We are proud to share this blog posted by Andy Johnson of the William Penn Foundation and to be part of the foundation’s milestone Delaware River Watershed Initiative to protect clean water in our watershed and across the Delaware River Basin. Our DRWI focus is the headwater Jenkintown Creek in Abington and Cheltenham townships.
The Trump administration recently announced a proposed revision of a key rule implementing the federal Clean Water Act, which is among the nation’s most important – and effective – environmental laws. Through this change, the Administration seeks to redefine which waterbodies are subject to regulation under the Act, and in so doing significantly reduce the miles of streams and acres of wetlands that are protected from pollution. This short-sighted action, which was not unexpected, flies in the face of science-based evidence and threatens the clean water to which we’re all entitled – nationally and here in the Delaware River watershed.
The fact is that since the 1970s, the Clean Water Act has benefited communities across the country. It has steadily moved us away from a past in which many rivers and streams were open sewers and critical headwaters were at risk of impairment by unregulated discharges and development. The Act’s science-based standards, which helped to spawn the modern conservation movement and which also have provided unprecedented opportunity for civic engagement for decades, have effectively advanced us toward its primary objective: to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation’s waters.
It’s because of the Clean Water Act that birds and fish have returned to formerly “dead” waterways and people can swim in and kayak on creeks and streams that for too long were dangerous and unpleasant. It’s why water-reliant industries are surviving, and why residential, park and trail development is booming along the Delaware River waterfront.
The changes proposed by the Administration would undermine that progress.
For this reason, we were compelled to join the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the Open Space Institute to speak out against this proposal by jointly publishing a response in the Philadelphia Inquirer. We believe that the Act should be defended in the original spirit in which it was created: to protect our water resources for future generations, and to lift up the idea that clean water is a public benefit shared by all.