Friday, December 28, 2018

I wrote my Member of Congress, "Repealing Waters of the U.S. Makes it Legal to Pollute Arizona Water."

Cienega Creek Watershed that flows into Tucson's watershed
Reprinted from Desktop Activist Tucson, January 16, 2019

This morning I listened to the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler to head of the E.P.A. It was good to hear members of Congress challenging Wheeler's actions and pressing for climate action! But I was disheartened to hear Wheeler's statement that repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule would not affect the States' authority to protect their water. Unfortunately, that isn't true of Arizona. Arizona law prohibits the state from passing regulations that go beyond federal standards. So essentially repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule makes it legal to pollute our water. (See details in letter below.)

At Sustainable Tucson's environmental education meeting with Rep. Kirkpatrick, I urged her to sponsor a bill codifying the rule into law. My request is included in my water presentation that I posted here.

I wanted to share my letter encouraging Sen. Sinema to do the same. 
Dear Senator Kyrsten Sinema,
I believe that the future of Tucson depends on preserving and protecting our water supply. Towards that end, my husband and I volunteer a great deal of our time promoting conservation and rainwater harvesting. 
I am writing to urge you to work on codifying the Waters of the U.S. Rule into law - since it is currently an EPA rule that any acting president can change at will. In fact, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are already implementing Executive Order 13778 which directs federal agencies to rescind the Waters of the U.S. that included rivers that don't flow year around. Repealing this rule will have a devastating impact on our water supply. All of our waterways are connected. If we don't protect streams and non-perennial rivers, we aren't protecting the bigger rivers. Tucson, in particular, will be negatively affected by repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule. Arizona's water has already been depleted by a 19 year drought. But repealing the Water of the U.S. Rule will leave Tucson's water supply completely unprotected.

As Pima County Administrator C.H. Huckelberry stated:
Tucsonans rely on both surface water and groundwater derived by infiltration or runoff, as well as Colorado River water. History has shown that pollutants entering dry riverbeds can contaminate our drinking water. Changes in standards for the Clean Water Act would be particularly consequential in Arizona. While other states have the authority to protect the quality of streams not subject to the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction, Arizona does NOT. In Arizona, state legislation forbids state agencies from exceeding the federal regulatory framework. Therefore, any reduction in scope of federal jurisdiction may have the effect of exempting certain areas from water quality protections at the state level. 
EPA data showed that 94 percent of streams in Arizona were protected by the Waters of the U.S. rule. These streams are small but they feed into the Gila and Santa Cruz rivers. If the protections of the Clean Water Act are reduced to perennial waters, the vast majority of Arizona's streams will have no water quality protections at all. Essentially pollution becomes legal unless the state steps in. The state means the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality - which advertises that it sped up the permitting process for businesses and reduced "burdensome" laws and regulations - 48 of them.

The Waters of the US Rule affects most of Tucson’s rivers (because most are not perennial). For example, without the Waters of the US rule, there is little to stop the operators of the Rosemont mine from dumping tailings and other pollutants into Davidson Canyon where they eventually would make their way into Cienega Creek and Tucson’s water supply. This stream provides Tucson with 20% of our ground water.

Senator Sinema, it is vital for the Waters of the U.S. rule to be codified into law to protect Tucson's water supply for now and in the future. Please, do everything you can to make the Waters of the U.S. Rule a law. 
Thank you,
Jana Segal

You might consider writing your Representative and Senators to work on codifying the Waters of the US into law so it can't be changed by any acting president at will.

The details are included in the e-mail I just sent to Senator Kyrsten Sinema.  Feel free to use the facts, but personalize it so it won't sound like a form letter.

You can contact Sinema at 602-598-7327 or email contact@sinema.senate.gov.

If you would like to thank Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick for meeting with us and urge her to codify the Waters of the U.S. into law, I believe she can be reached at:

1636 North Swan Road, Suite 200
Tucson, AZ 85712

309 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2542

No comments:

Post a Comment