The Stream, August 15, 2019: Multi-Year Snow Droughts Could Be New Normal for Western United States

The Global Rundown

Scientists warn that “snow droughts” will become more common in the western United States. Human rights groups warn that a proposed hydroelectricity project in Myanmar could displace thousands. The death toll from monsoon flooding in India rises to 270. Water at several hundred beaches in Massachusetts tests positive for hazardous levels of bacteria. Officials in Newark, New Jersey, struggle to determine why lead contamination remains an issue despite filtration. 

 “The second round of testing used new filters to rule out human error and/or manufacturer defects. Results of that analysis again indicated that the filters may not be reducing the levels of lead as anticipated.” –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in reference to ongoing lead contamination in household drinking water in Newark, New Jersey. The city has known about possible lead issues for three years, and has distributed nationally-certified filters to affected households. New testing, however, shows that lead levels were still above the federal limit even after passing through the filters, and officials are struggling to figure out why. The city plans to distribute bottled water in the meantime.

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By The Numbers

7,000 People living along the Tanintharyi River in Myanmar that risk being displaced if a new hydroelectricity project is completed. The government says the dam will help ensure future energy reserves for the country, but a report by three human rights groups warns that the project could deluge nearly 60,000 hectares of land and displace up to 32 upstream villages. Al Jazeera

270 Latest death toll from monsoon flooding in India this month. The southern states of Karnataka and Kerala, along with western states Maharashtra and Gujarat, are the hardest-hit. The floodwaters have displaced nearly one million people. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

Snow droughts could become the new normal in the western United States by 2050, scientists warn. Currently, researchers say that there is a 7 percent chance that the region will get two or more years of below-average snowfall. By the middle of the century, the odds could rise to 40 percent. From 2012-2015, the Sierra Nevada mountains endured the worst snow drought in at least 500 years.  National Geographic 

On the Radar

A recent report shows that water at 200-plus Massachusetts beaches may contain hazardous levels of bacteria. Environmental advocates say that, while Massachusetts has boosted the cleanliness of its waterways in recent years, more regulations on sewage management are needed to reduce pollution. The Boston Globe 

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