The Stream, January 11: EPA to Rewrite Waters of the United States Rule in 2018

The Global Rundown

A ban on plastic microbeads is now in effect in the UK. Regulators in Michigan set standard for chemical contaminants in water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prioritizes replacing Obama-era clean water regulations in 2018. Researchers find that sewage and septic systems were major contributors to the algal bloom in Florida. Countries along the Mekong River commit to cooperation as concerns over the river’s future persist.

“The world’s oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life.” –Thérèse Coffey, UK environment minister, in reference to the UK’s ban on plastic microbeads came into effect on Tuesday. Thousands of tonnes of microbeads wash into the sea each year, which harms wildlife and can ultimately be consumed by people. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

70 parts per trillion Combined standard for PFOS and PFOA substances in Michigan. While the rule is legally enforceable, allowing regulators to take action against polluters, it is primarily designed to address remidition activities. MLive

In context: Congress passes defense bill that includes perfluorinated chemicals health study.

20 Proposed number of dams to be built on the upper Mekong River. Countries along the Mekong stated they would reinforce cooperation over concerns of competing demands on the river’s water. However, there are numerous concerns over the future of the Mekong, as dams disrupt the river’s flood-drought cycle and block the transport of sediment. Reuters

In context: One by one big hydropower disrupt Mekong River’s free flow.

Science, Studies, And Reports

A study by Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute found that septic systems and sewage were driving factors of Florida’s massive algal bloom in St. Lucie Estuary in 2016. The researchers found that freshwater and wastewater nitrogen created the “perfect storm” that supported the growth and toxic production of the algal bloom. Science Daily

On The Radar

Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, outlined several priorities for the agency in 2018, including replacing Obama-era water regulations and combating lead contamination in public drinking water. The agency plans to rewrite the Waters of the United States rule, which defines which national waterways are protected under federal law. Both President Trump and Pruitt claim the rule hinders energy development. Reuters