Water News You Can Use

A Big Water Bill Passes In The Senate, A Flint Hero Testifies, A City Council Votes To Filter Out A Harmful Chemical & More

The mission of this newsletter is to help educate, raise awareness, and to advocate for causes including the national water crisis, toxic chemicals, and other problems in your backyard.

It’s also intended to help this community build stick-to-itiveness so we can all get out of this toxic mess!

Stick-to-itiveness defined: a propensity to follow through in a determined manner; dogged persistence born of obligation and stubbornness.

Today, we’re bringing you the most important water and environmental stories, what they mean, and how you can get involved. Knowledge is power and with a bit of stick-to-itiveness, we can make a difference.

The solution to our biggest water woes and environmental tragedies lies with the people. More and more, we are seeing the consumers becoming the regulators. There’s no time to wait for someone to come save us.

In our communities, we can rise up at the local level to create change throughout the word. Together, we can harness our anger  and frustration and turn it into the action needed to protect our planet.

Thanks for your continued support and stay loud!    

Finally, A Bipartisan Bill Passes

I’ve said it for years. Water is a bipartisan issue, so I was elated to see a substantial bill aimed at improving water infrastructure passed the in the U.S. Senate (89-2), last Thursday (April 29). Water should be top of mind, whether you’re red or blue.

And no surprise Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who flew to Mexico when his state was in a water crisis in February, voted no to this bill. Are you kidding me, Ted?!

The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, will put $35 billion toward state and tribes water infrastructure programs, helping fund projects that address aging infrastructure and improve water quality, remove lead pipes from schools, and help water systems become more resilient in the face of climate change.

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, who introduced the bill said in a statement, “The threat is particularly pressing in Illinois, which has the misfortune of containing more lead service lines than any other state in the country. Years of failure to make adequate investments in our water infrastructure has led to a status quo where millions of Americans are served their drinking water through what is essentially a lead straw.”

I’m hoping these funds go directly to help communities in Illinois (and throughout the country) just like the residents we wrote about in Sycamore, Illinois, who are still fighting for clean water. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

Want to Support This Bill?

Call your Representatives! 202-224-3121. Use this tool to find your representative by zip code.

New to calling Congress? Say something like, “Hi, my name is [Insert your name] I’m calling as a constituent of [Insert Your Town] to request [insert Congressperson’s name]’s support for S.914 - Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, a bill aimed at improving water infrastructure.

Speaking of Lead…

Our friend Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician from Flint, Michigan, testified last week at a Congressional committee meeting on “Advancing U.S. Economic Competitiveness, Equity, and Sustainability Through Infrastructure Investments.”

Quick reminder: Dr. Mona’s research revealed that children were exposed to dangerous levels of lead during the Flint water crisis. She’s now the director of an initiative to mitigate that impact called the Pediatric Public Health Initiative.

She testified that the state of our drinking water infrastructure is a public health crisis.

“Our decades-long inaction to invest in infrastructure failed the children of Flint,” she said. “However, our work has also been about shining a spotlight on the pervasive inadequacy of our drinking water infrastructure. Flint’s water crisis was an extreme case, but it was not the first, the last, or the worst…. The overall state of our country’s drinking water infrastructure is a national public health crisis. Every day that goes by is a missed opportunity. It is only with the full weight and support of the federal government that the millions of lead pipes in this country can be efficiently replaced.”

You can read her full testimony here. And check out more of her work here.

Last year, Dr. Mona wrote a powerful opinion piece in The New York Times titled, “I’m Sick of Asking Children to Be Resilient,” where she discussed how geography defines and describes inequities in health, wealth, mobility, and longevity. 

“Life in a distressed neighborhood means limited access to health care and healthy food,” she wrote. “It means living with violence, racism, poverty and uncertainty. It means bearing the brunt of environmental injustice—not having safe and affordable water, as Flint knows too well, or living in the shadow of a polluting factory.”

Nestlé Put on Notice

Amidst worsening drought conditions, California water officials have sent a letter to Nestlé, who for years has been accused of draining water supplies at the expense of local communities and ecosystems.

The draft cease-and-desist order claims the company has pulled more water (re: million of gallons) from southern California's Strawberry Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest than permitted. 

Nestlé bottles and sells the water as Arrowhead brand water, and the company says its rights to the spring water date back to 1865.

“Paying next to nothing in royalties, Nestlé makes billions of dollars a year selling our water,” The Story of Stuff Project wrote in a statement, regarding its campaign aimed at taking back public control of water.

It’s a familiar pattern that happens across the country. Huge companies pay next to nothing in royalties, making billions of dollars a year turning a precious public resource into a private commodity.

A 2015 investigation found that “No state agency is tracking exactly how much water is used by all of the bottled water plants in California, or monitoring the effects on water supplies and ecosystems statewide. The California Department of Public Health regulates 108 bottled water plants in the state, collecting information on water quality and the sources tapped. But the agency says it does not require companies to report how much water they use.”

While it’s great to see action on this issue, if the cease-and-desist order is approved the company could be fined up to $1,000 a day, or up to $10,000 a day if a drought is declared in the area. Those numbers are not enough to stop this Goliath, so it’s an issue more people need to watch and get involved with. An easy start is to stop buying their bottled water.

Setting A Good Example

We’ve gotta shine a light on the good things happening too, and I’m happy to report the Chino Hills City Council in California voted last month to install a $5 million “granular activated carbon” filtration system to remove 1,2,3-TCP, a known toxic carcinogen, from the drinking water.

Congratulations Mayor Ulloa and the entire Water Department staff for doing the right thing for the city! May they be a shining example to other towns that when chemicals are detected in the water, you can find a solution.

Add To Your Zoom Calendar: Tuesday, May 11

A Climate Summit hosted by The Red Black and Green New Deal is happening next week. The RBGND is the first of its kind multifaceted initiative designed to educate, catalyze, and empower Black people to take actions that mitigate the impact of the climate crisis on our families and our communities.

The group is organizing to introduce a National Black Climate Agenda that includes federal legislation to address the climate crisis by investing in Black communities and repairing past harms. Register here.

Watch: “Meet the Press Reports” On The Water Crisis  

You can see my interview with Chuck Todd (starting at 11:27), don’t miss one of my boys 🐶 napping in the background ;)

Get my thoughts on how I think the Biden Administration should tackle the water crisis. Hint: I’d love to see the EPA working directly with the people—get into communities and hear what they have to say!