Presidents almost always prevail when they veto legislation; there have been only 20 overrides in the 45 years since Gerald Ford left office. So Republican leaders in Congress face an uphill struggle against the Biden administration's "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) regulation. Nonetheless, the House could vote as early as Tuesday in a rematch with President Biden.
The Environmental Protection Agency is due to announce enforceable regulations on the amount of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of thousands of chemicals collectively known as PFAS, allowed in drinking water. Those rules, which could be announced as early as today, could end up costing communities around the country nearly $40 billion to implement, according to the Associated Press.
In a report released Wednesday, Food & Water Watch found that agricultural corporations have used California's outdated water rights system to their advantage and expanded their most water-intensive operations, even as some rural communities have run out of water completely. (No paywall)
An estimated 2.2 million people in America are water-insecure, and that's almost certainly a huge undercount, explains Lela Nargi in FERN's latest story. Yet the issue "is not even on most public health professionals’ radar, although recent water disasters in Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi, are starting to change that."
In the Central Valley, Allensworth holds the distinction as the first town in California founded by African Americans, but it has been battling for water access for more than a century. Now, initiatives are underway that may finally ensure it has access to safe drinking water, reports Teresa Cotsirilos in FERN's latest story, produced in partnership with KQED's The California Report.
Modernizing a crumbling 19th-century irrigation system in Colorado and building spawning habitat for salmon downstream from thirsty California farms are among the nature-based projects in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill designed to help western states cope with drought.
The Supreme Court opened the door to a possible revision of wetlands regulations by agreeing to decide whether Michael and Chantell Sackett can build a house in the Idaho panhandle. Justices will hear the case even though the Biden administration is writing a new definition of the upstream reach of the Clean Water Act.
Fruit and vegetable growers would be required to conduct annual assessments of their water supplies to identify and mitigate threats of contamination for their crops under a rule proposed by the FDA on Thursday. The assessments would replace a requirement that growers conduct tests of water quality.
Shortly after telling senators that he wanted a "long-term, durable solution," EPA administrator Michael Regan said on Wednesday that the Biden administration would write a new definition of the upstream reach of clean water laws. The process would include repeal of the 2020 Trump-era rule that replaced 2015 Obama water regulations the farm sector decried as federal overreach.
General Mills, ADM, Cargill, McDonalds, and The Nature Conservancy are among 10 companies and nonprofit organizations that are forming a national market by 2022 to incentivize the adoption of farming practices that build soil carbon and improve water conservation.
President Trump announced a plan to roll back Obama-era clean water regulations that aimed to protect rivers and streams from agricultural runoff and other pollutants. It will remove vast wetlands and thousands of miles of waterways from federal protection.
More than 200 of Iowa’s community water systems struggle with agricultural runoff, periodically issuing “Do Not Drink” orders because of high levels of nitrates. “The good news is that researchers have a pretty good handle on how to solve Iowa’s water problem,” reports Elizabeth Royte in FERN’s latest story, with National Geographic. (No paywall)
Lake pollution has largely remained unchanged since 1990, despite expanding agriculture, urban development and climate change, says a study of 3,000 lakes in the Midwest and eastern states. Seven percent of the lakes in the study saw increases in phosphorus — a common component of farm runoff that’s implicated in toxic green-algae blooms. Nine percent of those lakes saw improvements.
The EPA will provide clarity to the reach of the clean water law with its revisions of the so-called Waters of the United States that was proposed by the Obama administration and blocked by court challenges, said administrator Scott Pruitt in a Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette interview. Pruitt said the new rule would be “objectively measured and traditional in its view of how we should measure waters of the United States.”