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EPA to consider setting drinking water standard for perchlorate

Perchlorate , a chemical used in rocket fuel and other explosives, can cause potential health concerns for pregnant women, infants and children, but there is no maximum drinking water standard and no requirement to test for it. That's a problem in New Mexico, where perchlorate has been found in groundwater at Los Alamos National Laboratories, Sandia National Laboratories and White Sands Missile Range, writes Staci Matlock of The New Mexican. The chemical, which also occurs naturally, has been found near drinking wells as well. But the EPA doesn't regulate the chemical in drinking water. Now the agency is reconsidering whether to set a standard that would in turn require drinking water facilities to test for the chemical.

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Worries over Arizona water supply

Rural Arizona is searching for a stable source of water. The existing patchwork system of wells and reservoirs is wearing thin, Shaun McKinnon writes in the Arizona Republic. Flagstaff water-resources Chief Brad Hill told the Republic that the rural parts of the state need to plug into the Colorado River. But competition for that water is also fierce. In the meantime, rural communities wrestle with how best to balance growth with water needs.  In urban centers, new developments must verify they come packaged with a 100-year water supply before they are allowed to be built. Rural towns have no such restrictions.

There's been as steady drain on underground water reserves in the state, McKinnon writes in an earlier extensive story. Excessive reliance on groundwater supplies could prove "potentially disastrous," resulting in wells running dry and aquifers collapsing. Such failures could alter the landscape itself, creating fissures and sinkholes. Drought and climate change are also straining surface-water supplies at the same time that groundwater resources are shrinking. Herb Guenther of the Arizona Department of Water Resources told McKinnon: "What we have to do is get out of denial."

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Trout farm fights for water rights in southern Idaho

The Idaho Department of Water Resources has ordered the shutdown of groundwater wells across 9,000 acres in the southern part of the state in response to a trout farm, which claims increased pumping from the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer is taking flow it owns, according to the Associated Press. Groundwater users, which include farmers, businesses and cities, have six days to find alternative water sources.