WASHINGTON (December 12, 2018) —The Trump Administration proposed new restrictions on which wetlands and waterways will be protected by the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule will re-define the protected "Waters of the United States," to exclude temporary streams that flow after heavy rain and snow, as well as wetlands not adjacent or connected by surface water to major water bodies. According to the EPA’s own early estimates, this could eliminate protection for at least 18 percent of streams and 51 percent of wetlands in the U.S., and could forgo up to half a billion dollars in estimated economic benefits.

Following is a statement from Todd Gartner, Director, Natural Infrastructure, World Resources Institute:

“The proposed rollback of water protections under the new Trump rule is a major economic mistake. Wetlands and natural waterways provide essential infrastructure services that Americans depend on. They clean our water, protect us from floods, and underpin job-rich industries like fishing and recreation.

“The weakening of wetland protections threatens to prove costly to Americans in the long run. If more wetlands are lost or polluted because of this rule, it will become costlier to filter our drinking water, we will see more extensive flood damage and nutrient pollution will hurt American fisheries. Economic analyses of natural infrastructure all over the country have consistently found that green infrastructure saves citizens money.

“There are better ways to ensure farmers, developers and landowners don’t bear excessive costs for clean water. Many cities and states have mechanisms that allow urban residents and utilities to pay land owners for the benefits they create by protecting our natural infrastructure. We need creative financing solutions, not rollbacks that will, literally, muddy the waters.”