Aquatic scientists push back against narrow WOTUS rule

The Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies (CASS) is deeply concerned with the proposed rule issued Dec. 11 by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule (Waters of the United States Rule or WOTUS).

We urge the agencies to consider the far-reaching implications to our nation’s fish and aquatic resources, wildlife and communities from a narrower rule and call for any re-definition of ”Waters of the United States” to be informed by science.

More than a half century of scientific research has unequivocally demonstrated that the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of “traditionally navigable” waters fundamentally depend on ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial headwater streams, as well as the myriad associated lakes, wetlands, and off-channel habitats.

Research specifically shows that downstream waters rely on headwaters and their associated wetland habitats for:

  • uptake, retention, transformation and transport of nutrients and contaminants;
  • control of runoff, streamflow and floodwaters
  • moderation of water temperature and sediment delivery;
  • food, thermal refuges, spawning sites, nursery areas and essential habitat for unique plants and animals, including numerous threatened and endangered species as well as recreationally and commercially important species.

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