WASHINGTON, D.C. – A study conducted by the Obama administration shows that protecting our waterways has massive economic benefits in addition to the known environmental benefits. The economic analysis was authored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, the lead agencies involved in implementing and enforcing the Clean Water Act.
The analysis found that the economic benefits of restoring protections to the more than 2 million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands that are currently unprotected was between $300.7 million and $397.6 million. The full document was first revealed by Bloomberg BNA and can be found here.
“The benefits of protecting our rivers, lakes and streams are clear,” said Ally Fields, clean water advocate with Environment America. “With the drinking water for 117 million Americans at risk, it’s time for the EPA to fix the Clean Water Act and protect all our waterways.”
In September, the EPA announced they were moving forward with a rulemaking to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act and restore protections to streams and wetlands across the country. This economic analysis was sent to the Office of Management and Budget with that rule.
“It’s no surprise that the benefits of protecting America’s rivers, lakes and streams far outweigh the costs,” Fields continued. “Whether we’re fishing or swimming in our waterways or just drinking the water that comes from our taps, protecting our streams and wetlands is a win for us all.”
The document came to light less than two weeks before the EPA’s Science Advisory Board review panel is scheduled to come together and consider the scientific case for protecting streams and wetlands across the country. More than 150,000 people submitted public comments in support of the EPA’s action and calling on the agency to move forward with the rulemaking. Those comments came from everyday people who depend on our waterways for drinking water and recreation, farmers who rely on clean water for their livelihood, and scientists with expertise in the importance of our smaller streams and wetlands in feeding and filtering larger water bodies.
The EPA is expected to formally propose a draft rule in the coming months, providing the opportunity for the public to comment on the rulemaking.