The U.S. House of Representatives has passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes an amendment to repeal the Clean Water Rule.
The rule defines wetlands and small streams as protected bodies of water under the 1972 Clean Water Act.
Clean Water Action, an environmental advocacy group, said the rule needs to stay in place.
Michael Kelly, communications director, said without it, almost half of the streams throughout the country and tens of millions of acres of wetlands would be at risk.
"It opens them up to potential pollution and destruction and makes it difficult for us to hold accountable the companies that may pollute or destruct these, whether they’re paving over the wetlands or they’re polluting the streams," he said.
Kelly added if the rule were repealed, federal agencies would have to evaluate violations of the Clean Water Act on a case-by-case basis.
"That’s just an expensive and time consuming process that there’s not enough staff and really enough money to get that done, so we’d be back to a place where we’d be protecting less waters because we don’t have the resources," Kelly said.
Kelly said 54 percent of Rhode Islanders get their drinking water from sources that rely on the quality of protected streams and wetlands.
The U.S. Senate still has to pass it’s version of the farm bill before it can become law.