water pollution

Report: Pollution cleanup is falling short in Chesapeake Bay

With three years left to meet the goals of a “pollution diet,” the three major states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have greatly improved their wastewater treatment, though they still lag in three other areas, including reducing agricultural runoff, said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

As weather warms, algae blooms on waterways nationwide

With views of the Rocky Mountains, the occasional squadron of American white pelicans passing through, and a boardwalk for strolling, northern Colorado’s Windsor Lake is a popular destination for paddle boarding, kayaking, and swimming. But the lake is off-limits this week after city officials sampled the water and found concerning levels of blue-green algae, which can contain toxins harmful to humans, pets, and wildlife. (No paywall)

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)

Farm Bureau urges members to turn ‘energy and passion’ against clean water rule

The president of the largest U.S. farm group called for members to bring the "same energy and devotion when it comes to WOTUS" that they used last year to preserve a tax break on inherited property. President Zippy Duvall said the American Farm Bureau Federation also influenced legislation and USDA programs on climate mitigation to ensure that they "respect farmers."

Time running out for Chesapeake Bay cleanup

At their current pace, the three major states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, responsible for 90 percent of pollution in the bay, will miss their targets for reducing sediment and nutrient runoff by 2025, said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Wednesday. Maryland and Virginia need to step up efforts to address agricultural pollution, and "Pennsylvania remains far off track," the foundation said.

New crop insurance policy for ‘split-apply’ nitrogen

Corn growers in 11 states can apply for crop insurance coverage this year for a practice that reduces nutrient runoff, said the Risk Management Agency on Wednesday. The policy will cover yield losses if bad weather prevents growers from making multiple applications of nitrogen fertilizer during key parts of the growing season.

Biden administration ditches Trump water rule

The Biden administration said on Thursday it would re-establish the "waters of the United States" rule that was in place before 2015, a step that would repeal a narrow regulation written during the Trump era. The National Wildlife Federation said that "many streams and wetlands nationwide will regain undisputed protections."

Ag leaders seek Chesapeake Bay cleanup funds

The presidents of six state farm bureaus asked the USDA to share the cost with farmers of reducing sediment and nutrient runoff into Chesapeake Bay. "We are now at a critical stage in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup," with a 2025 deadline for reducing pollution, said the farm leaders in a letter.

Biden administration will replace Trump clean water rule

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.

Conservation group gives Chesapeake Bay a grade of D-plus

Most water quality measures are improving in the Chesapeake Bay but the overall grade of the 64,000 square-mile watershed remains a D-plus, said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in an annual report on Tuesday. Phosphorus and nitrogen runoff lessened in 2020 and the oxygen-depleted “dead zone” was …

When the West Coast wildfires are out, can mushrooms help with the cleanup?

When the worst wildfire season on record in the West finally subsides, it will give way to another potentially devastating environmental crisis: toxins from charred and melted plastics, electronics, and other household materials leaching into watersheds, endangering residents, agriculture, and ecosystems.(No paywall)

EPA says it will continue use of three weedkillers

The EPA added precautions to the use and handling for the weedkillers atrazine, simazine and propazine in deciding the herbicides can remain in use in the United States. Atrazine is used primarily in agriculture to kill weeds in corn, sorghum and sugarcane, but it also is used on golf courses and residential lawns.

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.

Churned by hurricane, ‘dead zone’ is one-third expected size

The fish-killing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this summer is the third-smallest in 34 years of surveys, reported scientists. At 2,116 square miles, the hypoxic region is about one-third the size of the forecast of 6,700 square miles.

Coronavirus forces California farmworkers to scramble for safe drinking water

Some 1 million residents of California farmworker communities have relied for years on bottled water because their tap water is tainted with nitrate and other agricultural pollutants. Now, as stores ration water to prevent hoarding during the coronavirus crisis, these residents are relying on friends and family, or driving many miles to bigger towns in search of water, reports Liza Gross in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)

Sarasota officials oppose EPA aquaculture pilot project

The city commissioners of Sarasota, Florida, decided Monday to send a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing an aquaculture pilot project that sought to farm fish about 45 miles off the city's coast. In the letter, signed by Sarasota mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch, the commissioners file "strong and formal opposition" to the project.

Across the country, a call grows for moratoriums on huge livestock farms

As the number of massive livestock farms balloons in states like Iowa, Maryland, and Nebraska, communities are scrambling to figure out how to control the pollution and waste produced by thousands — or tens of thousands — of animals. In some places, officials have opted to ban the mega-farms altogether, and the idea of a moratorium on the biggest animal farms is gaining support in local governments, statehouses, and even in Congress. (No paywall)

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