The Pew Charitable Trusts submitted comments April 15 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressing concern that the proposed “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’” rule would significantly reduce the number and type of waters that are protected under the Clean Water Act. In particular, Pew’s letter noted that the proposal would result in a decrease in so-called isolated wetlands, which in turn could increase flooding problems and reduce opportunities for large-scale wetland restoration and conservation projects.
Naturally occurring wetlands help protect people and property by reducing the speed and scale of floods and storing precipitation-based floodwaters. When wetlands are filled in or destroyed, the flood-protection functions they serve are lost, and damage increases. Pew explained that the removal of wetlands from Clean Water Act protection could decrease natural flood storage capacity and put the integrity of the nation’s waters at risk.