The Stream, January 10: Chemical Spill Pollutes West Virginia River and Drinking Water

Water Pollution
A chemical foaming agent used to process coal spilled into the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia Friday, prompting a tap water ban for approximately 300,000 people and the declaration of a state and federal disaster, CBS News reported. Stores in the area quickly sold out of bottled water, and the National Guard was activated to help in the emergency.

Two sets of water quality studies, one conducted by Duke University and the other by a natural gas company, found vastly different levels of methane in private water wells near the company’s drilling sites in Weatherford, Texas, Bloomberg News reported. The Duke results showed much higher levels of methane, though debate remains about whether the methane is naturally occurring or caused by the natural gas drilling operations.

China is considering setting up environmental trading markets for pollution, water use and energy use in order to improve its environmental performance, Reuters reported. China currently has pilot trading markets for some carbon and air pollutant emissions, but there are questions about their effectiveness.

Some communities in the United Kingdom may have been spared from recent floods due to efforts to reopen natural flood plains and allow water to “pool” upstream, the Guardian reported. The projects are meant to offer an alternative to large, gray infrastructure projects that are often more expensive and can push flooding problems farther downstream.

Deep Freeze
Record cold temperatures across parts of North America, known as the “Polar Vortex”, caused a portion of Niagara Falls to freeze. The phenomenon is captured in these photographs published by the Guardian.

The Stream is a daily digest spotting global water trends. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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