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Date: February 17, 2003

To: Citizens the Huron River Watershed

Re: Show your support for a strong Clean Water Act
(TIME SENSITIVE MATERIALS - Deadline is March 3, 2003)

_______________________________________

The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) would like to bring to your attention an issue that could have lasting impacts on the waters and quality of life within your community and the rest of the nation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency are considering restrictions on the scope of waters that are subject to federal protection under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

We are writing to provide you with a brief overview of the situation and its potential effects on your community. In addition, we have enclosed instructions and sample materials to help you demonstrate your support for a broad definition of federally protected waterways. We encourage you to use this information to formally voice your opinion to the EPA (see below for how to submit.)

THE ISSUE: In a January 2001 ruling, the Supreme Court removed federal jurisdiction over a single wetland (SWANCC v U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). Claiming an obligation to act on this ruling, the U.S. Army Corps and EPA have issued an "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making" and are requesting public input regarding how "waters of the United States" shall be defined in the CWA. This action calls into question the Clean Water Act's long-standing and fundamental protection of "non-navigable tributaries of navigable waters," including intermittent and ephemeral streams, man-made watercourses connecting these waters, and wetlands adjacent to those waters.

WHAT THIS MEANS: This attempt to limit federal jurisdiction over "isolated, intrastate, non-navigable waters" through narrowing the interpretation of "waters of the United States" would strip away all federal controls over the discharge of sewage, toxic waste, oil, industrial pollutants, and factory farm waste into those waters. It could also allow the filling of those streams and wetlands for any purpose. In a worst-case scenario, this could mean that up to 50% of the waterbodies in the Huron system would lose federal protection. Michigan law, as with almost all states, is very limited in its protection of such waters because it relies on the strength of the CWA. Therefore, protection of all U.S. waters under the CWA is critical to sustaining the social, environmental, and economic health of our watershed.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: HRWC is preparing its formal comment, which will focus on scientific data that demonstrate how the protection of these non-navigable tributaries and wetlands is critical to the health of our lakes and rivers. We encourage you to also take action soon, as the deadline for submitting comments is March 3rd. We have attempted to outline points that illustrate the importance of the waters in question to your community and urge you to use these points as a foundation for your comments.

At the request of some community leaders, we have also mailed a sample Resolution of Support to all local governments in the Huron Watershed that calls for maintaining a broad definition of "waters of the U.S.". You can also help by urging your community government to adopt a resolution of support and submit it to the EPA Public Comment Docket.

TO SUBMIT your comment for inclusion in the EPA Public Comment Docket, you can use one of the following options:
· Use the internet site established for this purpose: http://www.epa.gov/edocket. The Docket ID No. is OW-2002-0050. If you wish to be identified in your comment, you must include in the body of the comment your name and any other desired contact information.
OR · E-Mail your comment to [email protected] In the subject line, refer to Docket
ID No. OW-2002-0050.
OR · Mail 4 copies of your comment to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency,
Mailcode 4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460, ATTN:
Docket ID No. OW-2002-0050.
Be sure to include the Docket ID in the first line of your comment. Comments must be e-mailed or post-marked by March 3rd!

For more information:
· Read the full text of the "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making" and other background materials at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/swanccnav.html
· View the comments already posted to the Docket at: http://www.epa.gov/edocket.
· See the HRWC website at HRWC.org

We understand that you have limited time to devote to this time-sensitive issue, which is why HRWC has attempted to make giving your input as easy as possible. Please understand that the outcome of this rulemaking will affect your community and environment. If you have additional questions or would like more information, please contact HRWC at (734) 769-5123 or via e-mail to [email protected]
 
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