EPA Releases $7 Billion to States to Upgrade Water Infrastructure
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released $7 billion to state and tribal governments to be allocated for improvements to “essential water infrastructure” in 2022. The EPA will release more funds in installments over the next 5 years as part of the $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that was signed by President Biden in November.
Petroleum-Contaminated Water Crisis at Military Base in Oahu
Military residents at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickham in Oahu have been reporting that their water “smells like gasoline” and has been contributing to health problems, sending several people to the hospital for treatment. Hawaii State Representative Kai Kahele referred to the situation, which has been ongoing for several days, as “a crisis of astronomical proportions.”
While the investigation into what is causing the problem continues, the Hawaii Department of Health has advised “all Navy water system users avoid using the water for drinking, cooking, or oral hygiene.”
Too Few Inspectors in Maryland to Ensure Water Safety
The Maryland Department of the Environment has been unable to hire enough inspectors to ensure the safety of water in the state, according to a recent EPA report. The drinking water safety office is responsible for inspecting 3,300 water systems across the state of Maryland, but currently only has 34 inspectors on staff. In order to handle the actual workload, the department would need to hire at least 80 more inspectors and other staff.
The state was supposed to develop and submit a plan to the EPA to address the staffing shortages by the end of October, and if the shortage is not resolved soon, the EPA might need to take over overseeing water safety in Maryland.
Wisconsin Considering State Regulations of PFAS in Water
Environmental regulators in Wisconsin recently held a public hearing to discuss the proposed state standards for regulating PFAS in drinking water. While federal regulations of PFAS are planned in the future, many Wisconsin residents believe that the concerns over water safety can’t wait, and the state should set its own standards to regulate these chemicals in the water. The proposed regulations “would set a combined standard of 20 parts per trillion” of PFAS and PFOA in drinking water.
Everyone who commented at the hearing spoke in favor of the standards, including representatives from Clean Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. “Safe drinking water should be a basic human right in Wisconsin,” said Campbell resident Abby Siakpere.
While no one spoke in opposition during the hearing, several organizations, including the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Municipal Environmental Group’s Water Division submitted written opposition.