Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Obama administration isn't tough on water polluters

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Well, this is just annoying, especially since state and local governments aren't much help either. In fact, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities refuses to detail its emergency plan should our drinking water become compromised. This could be because the company's in the process of expanding the reservoir behind its main drinking water treatment plant on Brookshire Boulevard — which means the reservoir is currently empty. Though, officials say they can't detail the plan due to security concerns. But, wait a minute — isn't it our water and our utility? Don't we deserve to know the emergency plan?

From The New York Times, on the Obama administration's lack of enforcement:

Criminal enforcement of federal water-pollution laws has continued a more than decadelong slide under the Obama administration, despite pledged improvements, according to U.S. EPA data.

The government reported 32 new Clean Water Act convictions during the fiscal year that ended in September, down from 42 in 2009. The number of criminal water pollution cases initiated by the agency fell from 28 last year to 21 this year.

Both figures have dropped nearly 60 percent since the late 1990s, their highest points in the past 20 years.

The numbers indicate that the Obama administration so far has been unable to reverse a trend that started under President George W. Bush, when EPA criminal enforcement activity dropped in conjunction with a 27 percent cut to U.S. EPA's overall budget, said William Andreen, an environmental law professor at the University of Alabama.

Read the rest of this article here.

That's full-on annoying. We can't drink promises, Mr. President.

And, as stated before, local and state governments aren't much more help either. From The Chicago Tribune:

It took years for Illinois officials to discover that southwest suburban Crestwood was pumping contaminated water to its residents, in part because the state took village officials at their word that nothing was wrong.

Such lax oversight is a problem in scores of communities throughout the nation, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Agency's inspector general that urged federal and state officials to conduct more rigorous inspections and adopt tighter reporting guidelines.

The report, prompted by a Tribune investigation, also found there is no way to determine if emergency water supplies that serve more than 58 million people are contaminated or being misused. Oversight is based on trust, rather than routine inspections, the inspector general concluded.

As a result, it's unclear if there are situations like Crestwood in other parts of the country. Investigators could find just two similar problems during the 1990s, one in Minnesota and the other in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Read the rest of this article, by Michael Hawthorne, here.

Clean water is essential for life. Watch: Clean water issues will become more prominent over the next few years.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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