The Clean Water Act is being unraveled.

We must tell Congress to protect our streams and wetlands.

Contact your members of Congress.

The final rule was released: What can you do?

We are facing one of the biggest threats to clean water in decades. Write to your member of Congress and ask them to protect the Clean Water Act.

Final rule released

(Jan. 23, 2020) WASHINGTON D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it is finalizing a rule that will drop protections for millions of miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlandsputting watersheds at risk for countless Americans. 

“We cannot overstate how far this sets us back when it comes to protecting our water,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, the oldest and largest coldwater conservation organization in the country. “No one wins when our water supplies are polluted. Allowing chemicals or waste to be dumped into headwaters during the dry part of the season harms the people who live downstream when the rainy season comes. 

“You can bet on gravity every time. Whatever is in our headwaters will ultimately end up in our own backyards. Headwaters and wetlands are some of the most important components to our network of streams and rivers. They’re like the capillaries in our bodies. If they’re unhealthy so is everything else. Americans should not, and will not, allow our water to be jeopardized in this way.”

Read Trout Unlimited’s full statement.


But that’s not all

The EPA is also taking aim at the authority of States and Tribes to protect water resources through the Section 401 water quality certification process.

The proposed rule would vastly undercut state and tribal authority to protect coldwater resources. 

In issuing this proposal, the EPA rejects decades of administrative practice and directly defies numerous judicial interpretations, including at least two Supreme Court rulings.

It is not overstatement to say that we are facing one of the greatest threats to the Clean Water Act in its long and effective history.

For questions, please contact:

Steve Moyer

Vice President of Government Affairs

Kate Miller 

Director of Government Affairs

Whether you fish or just simply understand the value of clean water, there is no law more important than the Clean Water Act. In 2015, the EPA developed a rule that affirmed Clean Water Act protections for “intermittent and ephemeral streams.” In 2020,  the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule removing protections for ephemeral streams. These streams —the headwaters of our nation’s rivers —provide us the fisheries we cherish and the clean drinking water we require.

Ephemeral streams flow only briefly (hours to days) in direct response to precipitation in the immediate vicinity.


stream miles estimated as ephemeral

Seeing Red: Do fewer protections impact your water?

Short answer? Yes. Think of ephemeral streams like the capillaries in your body. While they are small and often overlooked, they play a vital role in our overall health. So too do the small headwater streams which feed the larger creeks and rivers we more commonly recognize. Zoom in to learn more about ephemeral streams where you live.

We all deserve clean water.

Protecting it has never been more critical:

There has been lots of misinformation on what the 2015 Clean Water Rule would and would not do. Scroll through the storymap compiled by TU’s science team to learn more about protections this rule puts in place for your water and why we should not settle for less.

What does this mean for your backyard?

Click on the maps below to learn more about headwater streams in your state. Looking for a state not listed? Contact us:

Clean, cold water
A cutthroat trout hides in clear, clean water
Two cold, clean trout streams come together
An angler fishes a headwater stream

Trout Unlimited conserves, protects and restores North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.

1777 N. Kent Street
Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22209

TOLL FREE: 1-800-834-2419
National Office: (703) 522-0200
Fax: (703) 284-9400

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