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POLL:  Latinos Want Government to Protect Water Supplies

As Senate Republicans try to kill recent steps by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect water supplies, a new poll finds that Illinois Latinos overwhelmingly want the federal government to keep our water safe and clean.

The survey of 508 Latinos in the state, conducted last month, showed that 84 percent support nationwide rules to protect wetlands and small streams, including ones that don’t flow year-round, that feed into the drinking water supplies of one in three Americans. In Illinois, the public drinking water supplies for over 1.6 million residents depend at least partly on such streams.

The federal government this spring proposed to restore anti-pollution protections to these small streams and nearby wetlands, whose status had been in legal limbo for more than a decade. But now there is a strong move by Senate Republicans to bar the EPA from completing work on the safeguards and implementing them.

“This poll shows that clean water is important to Latinos, as it is to most other Americans,” said Adrianna Quintero, director of Latino outreach for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which commissioned the poll. “The Senate should take notice. We want the federal government to make sure that polluters don’t threaten the health and safety of our families by fouling the water they drink, bathe with, swim in, or use for fishing and boating.”

These small streams and wetlands provide crucial water quality benefits for fishing, boating and swimming.  Ninety percent of those surveyed said it was important that strong clean water safety standards be set at the national level, rather than left up mostly to the states. The telephone and Internet poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, a national firm based in North Carolina.

Noting that these small streams and wetlands also capture floodwater, filter pollutants, and help feed groundwater that is used for drinking, farming and other businesses, the poll found that 86 percent of respondents said that these waters should have protection from industry pollution. Additionally, 87 percent said they had “very serious” or “somewhat serious” concerns that the uncertain legal status has endangered these waters by allowing companies to avoid preparing oil spill prevention and response plans or by allowing them to bury streams and wetlands under mining or other industrial waste.

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