The Stream, March 3: Major EPA Budget Cuts Loom for Water Programs

The Global Rundown

Tentative budget numbers appear to enact massive cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several of its major water programs, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The Great Lakes Commission says the region needs nearly $2 billion to maintain safe water systems, while in California, state data show that nearly 1 million people are exposed to contaminated water. Indonesia announced ambitious plans to cut plastic pollution in its rivers and oceans. Scientists warn that climate change is making extreme heat waves, like the one that triggered a spike in Sydney’s water use last month, much more common in Australia. A court decision in India allows Pepsi to resume using water from the Thamirabarani River in Tamil Nadu. Policy makers in Ireland will deliberate this month on the fate of unpopular residential water charges.

“This is a critical judgment, both for PepsiCo and Coca-Cola as water from this river caters to half of both the companies’ production capacity for south India.” –Legal representatives for PepsiCo, commenting on a court ruling that will allow the company to resume drawing water from the Thamirabarani River for its bottling plants in Tamil Nadu. Water supplies from the river were suspended in November. (Hindustan Times)

By The Numbers

25 percent Reduction in Environmental Protection Agency funding proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump. The numbers, not yet final, would include major cuts to programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which cleans up contaminated sites and funds monitoring and research in the world’s largest freshwater system. Reuters ; The Oregonian

In context: Learn how GLRI money has been used to address toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie.

$178 billion Amount Canada and the United States need to invest to maintain safe water systems in the Great Lakes region, according to the Great Lakes Commission. Associated Press

$1 billion Amount, each year, that Indonesia said it will spend to cut plastic pollution 70 percent by 2025. Indonesia, where discarded plastic items wash into rivers and out to sea, is the world’s second largest contributor to marine plastic pollution. Guardian

700,000 people Number in California who have contaminated drinking water, not including those that use private wells, according to data released by the state Water Resources Control Board. NBC Bay Area

Science, Studies, And Reports

The record-breaking heat wave Australia experienced last month could become much more common, according to a new report by researchers at the University of New South Wales and Melbourne University. Climate change has increased the likelihood of such extreme events from 1-in-500-years to 1-in-50-years, the report found. The February heat wave caused a spike in water use in Sydney. Guardian

On The Radar

Policy makers in Ireland continue to debate the merits of residential water charges, including potential incentives to encourage water conservation. The charges were suspended last year following fierce public opposition, and the government is due to vote on reforms by the end of the month. The Times