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Project Category

Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars

Presentation Type

Poster

Description

Under the current U.S. Administration, various rollbacks to some EPA regulations have been announced. The Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 has been an area that has received massive, controversial cuts to its jurisdiction. Some of these cutbacks include stripping certain tributaries and wetlands that were given protection under the previous Administration, repealing a law that prevented coal companies from dumping debris into local streams, and withdrawing a proposed law that would focus on limiting pollutants at sewage treatment plants (Popovich et al., 2019). In this study, we place the recent rollbacks of the CWA in historical context and discuss the arguments by both proponents and opponents to these changes. While deregulation has positive effects for large businesses and economic benefits, these changes could be devastating for freshwater ecosystems. The rollbacks could contribute to an increase in eutrophication and deposition of sediments, drastically affecting the health of aquatic ecosystems. Increasing sediment deposition could increase the amount of suspended particles in the waterway, some of which may include absorbed fertilizer content and nutrients, throwing-off natural nutrient cycling processes (Castro and Reckendorf, 1995). Increases in eutrophication will result in more hypoxic “dead zones” where there is not a sufficient amount of oxygen to support any life, which can deal a large amount of harm to ecosystem services that rely on the presence of organisms, such as air and water purification. When compared to the potential loss of ecosystem services from these aquatic ecosystems, the economic growth that these rollbacks will supposedly induce is far less important.

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ENSC 162: Deregulation of the Clean Water Act in 2020

Under the current U.S. Administration, various rollbacks to some EPA regulations have been announced. The Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 has been an area that has received massive, controversial cuts to its jurisdiction. Some of these cutbacks include stripping certain tributaries and wetlands that were given protection under the previous Administration, repealing a law that prevented coal companies from dumping debris into local streams, and withdrawing a proposed law that would focus on limiting pollutants at sewage treatment plants (Popovich et al., 2019). In this study, we place the recent rollbacks of the CWA in historical context and discuss the arguments by both proponents and opponents to these changes. While deregulation has positive effects for large businesses and economic benefits, these changes could be devastating for freshwater ecosystems. The rollbacks could contribute to an increase in eutrophication and deposition of sediments, drastically affecting the health of aquatic ecosystems. Increasing sediment deposition could increase the amount of suspended particles in the waterway, some of which may include absorbed fertilizer content and nutrients, throwing-off natural nutrient cycling processes (Castro and Reckendorf, 1995). Increases in eutrophication will result in more hypoxic “dead zones” where there is not a sufficient amount of oxygen to support any life, which can deal a large amount of harm to ecosystem services that rely on the presence of organisms, such as air and water purification. When compared to the potential loss of ecosystem services from these aquatic ecosystems, the economic growth that these rollbacks will supposedly induce is far less important.