Newlin Gulch and the Clean Water Restoration Act

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The Bush administration weakened protections for streams and wetlands with rules issued by the EPA. Several attempts at restoring jurisdiction failed during the last few years. Here’s a report about Newlin Gulch which empties into Rueter-Hess Reservoir from Make Jaffe writing for the Denver Post. From the article:

More than 76,000 miles of Colorado streams — 73 percent of the state’s waterways — are, like the Newlin Gulch creek, at risk of losing federal wetlands and pollution protections. The reason: U.S. Supreme Court decisions and Bush administration interpretations of those rulings that limit the scope of the Clean Water Act…

Also at risk are water pollution safeguards because a quarter of the sewage treatment and industrial outfall pipes are on Colorado waterways that don’t meet the “waters of the United States” definition, a Trout Unlimited study found. Nationwide, 20 million acres of wetlands and 2 million miles of waterways could be affected, according to federal estimates…

Which waterways get Clean Water Act protection was redefined by the U.S. Supreme Court in two rulings. The first, in 2001, found that some isolated intrastate ponds weren’t protected by the act because the law refers to “navigable waters” and the ponds were not. The justices equated “water of the United States” with navigability. The second, in 2006, limited wetlands protections to only “relatively permanent waters” connected to navigable waterways. The Bush administration followed up both cases with guidance to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency that used the decisions to remove many wetlands and streams from the regulation. The guidance also said decisions on what water is protected would be made on a case-by-case basis…

Which waterways get Clean Water Act protection was redefined by the U.S. Supreme Court in two rulings. The first, in 2001, found that some isolated intrastate ponds weren’t protected by the act because the law refers to “navigable waters” and the ponds were not. The justices equated “water of the United States” with navigability. The second, in 2006, limited wetlands protections to only “relatively permanent waters” connected to navigable waterways. The Bush administration followed up both cases with guidance to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency that used the decisions to remove many wetlands and streams from the regulation. The guidance also said decisions on what water is protected would be made on a case-by-case basis.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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