There's no doubt that clean, cold water is one of our state's most important natural resources. It is as essential to sustaining wild trout populations as it is to replenishing drinking water supplies – including those used by beer producers.
That's why on Monday, July 13, Trout Unlimited teamed up with a Pennsylvania brewery to host a rally in support of the Clean Water Rule, which further protects headwater streams and wetlands critical to sportsmen, community water supplies and businesses driving our nation's economy.
Dozens of hunters and anglers from around the state showed up at Snitz Creek Brewery in Lebanon, where a fishing-themed beverage line-up includes Brown Trout Stout, Hipwader Hefeweizen, Woolly Bugger Black IPA and Opening Day IPA, to hear from a variety of speakers supporting the critical regulation.
Snitz Creek Brewery owner Patrick Freer offered insight about why protecting headwaters streams is so important to his business.
"We all know the value and importance of our most valuable resource – fresh water. But with climate change affecting the replenishment of our supplies, the heavy use in agriculture as our population grows, and the new technologies that require significant amounts of water, such as fracking, it's never been more apparent that we can no longer take our water resources for granted," Freer said.
"As an owner of a brewery, I depend on the availability of good, clean water in the production of beer, and being an avid fisherman, I have even more reason to support the CWR. I'm proud to host an event that promotes awareness of the law and its beneficial impact on our communities."
Other speakers voicing their support of the Clean Water Rule included fishing guide Rick Nyles of Sky Blue Outfitters, Valley Forge TU chapter president Robin Freisem and John Kline, Director of Government Affairs for the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the Clean Water Rule on May 27. Its draft drew more than a million comments, with more than 800,000 in support of the proposal to restore a degree of protection to certain headwaters and wetlands removed from the original Clean Water Act of 1972 after a pair of controversial Supreme Court decisions in the 2000s.
The new Clean Water Rule more clearly defines protections for headwater streams, including some that flow only at certain times of the year, while allowing reasonable leeway when it comes to water use by agriculture and industry.
Despite the clear connection established between headwaters and larger rivers, the Clean Water Rule continues to face threats in Congress, where some elected officials may be willing to put politics ahead of science.
"The CWR is an important step in making sure we realize the value of our freshwater resources, and it makes it easier to protect them for generations to come," Freer said. "I'm sure all sportsmen -and beer drinkers – can appreciate clean water as something worth protecting."