The Clean Water Act passed in 1972 was made to protect this stream and other flowing waters throughout the country from pollutants that until then had not been regulated. This Act was set to make all our waters cleaner, but with time powers with influence have whittled away some of the strength of this Act. We all need clean water and we need the folks that know how to fight for it. The Waterkeeper Alliance is one of those forces and they joined with another powerhouse, EarthJustice to speak up in a big way this week AND I and LEAD Agency's Grand Riverkeeper are standing with them for water.
Clean water, we all need it, we all deserve it and boy as the old proverb says, we are going to miss it when the well runs dry. Wells just counties away from us are going dry already and the reason is more wells dug deeper and running full blast are lowering the water levels in the aquifers they pull water from. A dry well is bad news and the end of an era for homeowners who have been pulling from it for generations. What has changed? What is happening? More water is being pulled out by the already numerous large poultry facilities and with the new expanding 100 houses coming in, our country neighbors in counties nearby are organizing to protect their water. This can be us since 3 facilities with 300,000 chickens have applied for permits from the Department of Agriculture, 3 miles from Miami, OK. So the issue is ours and about to be. We need to learn more about the aquifers below us and the how quickly they can be depleted and how we will deal with that.
These are our issues and we will cover them at the upcoming 20th National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek. Daniel Estrin is the General Counsel for the Waterkeeper Alliance and he will be on deck the second morning of the conference to outline why and how we are buckled up to fight for clean water. This week we joined a lawsuit against those who want to make it easier to pollute without repercussions.
The Clean Water Act has had amendments through the years that have made it weaker and the last administration rebooted it to protect the Waters of the United States, for us, for our use and future use. This created an uproar amongst those who believed water was already being protected TOO much. Many states including ours sued the EPA to basically make it more legal to pollute. EPA, under Scott Pruitt who had been one of the States Attorney General who had sued the EPA himself to wind those regulations back, then sat down with his former AGs and lessened our water's protection, but not enough for them. The legal fight continues. Now, LEAD Agency, the Waterkeeper Alliance and EarthJustice are on EPA's side trying to KEEP Clean Water alive in the courts.
The new weaker rules the States including ours are fighting for will make polluting our water much easier for industry and for agriculture. If you think back to this summer when our Tar Creek turned black, the Clean Water Act mandated attention, it caused every agency federal and state to come investigate and find the source and MAKE it stop. That bad water flowed into a stream bed that was dry at the time, and the mess flowed into another lay of the land that was dry at the time and then entered our Tar Creek. New rules would say that is not polluting. Do you want that? If you are the Man on the Log do you want that? If you are the kids discovering a creek running that close to your house that you could sneak out to swim in it and be back before you were missed. Or what if you saw those fish and went the next day and found only dead ones. Clean Water Act needs to be stronger, not weaker. We all need clean water and we are going to have to fight for it. But boy is it worth fighting for.
A bunch of this story will be discussed at the 20th National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek. We will learn from J-M Farms how shocked they were that they were the source of the bad water that killed fish in Tar Creek. You will learn from those who were charged with the investigation what they discovered and from the Secretary of Agriculture, James Reece who heads the agency with the regulatory authority to make sure cleanup occurred. This will be followed by the efforts and changes that have been made by the company to insure the agency and us that it will not happen again. The public needs to know and we are providing this opportunity for you.
Register early for the conference at www.leadagency.org or call our office 918-542-9399. You won't have to wait in line. You won't want to miss a moment.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim