ESA voices concern about EPA’s effort to weaken the Clean Water Rule

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Alison Mize, 202-833-8773 x205, gro.asenull@nosila


The Ecological Society of America is concerned with the proposed rule issued today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule (Waters of the United States Rule or WOTUS).

ESA urges the agencies to consider the far-reaching implications of weakening “Waters of the United States” and calls for any re-definition of WOTUS to be informed by science. All people depend on the nation’s waters for a multitude of ecosystem services. Today’s announcement by the EPA undermines the goal of the Clean Water Act  to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters by preventing point and nonpoint pollution sources. Any attempt by the EPA to narrow the definition of the Clean Water Rule will have negative implications for our nation’s fish and aquatic resources, wildlife and the health of our communities.

Wetlands, streams and adjacent waters are intrinsically connected to the chemical, physical and biological integrity of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters and territorial seas. The Clean Water Rule, which the EPA seeks to replace and weaken with its revised proposed rule announced today, was developed using the best available science, technical experts, and  over 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies.

ESA President Laura Huenneke rejects the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken the “Waters of the United States” rule. “Today’s action by the EPA undermines the use of the best available science showing strong benefits of protecting wetlands and upland watersheds,” she says. “This proposed rule will affect the commercial and recreational fishery industries that depend on clean water for fish habitat. It will also require taxpayers to pay for costly infrastructure to prevent flooding that wetlands currently provide at no cost by absorbing stormwater. Finally, we know that pollution and contaminants in wetlands move into the food chain through fisheries, ultimately affecting public health.”



The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at