This week the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army announced their
to redefine the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) that are protected
under the Clean Water Act.
American Whitewater was directly engaged in the public process to develop the 2015 Clean Water
Rule. We invested considerable capacity in the development of this rule that reflected the input
of the whitewater boating community. The 2015 Clean Water Rule clarified protections for
headwater streams where the majority of whitewater recreation takes place. Healthy headwater
areas are not only important for recreation, clean drinking water and healthy ecosystems, but
also for local economies. We celebrated the passage of this rule based on years of scientific
study, sound economic arguments, and wide public support; we view withdrawing this rule as a
significant threat to the health of our most cherished waterways and those who enjoy the
recreational opportunities they provide.
The 2015 Clean Water Rule was developed following years of ambiguity over exactly which streams
and wetlands are covered under the Clean Water Act. In response to this regulatory uncertainty,
the Clean Water Rule was crafted based on extensive public outreach and scientific review. The
input of the whitewater paddling community and those who recreate on our nation's headwater
streams was considered in the development of the rule.
The Clean Water Rule regulates the discharge of pollution into all streams with a defined bed and
bank (since water flows downstream) as well as certain types of wetlands. American Whitewater
supports the 2015 Clean Water Rule and has helped defend it from previous challenges. The
nation's preeminent scientists likewise actively support the Clean Water Rule.
As paddlers, we know that pollution dumped in creek beds that occasionally run dry ends up
downstream when it rains. The Clean Water Act must apply to our Nation’s headwaters if the
goal is to protect downstream states, people, fish, and property rights. Paddlers also know that
healthy rivers attract and inspire new businesses, revitalize communities, and support public
health, fitness, and happiness.
The proposed “revision” for the 2015 Clean Water Rule is now available for review and
will soon be open a 60 day comment period when it is published to the
. Although the proposal is 253 pages long and will take more time to
carefully review, our preliminary read is this proposal would substantially reduce protections
for headwater streams representing the source of our nation’s rivers. We will review the
proposal in more detail over the coming weeks. Follow our website and social media channels for
additional instructions on how to comment and our suggested talking points. You can also check
the Federal eRulemaking Portal for the current status of the public comment
and search for Docket ID No.