The Stream, February 27, 2020: As Coal Plants Close in the Western U.S., Communities Vye for Newly-Available Water Resources

The Global Rundown

Communities in the western U.S. spar over the best use for water freed up by closing coal plants. The National Rural Water Association, which represents 31,000 U.S. water providers, files a lawsuit against PFAS manufacturers. Emergency evacuations take place in England as the River Severn verges on record-high levels. A main highway is shut in Queensland, Australia, as floodwaters encroach on the town of St. George. Lead-tainted water and homes across the U.S. put poor children at risk of health problems.

“Lead poisoning is entirely preventable, but once the damage is done, it’s done. I don’t have anything in my back pocket to help, and the ramifications are long-term.” –George Dalembert, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in reference to the risks of lead exposure during childhood. Lead contamination is a danger in many areas across the U.S., in both water lines and infrastructure. Data shows that children lower-income neighborhoods are at greater risk for exposure to lead. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

31,000 Number of rural water providers represented by the National Rural Water Association. The association, along with the town of Millington, Tennessee, filed a class action lawsuit this week against seven chemical manufacturers, including 3M and DuPont. The suit alleges that the companies sold PFAS-laced firefighting foam to airports, military bases, and firefighting facilities despite knowledge that the toxic chemicals could seep into groundwater. Reuters

In context: Who Pays? PFAS Lawsuits, Legislation Raise Question of Pollution Liability

35 Homes in St. George, Queensland, that are currently at risk of being flooded as rains continue to fall in parts of Australia. A main highway near the town has been closed due to floodwaters, and the Balonne River, which runs through St. George, is expected to peak on Thursday. The Guardian

Science, Studies, and Reports

Coal plants are closing across the western United States, freeing up large amounts of water that were used at the facilities. The future of these water resources, however, is unclear. Some activists say the water should be protected for environmental purposes, or utilized by local communities. Many larger western cities are also eyeing the newly-available supply, though, and may be willing to pay high amounts to obtain it. NPR

In context: Navajo Generating Station, a Union of Coal and Water, Shuts Down

On the Radar

England’s River Severn has breached flood defence barriers in several places, with the town of Ironbridge seeing the worst flooding. The swollen river, which is nearing a record high, has prompted emergency evacuations in Ironbridge and other nearby towns. The Guardian

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