|Dirty water entering a forest stream.|
Photo credit: Crag Law Center
“The current Oregon Forest Practices Act needs to be amended, in order to enable water suppliers to be able to meet this basic duty that the public entrusts them with.” (Arch Cape letter to Oregon Board of Forestry)
Ironically, EPA’s recent decision nationally runs contradictory to it’s own agency action in Oregon. In March of this year, EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) withheld $1.2 million in grant funds because Oregon failed to control water pollution to protect fish, wildlife, and public health. For 18 years these federal agencies have said that Oregon’s poor forest practices create water pollution and harm fish, but it wasn’t until this spring that they finally took stronger action and penalized the state. In their reasoning, the two agencies specifically call out forest roads:
“As a result, NOAA and EPA cannot determine, and the State [Oregon] has not made information-based representations specifying, the extent to which voluntary efforts have addressed the sedimentation problems and landslide risk posed by the legacy road network.” (NOAA/EPA Decision Rationale)“Forest to Faucets” is literal. 50-75% of the U.S. population relies on forest lands for good quality water. But when EPA keeps turning away from its responsibilities to uphold the Clean Water Act, communities are then tagged with the bill to spend millions to clean-up the dirty water. Clean water denied.
What will it take to truly value and protect clean water?
|Photo credit: High Country News|