The Stream, May 2: California Snowpack Weighs In At Double Normal Levels

The Global Rundown

After years of severe drought, California’s final snowpack measurement is double its normal levels. Indigenous people protecting their land and resources are often portrayed as criminals or terrorists, according to the United Nations’ special rapporteur. A new federal spending deal softens funding cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Officials in Chicago were forced to release millions of liters of untreated wastewater into Lake Michigan to avoid flooding. High water levels and flooding will shut down part of the Mississippi River to shipping this week. Conservationists in Australia are building springs in the outback to save an endangered freshwater fish.

“The main preoccupation of indigenous peoples is really to work on the defense of their land and resources, and protection of the right of self-determination. In their assertion of this right, they are accused of being a terrorist or arrested.” –Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, condemning the use of force to quell peaceful protests by indigenous communities around the world. Many of the protests focus on the protection of water resources, such as the movement against the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota. (UN News Centre)

In context: At Standing Rock, water, history, and finance converge as Sioux Nation mounts storied battle over Dakota Access pipeline.

By The Numbers

$81 million Cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency included in a new federal spending deal reached by Congress. While significant, the number is much less than the $247 million drop in funding that was originally proposed. Bloomberg

5 hours Amount of time that untreated stormwater and sewage was released into Lake Michigan to avoid flooding in Chicago last weekend. The release likely totaled millions of liters, but official estimates will not be available until later this week. Chicago Sun-Times

In context: Great Lakes cities tackle sewage overflows to reduce phosphorus.

Science, Studies, And Reports

A conservation group in Australia is constructing several artificial springs in central Queensland to provide habitat for the red-finned blue-eye, an extremely rare and endangered freshwater fish. Populations of the fish, which live in springs in the outback, have suffered due to competition from invasive mosquito fish. Guardian

On The Radar

Snowapck in the Sierra Nevada mountains has reached double its normal levels, according to the final snow survey completed by state officials Monday. The snowpack is critical for the state’s water supply, but meltwater could also cause flooding downstream this spring. Associated Press

Flood-stage water levels will close a portion of the Mississippi River near the city of St. Louis today, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Water levels on the river, a major shipping route, could top 12 meters by Wednesday. Reuters