The Stream, August 4: Millions of U.S. Homes At Risk From Sea Level Rise

The Global Rundown

Rising sea levels could flood nearly 2 million homes in coastal cities across the United States by the end of the century. Heavy rainfall in Maharashtra forced dam operators to release water and issue flood warnings for areas of Pune. State officials in North Carolina misinformed residents about drinking water contamination near coal ash pits, according to testimony in an ongoing lawsuit. After a federal emergency declaration in Flint, Michigan expires this month, the state will take on all financial responsibility for the response to the city’s lead-contaminated water crisis. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro said water services in his city have improved, while acknowledging that Rio and other cities around the globe still have a long way to go to address pollution. In Chicago, the mayor is proposing a new tax on water and sewage to support the city’s pension funds.

“The state health director’s job is to protect public health. And in this specific instance, the opposite occurred. He knowingly told people that their water was safe when we knew it wasn’t.”–Ken Rudo, a state toxicologist in North Carolina, in testimony about drinking water contamination warnings the state issued — and later rescinded — to residents living near coal ash pits. (Associated Press)

By The Numbers

85 million cubic meters Increase in the amount of water in the catchment area of four dams outside of Pune, India over the course of a day. Officials were forced to release water from one of the dams and issue a flood warning for the city. Hindustan Times

$200 Expected increase in the annual water bill for an average household in Chicago over the next four years under a new tax proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The tax would provide about $230 million each year for the city’s municipal workers’ pension fund. Chicago Tribune

75 percent Proportion the federal government paid of the cost to provide water filters and bottled water in Flint, Michigan. When the federal state of emergency expires on August 14, the state will assume the entire cost of efforts to respond to the city’s lead-contaminated water crisis. Detroit Free Press

Science, Studies, And Reports

Approximately 1.9 million homes in major coastal cities across the United States could be flooded by the end of the century if sea levels rise 1.8 meters, a report by online real estate company Zillow found. States such as Florida and Hawaii are at particular risk, with at least 10 percent of homes there vulnerable to rising oceans. Yale Environment 360

On The Radar

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro insists the city’s public services — including water and sewage connections — have improved over the past decade, despite the rampant water pollution in Guanabara Bay that has garnered international attention ahead of the Olympic Games. The city is not alone in its struggle to improve water quality. Approximately 2.4 billion people worldwide still do not have access to adequate sanitation. Guardian