Archive for the 'Protecting America’s Waters' Category

Supporting Fenceline Communities

Vernice and Rosanna

Vernice and Rosanna

By Rosanna Esparza, Kern County Organizer

Clean Water Board Member, Vernice Miller-Travis and I spent a day in Bakersfield, CA with organizers and representatives of U.S. EPA Region 9, Central CA Environmental Justice Network and Global Community Monitor at a workshop examining community-based air monitoring projects and the importance of quality assurance plans.

The workshop identified ways for community partners and regulatory agencies to work together, learn more about Bucket Brigade Projects and understand each others’ priorities and needs.

Clean Water Action received a grant from the New World Foundation to conduct a feasibility pilot project to evaluate the establishment of community air monitors for collection of neighborhood-level air pollution data and to evaluate the use of this monitoring data to conduct targeted air sampling of specific chemicals.

Collaborators on the project: Residents of the community of Lost Hills, CA, University of Washington, the California Environmental Health Tracking Program, Kern Environmental Enforcement Network and Earthworks.

By collecting this data we hope to enable residents and other concerned stakeholders to better characterize air pollution in the community and to use this information to support actions to reduce hazards and exposures along the fence line of oil and gas production.


The Animas River Spill: A Legacy of Unchecked Pollution

Via La Plata County Emergency Management

Via La Plata County Emergency Management

By Sara Lu, Colorado State Director

Last weekend, I was heartbroken as I watched the Animas River turn orange. For those of you who have not had the occasion to visit the Animas River or drive through some of its mountain towns like Silverton, simply driving by can seem as though you are inserting yourself into a John Fielder or Ansel Adams photo. The rugged mountain vistas, situated above vast groves of aspen and evergreen trees, and the floor of wild flowers and mosses. Countless hours are often spent rafting and fishing the Animas river.

While the spill is dramatic, waste leaking from abandoned mines (also known as tailings) into our rivers and streams is a reality in across the west. The Animas River has seen blowouts and every day contamination from mining for more than a century. As recently as 1991, there were no fish in the river near Silverton. After a cleanup effort (in lieu of a Superfund designation), the fish returned by the early 2000’s. Then they were wiped out when acid mine drainage began leaking from Gold King, again. Read the rest of this entry »

Canvassing for Green Infrastructure in Providence

By Janice Gan, Rhode Island Summer Intern

RI interns canvassingI lift my hand to knock on the first door and pause, wondering. Will this be as easy as it was in Maine? Will I have to break out my Spanish for the first time in months? Will they even hear my knock, or will my three raps be too sharp to invite an answer?

I’ve spent the past two weeks canvassing several West End neighborhoods with the TRI-Lab green infrastructure (GI) team, trying to determine people’s receptiveness to vegetation-based flooding solutions. We’d mapped out some hot spots (both literally, and in terms of paved-surface percentage) in order to pinpoint good potential areas for GI projects, and now we are knocking on 200-some doors to figure out just how welcome such projects would be. Read the rest of this entry »

Facing global issues with community based work

By Andrew Van, Rhode Island Summer Intern

The West End of Providence was a treasure trove of potential when I first walked through it, vacant lots occupied every street, curbs were wide and dilapidated and unused impervious surfaces were abundant: the ideal community for green infrastructure. My imagination ran wild; I would walk around and envision small rain gardens or massive pedestrian refuges in the streets. I was full of optimism; I had high hopes for the community and believed that we could make a real difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Feet First on Water

Kids Get It image for blogBy Susan Eastwood, Connecticut Communications Manager

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a group of fifth graders at the IB School in West Hartford, CT who had chosen to study water issues. They invited me to address some tough questions – “Why should we save water when we have plenty of clean water? How does this help those who are without adequate water supplies? Will using more or less water in West Hartford make any difference? “

This made me think. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth saves several gallons of water, but how will that help women and girls in Botswana who must walk miles for a bucket of water for their families? Good question! It is very true that you can’t ship our extra water overseas! Read the rest of this entry »

Fracking: It’s Complicated and Industry Would like to Keep It That Way

Oil and Gas Operations

Oil and Gas Operations

By John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator, @noel_johnny

Last month two reports were released highlighting the nuances that don’t appear in oil and gas industry PR campaigns. First, is the conventional idea that fracking always occurs far below the surface many miles beneath any aquifer. This separation between the actual fracking of the rock and aquifers, we are told, is the key to protecting potential sources of drinking water. However, a new study from Robert Jackson and his Stanford research team indicates that not all fracking takes place deep underground. In fact, 16% of all the wells analyzed in FracFocus are fracked under one mile from the surface. This is unsettling because the volumes of water and chemicals used to frack a shallow well are virtually “indistinguishable” from the volumes used in deeper wells. Naturally, we expect there be a more rigorous set of drilling and monitoring requirements for these little known shallow frack jobs, but alas there are not. In reality only two states have tailored requirements for shallow wells. Read the rest of this entry »

EPA’s Clean Power Plan is Here and That is Good for Everyone, Yes, Everyone


By John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator, @noel_johnny

Today the Obama Administration finalized EPA’s long awaited Clean Power Plan. The groundbreaking rule aims to reduce carbon pollution from existing coal plants by 32% over the next 15 years. The Plan provides flexibility for each State to meet its emission reduction targets and is packaged as a three-pronged opportunity. An opportunity for States to meet their emissions reduction targets by investing heavily in renewable energy and kick starting the local clean energy economy which goes hand in hand with a sustainable energy future. States have an opportunity to reduce consumer electricity bills with new efficiency measures. Lastly, the Plan is an opportunity for States to reduce public health hazards of power plant pollution, which contributes to asthma, heart attacks and premature deaths. Read the rest of this entry »

The Interns of Clean Water

The Interns of Clean Water

The Interns of Clean Water

By Adriana Diaz, Florida Intern

The interns of Clean Water come from all parts the country, working together to protect our environmental well-being and quality of life. These interns work in offices in every region of the nation. We have students engaged in this organization in California, Florida, Michigan, Massachusetts, Washington DC, and more. Each participant has their own set of background that they bring to the Clean Water family, ranging from their diverse genders and ethnicities to their university and area of study. These students work on various projects and campaigns all over the Clean Water board. Some work on public outreach and relations, while others put their efforts towards mapping, data analysis, political campaigns, and environmental justice. Clean Water Action has a wide variety of projects, campaigns, and other structures of experience to ensure every intern is improving their skills in a desired area. While Clean Water benefits these interns, the interns also further the organization by bringing in diversity, dexterity, and a strive towards a common goal of greatness.


To inquire more information about the internship program and how you can become a member of the Clean Water Team, email

Turning Back the Clock on Toxic Protections

By Jennifer Peters, Water Programs Director – Follow Jennifer on Twitter (@EarthAvenger)

Later today Congress will vote on yet another giveaway to big utilities and coal companies. H.R. 1734, the misleadingly named Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation of 2015 would turn back the clock on critical protections to keep communities safe from harmful coal ash pollution. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium and numerous other toxic chemicals. This dangerous bill is an insult to the many communities around the country that have been devastated by a coal ash spill or have had their drinking water contaminated. This bill is so horrible that the White House has already issued a veto threat. Read the rest of this entry »

Help Us Support EPA Proposal to Put Drinking Water First When it Comes to Drilling Wastewater

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director – Follow Lynn on Twitter (@LTCWA)

Put Drinking Water First

Put Drinking Water First

Yesterday in one of my favorite blogs (This Day in Water History), I learned that in 1916 drinking water service lines were required to be made of lead. That’s right. The lead pipes that plague us today were actually required because some pipes made of ot

her materials were springing leaks frequently and causing all sorts of havoc. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’m interested in how we can prevent things like the lead pipe problem now. Are we making choices today about materials use and public health threat (not just in drinking water systems) that will lead to similar public health and infrastructure challenges? One thing we can do is to act on early warnings. If you are not familiar with the Late Lessons from Early Warnings reports by the European Environmental Agency, you might find them illuminating.

Another thing we can do is Put Drinking Water First. If we consider potential impacts on drinking water when making decisions about upstream activities, we will not simply protect public health and our drinking water sources but also make the most efficient and wise choices. That’s definitely true of an EPA Clean Water Act proposal about wastewater from fracking and other “unconventional” oil and gas drilling activities. EPA is proposing that this wastewater not be allowed to be disposed of in sewage treatment plants. Among the reasons is the potential impact on drinking water downstream when pollutants pass through the sewage treatment plants, which aren’t designed to handle the contaminants found in oil and gas wastewater. Read the rest of this entry »

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