Freshwater Weekly: May 28, 2021

Posted on May 28, 2021 by

May 28, 2021

THIS WEEK: Board Spotlight – Melanie Welch + Freshwater Future Spearheads Billion Dollar Ask to Ohio Legislature and Governor + Maryland Takes Positive Step with ‘Safe School Drinking Water Act’ + Studies Find PFAS in Breast Milk + COVID-19 Pandemic Shines a Light on Need for Safe, Clean, and Affordable Water

Board Spotlight – Melanie Welch

Time spent at Indiana Dunes as a youth sparked the interest in biology and the environment for Freshwater Future board member, Melanie Welch. Melanie is Deputy Director of the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office, where she develops national informal education programs and professional development opportunities for librarians and libraries of all types throughout the United States. Melanie is a veteran non-profit professional, with additional experience in outcomes-based work at museums and environmental organizations, including several years on staff with Freshwater Future. Click here to read more about Melanie.                                                                             

Freshwater Future Spearheads Billion Dollar Ask to Ohio Legislature and Governor

Freshwater Future and local partner Junction Coalition are spearheading a bold idea to ask the state of Ohio to utilize federal funds to remove toxic lead pipes in the state – a billion dollars worth. As a result, we are working with a diverse group of Ohio, Regional, and National organizations, representing medical, environmental, housing, and community interests, to request $1 billion of the proposed more than $5 billion the state of Ohio will receive in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to be dedicated to residential full lead service line replacements. These funds would supplement H2Ohio funding that is being used to replace lead service lines and fixtures in daycares and schools as well as other water infrastructure needs. Ohio is second in the nation for lead service lines at an estimated 650,000 lines. Read the full request here.

Maryland Takes Positive Step with ‘Safe School Drinking Water Act’

The efforts of many Maryland citizen action groups helped to move Governor Hogan to sign the ‘Safe School Drinking Water Act’. The legislation will require schools in Maryland to reduce allowable lead levels to 5ppb beginning June 1st. While zero lead in drinking water is the only safe level, this new regulation may be a step in the right direction in protecting children from the harmful effects of lead, as long as it doesn’t make people believe that 5ppb is safe – it is not.“EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels.

Study Finds Toxic PFAS in Breast Milk 

Recent research published in Environmental Science and Technology has found traces of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the breast milk of all 50 women studied in the Seattle area. Researchers found 16 different PFAS chemicals, ranging from 52 to more than 500 parts per trillion, in samples of breast milk tested. Evidence suggests that these women ingested PFAS through diet and indoor exposure. This research is further evidence among a growing body of studies that PFAS chemicals accumulate in our bodies and are toxic.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues to Shine a Light on Need for Safe, Clean, and Affordable Water

During the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions and closures meant most people were spending more time at home, shining a light on the essential need for clean, safe running water in every home. Since the height of the pandemic, congress has put more time and investment into the country’s dire need for water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades. An action long overdue, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act S.914, recently passing the Senate, is now waiting for House approval. This legislation will provide $35 billion in federal funding for local projects to upgrade our water infrastructure over five years. Although not nearly enough to fix the myriad problems with our water infrastructure and pricing across the country, we hope this is a first step in the federal government returning to a focus on helping to ensure basic human rights such as clean, safe and affordable water.


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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.