The Stream, August 22, 2019: California Approves $1.3bn Clean Drinking Water Initiative

The Global Rundown

The California State Water Resources Control Board approves a $1.3 billion clean drinking water fund. A new report finds that a few big irrigators have taken a majority of water extracted from Australia’s Barwon-Darling river system in recent years. Flint, Michigan, is in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act after failing to adequately test homes with lead service lines. Recent rains ease record-low levels in the Mekong River, but widespread dam construction continues to jeopardize the waterway. New research shows that nearly half of all households in 15 major cities in the Global South lack running water. 

“Communities across the state have struggled for far too long without access to safe drinking water. With today’s action, we can begin to close this gap and ensure that the essential human right to safe and affordable water is provided to all Californians.” –E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, in reference to plans to allocate $130 million per year through the next 10 years to improve water quality issues across California. The Board approved the funding on Tuesday, August 20. Courthouse News Service

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By The Numbers

158 Total number of irrigation license-holders along Australia’s Barwon-Darling river system. A recent report by the Australian River Institute found that just 10 license-holders have taken 86 percent of the water extracted from the river system in recent years. The report warns that the high levels of extraction, alongside drier weather conditions, have pushed the lower Darling into drought. The Guardian 

60 At-risk homes that the city of Flint, Michigan, was supposed to test for lead water contamination in order to meet requirements of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act. Last week, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy issued a notice to Flint, claiming that the city was in violation of the Act after only gathering valid test results from 35 homes. A Flint spokeswoman says that city officials “disagree with the facts as stated in [the] letter.” MLive

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study looked at 15 major cities in the global south, including parts of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, and found that nearly half of all households have no access to piped water. Between the 15 cities, more than 50 million people are affected. Science Daily 

In context: The Next Urban Water Crisis? Inadequate Data Clouds the Forecast

On the Radar

In mid-July, water levels in the Mekong River dipped to record lows. A recent increase in rains has eased the shortage somewhat, but Southeast Asia’s longest waterway still faces a variety of threats, including myriad dam projects. In China, 11 dams are operational and 8 are planned. Further downstream, a long-term initiative by Laos includes constructing up to 72 dams. The excessive dam-building could cause several environmental issues, as well as disrupting downstream communities. Deutsche Welle

In context: One By One Big Hydropower Dams Disrupt Mekong River’s Free Flow

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