The EPA says it has approved more than 3.4 billion gallons of water for use in drinking and cooking and that about 2 billion gallons have been released into the environment.
The agency said the new restrictions are needed to protect water quality and public health and that the restrictions do not apply to commercial and recreational water use.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency is working with state and local water systems to improve water quality.
“We are not looking to restrict drinking and other uses, but we are making it easier for people to drink clean water,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt added that the EPA is working on ways to reduce pollution.
As of Feb. 1, more than 1.5 billion gallons had been released in water for drinking and non-commercial uses, Pruitt said, and the total volume of water released to the environment since the agency started collecting data was 3.7 billion gallons.
More than half the total amount of water in the U.S. has been released since March 2020, and more than half of the water released was for drinking purposes, according to EPA data.
At least 14 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have announced restrictions on their water use, according the EPA.
Aquaculture groups say the restrictions could lead to more waste.
In February, the U,D.C., Fish and Wildlife Service issued a “water quality bulletin” that warned that aquaculture may become more of a burden on the environment, but did not recommend any immediate restrictions.
Even though the EPA does not limit recreational use of water, it said that restrictions could increase the likelihood of pollution.
“The current regulations do not address the most important and persistent pollution: pollution from aquacultural operations,” the agency said.
“This is why EPA continues to work with state, local and tribal governments to develop more effective ways to improve wastewater discharge and management.
With the advent of new technologies, there is greater scope for waste to be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.
There are a number of other options for reducing pollution from agriculture including: improved monitoring and collection systems; improved irrigation systems; better waste treatment practices; and wastewater treatment facilities.”
The EPA has proposed reducing the number of commercial aquacultures and removing some of the requirements that currently apply to them.
Some conservation groups are worried that the proposed restrictions could result in a massive increase in waste.
They say the EPA should have more input into what happens at the farm.