The Stream, December 4, 2019: South Africa To Invest $61 Billion in Water Infrastructure Over the Next Decade

The Global Rundown

South Africa announces a $61 billion plan to combat water scarcity. The Michigan Court of Appeals rules against a request by Nestle Waters North America to build a pump station in Osceola, Michigan. A U.S. District Judge approves a $50 million settlement related to water pollution. Trade associations reject a request by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers for PFAS testing at wastewater treatment plants. Low water levels in Lake Okeechobee could spell water restrictions for South Florida residents in 2020.

“There aren’t a lot of options when you run out of water. What are we gonna do if we have a deficit rainfall? We need to start planning now.” –Tommy Strowd, executive director of the Lake Worth Drainage District in Southern Florida. Water utilities, farmers, and environmentalists in the region are carefully monitoring water levels in Lake Okeechobee, which provides South Florida’s backup water supply. Currently, water levels in the lake are around 13 feet above sea level, but if they drop below 12.5 feet, residents of the area could face water restrictions in 2020. South Florida Sun Sentinel 

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By The Numbers

900 billion rand ($61 billion) Amount that South Africa plans to spend on boosting water supply and storage infrastructure over the next ten years. Parts of the country are currently experiencing the worst drought in decades. Bloomberg

$50 million Settlement awarded in a lawsuit between Diane Wilson, a retired Texas shrimper and an environmental activist, and Formosa, a large plastics manufacturer based in Taiwan. In 2017, Wilson, along with environmental group San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper, alleged that Formosa illegally dumped plastic pellets and other contaminants into Lavaca Bay and Texas waterways. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt approved the massive settlement, the largest in U.S. history involving a private citizen and an industrial polluter. Texas Tribune 

Science, Studies, and Reports

In an attempt to gauge PFAS contamination across Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers asked wastewater treatment facilities to test for the toxic chemicals. The request was denied, however, by trade associations representing the facilities, who say a lack of sampling protocols and PFAS standards invalidate test results. Bloomberg Environment

On the Radar

On Tuesday, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a ruling that would allow Nestle Waters North America to build a new pump station in Osceola Township, where the company currently extracts 250 gallons of water per minute from the White Pine Springs well. Previously, Osceola County Circuit Court ruled that water is essential for life, and Nestle’s water meets demand for the resource, meaning that a new pump station could not be blocked by zoning. The appellate court reversed the decision, arguing that selling bottled water for profit is not an “essential public service.” Detroit Free Press

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