The Stream, May 11: Contaminated Puerto Rico Drinking Water Systems Supply Millions of People

The Global Rundown

More than 2 million people in Puerto Rico are served by contaminated drinking water systems, according to a new report. Protests over poor water, electricity, and housing services are spreading in South Africa. A small oil spill occurred at a pumping station for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in South Dakota, reigniting concerns about potential water pollution. Timber being used to build the Olympic stadium in Japan is connected to logging operations that are polluting water in Borneo, an indigenous community warns. New regulations in China aim to reduce water pollution from the mining industry. The head of the United Nations is calling on the international community to boost the resilience of countries affected by climate change and water scarcity. Extensive flooding has displaced thousands of people in Quebec.

“This fragility that we see in so many countries in the world has been the cause of many conflicts…It is essential to not just address the humanitarian crises, but to build resilience – of populations, of regions and countries – to create the conditions for those humanitarian crises not to be repeated.” –Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, highlighting the need to strengthen regions that have been disrupted by climate change, water and food scarcity, and poor governance. (Reuters)

In context: Attacks in Afghanistan compromise access to clean water.

By The Numbers

1,900 people have been forced to evacuate to escape flooding in Quebec, where floodwaters are at their highest level in half a century. Associated Press

318 liters of oil spilled at a pump station for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in South Dakota last month. The pipeline has been at the center of protests by Native American communities and environmental groups, who worry that spills could contaminate water supplies. Guardian

62 people were arrested in Johannesburg, South Africa for participating in protests to demand access to public services including water, electricity, and housing. Protests also spread to the city of Pretoria and Limpopo province. Bloomberg

In context: Learn more about South Africa’s energy and water choke points.

Science, Studies, And Reports

Water systems contaminated with bacteria and other pollutants supply more than 2.4 million people in Puerto Rico, according to a report released by the National Resources Defense Council. The report also highlighted a lack of regular testing for contaminants such as lead. NPR

On The Radar

New regulations in China will require mining companies to meet more stringent environmental standards, including higher levels of wastewater recovery and upgraded storage facilities to prevent water contamination from mine tailings. The regulations will immediately apply to all new mines, and existing mines will be required to improve their operations. Reuters

An indigenous community in Borneo has warned that the timber being used to build the Olympic stadium in Japan comes from logging operations that threaten its water and land. “We lost our livelihoods because the water is polluted by the logging,” said a village leader. “The situation is becoming worse and worse.” Reuters