drinking water

California’s water board hit with civil rights complaint over tainted water

A coalition of public interest groups filed a civil rights complaint against California’s top water board last week, accusing the agency of perpetuating environmental racism along the state’s Central Coast. According to the complaint, the region’s agricultural industry has contaminated Latino farmworkers’ drinking water with dangerous levels of nitrates, and the State Water Resources Control Board is partly to blame.

‘Forever chemicals’ in 45 percent of U.S. tap water

Researchers conducting the first broadscale test for so-called PFAS in private and public water supplies found the so-called forever chemicals in 45 percent of the nation’s tap water, said the U.S. Geological Survey on Wednesday. The agency said PFAS were far more likely to be detected in tap water in urban areas than in rural America.

Supreme Court restricts federal protection of wetlands

In a decision that will narrow federal protection of wetlands, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the 1972 clean water law applies only to marshy areas with “a continuous surface connection” to streams, oceans, rivers, or lakes. “Today’s ruling is a profound win for property rights and the constitutional separation of powers,” said the Pacific Legal Foundation, which argued the case for a couple blocked from building a home in northern Idaho. (No paywall)

House will try to override Biden on protecting wetlands

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.

Biden vetoes GOP attempt to overturn WOTUS rule

Agriculture is better off with the administration's "waters of the United States" rule than it would be without it, said President Biden in a veto statement last week.

EPA ‘forever chemicals’ regs could cost communities billions, experts say

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.

Republicans try congressional path to repeal WOTUS

In a long-shot tactic, Republicans in the Senate and House pressed on Thursday for a vote to overturn the Biden administration’s Waters of the United States rule, which spells out the upstream reach of water pollution laws. It was the third WOTUS rule to be issued in less than a decade. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in coming weeks on an Idaho case that would greatly limit federal protection of wetlands.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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