Minnesota must admit it has a serious water-quality problem

It’s nearly a decade since Minnesotans passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, voting in the midst of a deep recession to pay additional taxes primarily to protect the state’s endangered waters. It’s time for something dramatic to happen again, only this time it’s not so much additional money that our water resources need — it’s water management reform.

The Trump administration has dismissed academic leadership from an Environmental Protection Agency scientific review board and has proposed serious financial cuts to state environmental programming. That should signal that we, as Minnesotans, have to take responsibility for our own environment. After all, the federal EPA has been the major engine providing state and local governments with money, mandates and threats to better safeguard ecosystems, especially air and water. Now, that role seems to be seriously fading out. We need to step up.


Rome facing water rationing as Italy suffers driest spring for 60 years

Scarce rain and chronically leaky aqueducts have combined to put Romans at risk of drastic water rationing as soon as this week.

Sky TG24 TV meteorologists noted on Sunday that Italy had experienced one of its driest springs in some 60 years and that some parts of the country had seen rainfall totals 80% below normal. Among the hardest-hit regions was Sardinia, which is seeking natural disaster status.

Farmers’ lobby Coldiretti last week estimated €2bn ($2.3bn) worth of damage had been done to Italian agriculture so far. Dairy farmers are lamenting drops in milk production. Among those suffering are farmers growing canning tomatoes in the southeastern region of Puglia, wine grapes throughout much of Italy and those cultivating olives – all signature crops for the nation


Cancer-Causing Chemical TCP Plagues California Drinking Water

ARVIN, Calif. — In the Central Valley of California, hundreds of wells that provide water to a million people are tainted with a chemical that some experts say is one of the most powerful cancer-causing agents in the world.

The state is poised to take the first step Tuesday to regulate the substance — called 1,2,3, TCP — but test data compiled by an activist group show it's also been detected by utilities across the country.

Some who live in this lush farmland believe it's to blame for the health problems of their family members and neighbors.


Pasco County testing drinking water after giant sinkhole brings contamination concerns

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - Pasco County is testing the drinking water in a neighborhood after a huge sinkhole opened up on Friday. The county says the reason it's doing the testing has nothing to do with physical health. 

The water inside the large 230-foot wide, 50-foot deep sinkhole is full of toxic debris. Contaminants, chemicals and sewage swirling in the water. The fear is that it's going to get into the groundwater. The neighborhood runs on well water. Which is precisely why the county is testing the drinking water on Monday.

Two families now left homeless. Teresa Villa is haunted by the sound of her home crumbling around her.


Their water poisoned, fed up residents demand answers about toxic fire foam

More than eight months after fire destroyed a flea market near Smiths Falls, Ont., the wells of a dozen nearby residents were poisoned with dangerous toxins, and questions still swirl about the regulation of firefighting foam commonly used to smother flames.

The Rideau Valley Marketplace — and everything inside — burned to the ground shortly after 5 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2016.

Through his front room window across Highway 43, Cory Read captured the destruction on video. Read, his wife, Elyse Smith, who was six months pregnant, and the couple's four-year-old daughter watched as firefighters from several rural departments struggled to contain the spreading flames.


Lake Erie algal bloom likely to be 1 of largest

GIBRALTAR ISLAND, Ohio — This summer's western Lake Erie algal bloom — barring unusually strong northeasterly winds or unforeseen biological factors within the lake — should not keep Toledo and other shoreline communities from continuing to produce high-quality tap water, officials said Thursday.

Still, it’s expected to be the third or fourth largest on record since NASA began aerial surveillance in 2002, The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and other agencies announced during their annual briefing with reporters at Ohio State University’s Gibraltar Island.


Tainted Water Near Colorado Bases Hints at Wider Safety Concerns

FOUNTAIN, Colo. — Volk Sanders burst into this world on June 7, a six-pound fuzz-headed ball of joy and his mother’s first child.

Days later, Volk’s mother learned that the well water she had consumed for years had been laced with chemicals that the Environmental Protection Agency associates with low birth weight, cancers, thyroid disease and more.

The aquifer that courses beneath this community in the shadow of five military installations showed traces of perfluorinated chemicals at up to 20 times the levels viewed as safe, environmental authorities said. A sudsy foam used for fighting fires on military bases was probably responsible, according to the Air Force, with the contamination perhaps decades old.


E. coli found in drinking water near 12th hole of U.S. Open

Traces of E. coli were found in the drinking water at the Erin Hills golf course in Wisconsin, according to the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department.

The bacteria hasn’t infected anyone at the major competition, the area health department said. Officials shut off the water at a hydration center — near the 12th hole — Thursday morning as a precaution.


Butler notifies state House of concerns over GenX toxins in drinking water

Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) is making fellow members of the General Assembly aware of the situation regarding toxins discovered in drinking water.

Butler sent a memo to all members of the state House on Monday night, titled “Exposure to Toxic Compound known as Gen-X, Cape Fear Watershed,” discussing the potential consequences of the toxin being discharged into the drinking water and asking lawmakers involved in budget discussions to fully fund the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to assist in the research into the toxin.

GenX is produced and being discharged into the water supply at a Chemours plant along the Bladen County line, upstream in the Cape Fear River.


Study finds toxic chemical in 162 US drinking water systems

It appears many Americans, possibly 15 million, are drinking tainted H2O, according to a study released by Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group.

The study found the toxic chemical PFC in 162 drinking water systems across the U.S. PFCs are often used in products like cookware and waterproof clothing.

The toxic chemicals are linked to health issues, including cancer and weakened immune systems. PFCs are not classified as a federally regulated water contaminant like lead or arsenic.


Alabama has second-most sites with PFC-contaminated drinking water in U.S.: Study

Alabama is tied with New Hampshire for having the second-highest number of sites where the drinking water supply is contaminated with a certain type of toxic chemical, according to a new study.

Though the federal government does not regulate the appearance of highly fluorinated toxic chemicals known as PFCs or PFASs in drinking water, the chemicals are linked to a range of maladies including cancer and thyroid disease.

And they were found in the drinking supply at five sites in northern Alabama, according to the research study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University, which was released Thursday.


Drinking Water for 15 Million Americans Is Contaminated With a Toxic Chemical, Report Finds

Drinking water for 15 million Americans in 27 states is contaminated with a toxic chemical that was used to make nonstick cookware, according to a new report released Thursday.

These chemicals, known as PFCs (perfluorochemicals), have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease and weakened immune systems. Even small concentrations in drinking water is considered a threat to public health, according to the report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University.

“It’s remarkable that the richest country on Earth can’t guarantee its citizens that their drinking water is completely safe and has no long-term health implications,” said Bill Walker, managing editor of the EWG in a press release.


The place in America where (almost) no one drinks their tap water

Inez and Tomahawk, Ky.—T.J. Fannin, sitting on his porch as the sun sets, speaks fondly of the 27 years he spent working in nearby coal mines. But despite the hard labor that fueled a coal boom and sent millions of dollars into Kentucky’s coffers, he says he and his neighbors lack a basic amenity: clean tap water. 

“[O]n the TV you see someone go to the faucet and get a drink of water, and it just makes me mad cause, you know, we can’t do that,” says Mr. Fannin, who buys two or three 24-packs of bottled water a month for drinking and cooking. “There’s an odor to the water…. It’s just like stagnant water [that] comes out of the bottom of a pool.”


Baltimore harbor water still gets failing grade, but less rain in 2016 shows potential

The Baltimore harbor water is still not swimmable or fishable, earning yet another failing great on the annual quality study, but less rainfall in 2016 shows tackling the sewage issues will go a long way to meeting the 2020 goal.

The Waterfront Partnership, in collaboration with Blue Water Baltimore, released the 2016 Healthy Harbor Report Card and again rated the overall health of the harbor as F. This is the fourth consecutive failing grade for the harbor following a change in data collection techniques from the first two years.


Op-Ed - The ludicrous plan to pump Mojave water to L.A.

In 1992, prospectors in Los Angeles hatched an idea for a new water supply that was improbable and speculative, even by Southern California standards. Far off in the Mojave Desert, beneath the flat dry lake bed of the Cadiz Valley, millennia’s worth of groundwater could be pumped and piped 43 miles to the Colorado River Aqueduct, the crown jewel of the Metropolitan Water District’s massive web of infrastructure. The water then could be sold to any of the 26 member agencies of the MWD. They called this scheme the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project, now known as the Cadiz project. It is owned by a publicly listed corporation, Cadiz Inc., which in 25 years has yet to turn a profit



Iowa water sensors show 2016 uptick in nitrates

LA PORTE CITY — If the doctor says you’ve got to lose weight for your health, you need to step on the scale once in a while, right?

Iowa is among states trying to reduce the amount of nitrates washing from farm fields into streams and rivers, where they can harm human health and are adding to the creation of an oxygen-deprived dead zone near the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico.

Iowa has more than 70 sensors deployed this year on streams and rivers across the state that measure nitrate loads and concentration so observers can tell whether water treatment plant upgrades, wetland improvements and agricultural conservation practices are working to reduce pollution.


[New Mexico] officials brace for water shortages

In all but one corner of New Mexico, water managers are projecting shortages in drinking and irrigation supplies given expected demand and variability in rainfall over the next few decades.

Like many places in the West, the arid state is recuperating from an unprecedented drought that peaked in 2013. The sting has yet to go away as a month of record-setting temperatures and little rain have left dry conditions across the eastern plains and parts of southern New Mexico.

Managers in the state’s 16 water planning districts have spent the past three years crunching numbers and analyzing historic data to help create a collection of plans that identify supply gaps and possible solutions.


Trucking water to Uganda's refugee camps

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees have fled violence and hunger in their home country for the safety of camps in northern Uganda. More than 50,000 of them now live in Rhino camp, a sprawling expanse of huts and tents scattered across dusty scrubland near the town of Arua.

Life in the camp is tough, but everyone seems to agree that one of the main challenges is water. There are no boreholes, and the few streams that flow through the area are often completely dry. When they're not, the water runs a deep chocolate brown.


Toxic water leaches into prime Alaska, Canada salmon habitat

The year the Tulsequah Chief Mine began polluting Alaska waters, a gallon of gas cost 31 cents, baseball great Jackie Robinson announced his retirement and the electric watch hit retail shelves for the first time.

Since 1957, a Canadian facility 40 miles from Alaska’s capital has leached toxic water into prime Alaska and Canada salmon habitat.

Mining officials have issued numerous pollution abatement orders to mine owners over the years, but none have stuck. In the meantime, Alaska environmental groups and salmon industry advocates have called for the B.C. government to clean up the mess themselves.


Acid waste, water could be next Superfund site on Coast


What should be done about the 732 million gallons of acid water and the mountains of waste that create them just east of Pascagoula? That was the topic of an Environmental Protection Agency meeting Thursday night.

Acidic gypsum, a byproduct from an environmentally troubled and failed fertilizer plant, is stacked 100 feet high, creating lakes on top and ponds around the base that are holding that much acid water.

For perspective, that’s more than five times the amount of crude oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from Deepwater Horizon in 2010.