Entries by Brett Walton

Extremely Dry Conditions Spill Across the American West

Drought and climate change are sapping the region’s water. The numbers indicate challenging years ahead. By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue Spring is generally a time of renewal for the watersheds of the western United States. Warmed by the lengthening days, the region’s towering mountain ranges shed their mantle of snow, releasing freshets of water […]

Federal Water Tap, May 10: White House Releases Conservation Roadmap

The Rundown President Biden aims to conserve 30 percent of the country’s lands and waters by 2030. The GAO says that the method for assessing farmer compliance with wetlands protections should be updated. The EPA assesses a draft nutrient-reduction plan in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. NOAA releases new baselines for “normal” climate in the United […]

Toxic Cyanobacteria Choke Water Systems Around California’s Clear Lake

Toxic blooms are a public health risk and increase water treatment costs.

Harmful Algal Blooms in Clear Lake, California

A monitoring program tracks toxic cyanobacteria and influences change

Federal Water Tap, May 3: Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Water Infrastructure Bill

The Rundown By a near-unanimous margin, the Senate approved a broad water infrastructure package. FERC commissioners discuss incorporating environmental justice into their evaluation of energy infrastructure. The EPA announces a new round of WIFIA funds and approves grant funding for water systems in two Alaska Native villages. President Biden nominates a government veteran to lead […]

Federal Aid for Overdue Water Bills Is Slow to Arrive

The Department of Health and Human Services still has not distributed $638 million that Congress appropriated at the end of December.

Federal Water Tap, April 26: Senate Republicans Make Infrastructure Counteroffer

The Rundown The White House announces an interagency drought working group. Two EPA regional offices botched their oversight duties for Clean Water Act permits, the agency’s internal watchdog found. USGS scientists find a long-term reduction in salt levels in the Upper Colorado River basin but less progress and even increasing levels in the last two […]

Study Surveys Global Risk of Dry Wells

Wells serving many of the world’s rural households, farms, and factories are at risk of running dry if groundwater levels in their areas continue to decline.

Federal Water Tap, April 19: Senate to Debate Water Infrastructure Bill This Week

The Rundown The Senate majority leader indicates he wants action on a water infrastructure bill this week. House Democrats introduce a bill to remove lead pipes from public and federally subsidized housing. California Democrats propose federal funds for repairing canals damaged by subsidence. The Interior secretary revokes a dozen Trump-era energy orders. Forecasters see low […]

California Report Tallies Hundreds of Failing Water Systems in the State

Hundreds more systems are at risk of not being able to meet drinking water standards. By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue When California lawmakers were debating a funding package in 2018 for clean drinking water, one of the unknowns was how large the need really was. Now, with the release of an in-depth report, state […]

Federal Water Tap, April 12: Intelligence Agencies Deliver Warning About Climate Disruption. Again.

The Rundown The nation’s intelligence agencies identify environmental change as a driver of political and social instability. Federal agencies sign an agreement regarding a drinking water project for the Navajo Nation and other communities in the Southwest. Two key variables in the Colorado River basin runoff forecast are below normal. And lastly, budget season kicks […]

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.