Arizona Proposes Legislation to Protect Water After Trump Rollbacks to Clean Water Act

To protect the state's water resources, Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality has drafted a new set of regulations aimed at replacing Clean Water Act provisions struck down by the Trump administration.

December 29, 2020, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


ARIZONA RESERVOIR

Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock

Changes made earlier this year to the federal Clean Water Act heavily curtailed the act's jurisdiction and removed protections for a variety of streams, creeks, and other ephemeral bodies of water. Ephemeral waters, defined as water sources that only flow after rain or snow rather than year-round, constitute an important source of water for desert states like Arizona. To ensure future protection of crucial water sources, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has proposed a new set of state regulations that would replace the outgoing federal regulations and continue to protect important waters within the state.

The proposed rules would essentially extend the old federal protections to the state level, shifting responsibility for enforcement from the EPA to the state. Otherwise, permit applicants for water-related uses can expect the same regulations as before, when the state relied on the Clean Water Act to protect its vital water sources. Although the Trump administration's changes may eventually be reversed as a result of lawsuits, Arizona hopes to create its own set of water protection regulations regardless of what happens at the federal level. The agency plans to introduce its suggested regulations in Arizona's next legislative session.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 in Arizona Public Media

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