CALL SCRIPT

Comment script

Note: It is best to personalize the script by, for example, saying: 1) Why the issue is important to you; 2) How the issue might affect you or your family; 3) Using additional information included in SaveEPA’s website.

I am very concerned that the EPA is considering changing its approach to protecting surface water bodies under the Clean Water Act (CWA). EPA’s notice suggests that it may no longer regulate wastewater discharges that go directly into groundwater, even if that groundwater has a direct connection to a surface water body. The science is clear that connections exist between groundwater and surface water bodies in many cases. EPA’s application of the CWA to these types of discharges has been upheld in most court decisions. It is entirely consistent with the intent of the CWA that federal regulatory protections be used to protect surface water. The potential concern that EPA may be duplicating the states’ role in regulating groundwater is not correct. The CWA’s purpose in these cases is to regulate a discharge because it will reach surface water. Surface water, and not groundwater, is the object of EPA’s protection and authority. Groundwater serves simply as a conveyance from the discharge to the surface water body.

In addition, federal regulation provides a standard of protection across all states in order to ensure consistent compliance and to safeguard freely flowing water. If EPA changed its interpretation and approach to regulating these discharges, it would mean that facilities could discharge waste water directly to groundwater and impact the quality of downstream water bodies used for recreation, drinking water, fishing, irrigation and other purposes.

EPA should not change its approach to regulating these discharges. If EPA does intend to make changes it must publish and request comment on the specific statements or documents it plans to revise and state the scientific and legal rationale for any changes.

Script for Members of Congress

I have sent the attached comments to the EPA regarding its notice on changing EPA’s approach to regulating discharges under the Clean Water Act, Docket# EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0063. I ask for your support to publicly denounce plans to weaken EPA’s application of CWA protections and to use your authority to hold EPA accountable to the best science and the health and safety of the American people. Thank you.

Actions

1) Send comments to EPA

Comment at regulations.gov by 9:00 pm PST on May 21, 2018. The EPA is required to publish responses to public comments. By raising the issues in your comments you are requiring the Agency to address these issues and potentially providing support for a future suit against EPA.

2) Share your comments with your members of congress

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707, (310) 914-7300, (202) 224-3841, or email.
  • Senator Kamala Harris: (415) 355-9041, (213) 894-5000, (202) 224-3553, or email.

Find your Representative:

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier - 11th district: (510) 620-1000, (202) 225-2095, or email.
  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi - 12th district: (415) 556-4862, (202) 225-4965, or email.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee - 13th district: (510) 763-0370, (202) 225-2661, or email.
  • Rep. Jackie Speier - 14th district: (650) 342-0300, (202) 225-3531, or email.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell - 15th district: 510-370-3322, 202-225-5065, or email.

Background

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is implemented by the EPA. It protects surface water bodies such as lakes, streams, rivers and oceans. Water from these areas can be used for swimming, fishing, agricultural irrigation and drinking water. The CWA requires a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the discharge of pollutants from facilities such as industrial plants, sewage treatment plants and other types of facilities. These permits set acceptable discharge limits, conditions of discharge, and monitoring requirements. EPA has applied these requirements to waste water discharges that reach surface waters via groundwater or other subsurface flow that has a direct hydrologic connection to the surface waters. Most court cases have upheld that approach.

The Trump EPA is requesting comments on revising EPA’s policies on the matter. EPA’s notice requesting comments asks for input on whether regulating these discharges is consistent with the purpose of the CWA; it asks indirectly whether EPA is improperly taking on regulation of groundwater, which is a state responsibility; and it asks whether other federal or state authorities should be used, instead, to regulate these discharges. This may be just the initial step in a larger Trump administration goal to weaken its application of the CWA.

EPA’s notice for comment is not properly specific about the legal and scientific reasons for considering changes or which policies or documents it considering changing. The CWA is a powerful statute for keeping America’s waters safe, and any changes in applying it must be scientifically and legally responsible.