The Stream, February 16, 2021: Mothers Voice Concerns Around Passing PFAS Chemicals On To Children


  • New mothers in the United States fear passing on PFAS contamination to newborns through breastfeeding.
  • Records show 2020 was Utah’s driest summer.
  • A task force in Michigan prepares to send its final recommendations on dam maintenance to the state’s governor.
  • Water activists in Maine voice concern over the potential sale of a bottled water brand.

Two cities in Kansas battle rural farmers for water.

“The most important aspect of this property wasn’t the 6,800 acres that was purchased by Hays and Russell. It was the nearly 8,000 acre-feet of water rights that came with it.” – Hays city manager Toby Dougherty. Kansas News Service reports that in 2015, the cities of Hays and Russell applied to change the water permit tied to the R9 Ranch. Changing the permit from irrigation to municipal use would allow them to pump groundwater under the ranch and send it to homes and businesses. The ranch was purchased by the two cities in 1995 when their water supply was precariously low, but until recently they had not attempted to tap into its water. Now, the controversial move to take water from rural areas to cities is prompting concerns from neighboring farms that have relied on the ranch for irrigation. The matter has been taken to court and a ruling will likely come within a few months.

In context: Western U.S. Governors Say Water Transfers Vital But Need to Protect Rural Economies


In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: Landslide Triggers Devastating Flash Floods in India – The collapse of a mountain flank in India’s Northern Uttarakhand state last week triggered devastating flash floods in the region and destroyed two hydroelectric projects.

What’s Up With Water – February 15, 2021 – This week’s episode covers a study raising questions about the health effects of a contaminant common to drinking water, hackers who tried to add dangerous amounts of treatment chemicals to drinking water in Florida and the town of Joliet, Illinois, which selected a new drinking water provider.

New Mothers Fear Passing On PFAS Contamination Through Breastfeeding

The Guardian spoke to six mothers in communities where high levels of PFAS chemicals are found in drinking water. The women worry about potential dangers to their baby’s health. They were told that no matter what, breastfeeding is always the best option for newborns and they were denied information about what is in their breast milk. A growing number of physicians, researchers and studies have exposed the danger some chemicals in the PFAS family can pose to young children, although scientists around the world disagree on whether breastfeeding can expose a child to the harmful chemicals.


126 YEARS  

The summer of 2020 was the driest recorded season in Utah and Nevada since record keeping began 126 years ago, Deseret News reports. Laura Haskell, an engineer with the Utah Division of Water Resources’ planning section, said that Utah is still in the middle of a significant dry spell. Snowpack is below average across the state and much of the runoff will be absorbed by the ground before it has a chance to make it into waterways that feed reservoirs. Several non-profits and religious groups, along with state and local agencies, are trying to educate the public on best practices for drought management in hopes to conserve water before the dry summer months begin.


The Michigan Dam Safety Task Force delayed sending Gov. Gretchen Whitmer its final recommendations after some task force members said the language could be too sharp or dramatic. The Republic reports that the task force will make minor changes to the language before passing it along to the governor. The task force report will include 86 recommendations, including several preventative measures to ensure the safety of Michigan’s dams. It will suggest establishing an annual $20 million revolving fund for the next two decades to maintain and remove dams.

In context: Country’s Aging Dams, a ‘Sitting Duck,’ Facing a Barrage of Hazards


Water rights activists have voiced concerns over the potential sale of bottled water brand Poland Spring to a private equity firm, the Associated Press reports. Poland Spring is one of several Nestle-owned bottled water brands that the water giant is considering selling. Activists in Maine say they worry that without a public image to maintain, a private equity firm could be less responsive and harder to hold accountable than Nestle.

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