Interactive Map Shows If Your Tap Water Is Contaminated With PFCs
The known extent of the contamination of U.S. communities with PFCs continues to expand with no end in sight. PFCs, also known as PFASs, are highly fluorinated toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity and other health problems.
New research from Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University in Boston details PFC pollution in tap water supplies for 15 million Americans in 27 states and from more than four dozen industrial and military sources from Maine to California.
EWG and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern collaborated to produce an interactive map that combines federal drinking water data and information on all publicly documented cases of PFAS pollution from manufacturing plants, military air bases, civilian airports and fire training sites.
On the map, blue circles show public water systems where PFCs were detected in public drinking water systems – the larger the circle, the more people served by the system. Clicking on a circle brings up detailed information, including contamination levels. Red dots indicate a contamination site in Northeastern's PFAS Contamination Site Tracker. Clicking on a dot brings up detailed information and links to more information and resources from the Institute.
The map, which will be updated as more contamination is discovered, is the most comprehensive resource available to track PFC pollution in the U.S. New Jersey has the most known contamination sites with six, followed by Alabama and New Hampshire with five each and New York with four. Of the 47 locations where the source of the contamination is known or suspected, 21 sources are military bases, 20 are industrial facilities and seven are from civilian firefighting sites. Some locations have multiple sources of contamination. Ecowatch.com - 6/20/2017
Human Activity Ups The Risk Of Contaminating Valuable Groundwater
A study showed that the Earth's groundwater was polluted with chemicals found in present day rain water. The 12,000-year-old fossil water pollution was quite common and roughly half the reserves tested showed signs of contamination. Pollution levels are increasing each day with new air and water pollutants being emitted into the environment via automobiles and large scale factories. However, it was thought that at least underground water or groundwater was unaffected. A new study reveals that this may not be the case. Scientists have found a baffling trace of present-day rain water in one particular groundwater reserve.
Groundwater contains rainwater and molten ice, which seeps through the soil. Over time this gets deposited underground. This process takes thousands and sometimes even millions of years. For the study, the researchers collected samples of groundwater from a depth of 820 feet under the Earth's surface. The water at this level is known as "fossil", mainly because it is almost 12,000 years old. This fossil water was then tested and the researchers found traces of modern-day rainwater mixed with the ancient sample. The scientists mainly detected tritium — a radioactive isotope of hydrogen — which is generally found in human contaminated waters. It was once thought that the fossil water was impervious to the pollutants on the surface, but the study proved that groundwater pollution is a reality. Tech Times – 4/25/17
Workshop on Setting One International Standard for Desal Costs
The Middle East Desalination Research Centre (MEDRC) will hold an international workshop on ‘Desalination Costing Towards an International Standard’ at its Muscat, Oman headquarters April 11 and 12. The workshop will cover cost, research and development, regulatory framework, environmental impact and other issues involved with running a desalination plant. Dr. Jauad el Kharraz, head of research at MEDRC told the Muscat Daily, “The major goal is to develop a process for normalizing desalination costs to reliably compare costs from around the world. The main points to be discussed are: The best practices for reported desalination costs, R&D efforts for a lower energetic, economic, and environmental costs in desalination; regulatory framework and its impact on desalination costs; energy consumption and energy recovery systems in desalination plants (design, performance and economics); desalination capital expenditure and operating expenses and desalination project costs.” Muscat Daily_4/09/17
First study finds neonic pesticides in US drinking water
Small traces of the world's most widely used insecticides have been detected in tap water for the first time. Samples taken by scientists in the US state of Iowa showed that levels of neonicotinoid chemicals remained constant despite treatment. However drinking water treated using a different method of filtration showed big reductions in neonic levels. The use of neonicotinoids has increased rapidly since their introduction in the early 1990s. These systemic chemicals were seen as an advance because they are usually applied as a seed coating and are lethal to insects but not to other species. In the US, sales of seeds pre-treated with neonics tripled from 2004 to 2014. However concerns over their environmental impacts have also grown and they have been consistently associated with causing harm to bees. So great has the worry been, that there has been a moratorium on their use on flowering crops in the European Union since 2013. A study in 2015 from the US Geological Survey (USGS) found that neonics were widespread in water samples collected from 48 different rivers and streams in the US. BBC News 4-5-2017
Governor declares end to California’s five-year drought
Gov. Jerry Brown Friday declared an official end to California’s five-year drought thanks to near record rains last fall and this winter. Brown lifted drought emergency orders statewide except for a few San Joaquin Valley counties where dried-up wells still plague some communities. “This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.” During the drought, Californians were ordered to cut water use by 25 percent and learned to take short showers, flush less, stop expecting a free glass of water at restaurants and replace front lawns with cactus and other drought tolerant plants. Los Angeles Times 04/08/17
How the Water Industry Learned to Embrace Data
The water industry is using digital technologies and analytics to derive more value from its physical assets. The need for this sector to change and evolve could not be greater: The organizations that manage water supplies around the world are facing critical issues, and water scarcity is chief among them.
Because of changes in our lifestyles, including increased consumption of grain, meat, and cotton clothes, growth in water consumption per capita has doubled over the last century. And demand is increasing. According to a 2016 report from the UNEP-hosted International Resource Panel, water demand will outstrip supply by 40% by 2030. During the same period, according to the World Economic Forum, water infrastructure faces a huge $26 trillion funding shortfall. If not addressed, water scarcity will squeeze food and energy supply chains, and stall economic growth. Harvard Business Review- 3/27/17
In Pictures – World Water Day 2017
Some 650 million people, or one in 10 of the world’s population, do not have access to safe water, putting them at risk of infectious diseases and premature death. Dirty water and poor sanitation can cause severe diarrheal diseases in children, killing 900 under-fives a day across the world, according to United Nations estimates – or one child every two minutes. The Express Tribune 3/22/17
UN in push for universal access to clean drinking water by 2030
- 663 million people have no safe drinking water in or near their homes
- More than 2 billion do not own a toilet
- Almost 1 billion people don't use toilets
- Hundreds of children under age 5 die every day from sanitation-related illnesses.
On World Water Day, March 22, the U.N. will ask governments to spend the money necessary so that by 2030, all poor people can have what people in wealthier societies take for granted: uncontaminated water and working toilets in or near their homes. It’s unclear how much progress is possible. According to the World Bank, it could cost about $114 billion a year to reach the 2030 goal. Foreign aid, by itself, isn't expected to cover the cost. 3/17/17 FoxNews.com
Americans Prefer Bottled Water To Carbonated Soda
Americans now drink more bottled water than carbonated soft-drinks, amid concerns for health effects of sugary drinks, according to Industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp.
In a latest report, bottled water became the largest beverage category by volume in 2016 in the U.S., surpassing sodas.
In the country, total bottled water volume grew to 12.8 billion gallons last year from 11.8 billion gallons in 2015. Bottled-water consumption reached 39.3 gallons per capita, while carbonated soft drinks were at 38.5 gallons. However, soda still generated more revenue of $39.5 billion in retail sales last year, compared to $21.3 billion for water.Beverage Marketing projected that bottled water would hit the 50-gallon per-capita consumption mark by the middle of next decade, while carbonated soft-drink per-capita consumption had exceeded 50 gallons in 2006. AP/www.nasdaq.com_3/10/17
Around the U.S.
Tentative Plans to Truck 200,000 gallons of low-level radioactive waste from Vermont to Idaho
About 200,000 gallons of low-level radioactive waste water could be trucked from Vermont to Idaho under plans being considered by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The waste water comes from the Entergy Nuclear Operations’ Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, which closed in 2014. The water would be trucked to US Ecology Idaho’s site near Grand View, Idaho, about 40 miles south of Boise. The NRC didn’t say when it will make a final decision. AP/KTVB_4/07/17
Bottled Water News
Permit denial won't end Nestle water plant's bid for more water
A township planning commission's permit denial is not stopping a northern Michigan bottled water company's plans to expand and withdraw significantly more groundwater.
Nestle Waters North America officials, in a statement Wednesday, seemed to indicate the company will now consider other options for moving groundwater, after the Osceola Township Planning Commission on Tuesday denied a permit to install a proposed booster station to facilitate movement of the additional groundwater withdrawal the company is requesting. "The installation of the booster pump was preferable since it has less of an impact than the alternatives of either constructing a second water pipeline or using tanker trucks to transport the additional water," said Arlene Anderson-Vincent, natural resources manager for Nestle's Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water plant in Stanwood in Mecosta County.
The request has prompted vehement public opposition, with many particularly outraged that Nestle gets the groundwater for nothing more than a $200 per year DEQ permit. Detroit Free Press 4/19/2017
Contaminated Drinking Water
Last resort: Halifax-area resident first Nova Scotian prosecuting companies for water contamination
Marlene Brown doesn’t know what’s coming out of her tap, but she knows it isn’t good. The Harrietsfield resident has been fighting to have clean water for more than a decade. The now-closed nearby construction debris recycling facility, RDM Recycling, has been leaking dangerous contaminants like uranium and cadmium into the groundwater, seeping into Brown’s and other people’s wells.
In addition to the contamination, Brown said the wells haven’t been tested since Water Monitoring Program stopped looking at the water of 18 Harrietsfield homes in December 2015. For over a year, Brown hasn’t known the extent of what’s contaminating her water. Despite an order from the province in 2010, a cleanup still hasn’t happened.
Brown walked in to Halifax provincial court on Wednesday morning with East Coast Environmental Law (ECELAW) members, and lawyer Jamie Simpson to lay charges against the companies she says are polluting her water, in what she called a last resort since government hasn’t taken action. This is the first time private prosecution has been used in Nova Scotia to enforce environmental laws. The group said the cleanup is estimated to cost $10 million. Halifax Metro – 4/26/17
Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water May Reach More Than 6,000 Residences in Pittsburgh: KDKA
More than 6,000 Pittsburgh homes or apartments may unknowingly be receiving lead-contaminated drinking water because of untested water service delivery lines, according to an investigation by television station KDKA. Replacing the city’s lead-contaminated lines is moving slowly and it will be up to home and apartment owners to pay for new lines connecting their buildings to new city lines, which can be very expensive. Alex Thompson, chairman of the Pittsburgh water system, said the law has to be changed so public workers can replace the complete lines. Currently, they aren’t allowed to work on private property. KDKA/CBS Pittsburgh_3/3/17
Graphene holds up under high pressure
Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive.
A single sheet of graphene, comprising an atom-thin lattice of carbon, may seem rather fragile. But engineers at MIT have found that the ultrathin material is exceptionally sturdy, remaining intact under applied pressures of at least 100 bars. That’s equivalent to about 20 times the pressure produced by a typical kitchen faucet. The key to withstanding such high pressures, the researchers found, is pairing graphene with a thin underlying support substrate that is pocked with tiny holes, or pores. The smaller the substrate’s pores, the more resilient the graphene is under high pressure. The MIT team’s results, reported today in the journal Nano Letters, serve as a guideline for designing tough, graphene-based membranes, particularly for applications such as desalination, in which filtration membranes must withstand high-pressure flows to efficiently remove salt from seawater. MIT News- 4/24/17
Israel estimates 96% of Gaza water undrinkable
Israel warns a water crisis in the Gaza Strip is rapidly worsening and urges the international community to take urgent action. In a letter to international aid organizations, representatives of the international community in Israel, and Israel's foreign ministry, the defense ministry's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) estimated some 96 percent of water in the Gaza Strip is now undrinkable after the collapse of the enclave's main aquifer, Israel's Army Radio reported Sunday. It was the second such warning issued by COGAT head Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai over the past six months. Mordechai asked international aid organizations to advance projects to alleviate the crisis, such as the establishing desalination plants in the Strip. i24news 04/09/17
Graphene-based sieve turns seawater into drinking water
A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater. The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water. The promising graphene oxide sieve could be highly efficient at filtering salts, and will now be tested against existing desalination membranes. By 2025 the UN expects that 14% of the world's population will encounter water scarcity. As the effects of climate change continue to reduce urban water supplies, wealthy modern countries are also investing in desalination technologies.
"This is our first demonstration that we can control the spacing [of pores in the membrane] and that we can do desalination, which was not possible before. The next step is to compare this with the state-of-the-art material available on the market," said Dr Nair. "The ultimate goal is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or wastewater with minimal energy input."
BBC News – 4-3-17
Doosan Heavy Wins $422.05M Seawater Desalination Deal in Saudi Arabia
Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co., the world’s largest provider of seawater desalination solutions, has succeeded in winning a 470 billion won (US$422.05 million) seawater reverse osmosis desalination (SWRO) plant construction deal in Saudi Arabia. Doosan Heavy announced on March 29 that it has signed a contract with Saudi Arabia's Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) to construct the nation’s largest SWRO plant in Shuaibah, 110 km south of Jeddah, on the coast of Red Sea.
Under the deal, the company will complete the construction of the plant as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor. Once the facility is completed, it will process 400,000 tons of sea water into fresh water a day, which can be consumed by 1.3 million people at the same time, and supply it to western Saudi Arabia. BusinessKorea.co.kr 3/30/17
3D Printing Offers Possible New Efficiencies to Water Desalination
Researchers at the University of Bath (England) Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering (CASE) have focused on the potential for using additive manufacturing (3D Printing) to improve on separation membrane engineering with the hopes of creating more precise designs than current fabrication methods allow.
Additive manufacturing of membranes for water desalination would offer a number of advantages in the design of membrane structures customized to reduce fouling by selectively channeling the feed towards particular parts of the membrane. Designnews.com 3/23/17
Jordan and Saudi join forces for atomic-fueled desalination
Saudi Arabia and Jordan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a feasibility study on two nuclear reactors in Jordan, to generate electricity and for desalination, reports Zawya.
Jordan is believed to have uranium reserves, and wants to build a nuclear reactor to power the proposed Red Sea-Dead Sea project, for which five consortia were shortlisted in November 2016. The scheme proposes to pump seawater 230 meters uphill, from the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba and the through the Arava Valley to the Dead Sea. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Jordan has received 657,000 registered refugees from the conflict in Syria as of 15 March 2017. The influx has put severe stress on the country’s already scarce water resources. Desalination.biz- 3/29/17
Growers Oppose Desal in Drought-stricken Area of South Africa
Desalination is one of the last options a South Africans regional government leader said will be considered in a drought-stricken province. Dam levels are below 35% in the Western Cape area. Growers in the area which supplies much of Cape Town’s fresh produce said the government should concentrate on preserving the aquifer. EWN_2/16/17
Neighbors Create a Water Supply in Combat-Battered Mosul Iraq
More than three months of street fighting wrecked the water and sewage systems in eastern Mosul but neighbors pulled out their shovels, sledge hammers, drills and other tools to dig their own wells. New York Times_2/16/17
Treating wastewater wastes energy, but it doesn't have to
Wastewater treatment plants are energy hogs. A 2013 study by the Electric Power Research Institute and Water Research Foundation reported that they consumed about 30 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or about 0.8 percent of the total electricity used in the United States. Wastewater treatment’s high energy footprint is ironic because the organic matter in wastewater contains up to five times as much energy as the treatment plants use, according to the American Biogas Council (PDF). Reducing treatment plants’ energy footprints through energy efficiency and using the currently wasted energy could save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite all that energy seemingly there for the taking, reducing the fossil fuel demand of treatment plants is challenging and requires myriad approaches. Around the world, the industry is experimenting with new technologies, evaluating them for not just energy benefits but also cost and unintended consequences, such as additional waste streams to be managed.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has set a target to be energy-neutral by 2023, following the lead of plants in the United Kingdom, Denmark and the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland, California, which has moved beyond net-zero energy to actually selling energy back to the grid. These innovators are using a variety of technologies to reduce the electricity they use through energy efficiency and to generate electricity onsite to offset what they do use. Greenbiz.com 4-3-2017
Bringing Water to Kenya’s Drought-stricken Wildlife
Herds of elephants, buffalo and zebras know what it means when they spot the blue tanker truck. They even can tell about what time it will arrive. Kenyan pea farmer Patrick Mwalua couldn’t bear the sight of weak and thirsty animals in a drought-stricken wildlife sanctuary in southern Kenya. So, for six months he’s delivered life-saving water to the herds.”We are the voice of the animals,” he says. AFP/Daily Mail 3/4/17
World Water Day, March 22
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Research & Technology
Research & Reports from Around the World
- Environment Maryland report on Chesapeake Bay watershed pollution Oct. 2009
- Chloride from deicing in northern U.S. streams full report and maps; USGS Sept. 2009
- Utah-Nevada Snake Valley water sharing draft agreement; August, 2009
- Federal court 97-page decision in Alabama, Florida, Georgia water sharing case; July 17, 2009
- EPA Fact Sheet and list of 44 'high hazard' coal ash waste dumps'; June 30, 2009
- Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States; U.S. Global Change Research Program, June 16, 2009
- Sustainable water deliveries from the Colorado River in a changing climate: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April, 2009
- An Antarctic ice shelf disappears: USGS April 2009
- 2007 Drinking Water Needs Survey and Assessment: EPA March 2009
- USGS Study Pollutants in Private U.S. Water Wells, March 2009
- California Department of Water Resources report on earthquake & flood hazards to state water system; March 2009
- "Water Scarcity and Climate Change," a report commissioned by Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors; author Jason Morrison, of the Pacific Institute, February 2009
- 2004 EPA study of hydraulic fracturing
- 2008 State of the Potomac River: Potomac Conservancy
- “Hidden Reservoir: Why Water Efficiency is the Best Solution for the Southeast:” American Rivers Oct. 2008
- Disinfecting wells following an emergency
from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Click here for a PDF of well water contaminents data. CDC_9/26/08
report without the charts and photos, click here.
WaterWebster.org original news stories and features