Toxins Long Buried May Surface as Groundwater Rises

Water rising beneath the ground, pushed up by intruding salt water as sea levels rise, now impacts thousands of toxic waste sites throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. A six-month investigation by NBC Bay Area found that the threat from rising groundwater isn’t decades in the future but, in some cases, may be imminent. In many hot spots from the North Bay to the South Bay, UC Berkeley scientists told the Investigative Unit they’ve recorded groundwater already at or near the surface.

Santa Cruz County Drinking Water Takes a Hit After Wildfire

When wildfire strikes water, infrastructure that’s made out of plastic is particularly at risk of contamination. If pipes and tanks lose pressure, or get hot, chemicals can leach into the water supply. The CZU Lightning Complex Fire badly damaged seven and a half miles of water supply lines made of polyethylene, a plastic, in northern Santa Cruz County.

California Bills Tackle Water Contamination, PFAS, Wildfire

California could one day have a quick-strike panel focused on spotting emerging contaminants in drinking water to see if they pose a danger and need immediate attention.

The state also could certify labs to increase the amount of so-called forever chemicals that can be tested for in drinking water, aquifers, lakes, and streams.

The two initiatives are among more than 300 bills relating to energy and environment policy filed by California legislators in the 2020 session. They tackle issues like water contamination, wildfires, recycling, air quality, and other matters affecting the state’s nearly 40 million residents.

Nearly Half the Country Working on PFAS Rules as EPA Drags Feet

More states are stepping up to protect people from drinking water contaminated with “forever chemicals” in the absence of federal enforcement.

Twenty-three states are writing their own guidance, regulations, or legislation that would address drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.

The family of thousands of chemicals, once used in Teflon and Scotchgard, may cause liver tissue damage, immune system or thyroid problems and increased cholesterol levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The substances require massive amounts of energy to fully break down, enabling them to persist in the environment, seemingly “forever.”

In Wildfire’s Wake, Another Threat: Drinking Water Contamination

Even as bushfires push into new swaths of Australia, the communities close to and within the nearly 30 million acres that have already burned are starting to reckon with a complex, expensive aftermath: fire’s threat to their drinking water.

It’s a vexing problem that a growing number of people around the world have had to cope with over the last two decades, as climate change fuels hotter, bigger fires that destroy forested catchments and consume towns and their water systems, engineers and scientists said.