Kayakers, conservationists to converge on Confluence Kayaks to back Clean Water Act

Kayakers and conservation groups will rally at a downtown Denver boat shop Tuesday to hand deliver U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 Director Jim Martin tens of thousands of comments on the federal agency’s proposed guidance on which bodies of water in Colorado and around the nation qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act.

According to a release from Environment Colorado, “Recent Supreme Court decisions have left murky which Colorado waterways are fully protected under the Clean Water Act, putting a question mark over 65,000 miles of rivers and streams throughout Colorado where right now folks are seeking relief from the summer heat rafting, kayaking, swimming and fishing.”

The rally will start at 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 26, along the banks of the Platte River at Confluence Kayaks (2372 15th Street, Denver). Martin, formerly head of both the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will reportedly be on hand to personally accept the comments.

Originally set to end on June 30, the public comment period on the proposed guidance was extended another 30 days until July 31.

“The draft guidance will reaffirm protections for small streams that feed into larger streams, rivers, bays and coastal waters,” according to the EPA website. “It will also reaffirm protection for wetlands that filter pollution and help protect communities from flooding.

“This guidance will keep safe the streams and wetlands that affect the quality of the water used for drinking, swimming, fishing, farming, manufacturing, tourism and other activities essential to the American economy and quality of life. It also will provide regulatory clarity, predictability, consistency and transparency.”

Some Republican lawmakers, including members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, have strongly opposed the proposed guidance, calling it a job-killing overreach by the Obama administration. The GOP-controlled U.S. House just last week passed the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act by a margin of 239-184. All four Republican members of Colorado’s congressional delegation voted for the measure; all three Democrats voted no.

Sponsored by John Mica, R-Fla.,
the bill would amend the 40-year-old Clean Water Act to prohibit the EPA from revising current water quality standards or mandating new ones for a pollutant if a state already has standards in place.

“Colorado knows best how to manage its own resources, especially a resource as scarce as water,” 4th Congressional District Rep. Cory Gardner said in a release defending his yes vote. “The federal government should not have the authority to second guess or delay the state’s decision with regard to permitting and water quality certification.”

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