The ERC’s director Bruce Kingsbury is working with the City of Fort Wayne and others on the concept of a downtown facility focusing on environmental stewardship and sustainability. It is proposed as part of the Riverfront Fort Wayne Development and would help the community pursue the goals of enhancing the economy, providing additional recreational opportunities, and protecting and restoring the rivers and other habitats. Read the article in the News Sentinel here!
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is intended to support the availability of safe water for all by making it illegal to dispose of pollution into streams. For historical reasons, the CWA is structured around “navigable waters” like rivers, but clearly anything that gets into a tributary or even the soils around streams can influence water quality. Where else would this pollution go?
Consequently, a source of concern and source of confusion has been what happens in non-naviigable headwaters, the small tributaries feeding into streams and rivers, and even ditches, themselves often recommissioned streams. The Clean Water Rule offers some specific guidance to what is included within the CWA. It stipulates that for a stream to be included, it needs to have moving water more than just during a rainfall event, and must show some sort of physical features indicating flowing water. This might be a streambed or bank or some other indication of high water. And then there is the issue of nearby waters, such as wetlands which are not obviously connected to a stream. The limit for those protections is 1500 feet. Ditches not replacing streams are not covered.
These types of clarification are beneficial because they will dramatically reduce the uncertainties of application that crop up when deciding whether the CWA applies. Environmentalists concerned about losses and water quality have gained clarity regarding protection of waterways that feed into navigable waters, and the agricultural industry knows more clearly what its limits are as well. It is important to note that there are a variety of exemptions for agricultural practices already within the Clean Water Act, and these are not altered.
Here are a couple of posts elsewhere on the topic:
1) from the EPA
2) from Healthy Lakes Healthy Lives
Emily Stulik’s MS research on amphibian occupancy in Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve is being featured in an interview by Virginia Alvino from our local public radio station, WBOI. Emily is working to assess the health and viability of the restored wetlands managed by Little River Wetlands Project through amphibian surveys. Emily took Virginia through the forested wetlands of Eagle Marsh to listen to species call and explain her findings. Emily is Bruce Kingsbury’s graduate student at IPFW. Her work was supported by the Environmental Resources Center, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, and Sigma Xi.
You can read more about it and listen to the story at this WBOI web site link.