Freshwater Weekly: August 26, 2020

Posted on August 26, 2020 by

August 06, 2020

This week: U.S. EPA Weakens Rules for Toxic Waste Ponds for Coal-fired Power Plants + New York Adds Water Safeguards To Remove Emerging Contaminants + Action Request–Ask Legislators to Include Water Service in COVID Relief Package + Apply for a Freshwater Future Grant Today

U.S. EPA Weakens Rules for Toxic Waste Ponds for Coal-fired Power Plants

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted rules that  favor electric utilities extending the use  of toxic coal ash ponds for decades. A recent assessment found 91 percent of the ponds are leaching contaminants into drinking water and groundwater. The new regulations are filled with loopholes; some coal ash ponds will remain until 2038 though the initial cleanup deadline was set for 2021. With majority coal ash ponds surrounding Environmental Justice communities, who regardless of race, color, national origin or income are entitled to equal protection from environmental harms and risks, will face health consequences.

New York Adds Water Safeguards For Some Emerging Contaminants

Testing standards are raised in New York to address three emerging contaminants found in drinking water – PFOA, PFOS (“forever chemicals”), and 1,4-dioxane. All water systems are required to test for these harmful chemicals and remove them from the drinking water if above the new standards (10 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS and 1 part per billion for 1,4-dioxane). Although we understand there is more to be done around the many other emerging contaminants, Freshwater Future applauds all the organizations and community members that worked to improve regulations on water quality.

Comparison Chart of State and Canadian Protections

Take Action:  Ask Legislators to Include Water Service in COVID Relief Package

Handwashing is our first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19, and access to clean and safe tap water is a basic human need to protect individuals, families and communities. Please urge your Congresspeople to include the following in the COVID relief package:

  • A national moratorium on water shutoffs and the restoration of residential water services;

  • $50 million in grants to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 in environmental justice communities;

  • $12.5 billion in grants to restore or keep water access for communities facing shut offs or toxic water; and

  • $35 billion in funding for waste and drinking water utilities for infrastructure improvements that could create up to nearly one million jobs across the country.

No one should have to worry about how they will wash their hands and masks, cook their food, and get their drinking water. Please take action today.

Apply for a Freshwater Future Grant Today

For 25 years, Freshwater Future has provided grants to community and grassroots groups supporting advocacy efforts to protect or improve drinking water, rivers, lakes, wetlands, shorelines, and groundwater in the Great Lakes region. Check-out Freshwater Future’s 2020 grant opportunities guidelines to see if your organization is eligible. The deadline for Fall Project grant applications is September 30, 2020. Want to learn more? Join us for an informal webinar on August 19, 2020 at noon, register here.


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