One of the wetlands at the Morgan Swamp Preserve
Morgan_Swamp_Preserve One of the wetlands at the Morgan Swamp Preserve © Kent Mason

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TNC in Ohio Statement on WOTUS

New WOTUS rule is a major setback for stream protection in Ohio.

Dublin, OH

The Trump administration’s new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule eliminates many "ephemeral" waterways from protection under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Bill Stanley, Ohio State Director for The Nature Conservancy:  

“The Trump administration’s new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule will have a significant adverse effect on stream protection in Ohio and the rest of the United States, as many smaller streams that flow intermittently will no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Enacted in 1972, the goal of the CWA is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”  The new definition of CWA jurisdiction jeopardizes our ability to meet that goal.

The rule changes will also eliminate protection for many wetlands across the United States; however, the State of Ohio had the foresight to implement the Isolated Wetland Law in 2001, which provides some protection to these critical natural areas that store, clean and filter our water.

Redefining the streams protected under the CWA impacts nature’s ability to manage rainfall and stormwater runoff.  Scientific evidence clearly shows that small headwater streams provide flood and erosion control for larger streams and are critical to the health of downstream rivers and lakes. 

We believe the new WOTUS rule is a major setback in reaching the goals of the CWA and ignores extensive scientific documentation on the connections between headwater streams and more recognizable larger rivers and lakes. Furthermore, the rule now places a burden on local governments and states to protect smaller waterways, and it is unclear if Ohio will be able to carry out the additional regulatory work and how much it would cost to do so.  At a time when Ohio is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to protect waterways through the new H2Ohio program, Clean Lake 2020 funding and more, this rollback of Federal protections is counterproductive and undermines efforts to address the significant challenges faced by our streams, rivers and lakes.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.