From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):
Colorado Trout Unlimited and Clean Water Action say they fear pollution could threaten trout habitat and drinking water for cities along the Front Range because some of the region’s water supply originates in streams that may be unregulated because the streams can’t be navigated by boat and are dry some of the year. Some of those streams may be in the Poudre River watershed, the National Wildlife Federation and the Izaak Walton League said in early October. The concern stems from a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting the kinds of streams that can be protected under the Clean Water Act. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only those rivers and streams that affect interstate commerce – streams navigable by boat or are connected to such streams – are protected under the act. Some of those streams that might have lost protection could be polluted by mining and other development. In response to the 2006 decision and another ruling earlier in the decade also limiting the Clean Water Act, a bill was introduced in the Senate in April to restore some of the lost protections. The Clean Water Restoration Act is now in committee in the Senate.
But local groups are hoping Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., will support a House version of the bill. “We’re trying to get back to where we were before the two Supreme Court decisions,” said Melinda Kassen of Trout Unlimited. “It is going to take the word ‘navigable’ from the act. Technically, the only navigable river is (the Colorado River) from Grand Junction to the state line.” Trout Unlimited wants to ensure that wetlands and high mountain streams that are trout spawning grounds but are dry some of the year are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act, she said, adding that she hopes a bill can be introduced next month.