E2 Round-up: Bush library to be green model, the sewage pipe problem, and Illinois may ban 'perc'

The New York Times continues its series on water pollution with a look underground, at the nation’s aging water and sewage treatment systems.

Using data from EPA, the Times calculated that a “significant water line” breaks in this country every two minutes. Here in Washington, a pipe bursts every day. Recent heavy rains “overwhelmed the city’s system, causing untreated sewage to flow into the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.”

More from the Times: “For decades, these systems — some built around the time of the Civil War — have been ignored by politicians and residents accustomed to paying almost nothing for water delivery and sewage removal. And so each year, hundreds of thousands of ruptures damage streets and homes and cause dangerous pollutants to seep into drinking water supplies.”

It seems people don't want to pay higher water bills to pay to replace these aging systems and politicians are reluctant to force them to.

In Illinois, there is a push on to ban a chemical used in dry cleaning that is linked to cancer.

“Under legislation pushed by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration, dry cleaners would be banned from installing new perc machines after this year and from using the chemical in residential buildings by 2013,” the Chicago Tribune reports. “All perc use would be outlawed in 2026, giving businesses time to switch to other cleaning methods.”

Perc refers to perchloroethylene, a chlorine-based solvent that dry cleaners adopted after World War I.

Illinois would award grants of up to $10,000 to dry-cleaners, which are often small, family-run businesses, to buy new, perc-free equipment. The grants would be funded by a new tax on perc used by cleaners, the Tribune reports.

In Washington, meanwhile, a new pipeline from the Columbia River may be a lifeline to potato farmers in the eastern half of the state but it has some environmentalists nervous.

Only a “trickle” of water will initially be siphoned off, but the pipeline can carry much more than that, according to the Seattle Times. Some environmentalists worry that more and more water will eventually end up irrigating fields drier now because of climate change.