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Better protections for Indiana's small rivers and streams

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Mary Kuhlman

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a new Clean Water Rule, which supporters say will better protect rivers and streams in Indiana and across the U.S. from pollution.

Kim Ferarro, senior staff attorney with the Hoosier Environmental Council, says the new rule will restore Clean Water Act protections for headwaters, some streams and wetland habitat left uncertain by two U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

"Agriculture is good and we need certain industries," says Ferarro. "But there has to be limits on the discharges into the watershed that impacts a critical waterway that people recreate in and swim and drink and we rely on for our very lives."

In addition to drinking water, Ferarro says the at-risk waters also provide essential fish and wildlife habitat that helps to support Indiana's outdoor recreation economy. It's estimated about 900,000 people commented to the EPA in support of the Clean Water Rule.

Some agriculture and industry groups claim the rule will hurt economic growth and intrude on property rights. But Ferarro says it was a thorough rule-making process.

"We've got to have balance between industry and the environment," says Ferarro. "It shouldn't be an 'either/or.' It should be an 'and,' and we need the EPA to step in and make sure that balance is achieved."

According to the EPA, the rule does not change the exemptions that apply to agriculture. It also does not expand on which smaller bodies of water are regulated.

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