Air Force snubs Michigan law on tainted well fixes

Read the full story in the Detroit Free Press.

Oscoda area residents whose wells are affected by groundwater contamination from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base have been urged by state and local public health officials to seek an alternative water supply. And a new Michigan law that took effect in January would make the U.S. Air Force responsible for covering the cost of those alternative water supplies.

But Air Force officials will not comply with the new law, Public Act 545, said Paul Carroll, the Air Force’s environmental coordinator for Wurtsmith, at a public forum on the contamination issue in Oscoda on Tuesday.

Google Request Exacerbates South Carolina Water Wars

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Google has requested 1.5 million gallons of groundwater per day to cool the servers at its Berkeley County facility, hoping to draw the water from the county’s aquifer. The company already uses about 4 million gallons of surface water per day, writes the Post & Courier (via Mashable). Google has studied various options for cooling its servers and has found that pumping groundwater was the best solution.

The request comes at a time when a commercial boom in the area has led to companies (and residents) using water at a faster rate than the aquifers can replenish. Scientists are currently studying the area’s water situation, attempting to determine how much water from the aquifers can be used before depleting supplies of groundwater.

The Saga of North Carolina’s Contaminated Water

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

The Trump administration has not been shy about its skepticism of programs designed to protect the environment. Donald Trump has said that environmental regulations are “out of control,” he has proposed slashing the budget and staffing levels at the Environmental Protection Agency, and he has appointed as head of that agency Scott Pruitt, who has spent a career repeatedly backing business over regulators. Last month, Trump signed an executive order aimed at reversing a signature Obama-era climate policy, the Clean Power Plan.

In North Carolina, the state government has taken a similar approach to its own environmental regulatory agency over the past few years. I went there to see how the state’s regulatory rollback is playing out so far.

Three Years After Ill-Fated Switch, Flint Mayor Recommends Using Detroit Water

Read the full story from NPR.

After three years of confusion and chaos, Flint, Mich., residents may go back to the water source they used before lead contamination showed up in their drinking water.

In a press conference today, Mayor Karen Weaver recommended the city get its water from Detroit’s system long-term. Flint was using Detroit water before switching in April 2014 to water from the Flint River as a cost-saving measure.

ISTC Sustainability Seminar: Lake and Wetland Restoration: A Tale of Three Systems

April 27, 2017 , noon-1pm CST
In person at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (1 E. Hazelwood Dr., Champaign) or online at

Presented by Alan Steinman, Ph.D. — Director of Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute (MI)

Excess nutrient runoff is negatively impacting aquatic ecosystems in the Great Lakes and throughout the world. Understanding these impacts and how to mitigate them have become, for better or worse, something of a growth industry in the environmental and ecological disciplines. In this talk, I will describe three coastal systems located in west Michigan that have been exposed to a history of environmental abuses. Excess nutrients, phosphorus in particular, have resulted in impaired ecological structure and function, including potentially toxic algal blooms. I will discuss the unique attributes of each system, the nature of the key stressor(s), our restoration approach, and how successful we have been in meeting our restoration targets. Two key themes underpinning our efforts include: 1) a modest upfront investment in scientific investigations can save substantial resources in the long run, despite societal anathema to “studies”; and 2) post-restoration monitoring is critical to assess restoration success, and when necessary, be sufficiently nimble to make adjustments as necessary.

Salt from icy roads is contaminating North America’s lakes

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

In the 1940s, Americans found a new way to love salt. Not simply for sprinkling on food — we’d acquired a taste for the mineral long before that — but for spreading on roads and sidewalks. Salt became a go-to method to de-ice frozen pavement.

During the past half-century, annual U.S. sales of road salt grew from 160,000 tons to about 20 million tons, as a group of environmental scientists pointed out in a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of the Sciences. NaCl kept roads free from slippery ice, but it also changed the nature of North America’s freshwater lakes. Of 371 lakes reviewed in the new study, 44 percent showed signs of long-term salinization.

Webinar: Water Security and Resiliency

Tue, Apr 25, 2017 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM CDT
Register at

Presentation 1: Resiliency Framework and the Route to Resilience Tool (Presented by Jeffrey F. Fencil, EPA’s Office of Water). Maintaining and repairing aging drinking water infrastructure remains a significant challenge for the water sector. Utilities must be able to increase their readiness and resilience to potential all-hazard incidents, and adapt to future hazards that may impact their ability to provide safe and clean drinking water. The Resiliency Framework defines what it means to be a resilient drinking water/wastewater utility and provides a greater sense of cohesion among EPA’s water security products and services. The Route to Resilience (RtoR) Tool, features the framework and is specifically designed to help small- and medium-sized drinking water and wastewater utilities learn more about becoming resilient to all-hazards, such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and contamination incidents. This presentation will introduce the framework and provide an overview of the RtoR Tool.

Presentation 2: Using Hydraulic Modeling to Assess Resilience of Drinking Water Systems to Natural Disasters and Other Hazards (Presented by Dr. Regan Murray, EPA’s Office of Research and Development). Drinking water systems are subject to floods, power outages, extreme winter storms, contamination incidents and other hazards that can disrupt service to customers and damage critical infrastructure. This presentation will demonstrate a new hydraulic modeling tool—the Water Network Tool for Resilience (WNTR)—that will be available to the public later this year. WNTR will help water utilities investigate the resilience of their water systems to a wide range of hazardous scenarios and evaluate emergency response actions and long term resilience‐enhancing strategies. The software estimates potential damages from disaster scenarios; predicts how damage to infrastructure would occur over time; evaluates preparedness strategies; prioritizes response actions; and identifies worse case scenarios, efficient repair strategies, and best practices for maintenance and operations. An application to a small system will be presented.

Archives of previous webinars in the series are available here.