Kristy Meyer, August 21, 2018
As a child I would spend countless days playing and exploring the stream behind my parents’ house. This is where I found my first crayfish, saw my first beaver, and where I would make my sister and brother fall off the log we were using to cross the stream in our nice clothes. This same stream is where I started to understand the impacts that throwing trash into the water and on the ground has on water quality and wildlife. I also learned that my stream fed rivers and lakes downstream from me—sometimes miles from my house—and the impacts that littering and pollution can have on my drinking water.
As of today, the stream I played in as a child and the hundreds of other streams and rivers Ohioans’ depend on are losing protections due to the Clean Water Rule rollback by Congress and the Administration. When I think about what this could mean for my children and the kind of world I am leaving them, I wonder, will they have streams and rivers to explore, fish, boat, and swim themselves, as well as with their children?
The rollback will leave approximately 70% of Ohio’s stream miles and acres upon acres of wetlands federally unprotected. These streams and wetlands provide essential fish and wildlife habitat, putting at risk a nearly $2.9 billion fishing industry in Ohio. Wetlands also soak up flood waters, filter out pollutants, and slowly release the waters back into the stream and aquifers, where we often pull our drinking water from.
Small streams feed larger streams and rivers downstream. So, rolling back protections for these small streams will mean more sediment, nutrients, and pollution entering our larger rivers and lakes, impacting approximately 46% of Ohioans’ quality of drinking water flowing out of their taps.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the last Cuyahoga River fire and the spark for the Clean Water Act, we must call on Congress to do better. Congress has included legislative language in a number of bills that would completely repeal the rule while circumventing hundreds of thousand comments submitted to the USEPA in support of the the Clean Water Rule.
Let’s leave our children and grandchildren an Ohio overflowing with streams, rivers, and lakes to explore and a promise of cleaner, safer drinking water.