Freshwater Future Weekly: January 26, 2024

This Week: Urge the U.S. EPA to Protect Low Income Families from Lead; Meet One of our Fall 2023 Grantees: Pointes Protection Association; Spring Project Grants are Open! Does Your Water Group Need Funding?; Pennsylvania’s Water Privatization and Rising Rates Up for Debate
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Urge the U.S. EPA to Protect Low Income Families from Lead

Over the last few weeks, we shared information on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new draft Lead and Copper Rule, which regulates how water utilities test for, respond to, and prevent lead in drinking water. One of the new protections in the rule is that partial lead service line replacements are now banned! This means utilities will be required to replace the homeowner’s side of a lead service line rather than only the utility-owned portion. Partial replacements used to mean residents could be exposed to elevated lead in their drinking water. However, this new rule doesn’t require utilities to pay for full replacements, only to do this work. Our recommendation is that local water systems pay for the full service line replacement, otherwise, the lowest income customers will be disproportionately impacted financially and health-wise.

Will you speak out and ask the EPA to protect the health of all customers and require water systems to pay for full lead service line replacements? You can use Freshwater Future’s simple form to send comments urging the U.S. EPA to have the strongest possible Lead and Copper Rule. The end of the public comment period is fast approaching, on February 5 – don’t wait to send in your comments and share far and wide! 

Meet One of our Fall 2023 Grantees: Pointes Protection Association

In the spring and fall of each year, Freshwater Future awards project grants to grassroots organizations advocating on water issues in Great Lakes communities. The Pointes Protection Association, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario are testing for PFAS in the upper St. Mary’s River. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals due to their persistence in the environment, are associated with serious health conditions including cancer and liver damage. Unfortunately, PFAS contamination has been recorded near the Sault Ste. Marie airport and requests for testing information have gone unanswered for two years. The Pointes Protection Association is taking the health of their community’s drinking water into their own hands by testing for PFAS near the airport and drinking water source.

Spring Project Grants are Open! Does Your Water Group Need Funding? 

You’ve heard about Freshwater Future’s recent Fall grantees, could you be one of our Spring grant recipients? Our grant programs provide financial support for activities led by community groups working to promote drinking water, river, lake, shoreline, wetland, and groundwater protection in the Great Lakes Basin through grassroots advocacy efforts. We recommend that all those interested in applying call Freshwater Future staff to share more about your idea before submitting a project grant proposal. The Project Grants provide funding ranging from $500 to $5,000 (USD) for grassroots projects that promote water protection through advocacy efforts. Contact Laurie Breighner, or (231)348-8200 ext. 107, to check your eligibility, help with your application or to ask questions. You can learn more about our Spring Project Grants here and sign up to attend the Q&A Webinar on Thursday, March 14th from 12-1 pm Eastern Time. The deadline to submit your application is March 30th, 2024!

Pennsylvania’s Water Privatization and Rising Rates Up for Debate

A 2016 amendment to Pennsylvania’s public utility code (Act 12), faces scrutiny as critics argue it has enabled for-profit water companies to lure municipalities with short-term financial gains, resulting in long-term harm for ratepayers through increased water rates. A Pennsylvania senate hearing this month brought advocates and residents to discuss the law’s impact on rising water rates and proposed legislative changes. Many, including the advocates at Keep Water Affordable as well as Pennsylvania’s Consumer Advocate, called for repealing the amendment. Since the passing of Act 12, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission has approved 22 private water company acquisitions.