Hannibal, Missouri, and Poughkeepsie, New York, are among the cities that have dropped the controversial chemical in favor of new water treatment systems

Photo courtesy of Penn State from Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Maria Dolan for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @mariaidolan

Editor’s note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, “Thirsting for Solutions,” here and the other stories in the series here.

First, Crystal Stephens noticed the new, odd odor of her tap water. “It smelled either like bleach or fishy,” says the resident of Hannibal, Missouri. Then, when she showered, she developed a cough, sinus issues and dry skin.

“People called it ‘the crud,’” she says.

Compared to affluent white communities, lower-income communities and communities of color are missing out on the advantages urban greenery provides. What does it take to level the playing field?

Photo courtesy of Groundwork Denver

By Ambika Chawla for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @AmbikaChawla3

With the arrival of spring, Platte Farm Open Space, located in the diverse, working-class neighborhood of Globeville in north Denver, comes alive with native grasses, pollinator gardens that attract bees and butterflies, and wildflowers, such as Mexican hat, asters, poppies, and Gaillardia.

“This is a beautiful amenity — a beautiful piece of space that was previously being abused,” says Jan Ediger, a longtime resident of Globeville. A former brownfield site, Platte Farm is 5.5 …

OSCs expand the potential applications of solar technology, but there are still challenges to be overcome before large-scale deployment.

Photo courtesy of MaterialDistrict

By Kellie Stellmach for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @StellmachKellie

When you picture solar power, chances are you conjure up images of large solar panels spanning the length of a rooftop or a large solar farm out in a field. But what if you could put a solar panel in the sunroof of a hybrid car, on a tent or within the windows of an office building? What if you could power a vaccine refrigerator in a remote place with a flexible solar panel that could be shipped in a mailing tube? …

Rejoining the Paris Agreement is just the first step toward U.S. green global leadership

Illustration by Kelsey King

By Clare Fieseler for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @ClareFieseler

A U.S. president announced America’s distancing from the most significant climate treaty in history. Sixteen years later, President Donald Trump followed suit. In other words, whiplash is not new to U.S. environmental politics — and, for decades, it has been at the center of our treaty-making.

Trump took a page out of President George W. Bush’s playbook when he announced in 2017 he was ditching the Paris climate deal. Bush had taken similar action when he refused to move forward with the Kyoto Protocol, the 1990s precursor to the Paris Agreement…

Regenerative agriculture practices can sequester carbon in soil, but for companies with complex supply chains, the logistics of moving to such practices can be complicated.

Photo courtesy of Meg Wilcox

By Meg Wilcox for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @WilcoxMeg

Jason Johnson, Stonyfield Organic’s farmer relationship manager, fires up the AgriCORE soil sampling tool in a pasture with sweeping views of central Maine’s rolling hillsides at Dostie Farm, an organic dairy. The auger bit whirrs as it slices through clover and grass, spiraling downward into the earth to retrieve a sample from the 650-acre (263-hectare) farm on a blustery October day.

It takes Johnson three tries to get it right, and the auger emerges from the ground, encased in a thin layer of dark soil. Leah Puro, agricultural research coordinator at…

Entrepreneurs from low- and middle-income countries face many obstacles. These programs help their breakthrough ideas see the light of day.

Photo courtesy of ClimateLaunchpad

By Fanni Daniella Szakal for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @FanniDaniella

Smoke rises between houses from fuels being burned for cooking, threatening both the environment and human health through carbon dioxide emissions and indoor air pollution. Meanwhile, diapers that have not been properly disposed of are polluting waterways and sewage systems and become a potential source of disease. What do these two seemingly distinct problems have to do with one another? For starters, they are two of many hazards that the residents of Kibera — an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, and one of the largest such settlements in Africa —…

Disinfecting drinking water against pathogens is necessary, but by-products from the process are a ubiquitous — and likely growing — problem across the U.S. Solutions exist, though.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Maillefer/Unsplash.com

By Lynne Peeples for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @lynnepeeps

Editor’s note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, “Thirsting for Solutions,” here.

In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city’s tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.

More than 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) away, the people of Scituate, Massachusetts, received a letter that same month cautioning…

Wherever in the world you go looking for “wild and pristine spaces,” you encounter evidence of humanity

Illustration by Kelsey King

By Philip Loring by Ensia | @ensiamedia | @ConserveChange

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Finding Our Niche: Toward a Restorative Human Ecology, published by Fernwood Publishing, a book that is an outgrowth of essays the author previously published at Ensia.

Author’s note: Throughout this book I will use the proper name “Turtle Island” to refer to North America. Turtle Island is the name given to this continent by several Indigenous societies. I do this to represent the fact that my stories are settler stories, stories that unfold on stolen land. …

Multi-stakeholder partnerships that include displaced people in the process show promise for helping overwhelmed communities deal with an influx of climate migrants from rural areas.

Photo © iStockphoto.com | ssadikgulec

By Ambika Chawla for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @AmbikaChawla3

When the rains never arrived in the East African nation of Somalia in 2016, nor in 2017, hundreds of thousands of rural residents were forced to abandon their lands and livelihoods due to one of the most severe droughts in decades. Then, in 2019, from September to December, heavy rains led to severe flooding there, displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in rural areas and towns in the districts of Belet Weyne, Baardheere and Berdale.

These climate migrants traversed barren and dusty landscapes, or traveled through torrential rains…

Removing “forever” chemicals from drinking water is not an easy task

Public Domain. Courtesy of SRA Jeremy Smith, USAF/Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

By Ismail Turay Jr. for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @IsmailTurayJr

Editor’s note: This piece was expanded and updated from an original report in the Dayton [Ohio] Daily News published in June 2020. This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, “Thirsting for Solutions,” here.

A group of manmade substances that can cause serious health problems in humans and animals is increasingly threatening U.S. drinking water systems, experts say. …


Ensia is a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet.

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