The Clean Water Act (CWA) is intended to support the availability of safe water for all by making it illegal to dispose of pollution into streams. For historical reasons, the CWA is structured around “navigable waters” like rivers, but clearly anything that gets into a tributary or even the soils around streams can influence water quality. Where else would this pollution go?
Consequently, a source of concern and source of confusion has been what happens in non-naviigable headwaters, the small tributaries feeding into streams and rivers, and even ditches, themselves often recommissioned streams. The Clean Water Rule offers some specific guidance to what is included within the CWA. It stipulates that for a stream to be included, it needs to have moving water more than just during a rainfall event, and must show some sort of physical features indicating flowing water. This might be a streambed or bank or some other indication of high water. And then there is the issue of nearby waters, such as wetlands which are not obviously connected to a stream. The limit for those protections is 1500 feet. Ditches not replacing streams are not covered.
These types of clarification are beneficial because they will dramatically reduce the uncertainties of application that crop up when deciding whether the CWA applies. Environmentalists concerned about losses and water quality have gained clarity regarding protection of waterways that feed into navigable waters, and the agricultural industry knows more clearly what its limits are as well. It is important to note that there are a variety of exemptions for agricultural practices already within the Clean Water Act, and these are not altered.
Here are a couple of posts elsewhere on the topic:
Our city’s largest Earth Day event. Celebrate Earth Day and Little river Wetland Project’s 25th anniversary. Booths showcasing the conservation work of local businesses and environmental groups, birds of prey from Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehab, presentations on nature topics, interactive nature education stations, children’s activities, and more. Come by the ERC display and say “Hi” or listen to my talk on the reptiles and amphibians of the area at 1:15. Lots of talks and activities all afternoon.
The Water Quality Information Service is a resource for researchers, agency officials, and the general public for organizing and presenting historic water quality data from the St. Joseph River and its tributaries. The WQIS is maintained by the St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative in collaboration with the ERC hosting it at IPFW.
Pick your location, pollutant and time frame and see what you get as a graph or as a table. The service is limited by the data available for it. We hope in the future to add: sites, data sets and new features!!
The WQIS is free, but registration is required so that we can learn who is using it.
River Summit II will be “part conference, part celebration” of the rivers and surrounding watershed of the Maumee River and its principle tributaries, the St. Mary’s and St. Joseph Rivers. The conference will bring professionals, politicians and the public together to explore water quality issues, riverfront revitalization efforts, and recreational opportunities on our rivers.
Kick-Off Social | Grand Wayne Center The evening of April 8th will be an opportunity for leaders in the region to hear about successes and new issues for water resources in our communities.
River Summit Conference | Grand Wayne Center
A full day of information and education for residents and professionals alike. The focus for this day will be to better understand the current state of our river systems and the opportunities rivers offer for economic growth and community building.
April 11th Family Day | Various Locations in Downtown Fort Wayne The last day of the 2015 River Summit will be a family-focused day on and along the rivers. Families can gain first-hand experiences associated with numerous features our rivers have to offer.
The Fort Wayne riverfront development project recently received a boost in funding. The Foellinger Foundation offered $225,000 towards riverfront project undertakings. The grant is part of a larger plan, in which the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment will provide matching funds of 50 cents per dollar if outside donors collectively raise $2 million.
Read more about the funding process, including how you can provide support here.