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E-M:/ 111 Million Americans' Drinking Water at Risk: State-by-State Numbers

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <Anne.Woiwode@sierraclub.org>

Folks:  While Michigan appears relatively (though not entirely) protested
compared to other states at risk because of EPA's proposed policies
regarding drinking water source protection discussed below, the slippery
slope of weakening federal protections can be virtually guaranteed to come
back to haunt us all --

Anne Woiwode, State Director
Sierra Club Mackinac (Michigan) Chapter

For Immediate Release:
May 17, 2006

David Willett, 202-675-6698

 New Report Gives State-by-State Impacts of EPA's Destructive Water Policy

Washington, DC: The drinking water sources of more than 111 million
Americans could be at risk because of the Environmental Protection Agency's
policy to withhold Clean Water Act protections from headwater and seasonal
streams. A Sierra Club report released today, based on EPA data, provides
state-by-state information on drinking water supplies which rely, at least
in part, on these small streams.

The report is available at:

The states with the largest percentage of people relying on drinking water
sources that are at risk are Utah (90%); Colorado (83%); Kentucky (77%);
Massachusetts (75%); and Maryland (70%).

This information comes just as Congress is about to have the chance to
block this weakening of our anti-pollution safeguards.

"The EPA's policy directive puts our drinking water sources at risk from
waste disposal, sewage discharges, oil spills, development projects and
other polluting activities," said Navis Bermudez, Washington
Representative, and author of the report.  "Congress should stop this
destructive policy and ensure that the EPA protects our drinking water
sources to the fullest extent of the law."

Representatives Oberstar (D-MN), Leach (R-IA) and Dingell (D-MI) have
announced that they intend to offer an amendment to block funding for
implementation of the EPA policy directive.  The House of Representatives
is expected to consider the EPA appropriations bill later this week or next

On January 15, 2003, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announced a
new policy directive to remove Clean Water Act protections for many
streams, wetlands, ponds, lakes and other waters. This "no protection"
policy effectively directed federal regulators to withhold protection from
millions of acres of wetlands, thousands of streams and other waters on
grounds that are "isolated," unless they first get permission from their
national headquarters in Washington, DC.  Since most states lack effective
protections for these waters, failing to enforce the provisions of the
Clean Water Act in these waters means that sewage, chemical and mining
waste, fill materials and other pollutants may be dumped without any

"By failing to protect our headwater streams,  our drinking water sources
are at risk for pollution and destruction," Bermudez said.  "That imposes
an unfair burden on drinking water providers, and ultimately ratepayers,
who must treat dirtier water to provide the public with safe drinking

Sierra Club's report also documents how EPA's policy directive puts at risk
drinking water sources in a half-dozen communities, based primarily on
concerns raised by regional EPA staff.  These communities include New York
City; parts of southern California; central Arizona; southwestern New
Mexico; Boise; and the City of Rancho Cordova, California.

EPA regional staff worried that any changes to the types of waters covered
under the Clean Water Act could cause pollution of groundwater water and
drinking water quality.  For example, they expressed concern about
California's Santa Ana River, the source of drinking water for most of
Orange County's residents.  If a significant portion of the watershed's
streams which do not flow year-around were excluded from Clean Water Act
protections, regional EPA staff predicted poorer quality drinking water
supplies and higher treatment costs.

The report is available at:


David Willett
National Press Secretary
Sierra Club
(202) 675-6698 (w)
(202) 491-6919 (m)

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