WQP Managing Editor Lauren Estes details a friend's request for help with water contamination in a nearby lake
Recently, a friend of mine requested help from his social media network. Angler’s Lake in Bloomington, Ill., near his home turned murky and clouded in the past few months, ever since a masonry contractor opened nearby. All of the grass touched by the runoff coming from the company’s property withered and died.
My friend embarked on a rigorous pursuit for environmental justice. First, he went to the city’s Parks and Recreation department, emailing every contact available. After being assured the issue was being addressed, he reached out to a city water manager for confirmation. News of the lake contamination had not reached the manager yet and she promised to investigate.
“I’m not optimistic,” my friend said to me.
While he receives drinking water from the city and not a private well, the polluted runoff could potentially contaminate neighboring wells or touch larger water bodies nearby. Though he assured me he would continue to reach out to members of the community for their support, one of the biggest obstacles he faced was not knowing where to turn for help.
His situation echoes patterns I’ve observed across the country recently where industrial pollution has been left unchecked long enough to produce lasting damage to water bodies and drinking water sources.
In late May, New Hampshire filed suit against eight companies, including 3M and DuPont Co., for statewide damages related to per- and polyfluoralkyl substance (PFAS) contamination. According to USA Today, the state now is the second in the country to pursue legal action against distributors of PFAS. Unfortunately, the state already has had to connect more than 700 homes to new water systems due to the drinking water contamination, and estimates it could impact up to 100,000 people.
Who can our communities turn to when pollution threatens our most precious resource? As clean water advocates, our industry has the opportunity to be a resource for concerned citizens every step of the way. Let’s lead the charge.