The Stream, August 24: High Levels of Arsenic Discovered in Pakistan Drinking Water

The Global Rundown

Millions in Pakistan may be exposed to water with unsafe levels of arsenic. Alaska’s permafrost is on the verge of thawing, which would release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Residents in Washington State take a stand against mining along the Green-Toutle River. Greenland’s Lake Catalina could release up to 9 billion gallons of water in a massive ‘outburst flood.’ California legislation proposes the state’s first-ever water tax to address issues with unsafe drinking water.

“My message is short and direct: We are not Flint, Michigan.” –Senator Robert Hertzberg, co-author of Senate Bill 623, which would require Californians to pay 95 cents per month toward the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. The tax would generate $2 billion over 15 years, and would be used to pay for emergency water and long-term infrastructure fixes. Opponents of the bill argue that water should remain free and water issues should be addressed using tax money from a general fund. Mercury News

By The Numbers

4 Number of ‘outburst floods’ that have come from Greenland’s Lake Catalina in the past 50 years. The floods occur when the ice damming the lake breaks loose, releasing billions of gallons of water. A team of University of Copenhagen scientists recently discovered evidence for the first four floods, and believe that another outburst flood could take place as soon as 2018-19. Forbes

60 million Number of people in eastern Pakistan at risk of arsenic in their drinking water, according to an analysis of 1,200 groundwater samples from across the country. Long-term exposure to arsenic can lead to health conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular issues, and skin disorders. BBC

Science, Studies, And Reports

Alaska’s permafrost is quickly diminishing, according to research by Woods Hole Research Center. In certain areas, temperatures at a depth of 65 feet have risen by 5 degrees Celsius in recent years. As the permafrost thaws, it will release long-frozen carbon dioxide into atmosphere, which could raise global temperatures by up to 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The New York Times

On The Radar

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service are preparing to issue permits allowing drilling along the Green-Toutle River in Washington State. However, proposed mining operations could lead to acid mine drainage into the Green River, which supplies drinking water to several communities. This danger has inspired residents to start a petition asking the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to deny any mining permits that would threaten the river. American Rivers