Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft of its National Water Reuse Action Plan at the WaterReuse Symposium in San Diego. It makes sense for national leadership to align their planning with the framework of US Water Alliance One Water, UN Sustainability goals and other initiatives. After all, 80% of states across the U.S. expect to encounter water scarcity issues in the next decade. The mainstream is getting drier, and promoting use of recycled water within a context of a changing climate is an undeniably good thing. So kudos to the water people at EPA…

Clean Water, Only Dirtier

However, these are increasingly interesting times. Roughly 24 hours later, the EPA, represented this time by ex-coal industry lobbyist turned Administrator Andrew Wheeler, announced repeal of the 2015 Water of the United States Rule at a special event at the National Association of Manufacturers, essentially rewinding clean water regulation of streams and wetlands back to 1986. This is the first of two steps; after repeal, the agency will move to replace a substantial part of the Clean Water Act, a bedrock component of environmental law, with new regulation. 

Clean Air, Only Smoggier

That other environmental pillar, the Clean Air Act, suffered damage a few days later with the announcement of the EPA’s highly contested revocation of California’s Waiver for strict auto emission guidelines. All this backsliding amounts to virtual war fought in the trenches of various courtrooms and at best, a titanic waste of time when time is a particularly precious commodity.

To review: one small step forward and two very very large steps back.

Brilliantly glowing 181-feet high holographic projection of the Solsel Buddha.  
Photo: Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Reasons to be Persistent

Meanwhile, we all continue with our daily lives, hopefully making  some kind of positive impact, one step at a time. Even in the relatively enlightened and sheltered Bay Area, it can be quite hard to keep going through all the muck that constitutes the daily outrage news. But here’s three points in favor of stubbornly continuing to carry that water uphill: