While the days may be long this time of year, our latest News to Us is here with short snippets on the latest news catching our attention. Read below for brief takes on new federal PFAS health advisories, Clean Water Act rulings, and retrospectives on the 50th anniversary of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Articles on river recreation and well water safety are also covered.

U.S. Supreme Court limits climate action, but Michigan aims to stay course
The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the West Virginia v. EPA case limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s capacity to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Nonetheless, Michigan’s transition to a cleaner power sector will still continue according to industry officials and experts. Dive into our latest blog to get our take on the ruling and what it means for future federal climate action.

EPA warns toxic ‘forever chemicals’ more dangerous than once thought 
Recently published nonbinding health advisories from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warn that polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are more dangerous than previously thought. The updated, more stringent advisories lower thresholds for two PFAS compounds to virtually zero from the 70 parts-per-trillion threshold set in 2016. Set to 4 and 20 parts-per-quadrillion for PFOA and PFOS, the new federal thresholds are much lower that any existing state PFAS standards, including Michigan’s 2020 PFAS drinking water standards. The EPA  is expected to propose drinking water quality standards this fall, which would regulate PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act. For more information, check out our recent blog on the what the latest PFAS news means for the Huron River.

Paddlers enjoying the Huron River Water Trail as a heron flies overhead. Photo credit: Huron River Watershed Council

Restoring the Great Lakes: After 50 years of US-Canada joint efforts, some success and lots of unfinished business
2022 marks 50 years since the U.S. and Canada signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, a binational commitment to restore and protect the waters of the Great Lakes. Since its adoption, the two countries have worked jointly to clean up toxic hotspots, reduce nutrient loading, and restore shorelines across the Great Lakes. Despite enormous improvements over the past five decades, unfinished business remains. However, recent $1 billion funding commitments towards legacy pollution clean up hold promise for continued progress towards Great Lakes restoration.

Why the EPA’s new Clean Water Act rule could help fight climate change
In early June, the EPA released its proposed rule updating water quality certification requirements under the Clean Water Act. The rule, called the Water Quality Certification and Improvement Rule, reestablishes state and tribal veto power for federally-permitted infrastructure projects with water quality impacts. The rule was previously rolled back under the Trump Administration but will now be restored to the original Clean Water Act language that empowers states and tribes to protect their own water resources. The draft rule will be open for public comment and will await finalization until 2023.

Don’t have your own canoe or kayak? Here’s where to rent one around Ann Arbor
Summer is here and it’s time to get out on the water! Liveries and water recreation outfitters across the Huron River watershed provide rentals for various watercraft, including kayaks, canoes, tubes, paddleboards, and rafts. We are also holding a series of Meet the Huron! paddle trips this summer at Argo Park, Proud Lake, and Oakwoods Metropark. Attendees can bring their own watercraft or rent equipment for a paddle trip exploring sections of the Huron River National Water Trail. HRWC staff and local experts will give a short talk on the river’s ecology, history and features. For those looking to explore outside of the Huron, check out our recent blog on other paddling opportunities across Southeast Michigan.

Climate-driven flooding poses well water contamination risks
New research indicates flooding and intense rainfall pose a risk to some private drinking water wells. Extreme flooding and storms have the potential to contaminate or damage private wells as nutrients and other contaminants seep into the well water. Without the same regulation and treatment seen with municipal drinking water systems, the onus for testing, inspection, and design is put on the owner. As a result, some wells are ignored until urgent problems arise. Click here for information about well water protection and testing from Michigan State University Extension.