Archive for the 'Protecting America’s Waters' Category

Finally Managing Groundwater

By Jennifer Clary, California Program Manager

The California Legislature ended its 2014 session on Friday evening by adopting the first comprehensive groundwater regulation in the state’s 164-year history.  SB 1168 (Pavley) and AB 1739 (Dickinson) provide a framework for managing the state’s groundwater basins that will require management plans and potentially pumping limits in the state’s most heavily used basins.

There’s an old adage that says “water flows to money.” That is definitely the case with groundwater, as large cities, irrigation districts and corporate agriculture can afford to drill wells ever deeper to capture dwindling groundwater supplies.  The current drought, now in its third year, has brought this inequity to the forefront as groundwater levels have dropped precipitously in some parts of the state, causing groundwater-fed streams and small domestic wells to go dry. This means small farmers are losing their water supply to neighbors with a deeper well and more powerful pump.  Read the rest of this entry »

Where will you be on September 21st?

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director – Follow Lynn on Twitter

alt with dates bigger-01Climate change is impacting us. And it’s not good. Pollution from power plants and other sources is affecting our food…our air…our water. It’s super-sizing things like hurricanes and droughts. If we don’t take action, it’s only going to get worse. So, don’t you think it’s time we did something about it?

On September 21st, you’ll have your chance to demand action.

Tens of thousands of people and more than 750 organizations are going to New York City on 9/21 for the People’s Climate March. Leaders from all over the world are going to be at the United Nations’ Summit on Climate Change to chart a course of action to address the global warming crisis and we think they should hear from us. If you can make it to NYC, visit this page to RSVP.

We’re joining the People’s March because everything we’re fighting for is impacted by a changing climate, especially when it comes to our water. Just this month, we saw how the algae blooms in Lake Erie, which get worse when temperatures rise, can lead to public health threats in drinking water. Climate change is water change and if we want to protect clean water, we have to take action now. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Water Bond for California

By Jennifer Clary, California Program Manager

Earlier this week, the Governor and Legislature reached near unanimous agreement on a $7.54 billion water bond for the November 2014 ballot that responds to the state’s deepening drought conditions. This bond (now Proposition 1) replaces an extremely unpopular $11.14 billion bond that was placed on the ballot during the Schwarzenegger administration (2009). The public’s opportunity to vote on the 2009 bond measure was delayed by the Legislature twice (in 2010 and 2012) as polls repeatedly showed it lacked the support to pass.

Bond negotiations have been going on for more than a year. Early in the process, Clean Water Action rallied environmental allies and developed a unified list of priorities that any water financing bill must include. Specifically, our water bond position statement said that bond funding must:

  • Help communities with contaminated water obtain safe and affordable drinking water;
  • Make ecosystem protection investments in the watersheds that supply drinking water; and
  • Prioritize investment in local, sustainable water supplies, as opposed to large construction projects that move or store water

Read the rest of this entry »

Organizing for Clean Water

By Paula Weiner, Pittsburgh Phone Organizer
Legacy. That’s what first attracted me me to apply for a job with Clean Water Action.  While aiding others in the choice between a blue scarf and a purple one is important in its own way, I am finding that the ability to leave a lasting difference on our beleaguered planet is more rewarding than I could ever have imagined.  Being a canvasser is not an easy job,  especially when you consider what Clean Water Action is up against.
The people and companies responsible some of the most horrendous acts damaging the earth are well funded and deeply connected, so when I pick up the phone at Clean Water Action, one of my goals is to broaden the base of Earth’s stewards.
Our members run the gamut from school teachers and scientists, to students and nuclear-power-plant employees and everything in between. The most important thing is the care we all have for our solitary planet. Water is the most basic, fundamental necessity we have and I don’t know why it is so scary for the companies that wage war against us. No wait, I do know why: GREED.  That’s the bottom line sometimes, greed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Add Shallow Drinking Water to Fracker’s List of Favorite Things

By John Noël, National Oil and Gas Program Coordinator – follow John on Twitter

On the heels of a groundbreaking report on the oil and gas industry’s continued use of diesel fuel in its fracture fluid, comes another bombshell from two Stanford researchers in Wyoming. An LA Times exclusive indicates the researchers are completing a study in two geologic formations in the much heralded, Pavilion gas field. The results reveal that drillers were fracking IN formations containing underground sources of drinking water. IN being the key word.

Ever since the fracking saga broke into the mainstream, industry has continuously dismissed the public’s concern about the actual fracturing process on our sources of drinking water. They claimed that it is happening far below the surface with no chance of harming the pristine aquifers above. While lots of fracking does occur thousands of feet below the surface and under low permeability capstone rocks, this new research confirms that there are cases of fracking happening at incredible shallow depths of as little as 700-750ft. Which is far shallower than the “…four Empire State buildings stacked on top of each other (“approximately 6000 ft”) claimed by API – and wouldn’t even get you to the observation deck of the actual Empire State Building. Read the rest of this entry »

Still Fracking with Diesel After All These Years

By John Noël, National Oil and Gas Program Coordinator – follow John on Twitter

Today our allies at the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) released a groundbreaking report on the oil and gas industry’s use of diesel fuels in fracture fluids. As we’ve written before, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted hydraulic fracturing from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), except when diesel fuels are used. Even under intense industry pressure, Congress recognized the potentially toxic impacts from injecting diesel fuels underground. This process is alarming because of the toxic chemicals contained in diesel fuels, especially the “BTEX” compounds. “BTEX” compounds – benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene – are highly mobile in ground water and present an elevated threat when injected underground at high pressures. Health impacts associated with these chemicals include cancer, nervous system problems, kidney and liver problems and anemia.

The report appropriately sums it up, “To put this in perspective, a quarter teaspoon of benzene is enough to make an average swimming pool exceed the benzene MCL [Maximum Contaminant Level].” Not something you want anywhere near your drinking water. Read the rest of this entry »

Abbott’s Saber Rattling Prattle Against Protecting Our Water

By David Foster, Texas Director – Follow Clean Water’s Texas Campaign on Twitter

Sadly, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s August 11th letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threatening to sue if it does not retreat from its plan to strengthen protections for the sources of our drinking water is more about politics and ideology than public health. For Abbott, it does not matter that EPA simply wants to return protections back to where they were during the Clinton and Reagan administrations. It does not matter that its proposal is based on peer-reviewed scientific studies. It does not matter that the proposal would restore protections to headwater streams and wetlands that connect with the drinking water supply of 117 million Americans, including 11.5 million in Texas. It does not matter that 75% of stream miles dry up part of the year in our drought-prone state, and hence could lose protections if Abbott has his way. It does not even matter that EPA will not issue a final rule before 2015, at which time Abbott will no longer be in a direct position to sue, since he is resigning as AG to run for governor. Read the rest of this entry »

ReThinking Disposables

By Madison Davis, California Waste Program Intern

Since starting my summer internship at Clean Water Action in Oakland, I’ve discovered how little I really knew about how disposable containers’ impact our environment. Of course as a life long environmentalist, I’ve always tried to do what I could to limit my impact on our precious resources. Using reusable bottles over disposable ones has always been a given for me, but other disposable containers weren’t completely out of the question before I started working at Clean Water Action. For some reason our society has yet to recognize that single use products, such as fro-yo cups, to go containers or disposables offered at restaurants for dinning in, are just as bad for the environment as coffee cups. Read the rest of this entry »

Clean Water Action and American Sustainable Business Council Baltimore Press Conference

By Will Fadely, Baltimore Program Organizer

Protecting clean water is a cause that not only resonates with environmental types; it reverberates into the private sector too.

Clean Water Action (CWA) joined by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) took to Federal Hill Park for a press conference to announce their successful work and the results of their latest poll, last Thursday morning.

The podium and a colorful display of children’s “protect clean water” drawings were set in front of the Baltimore Harbor, where in 2010 a coalition of businesses, nonprofit groups, and City agencies formed the “Healthy Harbor” initiative, which aimed to increase efforts to eliminate polluted runoff and trash in the Harbor and to achieve fishable, swimmable, drinkable water by 2020. Read the rest of this entry »

Putting Drinking Water First: On Algal Blooms, the Clean Water Rule and Playing Games with Water Protection

Algal Bloom - Kelley's Island on Lake Erie. Courtesy NOAA

Algal Bloom – Kelley’s Island on Lake Erie. Courtesy NOAA

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director. Follow Lynn on Twitter – LTCWA

The recent tap water crisis in Toldeo OH should not be a surprise to anyone following algal blooms and emerging drinking water issues. “Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)” have increased dramatically in the Great Lakes, as has concern about human health impacts from toxic chemicals created by these blooms. Perhaps a bigger surprise is that public officials aren’t being held accountable for saying one thing about the importance of drinking water while either actively or passively interfering with common sense steps to prevent the sort of disruption experienced by 400,000 in Toledo these past few days. Or over 300,000 people in West Virginia earlier this year for that matter.

The contaminants which caused tap water disruption in Toledo are microcystins. Microcystins are part of a family of chemicals called cyanotoxins which are produced by algal blooms. Enough is known about occurrence in drinking water and health effects of one of them– microcystin-LR – for it to be on the Safe Drinking Water Act Contaminant Candidate List which identifies drinking water contaminants that may merit regulation. Enough is known about the role of phosphorous and nitrogen in promoting algal bloom growth that we ought to be reducing fertilizer use and eliminating runoff with lightning speed. Instead, because changing fertilizer use and agricultural practice means going up against powerful industrial agriculture and fertilizer lobbies, the city of Toledo has been spending as much as $200,000 each month to cope with potential cyanotoxin issues. The contribution of a changing climate to increased algal blooms is another piece of the puzzle. Read the rest of this entry »

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