[Laconia, NH]— Streams and wetlands in New Hampshire are at risk of unlimited pollution, according to a report released today by Environment New Hampshire, Courting Disaster: How the Supreme Court Has Broken the Clean Water Act and Why Congress Must Fix It. Case Studies for New England show how water bodies like Lake Winnepesaukee are at risk of losing Clean Water Act protection. In total, The report provides 30 case studies demonstrating how the federal Clean Water Act is broken and calling on Representatives Hodes and Shea-Porter to fix it.
“Polluters are trying to break open the floodgates to dumping unlimited pollution into New Hampshire’s waterways,” said Jessica O’Hare, Program Associate with Environment New Hampshire. “Representative Hodes must shut the door on dirty special interests and protect Lake Winnepesaukee and all states waters.”
“Recent rollbacks to the Clean Water Act have swept away 30 years of protection for some of New Hampshire’s most important waters and waterways across the country,” said Jessica O’Hare. “Polluters have been given a green light to ignore the Clean Water Act, even when it may destroy a stream or affect our drinking water supplies.”
The case studies in the report indicate that streams, rivers, wetlands, lakes and other waters across the nation are now more vulnerable to pollution and destruction. These cases provide examples of the estimated 15,000 water bodies that federal agencies have declared unprotected in the last eight years. Today’s report is largely based on information obtained through district offices of the Army Corps of Engineers, or from Corps headquarters, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Justice.
If left to stand, the Supreme Court decisions remove protection from 55% of our smaller headways and streams. That’s over half of those waterways.
Furthermore, Protections for the streams that feed our great waterways and the wetlands that clean them are crucial to maintaining our quality of life. Lake Winnisquam and the Saco River depend on healthy streams in the greater watershed. These waters are places for swimming and fly-fishing, not to mention tourism. But without adequate protections we risk losing these invaluable assets. A 2008 watershed scorecard from NH Department of Environmental Sciences reveals levels of Mercury in fish populating the tributaries of Lake Winnisquam. Decades-old pollution persists in its waters. The
Restoration of the Clean Water Act will prevent further deterioration of water quality from air and pollution discharge.
Environment New Hampshire emphasized that pollution of headwater streams and wetlands leads to greater pollution and flooding for downstream communities. Surface water, susceptible to contamination from outdated infrastructure and septic systems, makes up 50% of our drinking water. The Clean Water Act will once again protect the drinking water of New Hampshire, removing the threat to our public health.
The EPA has estimated that, in addition to the watershed of Lake Winnisquam, some 20 million acres of wetlands in the continental United States may lose federal protection because of the rollbacks to the Clean Water Act.
In June, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee passed a bill, the Clean Water Restoration Act, which would restore the Clean Water Act. Now it is up to the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee to take up a similar bill.
O’Hare concluded, “We applaud Representative Hodes for co-sponsoring the Clean Water Restoration Act in 2007. His continued leadership on clean water will be crucial to help pass legislation this year that will protect our waterways and restore the Clean Water Act. Now it’s up to Representatives Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter protect all of our lakes, rivers and streams from pollution this year.”