The Stream, February 22: Indian Farmers Embark on 200-Kilometer Protest March

The Global Rundown

Farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra are marching 200 kilometers to Mumbai to protest a huge canal project and rally for financial aid. Federal officials suspend a key permit for a 28,000-home development in southern Arizona amid a lawsuit over the project’s effect on groundwater and desert wetlands. Mining runoff pollutes U.S. waterways. California researchers argue that irrigated farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will need to be retired. Virginia lawmakers approve a bill requiring coal ash pits in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to be cleaned up.

“The fact that bottled water is provided is great. Where it falls short is it’s not piped into our home. Water that’s piped into our home is still contaminated water. Washing dishes and bathing — that metal-laden water is still running through our pipes.” — Catherine Maynard, a 30-year resident of Rimini, Montana, who can’t drink her tap water because the groundwater was polluted by abandoned mines. A national analysis of mining runoff from 43 sites under federal oversight found water contamination problems in at least nine states. Associated Press

By the Numbers

200 kilometers: Approximate distance that thousands of farmers in Maharashtra, India will march in a protest rally. Among their demands are assurances that a planned canal project will not divert water to Gujarat, a neighboring state. The march, one of several in recent years, is anticipated to last for eight days. Hindustan Times

Science, Studies and Reports

Perhaps a half-million acres of irrigated farmland in California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley, the heart of the state’s agriculture industry, will have to be taken out of production if the region is to meet state goals for groundwater sustainability. There is not enough water to meet all needs, the researchers argue. Public Policy Institute of California

On the Radar

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has, for the second time, suspended a Clean Water Act permit for a controversial 28,000-home development in southern Arizona, meaning any construction activities allowed under the permit must halt. A lawsuit from environmental groups claims that the Corps’ analysis of the project was too narrow, not looking at effects on desert wetlands from pumping groundwater for tens of thousands of new residents. Arizona Daily Star

Virginia lawmakers approved a bill to clean up coal waste dumps in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The bill requires Dominion Energy to excavate coal ash pits along the Elizabeth, James, and Potomac rivers and either recycle the waste for building materials or store it in landfills that are lined to protect groundwater from contamination. The governor is expected to sign the bill. Associated Press

In context: Cleaner Coal Ash Disposal Gets Bipartisan Support in Virginia

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