January 24, 2020

Erin Hillert
Marketing & Communications Manager
(608) 239-2644

EPA Rolls Back Critical Protections for the James River

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced significant rollbacks to the Clean Water Act, removing federal protections from innumerable streams and wetlands that filter pollution, provide drinking water, and protect our communities from flooding.

Since the Clean Water Act passed with bipartisan support in 1972, it has provided the framework for states, localities, and citizens to clean up streams, lakes, and rivers throughout Virginia and across the nation – and to keep them healthy. The protections of the Clean Water Act have allowed the James River to change from one of the Nation’s most polluted rivers to a cherished centerpiece of Virginia, celebrated by Congress as “America’s Founding River.” Today, the James River provides drinking water for 2.7 million Virginians, is a vital asset to its communities and local economies and it has received international recognition for the scope of its recovery. The EPA’s drastic rollback removes federal protections for the majority of wetlands and many smaller streams, including up to 16,500 miles of streams in the James River watershed.

Jamie Brunkow, James Riverkeeper and Senior Advocacy Manager, issued the following statement:

“Clean drinking water, a fishable and swimmable James River, increased river-based tourism and economic development – all of these we owe to the protections of the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA’s rule puts our local waterways at risk and threatens to erode decades of progress to restore the health of the James River. Despite the EPA’s rollback, James River Association will work to continue protections of critical headwater streams and wetlands, which science shows, support downstream water quality and a healthy James River.”

ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit