Act Two for Clean Water
The U.S. Senate may be poised to undo a Bush-era policy that undercut protection of the nation’s waterways.
Until 2002, the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers had the authority to keep pollution out of creeks and stop builders from paving over small wetlands.
But two rulings on the Clean Water Act by the U.S. Supreme Court took a narrow reading of the law’s language, limiting the Act’s jurisdiction to “navigable waterways” and the small streams and rivers that are connected to them.
The rulings stripped protection from 20 million acres of wetlands and 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles, such as the Los Angeles River and nearly all of Arizona’s small streams.
Now 24 senators have sponsored a bill that would restore those protections. The Clean Water Restoration Act has passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and is headed for the Senate floor. The act has the support of a large number of environmental, wildlife, and fishing and hunting groups, along with the Water Environment Federation, which represents the water treatment industry, though the law is meeting resistance from big agriculture and developers.
Bundanoon, Australia, May be First to Legally Ban Bottled Water
In a July 4 vote, Bundanoon, Australia, may have become the first community in the world to legally ban bottled water. The ban was promoted through the grassroots “Bundy On Tap” campaign. The town plans to implement the law by September, once it sets up bottled water alternatives, such as several new free filtered “water stations” to be placed around the community.