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🗳️ Biden's New Infrastructure Plan, Drinking Water & PFAS

Water Nerds

Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Analies Ross-Dyjak | Head of Policy & Perspectives | Hydroviv
Category: 🗳️ Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:14] “The [recently released] American Jobs Plan included […] large funding for water infrastructure. […] It was $111 billion just for water infrastructure improvements.And this is obviously a pretty broad term. I think when people hear water infrastructure, they just think about replacing pipes or updating pipes or improvements at the water treatment level, but this funding included lots of other initiatives and […] topics that are really crucial to improving water infrastructure holistically.”

[2:01] “First, […] the most important [topic] in my opinion: The improvement that we [have] been waiting for several administrations is just a sweeping plan to figure out lead pipes and lead infrastructure in the US. $45 billion under the American Jobs Plan […] is going to be allocated to eliminate all lead service lines and pipes. […] The term all is a pretty big promise and I’m not entirely confident that this is possible with just $45 billion. It’s estimated that 6-10 million homes in the US still receive water from a lead service line or lead pipe. And so, that’s a significant amount of people and replacing those pipes and service lines is an extremely invasive process. […] You literally have to dig up streets, section by section, replace the lead line and it’s time consuming. […] Something that a lot of people actually aren’t aware of is that your lead levels will actually increase the first few months after that lead service line […] is replaced. We wrote a really in depth article about this.”

[3:57] “For even just a bit more context as to why I’m skeptical of this $45 billion allocation is that the city of Chicago alone, […] it’s estimated that it will cost $8.5 billion just to replace the lead pipes in Chicago. And that doesn’t include some of the residential improvements that homeowners will actually have to pay themselves.”

[4:58] “Next we have $56 billion, which is going to be allocated to […] “modernize America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, tackle new contaminants and support clean infrastructure across rural America”. So this is obviously extremely vague, but these funds are gonna go directly to states, tribes, and territories and they’ll be able to determine at their discretion how best to implement this money. And I actually think this is a really really great approach, because obviously states, tribes, and territories understand the types of infrastructure improvement, especially pertaining to water, better than the federal government. So I think the $56 billion can go a really long way.”

[5:51] “I was also really excited to see that PFAS were included in the American Jobs Plan. […] PFAS are a category of cancer causing contaminants that have been found in drinking water systems across the country. They are used in the production of non-stick fabrics or surfaces […], it’s also a key ingredient in fire fighting foam. We know that it causes cancer, we know that it increases the risk of miscarriage, other reproductive issues have been associated with the exposure to PFAS, so it needs to be addressed and we’ve know [that] for some time now. […] $10 billion is going to be allocated to […] monitor and remediate PFAS in drinking water as well as smaller rural water systems, private wells, and wastewater systems, including drainage fields. […] It’s a starting place, [but] definitely won’t tackle PFAS across the entire country. We know that removing PFAS at the municipal level is extremely difficult [and] expensive, so I think that this $10 billion can […] go towards the point of pollution, so […] more towards these companies that are actually dumping it into groundwater […] and less towards the drinking water side.”

[8:07] “Finally, $16 billion in funding to plug oil and gas wells that we obviously know pollute drinking water, particularly private wells. […] If you remember the video of the woman I believe in Ohio turning on her faucet and then putting a match to the water. Water lights on fire, because she lived near a fracking induction well. So […] the fracking industry and then oil and gas of course contribute a lot to groundwater pollution, which we know impacts private wells, more so than anyone else.”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple (Original Title: "What You Need To Know About Biden’s New Infrastructure Plan and Drinking Water")
🕰️ 10 min | 🗓️ 04/08/2021
✅ Time saved: 8 min

Additional Links:
Hydroviv Blog: American Jobs Plan and Water
Hydroviv Blog: Chicago’s Lead Problem

Second Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:43] “EPA just sent over a proposal to the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, and this rule would require reporting and record keeping for industrial production of PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act, also known as TOSCA. […] Right now, industries aren’t required to do any sort of record keeping or reporting on PFAS, they just kind of have free will to produce as much as they want, however they want, without really tracking it. So, this proposal would just force PFAS manufacturers to at least keep some sort of documentation about what they are doing.”

[1:39] “This rule was actually mandated under the National Defense Authorization Act for physical year 2021, basically telling EPA that they had to create this rule and kind of disclose about the nature of the disposal and possible environmental outcomes from PFAS. [But] unfortunately, like all other regulation, it takes a lot of time. So, OMB is predicting July 2022 when we’ll actually see this rule being enacted.”

[2:31] “I also wanted to talk about two new maps that the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, has recently updated. […] [EWG is] pioneering PFAS mapping in the US. They have a really comprehensive and dynamic map that highlights drinking water that’s been contaminated, […] known industrial sites and so they are really the only ones that have this map that is accessible to everyone. […] EWG has identified 2,337 new locations across the US in 49 states that are known to have some sort of PFAS contamination. […] The really troubling spots are essentially the entire east coast. [….] Minnesota, California, Colorado, and Michigan are also kind of hotspots for PFAS contamination.”

[4:17] “EWG also created a suspected industrial discharge of PFAS map. […] They used EPA data and state agency data to […] come up with this map of where are the industrial polluters, which also again no one has really done before. […] You can draw a conclusion between where there might be industrial pollution and where groundwater or surface water is likely to be contaminated. […] The 2,500 highlighted areas on the map included both air and water effluent. […] I also kind of wanted to point out that there are no current federal restrictions on industrial discharge of PFAS.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple (Original Title: "Spring 2021 PFAS Update")
🕰️ 13 min | 🗓️ 04/08/2021
✅ Time saved: 11 min

Additional Links:
Hydroviv Blog: PFAS Update