On July 24, 2002, The Clean Water Authority Restoration Act of 2002 (Senate Bill 2780) was introduced to “amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify the jurisdiction of the United States over waters of the United States”. If enacted, this Act would substantially amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, the Clean Water Act of 1977, and the Water Quality Act of 1987.
Among the most important changes that this Act would make is to recognize the ecological importance of intra-state waters, including waters that appear to be isolated. The Act recognizes that water is transported through interconnected hydrologic cycles, and that the pollution, impairment, or destruction of part of an aquatic system may affect the integrity of other interconnected parts of the aquatic system.
The Act recognizes that “the term ‘waters of the United States’ means all waters of the United States… including wetlands adjacent to bodies of water and other wetlands and waters often referred to as isolated. ” The Act further recognizes that inconsistent State water pollution control laws are insufficient to protect the intra-state aquatic ecosystems, and that uniform water quality and aquatic ecosystem protection standards are essential.
The Bill recognizes the national objective of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the United States and recognizes that achieving this objective requires restoration and maintenance of the natural structures and functions of the aquatic ecosystems of the United States.
Introduction of this bill is a substantial first step toward undoing the negative effects created by the United States Supreme Court in the SWANCC* decision, which, if read broadly, can be interpreted to mean that wetlands not directly connected to federally “navigable waters” were considered “isolated” and therefore did not fall under the protection of the federal Clean Water Act. The bill was introduced by Senator Feingold and has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
To read the text of the bill, go to: http://thomas. loc. gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c107:S. 2780: • Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Authority Restoration Act of 2002 Bill Introduced to Recognize Isolated Wetlands