The Stream, April 9, 2021: Atlanta Prisoners Sue City Over Contaminated Water


  • Nearly 40 currently and formerly incarcerated people in Atlanta are suing the city over allegedly supplying contaminated drinking water in 2018 and 2019.
  • Open-air waste pools are increasingly threatened by poor management and climate change in the United States.
  • Four people are dead and several are hospitalized after drinking contaminated water in India’s Andhra Pradesh state.
  • Two Native American tribes in New Mexico sue the EPA over Trump-era changes to the scope of the Clean Water Act.

One water expert in Canada is researching a solution to drought on Prince Edward Island.

“At least the holding pond gives a farmer a buffer that if you have to stop pumping, whether it’s from the stream or groundwater, you have some buffer of water there to help you out.” – Water expert Mike van den Heuvel. After farmers on Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) were allowed to use surface water from an already drying river to irrigate crops last summer, water expert Mike van den Heuvel says holding ponds may be the next-best solution as drought continues, the CBC reports. Van den Heuvel said that as dry summers become more common, using water stored early in the season would impact water levels less than using surface water. PEI officials contracted van den Heuvel to conduct more research, but results could take at least six years.


Federal Agencies Plan to Investigate Links between PFAS Exposure and Viral Illness

Two federal health agencies are planning to investigate potential links between exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals and susceptibility to viral illnesses like Covid-19.

The study would build on federally funded investigations of PFAS exposure in nine communities near U.S. military bases where the chemicals were found in drinking water. Researchers hope to enroll 4,075 people from those previous investigations in the new assessment.

A collaboration between the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the study will be based on health questionnaires sent to people who have already had blood samples drawn for the PFAS exposure assessments.

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: Indigenous Environmental Activist Shot and Killed in Honduras – The environmental activist Carlos Cerros was killed in Honduras, in the town of Nueva Granada, at the end of March, local media reported.

What’s Up With Water – April 5, 2021 – This week’s episode covers a special election in Greenland, international research that sheds light on an overlooked source of pollution in marine waters and a massive coastal restoration project in Louisiana.

Open-Air Waste Pools Increasingly Pose Environmental, Public Health Threat

Open-air waste pools, like one that nearly collapsed in Florida this week, pose major environmental, health and safety risks. As climate change brings more frequent and powerful storms, the ponds – which are vital to industries like livestock and power generation – are becoming more susceptible to flooding. The problem exists throughout the United States. The New York Times reports that at least 70 phosphogypsum stacks, 700 waste ponds near coal-burning power plants and thousands of cesspits at industrial livestock farms are scattered around the country.



At least four people have died in the Kurnool district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh from drinking contaminated water, the Hindustan Times reports. Several others have been hospitalized from water most likely consumed at a local folk festival. Officials are unsure how the water was contaminated, but they are conducting tests to understand the cause. In the meantime, officials directed authorities to temporarily stop supplying drinking water in the affected areas.


A group of 36 present and former inmates at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary filed a lawsuit against the city for allegedly being given drinking water contaminated with arsenic. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the alleged incidents took place between 2018 and 2019. A city spokesperson said initial testing showed no signs of willful neglect from the Department of Watershed Management. The lawsuit, however, alleges that the city knew “or should have known” the risk of giving the contaminated water to the inmates.

  • Why it matters: Lack of access to water and sanitation in U.S. prisons has been a longstanding concern. The problem was brought to the forefront again last summer as Covid-19 infected thousands of prisoners and prison staff. Experts say lack of hygiene is one of many prison system aspects needing reform.


The Jemez Pueblo and Laguna Pueblo tribes in New Mexico are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The Counter reports that the lawsuit alleges the rule disproportionately harms the tribes by eliminating protections for water sources they depend on. The rule excludes from federal oversight ephemeral streams that flow only following rainfall or seasonal snowmelt.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply