The Stream, October 6, 2021: PFAS Levels Are High In Massachusetts Town’s Surface Water, Report Finds


  • Some residents in a South African municipality stage protests over chronic water outages.
  • Water contamination in a village in India kills six people and puts hundreds in the hospital.
  • A hydrologist in Massachusetts finds PFAS contamination in over 20 local bodies of water.
  • A new report calls for more transparency from Australia’s government in regard to water distribution in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Canada invokes a decades old treaty with the United States as the battle over a controversial oil pipeline continues.

“The government of Canada took an action today that ignores the risk of an oil spill in the Great Lakes and seems clearly designed to delay a legal decision to shut down Enbridge’s twin Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.” – Sean McBrearty, coordinator for the environmental group Oil & Water Don’t Mix. Canada formally invoked an international treaty with the United States in an attempt to override the state of Michigan’s shutdown order for the Line 5 pipeline, Al Jazeera reports. This marks the first time the dispute settlement provisions of the 1977 treaty with the U.S., which “guarantees the uninterrupted transit of light crude oil and natural gas liquids between the two counties,” has been invoked. The announcement has been criticized by environmental groups in both the United States and Canada, and by Michigan officials.


Water Groups Lauded A Side Agreement at the Paris Climate Conference. Then It Languished.

For years, water had been an afterthought at the annual UN climate conferences, even though deficits and surpluses of water are two of the most damaging ways in which people experience a warming planet.

The breakthrough happened in 2015, at the landmark conference in Paris. The central story at that international gathering was an agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and to try for 1.5 degrees. But on the edges, water seemed to gain strength.

Though it was not mentioned in the final agreement, water was a lively discussion topic as well as the subject of position papers and side agreements. Businesses pledged to measure and report their water risks. Consideration of water “became relatively serious,” one attendee said at the time.

One victory was the Paris Pact, an outline for managing water and adapting to climate change according to the contours of natural river drainages.

Six years later, diplomats and campaigners are preparing for another critical climate conference. When they meet in Glasgow starting on October 31, the primary goal is to strengthen commitments from the Paris meeting so that the planet has a better chance at preventing catastrophic warming.

Water advocates, for their part, are positioning themselves to maintain a spot on the agenda. As they do so, it’s instructive to review past outcomes. What became of the Paris Pact?

In Case You Missed It:  

HotSpots H2O: Years-Long Drought Pushes Brazil to the Brink – The country’s worst drought in nearly a century is choking commerce, threatening ecosystems, and diminishing hydroelectric power generation.

What’s Up With Water – October 4, 2021 – This week’s episode of What’s Up With Water covers the lasting effects of Western wildfires, rising insurance premiums for homes at risk of flooding in the United States, and the scarce or unreliable data for properties that have flooded around the world.

South African Residents Stage Protests Over Water Outages

Residents in the Musina Municipality in South Africa’s Limpopo province staged protests late last week over months of daily water outages and a lack of water tankers. Ground Up reports that a community organization called Musina To the Front coordinated the protest, bringing a list of grievances to Mayor Mihloti Muhlope, including demands to transfer the responsibility for water provision back to the Musina Local Municipality and for more water trucks for the municipality’s three townships. The mayor signed the protestors’ memorandum and agreed to respond to their demands within five business days.



At least 6 people have died and 200 have been hospitalized due to consuming contaminated drinking water in a village in the Indian city of Vijayanagara, India Today reports. Some samples of water taken by officials was found to be unsafe for drinking, and three bore-wells in the village have been closed following the contamination.


PFAS compounds were found in all samples taken from 21 bodies of water in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Some of the lab results showed levels far above the Massachusetts state standard for drinking water, although there are no standards for PFAS contamination in surface water bodies, according to the Cape Cod Times. Local hydrologist Tom Cambareri, who was responsible for taking and testing the water samples, also found that contamination in surface water from ponds, lakes and creeks correlated with contamination in village wells.


The select committee on the multi-jurisdictional management and execution of the Murray Darling Basin Plan issued a new report that called on federal and state governments to be more transparent about administration of water resources. The Mandarin reports that the committee recommends that a framework should be established to clarify which levels of government and agencies have the power and accountability for decision making in the context of the plan.

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