at the Headwaters:
Gather at the marker at 4:30 pm. All are welcome! We will have someone with a camera on hand to take a group photo. Walking across the rocks is an optional activity.
October 2 – LWV UMRR Board meeting in the Joseph Brower visitor center and talk on nitrates in drinking water and their connection to land use
Board Meeting: Gather in the Joseph Brower visitor center (near the east park entrance) at 9:00, meeting will take place from 9:15 to 11:30. (Info on the visitor center here, see #28/33.) Coffee, tea and refreshments will be provided for both events.
Educational Event: We will have Chris Parthun, Principal Planner, from the Minnesota Department of Health and Katie DeSchane from Toxic Taters on hand to talk about nitrates in drinking water and how land use can tip the equation. Park Rapids has had problems with high nitrates as forests are cleared and the land converted to potato farms. We will have a discussion with our speakers and learn what it will take to protect the groundwater resources in this area. Some background reading here and here and here and here. Christopher Parthun, Principal Planner in the Minnesota Department of Health's Drinking Water Protection Section will speak on the state response to increasing nitrates in drinking water.