Waters of the United States

For over 30 years, PEER has been aggressively fighting to protect our nation’s wetlands and small streams. Wetlands and small streams are critical to the wellbeing of people and for fish and wildlife. They protect and improving water quality, provide fish and wildlife habitats, store floodwaters and maintain surface water flow during dry periods.

In May 2023, after decades of trying, oil and gas companies, industrial agriculture, and developers have finally succeeded in their quest to have the Supreme Court eliminate Clean Water Act protections for most wetlands and small streams.

In Sackett v. EPA, five members of the Court departed from 45 years of precedent, overturned a previous Supreme Court decision, ignored the text of the Clean Water Act, and signaled that it will continue to prioritize pollution over people. In a ruling with multiple opinions, a majority of the Court held the Clean Water Act extends to only those wetlands that are, as a practical matter, indistinguishable from navigable waters.

This means that companies can now discharge pollutants and fill in vast swaths of wetlands and streams throughout the country without a federal Clean Water Act permit.

This devasting blow to our national well-being will significantly affect water quality and flood control throughout the United States. It is further evidence that this Court will not only continue to ignore precedent when it comes to prior Supreme Court decisions but also aggressively curb EPA’s ability to limit threats to public health and the environment.

Now that the Supreme Court has issued this awful opinion, we will need to continue our fight to protect our waters in the courts, Congress, state legislatures, and local governments.

NEWS FROM PEER

Comment – EPA Proposed ICR – 5-28-2024 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Written comments to EPA regarding proposed ICR (Information Collection Request) for the POTW ...

PEERMail | We’re Making Progress Together

Spring is the season of rebirth, renewal, and regrowth. That is why we're delighted to share with you some ...

New PFAS Drinking Water Rule Good First Step, but Still Far to Go

PFAS Must Be Treated as a Class; Chemical-By-Chemical Approach is Futile

Maine Poised to Repeat Eco-Mistakes on Sears Island

Prior Wetland Violations Haunt Plans to Develop a New Wind-Farm Port

PFAS in Artificial Turf Coats Players’ Skin

Dermal Uptake Little Examined Exposure Pathway for Toxic PFAS

Letter to Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands – Allagash Wilderness Waterway Development – 3-11-2024 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Letter to Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands regarding Allagash Wilderness Waterway development TO: ...

Allagash Wilderness Construction Plans Spark Outrage

Maine Park Bureau Seeks Six New Buildings in Waterway’s Protected Corridor

Remove Forever Chemicals from Biosolid Fertilizers

PFAS Absorbed in Plants Are Major Exposure Pathway into our Food Chain

PFAS in Biosolids Fertilizer Sparks Damages Lawsuit

Suit Charges Fertilizer Maker Synagro with Poisoning Farms and Livestock

Texas Farms Poisoned by PFAS-Laden Biosolid Fertilizers

Johnson County Holds Hearing to Warn Citizens About Synagro’s Biosolids

Lawsuit Probes Oak Ridge Clean Water Waiver

What Did EPA Administrator Regan Know When He Overruled His Experts?

Water Board Still in Dark About Santa Susana Discharges

Staff Withholding Documents on PCB Poisoning of LA River on Eve of Vote

L.A. River Poisoned by Toxic PCBs

Santa Susana Likely Suspect but Water Board Withholding Documents

Comment – Colorado Dredge and Fill Proposal – 09-01-2023 (PDF)

Written comments in response to the list of questions posed to stakeholders regarding the creation of state dredge ...

Nutrient Bomb Set to Detonate in San Francisco Bay

$3 Billion Plan Will Inject Even More Nutrients into Degraded Estuary

COMMENTARY | Florida’s Environment – A Native Floridian Perspective

Florida must take significant steps to promote coastal resiliency and protect all communities against the effects ...

Florida’s Environment Spirals Downward Under DeSantis

Nosedive in Anti-Pollution Enforcement Leading to Declining Water Quality

PEERMail | Supreme Court Guts Wetlands Protections

Special interests have finally succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for ...

STATEMENT | EPA’s Action on PFAS in Drinking Water

EPA’s chemical-by-chemical approach leaves the public unprotected from the vast majority of toxic but unregulated PFAS.

COMMENTARY | Conowingo: A Better Deal Coming for the Chesapeake Bay

In a major victory for waterman and environmental groups, courts have vacated the licensing for Maryland's Conowingo Dam.

COMMENTARY | Biden Strengthens Clean Water Rules

The new regulations repeal a Trump-era rule, called the “Dirty Water Rule” by many, that left millions of acres of ...

Florida’s Waters Awash in Sewage Spills

Under DeSantis, More Inspections, More Pollution but Less Enforcement

Florida’s Seagrass Under Relentless Pollution Assault

Florida’s Fabled “Forgotten Coast” Beset by Torrent of Sewage Violations

Biden Estimate of “Conserved” Waters Inflated

Almost All 30x30 Waters in Remote Pacific; Scant Safeguards for the Rest

COMMENTARY | PEER works with Lawmakers to Fight Conowingo License

PEER continues to work to compel Exelon Corp., owners of the Conowingo Dam, to clean it up and mitigate the ...

Letter to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency – Impaired waters list and PFAS – 01-07-2022 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Letter to MPCA regarding the impaired waters list, to consider expanding the type and levels of PFAS ...

Delray Deputy Utility Manager Cashiered   

Troubled Florida Water Utility Faces Gauntlet of Public Health Challenges

Letter to Chad Hardy – 03-31-2021 (PDF) 

DESCRIPTION: Letter to Chad Hardy regarding wastewater permits for the City of Delray Beach TO: Chad ...

Florida’s Clearwater Awash in Sewage Violations

More than 400 Sewage Overflows in Last Five Years; Almost No Enforcement

Florida Issues Drinking Water Safety Citations 

Delray Plagued by Persistent Contamination with Partially Treated Sewage

New EPA Lead and Copper Rule Inadequate

Final Rule Perpetuates Risk to Minority Communities 

Aerially Sprayed Pesticide Contains PFAS  

“Forever Chemicals” Potentially Spread Over Millions of Acres 

More PFAS Found in Maryland Water and Seafood  

Maryland Must Set Health Standards for Toxic “Forever Chemical”  

Rhode Island Ignores Sewage Dumping in Historic Harbor   

Federal Action Sought to Stop Sewage Discharges Befouling Sakonnet Harbor   

PEER Testifies Before Colorado Oil and Gas Commission

Kyla Bennett testified in front of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission to require a robust analysis of the impacts ...

BLOG | EPA’s Latest Toxic PFAS Whitewash Revealed

EPA delayed and continues to delay release of its interactive PFAS map, which shows local sources of PFAS, forever ...

Toxic PFAS Taints Delray And Boynton Beach 

Florida Needs to Develop Monitoring Program and Safety Standards 

BLOG | How GAO Is Helping Shine A Light on My Former Federal Agency

Former DOE scientist Bill Dam reveals groundwater contamination coming from several former uranium mills in ...

Trump Administration’s Wetland Deception 

One Federal Agency Lauds Wetlands as Another Seeks Their Destruction   

Sewage Spills Pose COVID-19 Risks  

Overflows into Drinking Water Sources May Create New Infection Vectors  

PEERMail | Taking Trump to Court Over Clean Water

PEER joined 13 conservation groups in filing a lawsuit in federal court against the administration’s effort to ...

Suit Against EPA’s Elimination of Clean Water Protections 

EPA Rule Paves Way for Destruction of Wetlands and Small Streams

New Water Rule Guts Wetlands Projects 

EPA’s Analysis Finds Nearly Half Billion Dollars in Annual Business Losses Possible 

PEERMail: The Worst One Yet

Of the estimated 95 Trump environmental rollbacks, one of the most dangerous is the aim to gut the Clean Water ...

EPA Political Appointees Violate Science Integrity Rules

Complaint Details HQ Systematically Sidelining Science in WOTUS Review

BLOG: EPA Science Advisors Slam EPA’s Proposed Water Rule

A working group of the EPA's Scientific Advisory Board blasts the Administration's efforts to drastically scale ...

Colorado Lags in Controlling Forever Chemicals

Dangerous Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water Without Enforceable Limits

BLOG: WOTUS Redefinition: New York

Impact of proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) redefinition on wetlands and waters in New York: a case study

Massachusetts Issues Permit for PFAS It Is Fighting

Big Discharge Slated for Merrimack River – Water Source for Half-Million

Forever Chemical Requires Cradle-to-Grave Approach

To Stem Exponential Spread All PFAS Chains Must Be Classified Hazardous

PEERMail | Fighting for the Planet in Court

Evidence compiled by the government’s own experts is our most valuable asset in demonstrating the irrationality of ...

WOTUS Redefinition: South Dakota

Impact of Proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Redefinition on Wetlands and Waters in South Dakota

South Dakota Ground Zero for Trump Water Rollbacks

State’s Drinking Water, Flood Control, and Wildlife Habitat at High Risk

Arid New Mexico To Get Much Drier Under Trump Plan

Virtually All Rivers and Streams, Many Wetlands to Lose Legal Protection

WOTUS Redefinition: New Mexico

Impact of Proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Redefinition on Wetlands and Waters in New Mexico

PEERMail: A Growing Water Crisis

As two PEER staffers, we are here to let you know some of the water issues we are working on and why we are ...

EPA Response To “Forever Chemical” Crisis A Total Dud

“Action Plan” Too Weak and Limited to Meaningfully Protect Public Health

Trump’s Rapidly Shriveling PFAs Response

Extensive Edits Embedded in Public Comment Page Eviscerate EPA Action Plan

EPA’s Hypocritical Drinking Water Proposal

Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Nation’s Drinking Water Quality

Trump Administration’s Budget Would Impair Safe Drinking Water

The proposed FY 2020 budget cuts $8.124 million (8%) from the drinking water program.

Trump’s Clean Water Debacle

Proposed Rewrite of WOTUS Threatens U.S. Water Security

CDC Punts on Studying PFAS Cancer Risks

Study to look at relationship between PFAS exposure and select health outcomes

Massachusetts Needs a PFAS Public Health Advisory for Game

“Forever Chemical” Buildup in Food Chain Affects Game and Fish in Toxic Hotspots

PFAS Breakthrough in Massachusetts

Army to Give Both Immediate Relief and Long-Term Treatment for Hard-Hit Town

Tampa Sewage Meltdown Early Eco-Test for Desantis

Federal Intervention Needed If State Continues to Ignore Major Pollution Violations

Agriculture Poisoning the Prairie Pothole Region

Pesticides and Pollution Runoff Imperil North America’s “Duck Factory”

Waters of the United States: History

WOTUS History The federal Clean Water Act  (CWA) was passed in 1972 in order to eliminate discharges of ...

Trump Clean Water Rollback Threatens U.S. Water Supply

Most Waters and Wetlands Would Lose Legal Protections against Pollution and Fill

Lake O’s Gateway City Spewing Illegal Wastewater

Clewiston Phosphorus and Other Pollution Violations Go Unpunished and Unabated

Tele-Press Conference on EPA Failure to Prevent Future Flint Crises

Retired EPA Experts Discuss Lack of Early Warning System to Avert Lead Drinking Water Tragedies

Venice Epitomizes Florida Water Pollution Crisis

Continued Illegal Discharges Amid Record Gulf Red Tide Outbreaks

EPA Has Done Little to Prevent Future Flint Crises

Agency Still Lacks Early Warning System to Avert Lead Drinking Water Tragedies

Drinking Water for Third of U.S. in Legal Tug-Of-War

On-Again Off-Again Clean Water Rule Protects Both Water Quality and Quantity

America’s Coastal Waters, Bays, and Estuaries in Bad Shape

EPA Classifies the Vast Majority of Our Marine Waters “Impaired” by Pollution

America Losing the War for Clean Water

More Than Half of U.S. Rivers and Two-Thirds of Lakes and Reservoirs Impaired

Pruitt’s Wacky Wotus Repeal Do-Over Digs Deeper Legal Hole

Supplemental Filing to Justify Jettisoning Clean Water Rule Runs Further Aground

Mega-Pollution Violations Befoul St. Johns River

Non-Enforcement Leaves Florida’s Longest River with Excess Bacteria and Nutrients

Feds Urged To Tackle Rampant Florida Water Pollution

Lack of State Enforcement vs. City of Lynn Haven Triggers Intervention Petition

Pruitt Hijacks National Stream and Wetlands Protections

Pruitt Strips EPA Offices of Decision Power on Pebble Mine and Other Big Projects

Heather Wylie: Kayaking to Save the L.A. River

Heather took part in a demonstration to protect the L.A. River, and footage of her kayaking to prove its ...

Brian McKenna: Michigan Environmental Anthropologist

An anthropologist in the University of Michigan-Dearborn's Department of Behavioral Sciences, Brian works as an ...

EPA Urged to Close Dirty Water Public Notice Loopholes

Schools, Day-Care, Nursing Homes Lack Warning on Unsafe Drinking Water

Many Floridians Unknowingly Drink Contaminated Water

No Notice to Residents at Thousands of Sites Polluted by Leaking Petroleum Tanks

Trump’s Radical Rollback of Clean Water Protections

Repeal and Replace Waters of U.S. Safeguards Rooted in “Alternative Facts”

Pruitt’s Massive Wetlands Shell Game

WOTUS Repeal Cost-Benefit Study Premised on Wetlands Having Zero Value

Fig Leaves No Cover for Drinking Water Radiation Rollback

Final Approval for Radical Radiation Rise in Water Supplies after Nuclear Release

Radical Drinking Water Radiation Rise Confirmed in EPA Plan

EPA Hid Planned Exposure Levels 1,000s of Times Safe Drinking Water Act Limits

Lawsuit to Bare Full Range of EPA Radiation Rollback

Ultra-High Exposures in Water after Nuclear Release but Details Remain Cloaked

EPA Should Keep Oversight of Florida Drinking Water

State Potable Water Program Is a Shambles and Getting Significantly Worse

Florida’s Drinking Problem – Unsafe Water

Widespread Potable Water Violations but Virtually Nonexistent Enforcement

Ultra-High Radiation Coming to Your Drinking Water

EPA Hiding True Impacts and Limiting Public Comment on Radioactive Water Plan

EPA Pushing Huge Hike in Drinking Water Radioactivity

Thousand-Fold Increase Following Fukushima-Type Incident – More than Bush Plan

Highlands Septic Study Faces Retraction Demand

Highlands Septic Study Faces Retraction Demand

Portrait of Florida Coddling Corporate Pollution Offenses

Hundreds of Violations Repeatedly Forgiven in Name of “Compliance Assistance”

Timid Step Toward Stemming Pharmaceutical Pollution

Timid Step Toward Stemming Pharmaceutical Pollution

End Dumping of Fracking Fluids

Rulemaking Petition Urges EPA to Ban Surface Discharge of Fracking Fluids

Major Florida Wastewater Violators Go Unpunished

Many Million Gallon/Day Dischargers Remain in Noncompliance for Years

Christie’s Barnegat Bay Shell Game

Regulatory Ruses to Evade Legal Duty to Impose Meaningful Pollution Controls

Study Documenting Barnegat Bay Decline Kept in Limbo

Land Use Driving Nutrient Loading; Pollution Diet Needed to Avert Tipping Point
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