The Stream, December 22, 2020: 40 Percent of Wastewater in Colorado Produced in Two Counties


  • Billions of gallons of wastewater are produced by oil and gas operators in Colorado.
  • Authorities in Denmark promise to remove millions of minks from mass graves that prompted concerns over drinking water quality.
  • A new report highlights several issues with the water system for Baltimore City and County in Maryland.
  • Cyclone Yasa devastates Fiji.

Proposed restrictions to the Washington Channel prompts criticism in Washington D.C.

“If I see a buoy that has anything on it that remotely says U.S. government property, I am going to steer clear of that.” – Darryl Madden, a boater who has lived in the Wharf’s Gangplank Marina for 15 years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing new restrictions along parts of the Washington Channel that touch Fort McNair in Washington D.C. to protect military assets. The Washington Post reports that critics of the proposal say it could make the water less accessible to residents and visitors and cut off access to the Wharf, the city’s newest neighborhood that draws thousands of visitors because of the water. Military officials have not listed specific safety concerns that prompted the request, but Army spokesman Col. Rob Phillips said it “would not prohibit or restrict transit.”


Where Are Lead Service Lines? Look for Older Homes and Poverty

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can do more to help water utilities and the public identify neighborhoods that are more likely to have lead drinking water pipes, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The GAO, a watchdog agency that works for Congress, concluded that the EPA has not met the requirements of a 2016 law intended to improve the agency’s public communication of lead pipe risks.

In Case You Missed It:  

HotSpots H2O: Tensions Rise as India, China Clash Over Proposed Chinese Dam — Tensions spiked between China and India this month after the Chinese government announced plans to build a dam across one of the major waterways flowing from Tibet.

What’s Up With Water – December 21, 2020 – This week’s episode covers state regulators in Massachusetts, who found toxic PFAS compounds in a pesticide the state has used for two decades for mosquito control and authorities in New Mexico who took a step to protect scarce water supplies in a dry region.

Billions of Gallons of Wastewater Produced By Colorado Oil and Gas Operators

According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, operators in the state reported producing over 26 billion gallons (98.4 billion liters) of wastewater last year, 40 percent of which was produced in two counties. The Herald Times reports that a myriad of factors contribute to frequent spills of the wastewater, which if untreated, is corrosive. Often, spills are contained inside secondary emergency containment structures but sometimes can reach soil, enter surface water, or are discovered bubbling up in the middle of a field above a buried pipeline. One spill from 2016, whose volume is still unknown, is still being cleaned up, with no end in sight.


200 METERS (656 FEET)

After concerns over drinking water contamination began to arise from nearby residents, Danish authorities said they will remove around 4 million minks from mass graves, Reuters reports. The graves were hastily created in early November when hundreds of mink farms suffered outbreaks of coronavirus and authorities found mutated strains of the virus among people. Prompted by complaints from residents about the potential risk of contaminating drinking water and a bathing lake less than 200 meters (656 feet) from the graves, authorities will begin the removal of the minks in May of next year.


A new report found highlighted several issues with Baltimore, Maryland’s city and county water systems. According to CBS Baltimore, the report found that $133 million was awarded in contracts by the city and county since 2011 to enhance the water system, despite ongoing problems. Other issues include thousands of dysfunctional digital meters and more than 8,000 open tickets pertaining to county water accounts that were not addressed by the city.


Cyclone Yasa, a Category 5 storm that hit Fiji last week, has killed four people and has left many without shelter and fresh water. Reuters reports that the Bua province on the northern island of Vanua Levu suffered 70 percent damage and destruction and the small island of Kia was completely destroyed. Concerns about the spread of disease have been raised and the Red Cross volunteers and the Australian government are offering aid to those affected.

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