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SFS Comment on Proposed WOTUS Rule

Monday, April 15, 2019

SFS submitted a comment on the proposed rule by the US EPA to change the definition of the Waters of the US (WOTUS). The full comment can be found on the SFS WOTUS resources page and is linked here. SFS strongly encourages its members to submit their own comments to the EPA. Comments are due today (April 15, 2019). In the comment, the Society provides six main reasons it opposes the proposed rule on WOTUS: 

1) The proposed rule is scientifically indefensible; it ignores sound science, and does not provide peer-reviewed science to support its proposed changes.

2) Moreover, the proposed rule ignores the abundant scientific record supporting the 2015 CWR, including USEPA’s own extensive scientific record.

3) Instead, the proposed rule relies on legal arguments rather than sound science, which ignores our current scientific understanding of watershed connectivity, interactions between tributary, wetland and downstream ecosystems, and the functions that the variety of stream and wetland ecosystems across watershed scales and the flow continuum provide to downstream waters.

4) Many elements are based on arbitrary decisions untethered from scientific reason; for example, the selection of a “typical year” versus the use of timescales important to physical, chemical, biological and ecological functional connectivity which are based on abundant scientific evidence.

5) The proposed rule would result in the loss of protection for ephemeral streams, non-wetland floodplains, and potentially even many intermittent streams and floodplain wetlands all of which have obvious, critical, and well-documented contributions to the quality of downstream waters.

6) In our scientific opinion, if this proposed rule is finalized and implemented, it would result in the loss of vulnerable waters4 and in the degradation of the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of our Nation’s waters, thus violating the stated intent and goals of the CWA that USEPA is entrusted with implementing.