PROMO 64J1 Water - Tap Faucet Spigot Drip - iStock - Molina86

Clean water advocates urge Congress to restore vital protections

© iStock - Molina86

Click play to listen to this article.

Audio file

(Mississippi News Connection) Today is World Water Day, a global observance to raise awareness about the importance of access to clean, fresh and safe water.

This year, advocates in the U.S. are urging Congress to restore protections under the Clean Water Act for smaller streams and wetlands, which were overturned in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year.

PROMO Outdoors - Red Mountain Creek Colorado Water Stream River - iStock - Aaron Hawkins

Red Mountain Creek in Colorado © iStock - Aaron Hawkins

Jim Murphy, senior director of legal advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation, said rivers and streams in Mississippi used for swimming and fishing flow into larger bodies of water, so it is essential for the waterways to be safeguarded. 

"It's really important for people to ensure that, with the rollbacks from the Supreme Court, that they're ensuring that their state and local leaders are doing what they can to protect the waters that people rely on," Murphy asserted.

A bill in Congress, the Clean Water Act of 2023, would reinstate the rule the Supreme Court struck down, and broaden the definition of which streams and waterways are subject to federal protection. It has more than 120 co-sponsors, but remains stalled in the U.S. House.

Murphy pointed to a poll, which found more than 90 percent of Americans think protecting the safety of drinking water, and the water in lakes, streams and rivers should be a priority. He added the most effective and cost-efficient approach to safeguarding water is to protect it before it gets to your home faucet.

"Protecting water at its source is the most important and one of the cheapest things we can do to ensure that people who are facing a crisis of dirty water are protected," Murphy explained. "In other cases, we also have to invest in the right type of infrastructure, to make sure that water is clean."

A boil water alert was issued for Jackson this week, as the result of repair work performed on the water system. In 2022, Jackson's water system crisis affected more than 150,000 residents, who were without clean or running water for weeks at a time.