At risk: nearly 75,000 miles of Colorado’s streams

In the last decade, polluter-driven Supreme Court decisions left nearly 75,000 miles of Colorado’s streams and hundreds of acres of wetlands vulnerable to pollution and development. And it’s not just small streams and wetlands — these waterways are the same ones that feed the Arkansas, the South Platte and all of our rivers and help to keep them clean.

From the mighty Colorado and Arkansas rivers, to Boulder Creek, Clear Creek, and the rest of the streams in our backyards, Colorado’s waters are a part of what makes life here so great. We should be able to raft, fish, tube or otherwise enjoy our waters knowing that they are protected from toxic dumping and irresponsible development.

Polluters poke holes in Clean Water Act

For 40 years, the Clean Water Act has helped Colorado — and states across the nation — care for and clean up our waterways. Thanks in large part to this groundbreaking law, rivers are no longer so polluted that they catch fire, as Ohio’s Cuyahoga infamously did in 1969. Still, much work remains to be done. Our report, “Wasting our Waterways 2012,” found that polluters dumped 250,000 pounds of toxic pollution into the South Platte alone in 2010. We need to do more to protect our waters — not less. 

Unfortunately, over the past decade, polluters and irresponsible developers used the courts to put Clean Water Act protections in legal limbo, arguing that the law doesn’t cover the smaller streams and wetlands that feed and clean the Arkansas, the South Platte, and all of Colorado’s rivers. They tried to throw out nearly 40 years of Clean Water Act protection, leaving polluting industries free to dump into our streams and pave over our wetlands without asking for permission.

The biggest clean water victory in decades

Since 2006, we have been urging Congress to protect our rivers by simply declaring that the Clean Water Act applies to all of Colorado’s — and America’s — waters. But, stymied at every turn by industry lobbyists and powerful special interests, we turned instead to the Environmental Protection Agency for action.

This spring, we and our allies across the country submitted more than 170,000 petitions to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to restore protections to all of our waters and cut sewage pollution. In April, she announced a plan to do just that.

But polluters’ allies in Congress won’t give up — and now they’re threatening to stop the EPA from doing its job. At the same time, powerful corporate interests are preparing for battle: ExxonMobil threatened “legal warfare” if the EPA moves forward with its plan to restore Clean Water Act protections

Our plan to defend Colorado’s rivers 

It is clear that if polluters win, our rivers will be less protected. We know that we can’t compete with their lobbyists dollar for dollar. But the public is with us—and if we can prove that to our elected officials, we can win.

That's why we’re bringing together Coloradans from all walks of life to protect the Arkansas, the South Platte, and all of our rivers. From anglers to white-water enthusiasts, clergy to scientists, local officials to ordinary families, we all have a stake in keeping our water clean

Our citizen outreach staff has been knocking on doors across the state, educating Colorodans about what’s at stake. So far, we've joined with our sister organizations and allies to deliver more than 100,000 public comments in support of clean water.

With more than one million Coloradans visiting our state’s rivers each year to raft, kayak, or fish, it’s no wonder so many people are standing up for clean water. But if we’re going to push past ExxonMobil and other powerful polluters, we’re going to need everyone who cares about Colorado’s rivers to get involved. Join our campaign by urging our leaders to protect all our streams and wetlands here in Colorado and across the country.

Click here to tell President Obama: Protect Colorado's rivers.

Colorado Rivers Project updates

News Release | Environment Colorado

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News Release | Environment Colorado

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News Release | Environment Colorado

Clean Water Act turns 35: challenges lie ahead

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News Release | Environment Colorado

Colorado Waters Under Pressure

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News Release | Environment Colorado

Protecting America's Waters: Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 introduced

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