The Stream, April 6: U.S. Study Finds Extensive Brackish Groundwater Supplies

The Global Rundown

Brackish groundwater supplies in the United States equal more than 35 times the amount of fresh groundwater used each year, a new study found. Australia issued a 60-year water license to the controversial Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland. Four coal mining companies in Queensland recently declared force majeure due to flooding from Cyclone Debbie. Only a fraction of the money India allocated to clean up the Ganges river has been spent. Water shortages in southern India could disrupt the manufacturing industry this year. A steel plant in Vietnam may soon begin test runs, a year after it spilled toxic wastewater into coastal regions. Excessive precipitation in Canada could delay the planting of wheat crops. The northern Sierra Nevada mountains in California are just centimeters away from their wettest water year on record.

“It’s going to be volatile. We need to see how we can mitigate the situation coming up in May. Water is still flowing in our factory taps. What if it doesn’t?” –Ashok Rao, managing director of KGK Engineering in Bengaluru, expressing concern about dwindling water supplies in southern India that could affect the manufacturing industry. (Bloomberg)

By The Numbers

$205 million Amount that has been spent since April 2015 to clean up pollution in the Ganges river, according to government documents. That’s less than 10 percent of the $3.06 billion allocated to the project through 2020, and environmental groups are frustrated by slow progress. Reuters

In context: Learn more about India’s fresh resolve to restore the polluted Ganges.

60 years Term of the water license issued by Queensland to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine. Though there are 100 conditions on the license, it does not limit how much groundwater the mine can take from the Betts Creek formation. Guardian

12.7 centimeters Amount of precipitation necessary by September 30 to make this year the wettest water year on record in California’s northern Sierra Nevada mountains. SFGate

150 percent of average Amount of precipitation recorded in areas of Manitoba and Saskatchewan since last September, causing harvesting and planting delays for Canada’s wheat crops. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, And Reports

Massive amounts of brackish groundwater could supplement freshwater supplies for industries and cities across the United States, according to a new national assessment released by the U.S. Geological Survey. The assessment found that the total amount of brackish groundwater is more than 35 times the amount of fresh groundwater used each year, and supplies exist in every state except New Hampshire and Rhode Island. USGS

In context: Brackish groundwater takes a star turn.

On The Radar

BHP Billiton became the fourth mining company to declare force majeure after flooding caused by Cyclone Debbie disrupted rail shipments from its coal mines in Queensland. Reuters

In context: Water and mining: are companies correctly pricing in risks?

The Formosa Plastics steel mill in Vietnam may soon begin test runs, a year after it spilled toxic wastewater into coastal waters. Vietnam’s environment ministry said the plant has addressed 52 out of 53 violations, though it still uses a wet coking system that was involved in the spill. Reuters