The Stream, March 6: U.S. Coal Company Will Pay Largest Civil Penalty Ever Under Clean Water Act

United States Pollution
Alpha Natural Resources, a United States coal company, has been leveled with a $US 27.5 million penalty for violating the federal Clean Water Act and has agreed to spend an additional $US 200 million to clean up water pollution from its mines in Appalachia, The New York Times reported. The cleanup is expected to prevent 16.3 million kilograms (36 million pounds) of dissolved solid pollutants from being discharged into the nation’s water annually, but environmental advocates say the agreement misses the root of the pollution problem.

Under President Obama’s 2015 budget request, spending on the state revolving funds for clean water and safe drinking water programs would drop $US 581 million compared to 2014—a nearly 25 percent cut, Bloomberg News reported. Overall, the budget request decreases funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 3.8 percent to $US 7.89 billion.

South Africa Blackouts
South Africa’s state-run electricity company, Eskom, is starting scheduled blackouts due to rain that has caused shortages of coal, Bloomberg News reported. The blackouts are the first in South Africa since five days of power cuts in 2008, and Eskom has been spending billions of dollars trying to update its aging infrastructure.

Kerala’s network of lakes, rivers and estuaries, a major draw for tourists and an important fishing area, is threatened by declining water quality caused by a number of factors, despite some areas being designated as Ramsar wetland sites, Inter Press Service reported. Pollutants from agriculture, canals that disrupt the region’s natural hydrology, overfishing and the development of resorts have all taken a toll on the ecosystem.

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced that it will help farmers install 17,500 solar-powered irrigation systems by 2016 and provide $US 49 million in subsidies to do so, Bloomberg News reported. The systems will utilize solar-powered water pumps, replacing many diesel-powered pumps.

The Stream is a daily digest spotting global water trends. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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