The Stream, May 4, 2022: New Technology Claims to Break Down PFAS Chemicals in Seconds


  • Record heatwaves in India and Pakistan are causing water and electricity shortages.
  • A major water utility in California ordered millions of residents to cut water use as drought rages on.
  • Climate disasters like floods and bushfires could raise insurance premiums so high that properties in Australia will become unaffordable.
  • An Ohio-based nonprofit creates new technology that could break down “forever chemicals” like PFAS.

Climate hazards are making Americans more susceptible to drinking water contamination.

“It’s hard to rebuild without water. It’s hard to do anything without water.”

– Don Myron, a resident of Santiam Canyon, Oregon who survived the Labor Day wildfires in 2020.

The effects of climate change are making residents across the United States more susceptible to drinking water contamination. In the American West, drought increases the concentration of pollutants in well water, and wildfires can damage well equipment and piping, allowing toxic chemicals to mix with supplies. In states like Oregon, around one fourth of residents rely on private wells for drinking water. Across other parts of the United States, heavy rain and flooding are contaminating supplies as well.

In Recent Water News

After Decades of Neglect, Bill Coming Due for Michigan’s Water Infrastructure – Federal and state governments begin to reverse course on underinvestment to address water’s true cost.

  • As the nation prepares to pour hundreds of billions of federal dollars into rescuing water systems, the Great Lakes News Collaborative investigates the true cost of water in Michigan. Keep up on the series from Bridge Michigan, Circle of Blue, Great Lakes Now, and Michigan Radio here.

What’s Up With Water—May 3, 2022 – This week’s episode of What’s Up With Water covers two UN reports on humankind’s impact on Earth’s lands and waters, worsening food crises in the Horn of Africa, and Las Vegas’s water insurance policy. Plus, Circle of Blue reports on Michigan’s opportunity to correct decades of water mismanagement.

Amid Record Heatwaves, India and Pakistan Face Water and Electricity Shortages

Recent heatwaves in India and Pakistan are causing dangerous water and electricity shortages. In Turbat, a Pakistani city of about 200,000, residents continue to face around nine hours of electricity cuts every day. In India, wheat harvests have dropped by up to 50 percent in some areas, worsening fears about global food shortages amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

This Week’s Top Water Stories, Told In Numbers


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California ordered around 6 million residents to cut water use. The unprecedented declaration requires residents to cut their outdoor watering to one day per week as the state continues to fight severe drought. Water agencies were told to implement and enforce the cutback by June 1 or pay a fine. State Governor Gavin Newsome asked Californians to voluntarily cutback water use by 15 percent, but residents have been slow to meet that goal. 


A new report finds that one in 25 Australian homes could become “effectively uninsurable” by 2030 due to climate hazards like flooding and bushfires. In regions most impacted by climate change, that number rises to more than one in 10. A property becomes “effectively uninsurable” when insurance premiums become so high the property is unaffordable to the average homeowner. Karl Mallon, a researcher with Climate Valuation, said that while gathering data for the study his team encountered premiums as high as $30,000 per year.

On the Radar

The scientific nonprofit Battelle has developed new technology that could eliminate PFAS chemicals that otherwise accumulate in the environment. Battelle’s technology uses supercritical water oxidation, a process that increases the temperature and pressure of water so that oxidation occurs more naturally, to break down the chemical bonds in mere seconds. If the technology proves to be effective, it could be a turning point for communities that have long dealt with contamination from the so-called “forever chemicals.”

More Water News

Many Muslims in Kenya cannot provide the iftar, the meal that ends the daily fast during Ramadan, as drought persists and the region’s food crisis worsens.

A farm in Texas is using robots and machine learning to reduce waste and grow local produce amid worsening drought.

Australia’s cotton industry claims it is more water efficient than ever. Environmentalists are unconvinced.

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