News Release

Florida water quality experts call out proposed federal rollback of clean water, wetland protections

For Immediate Release

Gainesville, FL -- With only two weeks left for Floridians to comment, Florida water quality experts called out the proposed federal revisions to the Clean Water Act that could further threaten Florida’s waterways. As Florida faces increasingly severe water quality challenges, the administration’s Dirty Water Rule would strip federal protections from thousands of waterways across the country, including in Florida.

“The water pollution crisis that our nation faced fifty years ago is no distant memory for many of us. It is thanks to the Clean Water Act that we have made significant progress in making our water safer for swimming, fishing, and drinking,” said Environment Florida’s Jenna Stevens.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposed replacement for the Clean Water Rule in the Federal Register on Feb. 14, initiating the 60-day public comment period, which closes on April 15th.

Director of the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands, David Kaplan warned that nationally “17 million acres of isolated wetlands—about the size of the state of Maine—could be lost because of the rollback of the Clean Water Rule.”

Dr. David Kaplan, Director of the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands at the University of Florida

If enacted, the Dirty Water Rule would replace the Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections to more than half our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands. The Clean Water Rule had the backing of more than 1,000 scientific studies and supporting comments from more than 1 million Americans.

“The health of Florida’s rivers, lakes, and bays depends on the streams that feed them and the wetlands that filter out dangerous toxins. Eliminating protections from these waterways would put the drinking water sources for up to 117 million Americans at risk of pollution,” Stevens continued.

Jenna Stevens, Campaign Organizer for Environment Florida

"All water is connected. Our springs, rivers, lakes, streams, and aquifer depend upon one another to maintain healthy flows and water quality,” said Heather Obara Esq. of the Florida Springs Institute. “A majority of Floridians rely upon the Floridan aquifer as a drinking water source. Our right to clean water should not be jeopardized by the federal government's refusal to regulate surface impacts that affect the health of our groundwater."

Heather Obara Esq., Associate Director, Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute

"You don’t have to be a hydrologist to understand that water flows downhill. Removing protections for headwater streams and wetlands means degradation of all of our water resources,” said Dr. Kaplan. “Unfortunately the proposed rule ignores the scientific consensus, including science produced by the EPA itself.”

Floridians can submit comments until April 15th to the EPA opposing the Dirty Water Rule here.

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Environment Florida Research & Policy Center is a statewide, citizen based environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water and open space.