This article is excerpted from Wave Makers News, our quarterly update on all things water in the Gulf of Mexico, check out the full newsletter here.
The Bogue Falaya River, one of Louisianaâ€™s Outstanding waters threatened by LDEQâ€™s rule change. Photo courtesy of Mary Davis, LPBF.October 2012 was the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, one of the most important environmental laws ever passed. Under the Act, waters of each state must have water quality criteria that do three things: designate how water bodies will be utilized (swimming, fishing, drinking, etc.), set limits on the pollution allowed in each of these waters, and ensure that clean waters remain clean. This last requirement is referred to as â€śantidegradation.â€ť In 2009, GRN released a report entitled Clean Up Your Act which gave Louisiana a â€śDâ€ť for their water quality standards, in large part due to their poor antidegradation rules. Regretfully, Louisiana is attempting to further weaken these rules for keeping our clean waters clean.
In September of this year, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality announced â€śminorâ€ť revisions that would remove some of their few antidegradation rules. These revisions would change definitions and regulations and leave some of Louisianaâ€™s most pristine waters, Outstanding Natural Resource Waters, less protected. These changes threaten the health of all of the rivers in Louisiana, including gems such as the Tchefuncte and Bogue Falaya Rivers. GRN, our conservation partners, and our members joined together to send in hundreds of comments to LDEQ to tell them that instead of weakening existing rules, they should be enhancing them in order to protect Louisianaâ€™s wildlife and communities.
Matt Rota is GRN's Director of Science and Water Policy.