The Stream, September 13, 2019: Trump Administration Repeals Obama-Era Clean Water Regulation

The Global Rundown

The U.S. Trump administration finalizes a repeal of the Water of the United States rule, which regulates chemical use near water bodies. Turkey prepares to flood a 12,000-year-old city as part of the Ilisu dam project. Research shows that climate change may diminish soil’s ability to absorb water. A new investigation of the Flint water crisis finds strong evidence of a higher death toll. Three companies tied to PFAS contamination appear before U.S. lawmakers. 

“The public may only now be realizing the scope of this problem, but the companies that manufactured these chemicals have been aware of the risks for decades and failed to alert the rest of us.” –Rob Bilott, a lawyer, in reference to companies that utilized toxic PFAS chemicals in their products. The 3M Company, the Chemours Company and DuPont came before U.S. lawmakers this week for a PFAS-related hearing. Executives from the companies denied responsibility for medical costs and other ramifications of the chemicals, which have contaminated water supplies across the U.S. The Guardian 

 In context: From Michigan to the Nation — A Groundwater Emergency.

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

Costs of Water Pollution, a Global Scourge, ‘Underestimated and Underappreciated’World Bank report highlights extensive damage to health, ecosystems, and economies.

By The Numbers

80,000 Estimated number of people who will be displaced by the construction of the Ilisu dam in Turkey, including villagers in the 12,000-year-old city of Hasankeyf. Despite efforts to save the historic city, Hasankeyf is slated to be flooded within weeks. When completed, the controversial dam is anticipated to generate 4,200 gigawatts of electricity each year. The Guardian

12 People that died, according to state data, from Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia, during the 2014-2015 Flint water crisis. An analysis by FRONTLINE found an unusual increase in pneumonia deaths during the summer of 2014 in Genesee County, however, suggesting that there may have been Legionnaires’ cases that went undiagnosed. A team of epidemiologists with Emory University state that 70 more pneumonia deaths than expected occurred in Genesee County during the 2014-15 Legionnaires’ outbreak. PBS FRONTLINE

In context: Circle of Blue reporting on Legionnaires’ disease

Science, Studies, and Reports

A study by Rutgers University warns that climate change may minimize soil’s ability to absorb water, a scenario that could negatively impact groundwater supplies, food production, and other processes. Scientists say that rainfall patterns, carbon dioxide levels, and other factors could lead to the lowered water absorption. Science Daily

On the Radar

On Thursday, the Trump administration finished a legal repeal of the Water of the United States rule, a 2015 measure that limits which agricultural chemicals can be used near streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water. Proponents of the repeal believe that the rule unfairly restricted farmers, but environmentalists say that undoing the measure could be detrimental to drinking water supplies. The New York Times

Correction: In the September 11, 2019 edition of the Stream, the image was incorrectly identified as being along the Jordan River. The correct location is a canal through Tel Aviv. 

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