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September 11, 2014 Published in EcoNews, Top Stories

Chesapeake Bay And Other Waterways Key To Summer Fun

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More than 48 national and state parks in Virginia feature waterways like the James River and Chesapeake Bay, according to Environment Virginia’s new Summer Fun Index. The new fact sheet comes as summer draws to close, and as officials consider a new rule to restore protections for over 28,000 miles of the state’s rivers and streams.

“We all know clean water means summer fun.  There’s nothing quite like paddling along the Potomac or fishing in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Jessie Mehrhoff, organizer with Environment Virginia. “Our Summer Fun Index shows how important it is to protect our waters.”

According to the index, boating and fishing are popular activities for visitors to Virginia’s waterways, with over 250,000 boats registered and 500,000 fishing licenses issued annually.

Despite their popularity, more than 57% of Virginia’s rivers and streams are not guaranteed protection under the nation’s Clean Water Act, thanks to a loophole in the law secured by developers and other polluters nearly a decade ago.

In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to restore protections for the headwaters, streams, and wetlands left in limbo by the loophole; but agribusinesses, oil companies, and others are campaigning heavily against it.

EPA is taking public comments on the measure through the fall. Already, Environment Virginia has gathered 15,000 public comments in favor of restoring Clean Water Act protections on all of the state’s waters. Environment Virginia pointed to the stats on how much people use and enjoy Virginia waterways as further support for EPA’s proposed rule.

“Whether we enjoy them for fishing, boating, or swimming, we all have a stake in the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the rest of our waterways,” said Mehrhoff. “We should be doing everything we can to protect all of our rivers, lakes and streams.”

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