Resolution Supporting Rule Clarifying the Definition of 'Waters of the United States'
WHEREAS, small streams and wetlands are the most critical part of the natural filtration system for our clean water resources; and
WHEREAS, these small streams and wetlands are also among the most diverse and important wildlife and fisheries nurseries and habitats; and
WHEREAS, the Clean Water Act has for decades recognized the central role of these resources in protecting clean water, and sought to regulate activities destructive to those resources; and
WHEREAS, two major U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2000 have left much uncertainty regarding the definition of these ‘waters’ protected by the Clean Water Act; and
WHEREAS, cities and other public stakeholders have long called for clarification of these uncertainties through public rulemaking by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps); and
WHEREAS, the lengthy EPA/Corps public rulemaking process has been conducted carefully, with full opportunities for comment from all stakeholders including cities and towns, and is now nearly complete; and
WHEREAS, the EPA/Corps rulemaking process has already included substantial economic analysis showing that the benefits of a clarified ‘waters’ definition far outweigh the costs; and
WHEREAS, it is strongly in the interest of cities and towns and our citizens to resolve the uncertainties surrounding regulation of activities impacting waters and wetlands, in a way which recognizes the responsibilities of cities and towns for stormwater management while still protecting clean water; and
WHEREAS, the EPA/Corps has now released its final rule, which clearly recognizes and protects municipal responsibilities by excluding from the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ waste treatment systems, stormwater control features, upland ditches, and other green infrastructure built outside of natural waters;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO) supports the final EPA/Corps rule clarifying the definition and scope of ‘waters of the United States’; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that DMO opposes legislation such as Congressional HR 1732, which would block this orderly conclusion of the lengthy and transparent rulemaking process that has produced a satisfactory final rule, unnecessarily prolonging regulatory uncertainty and extending the vulnerability of vital clean water resources to further damage; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that DMO encourages other local leaders and organizations representing local governments to similarly support this final rule which both recognizes local governments’ unique stormwater management responsibilities and protects our critical clean water resources.