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Water:
water course protection

Our Position: support
Bill Number: HB2814
Sponsor: Young-Wright, Chabin, Farley, et al.
Legislative Session: 2008 Legislative Session

HB2814 requires cities, towns and counties to enact ordinances to protect watercourses and habitat in their jurisdictions.  It is important for Arizona to step up and do more to protect watercourses in light of the Environmental Protection Agency’s weak interpretation of the Clean Water Act.

If a developer is proposing to develop in a riparian area, he/she is required to obtain a floodplain use permit if one-third of an acre or more of riparian area of the subject property is going to be altered.  The developer needs to demonstrate what measures will be taken to mitigate any changes to the riparian area, including selective clearing and different types of construction.

Status

For more information on the bill status and to read a copy of the legislation, click on HB2814.

Contact

Sandy Bahr at (602) 253-8633 or sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org

Background

Because Arizona is so arid, 97 percent of our streams flow only seasonally.  These streams, which are sources of drinking water for more than 800,000 Arizonans, are the very ones at greatest risk of losing Clean Water Act protections under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) new policies.  

When Congress enacted the Clean Water Act in 1972, it made clear that the goal of the law was to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”  Because water systems are interconnected, large rivers and lakes will suffer if the smaller streams that feed into them are polluted or paved over. For this reason, Clean Water Act protections have extended to the small creeks for more than three decades.  In part because of its broad coverage, the Clean Water Act is one of the nation’s most effective environmental laws, responsible for the massive – though still far from complete – cleanup of our waterways.

But now the Clean Water Act is under attack.  Developers, mining companies and various other polluting interests who have long chafed under the law’s requirements, are fighting to eliminate the longstanding protections for headwater streams and wetlands.  Two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and unclear, confusing interpretations of these decisions by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are chipping away at the law’s protections of the smaller streams and wetlands.  Regulatory agencies are now making case-by-case decisions, stream segment by stream segment, concerning which waters will fall under the protections of the Clean Water Act.  Federal oversight will no longer be required to pave over or dump waste into those waters which fall outside the law’s scope.

Again, we both need action from the congress to protect our waters, but also action from the state to protect Arizona’s streams and washes.

     
     

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