drinking water

Why America’s food-security crisis is also a water-security crisis

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."

Experts stress importance of farmers in water conservation efforts

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.

Kansas pilots an unusual technique to save its reservoirs from soil erosion

Kansas officials are in talks with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers about piloting a technique known as "water injection dredging" to keep one of the state's drinking water reservoirs from filling up with sediment — which is partly the result of soil erosion from farm fields along stream banks. Tuttle Creek Lake, which supplies drinking water to a third of the state's population including Topeka and Manhattan, Kansas, is already more than 50 percent full of sediment. The issue has forced the state to address the problem, which is not uncommon in reservoirs around the country.

Report: agriculture runoff is leading cause of water pollution in the U.S.

Last week, water experts marked the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act with a dire warning: After evaluating over 700,000 miles of rivers and streams across the country, they concluded that half of those waters are too polluted to fish or swim in—and agriculture is often to blame.(No paywall)

Experts urge overhaul of California’s ‘antiquated’ water laws

As California enters its third year of drought, pressure is mounting for lawmakers to update the state’s antiquated water laws. On Thursday, a coalition of legal experts and retired state officials released a report with a list of suggested reforms, which they say would make California’s water politics more equitable and sustainable as climate change gets worse. If implemented — a major if — many of the reforms would provide a check on the state’s massive agricultural industry, which sucks up some 80 percent of all the water used in California.

Study: Nearly 400,000 Californians lack safe drinking water, often due to ag pollution

Drinking water for more than 370,000 Californians is contaminated with arsenic, nitrate, and other chemicals, according to an extensive analysis by researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA. In many cases, the state’s agricultural industry is to blame. (No paywall)

As drought worsens, California will halt nearly all water deliveries in 2022

In response to the West’s historic drought, California officials warned on Wednesday that cities and farms won’t get any water from the State Water Project next year unless it’s an emergency. The unprecedented decision will affect 27 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland. Unless a rainy winter offers a reprieve, officials say the state’s urban residents should also brace for mandatory water cuts.

Nitrate-tainted drinking water plagues California farmworker towns, study shows

California officials have long known that pollution from the state’s $50 billion farming industry fouls drinking water sources in poor Latino communities where many toil as farmworkers. Now a review of state and federal data shows the problem is getting worse. More than 5 million people in California’s largely Latino communities have nitrate levels in their drinking water at or above federal standards, says an analysis by the Environmental Working Group released Wednesday. (No paywall)

Algae blooms have cost at least $1.1 billion over past decade, says EWG

Potentially toxic algae blooms, which are caused by farm runoff and urban wastewater running into streams and lakes, have cost an estimated $1.1 billion over the past decade in the United States, and that "is almost certainly a significant undercount," said a report Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group.

Algae blooms linked to agricultural runoff choke waterways nationwide, says report

A new analysis from the Environmental Working Group reveals that state and federal testing of lakes and other bodies of water has found toxins from algae blooms in waterways in 48 states. The toxins, which sometimes make their way into drinking water supplies, can cause negative health outcomes ranging from skin rashes to serious illness or death.

Atrazine spikes in drinking water often go unseen, says report

Nearly 30 million Americans in 28 states “have some level of atrazine in their tap water,” says the Environmental Working Group in a report on the second-most widely used weedkiller in the country.

High costs for small towns to remove nitrate from drinking water

Some 1,700 U.S. communities have worrisomely high levels of nitrate in their water supplies, and two-thirds of those communities, serving more than 3 million people, have no treatment system to remove it, said an Environmental Working Group report released today.

Delaware community takes on big poultry, citing pollution

On Wednesday, a Delaware community near a Mountaire poultry processing plant gave the company notice that in 90 days it would sue the plant for polluting its drinking water.

EPA delays Obama’s WOTUS rule until 2020 while it writes its own version

President Trump set out to erase the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule in his first weeks in office. Now the EPA has finalized an action that should keep the so-called WOTUS rule from ever taking effect.

Toxic algae outbreak in Lake Erie is third worst in 15 years

The algal bloom in Lake Erie this summer, fed in part by agricultural runoff, was roughly the same size as in 2013, the third-most severe bloom in 15 years of federal records, said the Associated Press.

Iowa offers incentive to farmers who plant cover crops

Iowa, which has been embroiled in controversies over agricultural runoff and water-quality issues, has announced a novel program to give farmers who plant cover crops a $5-per-acre discount on their crop insurance over the next three years, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Action on farm runoff is needed to protect quality of rural tap water, says EWG

"Simple and familiar conservation practices, if applied in the right places," are key to reducing worrisome levels of nitrates and other types of farm runoff in the drinking water of rural communities, says the Environmental Working Group. In a report, "Trouble in farm country," the green group said stewardship of all working land should be a requirement for growers who want farm and crop insurance subsidies.

Worrisome levels of nitrate in drinking water for 7 million Americans

Seven million Americans who live in small cities and towns have worrisome levels of nitrates in their drinking water — below the federal limit of 10 milligrams per liter, but high enough to be associated with cancer in some studies, said an Environmental Working Group official. Craig Cox, head of EWG's Midwest office, said 1,683 communities had nitrate levels above 5 milligrams per liter and, when plotted on a map, they "crazily lined up with intensive agriculture."

Nestle, Coca-Cola and Smithfield top water sustainability list

On average, food companies improved their management of water by 10 percent compared to 2015, according to the report Feeding Ourselves Thirsty, published by the nonprofit investor coalition Ceres.

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