Local and national environmental groups are reacting to word from the Trump Administration that it will change rules on the Federal Clean Water Act.
“We think that this proposed rule would take a sledgehammer to the Clean Water Act Protections.” Bill Sapp from the Southern Environmental Law Center told News 3.
Sapp says the proposed rule change would take away protection for small streams and wetlands.
“Georgia has large tracks of wetlands and what these wetlands do is filter pollutants out of waters so they protect us from flooding and they also provide recreational activities,” he said.
Sapp says the rule change seems to be designed for polluters whether it be industries or development.
In the Savannah area, News 3 spoke with Damon Mullis who is the Ogeechee Riverkeeper. He said his concern is simple: protecting the quality of the water in the river.
Mullis says the quality of the water in a big river depends on the quality of the small bodies all around it.
“If you think about it, a river like the Ogeechee is fed by those ground waters, fed by these wetlands, these tributaries and so yes, it has a direct impact on the Ogeechee River and water quality,” said Mullis.
He says about half of all tributaries and streams in the U.S. are “going to lose their protection under the new proposed rules.”
Mullis says the Ogeechee River has rebounded since the 2011 fish kill and the fish population is back. He says he and others want to keep it that way.
Mullis says there is a 60 day comment period for the public and all those concerned should contact their members of Congress.
While he does admit getting the Trump Administration to back off on the rule change would be tough, he says those who oppose the rollback should still speak out.
But not all groups oppose the rule change.
Many, including the American Farm Bureau, applauded the announcement.
Supporters say this is a rollback of a 2015 rule imposed by the Obama Administration that went too far in terms of restrictions and that the Trump Administration is offering rules that make more sense and give power back to states and landowners.