Report: Five Case Studies on the Effects of the SWANCC and Rapanos Supreme Court Rulings on Colorado Wetlands and Streams

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Here’s an analysis of the fen mentioned in the report released earlier this month, along with the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have muddied protections under the Clean Water Act, from Russell Deffner writing for The Fairplay Flume. Click through and read the whole thing. Here are a couple of excerpts:

A 12-acre unnamed “fen” located about six miles northwest of Fairplay is one of five case studies cited in a recently published report that looks at Colorado waters that have lost or may lose the protection of the Clean Water Act of 1972 because of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings…

The report states that the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers decided that it did not have the authority to protect the unnamed fen under the Clean Water Act of 1972 in the wake of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions. All five of the case studies in the report describe wetlands and streams in Colorado that would have previously been protected under the Clean Water Act but have lost or may lose that protection because of the two Supreme Court rulings…

Buechler¹s report explains the importance of fens: “Many of the fens of Colorado are over 10,000 years old with organic soil accumulation rates ranging from 4.3 to 16.2 inches per thousand years. Therefore, onsite or in-kind replacement of peat wetlands is not thought to be possible. Furthermore, at present there are no known reliable methods to create a new fully functional fen or to restore a severely degraded fen. Although fens only occupy a minor portion of the landscape, they perform important hydrological, and water quality functions.”[…]

“The [United States Army Corps”of Engineers] decided it [the unnamed fen near Fairplay] was a non-jurisdictional isolated wetland because it is about 18,000 feet upgradient from the Middle South Platte River Thus, the Corps determined that this unnamed drainage and wetland do not have a significant nexus to a “Traditional Navigable Waterway” and is non-jurisdictional,” says Buechler¹s report.

More S.787 Clean Water Restoration Act coverage here.