The drought in the Midwest has destroyed crops and herds, but it has also led to one of the smallest “dead zones”—low-oxygen areas where marine life struggles to survive—ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The lead scientist for the study said the data confirm a positive relationship between the size of the dead zone and the amount of freshwater and nutrients carried by the Mississippi River. Annual measurements date to 1985. The dead zone this year is the fourth-smallest.
The federal government designated 17 parcels of public land in six Western states as priority areas for utility-scale solar power development. The comprehensive environmental review drew significant attention—some 221,500 comments were received, between the draft review and a supplement.
Earlier this year, Circle of Blue explored how residents of Colorado’s San Luis Valley—where four solar zones have been placed—felt about the process.
A Man, A Plan, A Tunnel, California
A pair of tunnels will divert water around California’s contested Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and deliver it to water users in the state’s southern half, according to a proposal offered by state and federal officials. The project, which still must go through the environmental review process, is estimated to cost US$14 billion.
Local government officials and utility leaders asked a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee to invest in water projects and to provide flexibility for communities dealing with water-quality regulations.
Changes to its funding process will help poor communities along the U.S.-Mexico border receive more federal grant money for water projects, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing on July 31 to discuss a bill authorizing federal funding for rural water projects.
Climate Change Hearing
On August 1, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing to discuss the latest climate science and how communities are planning to adapt.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton