The Clear Water Act at 50 and What it Means for Birds


This week, we’re celebrating the Clear Water Act’s 50th birthday—and half a century of defending America’s waters. It’s onerous to overstate how vital this laws was and is in lowering the quantity of air pollution flowing into our rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. Right here at Audubon, we all know birds and communities want entry to wash water, which is why this bipartisan laws is so vital—guaranteeing clear and plentiful water in rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, and marshes in landscapes the place that is paramount to birds’ survival. And which means defending the Clear Water Act now and into the longer term.

It’s simple to take the Clear Water Act as a right, so let’s take a look at what it truly does for individuals and birds.

Along with empowering federal companies just like the U.S. Environmental Safety Company to manage the quantities of air pollution flowing immediately into streams and waterways, the Act protects small streams, wetlands and intermittent streams which might be hotspots for chicken life and important to making sure water high quality in downstream rivers and bigger water our bodies. Wetlands cowl roughly 110 million acres within the continental United States and are indispensable habitat for a whole bunch of species of birds, together with the Bald Eagle, Wooden Stork, Northern Pintail, American Bittern, Semipalmated Plover, Prothonotary Warbler, and lots of extra birds, fish, and wildlife. These waterways additionally filter air pollution and supply ingesting water for greater than 117 million Individuals or about 33 % of the nation.

Birds require the clear water and thriving ecosystems present in and round wholesome water our bodies to outlive. They don’t simply rely on the water itself, however on all the areas alongside rivers, streams, shorelines, water in depressions within the panorama, the soil, in addition to the fish, bugs, and vegetation throughout all the watershed. To offer this vital useful resource for birds, floor waters should have satisfactory circulation and be the suitable depth for the feeding or resting behaviors of assorted chicken species. Wetlands and streams have to be allowed to flood or be inundated with water at applicable intervals, whether or not common, intermittent, or seasonal, to be able to restore water ranges, replenish helpful vitamins within the soil, and help vital vegetation. Clear, accessible water is important to birds for fish, insect and plant meals sources, wholesome breeding habitats, satisfactory safety from predators, and essential resting factors throughout migration, nesting, and elevating their younger.

Wetlands particularly are vital for chicken well being and inhabitants stability. Roughly one-third of North American chicken species, together with the Nice Blue Heron and Brown Pelican, use wetlands for meals, shelter, or breeding. Some 138 and subspecies of birds in the USA are designated as “wetland dependent.” These birds embrace cranes, grebes, herons, kingfishers, loons, owls, perching birds, pelicans, shorebirds, falcons, and waterfowl. This checklist consists of 27 sorts of geese, from the Wooden Duck to the Blue-Winged Teal, 20 sorts of gulls and terns, 17 sorts of herons, seven sorts of Warblers, egrets, bitterns, and lots of different species rely on wetlands of many varieties in each area of the nation.

Based on the most recent State of the Birds Report, a long time of funding in wetlands are producing a constructive development for waterbirds, geese, and diving birds. A lot of this success is because of impactful coverage measures that complement the Clear Water Act, just like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and U.S. Farm Invoice conservation packages. Regardless of all the superb benefits of the Act and the way it has cleaned our waterways over time, it has confronted challenges through the years and continues to come back beneath menace from courts and politicians with an especially slender view of the Clear Water Act. Over the previous few years, the authorized definition of which streams could be regulated left many waterways with out the correct protections. Because of this wetlands all through the nation are liable to unchecked growth, threatening communities and birds who rely on these sources for clear water.

Fortunately, robust coalitions exist that proceed to champion the Clear Water Act and the protections it offers for birds and folks. Audubon is proud to affix with our conservation, recreation, enterprise, and different companions to help the Act and strengthen it by way of sound science, coverage, and advocacy.

Birds are telling us that we have to do extra to make sure their survival—and ours. Over the subsequent 50 years, Audubon will proceed championing the federal legal guidelines that shield our water, air, land, and wildlife.

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