Don’t muddy Clear Water Act protections

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Beer, fish and lamprey. These are a few of my favorite things and they all depend on clean water.

Luckily I am able to enjoy all three living in Harrison on the Crooked River, a class AA stream and the main tributary for Sebago Lake. As a fisherman and the owner of Acme Lamprey Company and the Penneseewassee Brewing Company, clean cold water is as critical to me as the lamprey I catch and sell to research institutions and the beer I brew and market.

That’s why I am deeply concerned with the Trump Administration’s proposed rollbacks to the Clean Water Act, including its proposal to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule. If these protections are repealed, more than half of our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands, including the small headwater streams that feed the Crooked River, are threatened.

The waters under threat include our nation’s headwater streams and adjacent wetlands, which fish and wildlife depend on. But it’s not just bad news for fish. The small streams that are at risk of losing protection also provide drinking water for 117 million Americans. These small streams provide drinking water for one in three Mainers and Sebago Lake alone provides drinking water to one in six Mainers.

Beer has four main ingredients: hops, malt, yeast and good water. Without clean, unpolluted water, my products would suffer and my brewery could not operate. The slogan for my beer company is “Brewed on the Banks of the Crooked River.” The very label features the Crooked River and an angler fly-fishing.

As a class AA river, the Crooked is one of the cleanest rivers in the state of Maine. It is also the major spawning habitat for landlocked salmon in the Sebago Lake watershed. This is good for my brewery, my neighbors, all sorts of wildlife and everyone who spends time on the river and the lake it feeds.

The Clean Water Act, championed by Maine’s own Sen. Edmund Muskie in the 1970s, has protected our nation’s waterways from pollution for more than 40 years. But proposed Clean Water Act rollbacks mean most of our streams and wetlands would now face new threats and real consequences.

Polluters will be able to dump dangerous chemicals into many seasonal lakes, streams and other waterways without fear of enforcement. Wetlands may be lost as well as the critical waterfowl habitat they provide, leading to poorer hunting opportunities. Fishing opportunities and clean drinking water will suffer.

In addition to my professional affiliations, I am proud to serve as the founder, former president and current board member of the Mollyockett Chapter of Trout Unlimited, covering northern Cumberland and Oxford counties.

As an avid angler, I recognize the importance of headwater streams as habitat for spawning and young fish, and for protecting the water quality in larger downstream lakes and rivers as well. Nearly 60 percent of all stream miles in the U.S. are considered small, intermittent or headwater. Protecting these seasonal waterways from pollution is critical to maintaining clean water for drinking and recreation, as well as safe and healthy fish and wildlife habitat.

Maine’s recreation and tourism economy depends on clean water—for happy anglers, boaters and campers. Maine lakes bring more than $3.5 billion into Maine’s economy annually and sustain 52,000 jobs. And Maine’s thriving brewing industry also relies on clean water. Small Maine breweries, like mine, contribute more than $432 million to our economy every year and support more than 3,770 jobs.

For all of these reasons, I encourage Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to defend Clean Water Act protections for streams and wetlands and to oppose attempts in Congress or by the Trump Administration to repeal them. Maine’s senators should oppose cuts to clean water funding and the rollback of the 2015 Clean Water Rule. It’s not just beer, fish and lampreys that are at risk, it is Maine’s drinking water, economy, our health and our future.

Lee Margolin owns and operates the Acme Lamprey and the Pennesseewassee Brewing Co. in Harrison. He is the founder of the Mollyockett Chapter of Trout Unlimited.