A general website link at Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality (TCEQ) for overall information about the
Texas â€śrecreational use attainability analysesâ€ť (RUAA)
Project and other stream segments under
study is as follows: click
â€˘ One TCEQ document of interest to people wanting
more in-depth information about the conduct of
a recreational use attainability analysis is
a May 2009 set of procedures that explains the process.
That document may be found by following the more specific
link under â€śEvaluating
Appropriate Recreational Usesâ€ť on the
website page noted.
22, 2010 By Ken Kramer, Director, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and Gerri Witthuhn, Federal Field Associate, Environment Texas.
Congress Needs to Act Now to Restore Clean Water Protections
The Clean Water Act, enacted in 1972, gave Congress the power to regulate discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States. Industry and polluters have managed to hack away at the scope of the Clean Water Act protections through legal challenges and the Supreme Court has contributed to the confusion, leaving valuable waters without clear protections.
A 2006 Supreme Court case challenged the broad interpretation of the Clean Water Act, which protects not only lakes and rivers but the tributaries and wetlands that feed into those bodies of water. The justices could not reach consensus on which wetlands and tributaries can be protected under the Clean Water Act. As a result decisions on whether waters are protected are made on a case-by-case basis.
Because of interpretations of these court decisions by the previous presidential administration, 20% of our remaining wetlands--20 million acresâ€”and more than half the nationâ€™s streams are at risk of losing Clean Water Act protections. These waters are sources of drinking water to more than 111 million Americans. In addition to providing clean water, these streams and wetlands play a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change.
Congress needs to act now to clarify its intent that the Clean Water Act should broadly protect the nation's waters, including wetlands and seasonal streams, by passing the Clean Water Restoration Act. The Clean Water Restoration Act only restores protections to waters that have been historically protected; it does not expand the scope of the Clean Water Act.
Without Clean Water Act protections, filling and discharging waste and other pollution into these waters would be unregulated under the law, leaving our drinking water sources at risk.
Restoring Clean Water Act protections to small streams and wetlands will also help protect against the harmful effects on our water resources that scientists expect from climate change.
Small streams and wetlands play a vital role in preventing and mitigating the impacts of climate change â€“ helping to lessen flooding, capturing polluted runoff, recharging precious groundwater sources and acting as a carbon sponge, soaking up and safely storing carbon dioxide from our air.
Some parts of the country, including possibly Texas according to some studies, will experience more prolonged droughts because of higher temperatures. Competition for scarce surface and groundwater will increase. More intense storms will create more severe floods and increase the runoff of pollution into waterways.
Leaving protection of wetlands and seasonal streams in the hands of Texas state regulators is not an option. There is no comparable state law in Texas like the federal Clean Water Act provisions that protects these wetlands and seasonal streams.
What is more, the main Texas environmental regulatory agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), has demonstrated recently that it is not interested in providing adequate human health and aquatic life protections for those lakes and streams whose water quality it is already responsible for under delegation from the federal government. TCEQ is proposing to weaken standards for bacteria pollution and recreational streams, establish nutrient standards for lakes that will allow more algal blooms in pristine lakes, and set levels for mercury pollution in water that are less protective than half of the states in the country.
Finally, despite inferences to the contrary, the Clean Water Restoration Act addresses only water quality protections. In no way does it affect the water resources planning and water rights permitting for surface waters that are the responsibilities of state agencies such as the Texas Water Development Board and TCEQ, respectively. The Clean Water Restoration Act is not an assault on state sovereignty or private property rights. It is an assault on water pollution, to the benefit of all present and future generations of Texans.