The Stream, August 15: Louisiana Flood Disaster Declared

The Global Rundown

Severe flooding prompted the U.S. government to declare a state of disaster in Louisiana on Sunday, the same day a federal state of emergency expired over lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. Officials suspect water contamination in a New Zealand town is responsible for an illness that sickened thousands of people. Lesotho is struggling to cope with the effects of a severe drought at the same time it is exporting water to South Africa. A new well is expected to help relieve water shortages in the West Bank, and London’s water utility is preparing extra water ahead of a heat wave this week. A river restoration project in Scotland aims to revive ailing pearl mussels.

“We have heard from many residents … that’s there’s a deep concern that the federal government and state are going to pack up and pull out of Flint after August 14. I’m here to tell you that that assumption is completely false. I want to be extremely clear: August 14 is just a date on the calendar.” –Captain Chris Kelenske, commander of the Michigan State Police, on the expiration of a federal state of emergency declared over lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. The state will now assume all financial responsibility for emergency response in the city, which could cost $3.5 million each month. (NPR)

By The Numbers

2,000 people Estimated number who have been sickened by contaminated water supplies in the town of Havelock North, New Zealand. The contaminant is believed to be bacterial, and officials have issued a boil water advisory for residents. Bloomberg

4,500 cubic meters Amount of water that will be supplied each day to the West Bank by a new well, giving some relief to residents hit by severe water shortages. The Jerusalem Post

14 percent Increase in water consumption in London on a hot day, according to Thames Water. With temperatures set to hit 30 degrees Celsius this week, the utility is preparing to have an extra 450 million liters of water ready to supply the city each day. Independent

Science, Studies, And Reports

A $4.5 million restoration project in Scotland aims to recreate the natural flow of the River Dee in order to revive populations of freshwater pearl mussels and the fish they depend on to reproduce. The mussels, which help filter and clean the river water, have declined due to habitat degradation, hunting, and pollution. Guardian

On The Radar

Severe droughts linked to the global El Niño weather pattern last year have created a cycle of problems for Lesotho. Water from the country’s rivers is exported to neighboring South Africa, leaving farmers without enough water for their crops. As a result of poor harvests, they must import food from South Africa, where the drought has pushed up prices for staples like maize. AFP

Flash flooding in Louisiana necessitated the rescue of more than 7,000 people and killed at least five over the weekend, prompting the federal government to declare a state of disaster. Louisiana’s governor said the flooding was unprecedented, and warned residents that more rain could push rivers higher. Reuters