Water
Investigation By Associated Press Reveals More Than 1600 Risky Dams in the U.S.

Investigation By Associated Press Reveals More Than 1600 Risky Dams in the U.S.

The results of a two-year investigation by the Associated Press (AP) were published this week and the findings were shocking — nearly 1,700 dams located in 44 states and Puerto Rico were rated as “high-hazard” dams that are in poor or unsatisfactory condition.  Experts believe the actual number of risky dams is even higher — […]

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PFAS Found On Hundreds of Military Installations, With Numbers Likely To Rise

PFAS Found On Hundreds of Military Installations, With Numbers Likely To Rise

The problem of toxic fluorinated chemicals or “PFAS” is pervasive nationwide — and of the more than 1350 sites that have been identified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) roughly half of them are on military installations, and the numbers are expected to rise once testing at Navy and Air Force installations is completed

Why This Matters:  Service members and their families did not sign up for this kind of preventable hazard when they joined the military — fighting in conflict is, of course, life-threatening, but simply living on a military installation should not be.  And the fact that President Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto any legislation that comes to his desk that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate PFAS shows his callous disregard for the safety and well-being of our service members and their families.  

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The Clean Water Act Has Been Drained

The Clean Water Act Has Been Drained

By Monica Medina, Founder and Publisher, Our Daily Planet The fall of 2019 will be remembered for the Ukrainian scandal and the impeachment investigation.  But for many Americans, this should be remembered as the time when our nation’s clean water crisis became crystal clear.  This is not just a Flint problem.  It is a national […]

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As Many as 100 Million Americans Likely Have PFAS in their Drinking Water

As Many as 100 Million Americans Likely Have PFAS in their Drinking Water

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) updated its database and interactive map on where toxic fluorinated chemicals or “PFAS” have been detected based on the latest state and federal data and the numbers are alarming.  Nationwide, PFAS contamination is now found at 1,361 locations in 49 states — and in a variety of sources including community water systems, groundwater sources, military bases, airports, and industrial sites. According to EWG’s analysis of unreleased EPA data, “more than 100 million Americans may have PFAS in their drinking water.”

Why This Matters:  Think twice before you drink water from a tap in much of the country.  Almost one-third of Americans may be drinking water with PFAS in it.  The EPA does not regulate this “forever” chemical that never breaks down once released into the environment, and that builds up in our blood and organs.

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Supreme Court Hears Clean Water Act Loophole Case

Supreme Court Hears Clean Water Act Loophole Case

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case about whether the Clean Water Act requires a permit for pollution from “point sources” — pipes and drainage ditches — that flows into a river or the ocean via another medium like groundwater or a wetland that is not covered by the statute. 

Why This Matters:  The stakes are high for both sides. The water treatment plant argues that it did not discharge directly into a navigable water — the ocean or a river — so it can’t be held responsible under the Act — a technicality, but one that they say protects many facilities like theirs from the high cost of treating discharges like these, as well as excusing homeowners whose septic tanks might leak.  Environmental groups on the other side say that if a polluter is allowed to discharge into another medium like groundwater and the pollution then ends up in a navigable water, it will create a huge loophole in the Act.

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Climate-Fueled Drought Fuels Uncertainty Around the World

Climate-Fueled Drought Fuels Uncertainty Around the World

While California’s 7-year drought was declared over, a rain-less October along with a NOAA report warning of a dry winter are fueling fears that the state’s water woes will be back once again.

As If Drought Wasn’t Enough: A new study from the journal Nature Geoscience predicts that as a result of climate change, at the end of the century plants could consume substantially more water, leaving less for people.

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Disposing of Toxic Coal Ash Is About To Get Easier

Disposing of Toxic Coal Ash Is About To Get Easier

Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced that it will significantly weaken two Obama Administration rules on the disposal of coal ash and on the disposal of contaminated water from coal plant operations — loosening both the timeline for compliance and exempting some plants entirely.  Under the prior rule, coal plants had to clean up their coal ash ponds by April of 2020 but now they can get up to 8 years more time.  There are serious consequences such as toxic pollutants seeping into groundwater just below the unlined coal ash disposal “ponds.”

Why This Matters:  This rollback is unconscionable – it puts at risk the health of millions of Americans — particularly minorities — who live near these coal ash ponds.

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Army Study Says Climate Change Threatens Mission Failure Due to Expanded Need for Water

Army Study Says Climate Change Threatens Mission Failure Due to Expanded Need for Water

A new study from the Army War College found that the “Army is precipitously close to mission failure concerning hydration of the force in a contested arid environment” and needs to “reinvest aggressively in technologies both in-house and commercial off the shelf in the next 5-10 years to keep pace with rising global temperatures, especially those arid areas in or poised for conflict.” 

Why This Matters:  This is not just a problem for years in the future — the military is already experiencing it today.  As we reported earlier this month, at a U.S. Air Force Base in Qatar, on hot days, servicemembers can only work for 10 minutes of each hour and they must drink 2 bottles of water during the same hour.   And NBC News and Inside Climate News reported last summer that an increasing number of service members are suffering from heat-related illnesses.

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Trump Administration Loosens Protections For Endangered Fish in California

Trump Administration Loosens Protections For Endangered Fish in California

The Departments of Interior and Commerce issued this week a new biological opinion under the Endangered Species Act that governs the division of water among, farmers, cities, and farmers in California, and the new opinion fundamentally changed the prior allocations in favor of more water for agriculture. 

Why This Matters: It appears that political leadership at both agencies pushed aside the agency scientists who were set to release a biological opinion that would continue the prior water allocation balance in order to protect the fish, and replaced them last summer with a hand-picked new group of lawyers, administrators, and biologists to “refine” and “improve” the rules, according to local NPR station KQEDCareer scientists in both agencies had been quite adamant about the water needs of the fish in my (Monica’s) past experience on these issues. 

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Oceans of Water for Drinking?

Oceans of Water for Drinking?

With less than 1% of the water on Earth safe and available for human consumption, we are rapidly approaching a global water crisis — today, one out of every three people does not have access to safe drinking water and by 2050, given climate change, that number is expected to be one out of two people.  Desalinisation of ocean water is increasingly being looked at as an option for countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia and Israel, but only because they are able to afford the expensive and energy-intensive process.

Why This Matters:  At current prices, even wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia cannot afford to keep increasing the amount of water it puts through the desalinization process — given the increasing demand for drinking water, cheaper alternatives to the current process are desperately needed.

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We’re Depleting Our Groundwater Faster Than Ever and What This Means

We’re Depleting Our Groundwater Faster Than Ever and What This Means

Water that’s stored in aquifers makes up the majority of accessible freshwater on Earth–it’s literally the lifeline for humans as 70% of groundwater use worldwide is used for agriculture. But, as Science News explained, “surface waters — rivers and streams — rely on groundwater, too. When people pump too much too quickly, natural waterways begin […]

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EPA Proposes New Rules for Getting Lead Out of Drinking Water – More Slowly

EPA Proposes New Rules for Getting Lead Out of Drinking Water – More Slowly

The Trump administration — after years of promising and more than 9 years of work by EPA — finally issued a proposed rule on lead in drinking water that does not require the removal of the estimated 6 million or more lead service lines that remain underground throughout the nation, and in fact, it doubles the amount of time allotted to replace lead pipes in water systems that contain high levels of lead.

Why This Matters:  They may try to put lipstick on this pig (sorry for the old pun), and it could have been worse, but when the Trump Administration brags that they put this rule in place, the question should be why did they not do more? This proposed rule is hardly sufficient to deal with the scope and the harm caused by lead in drinking water in this nation. 

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