AW Participates in EPA Roundtable on the Importance of Clean Water
On Tuesday, June 7, Kevin Colburn, American Whitewater’s National Stewardship Director, participated in a roundtable hosted jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Cahaba Brewing Co. on the importance of clean water protections in the Southeast. He joined stakeholders from a broad spectrum of land and water users who live or work in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee, including a director of a water and sewer utility; general contracting and construction management executive; mitigation banker; faith leader; environmental justice advocates; farmers, including a Gullah-Geechee farmer; elected officials; representatives from conservation and environmental organizations; and clean water scientists.
American Whitewater offered examples of how clean water supports thriving communities and recreation-based economic benefits. Among our remarks we shared that “The past 50 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act have proven we can have both clean water and a healthy economy: we don’t need to—nor should we—choose between the two. We deserve safe water flowing from our taps and down our rivers and streams, just as we deserve a chance to have our communities and businesses prosper. These two things are not mutually exclusive.”
American Whitewater also advocated for a broad, inclusive, science-based approach to determining which waters should be regulated under the Clean Water Act. Kevin stared with the roundtable: “As a paddler and scientist I know that sometime, somehow, water pollution will find its way downstream if not regulated at the source. I know that ephemeral streams will eventually roar with water as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. And I know that wetlands will help soak up increasingly intense storms if we let them. And I know all of this really matters to all the folks here in the region that have built lives around rivers.” A strong science based approach to implementing the Clean Water Act and Waters of the United States will support the recreation economy, our investments in rivers, and our way of life here in the mountains”
While speaking on behalf of paddlers, American Whitewater’s presentations intended to benefit all river enthusiasts. We shared that “Spending time on or along the water is good for us. It has emotional, physical, and social benefits — for many, a life on the water is a life well lived. This is true if you kayak waterfalls, love dipping your toes in a river, or catch fish to feed your family.”
To view the roundtable and the other seven Waters of the United States regional roundtables, visit EPA’s YouTube channel which contains archives of the discussions.
By Kevin Colburn