The Stream, January 11: Australia Cotton Industry Denies Responsibility for River Depletion, Fish Kills

The Global Rundown

Australia’s cotton industry denies claims that it caused fish kills in the Darling River by depleting water flows. A new round of testing shows increasing lead levels in the Newark, New Jersey, water system. Researchers examine the vulnerabilities California’s forests face when confronted with multi-year drought. 2018 was the third-warmest year on record in drought-stricken Australia. The U.S. government shutdown halts EPA pollution inspections.

“The recent fish deaths in the Barwon-Darling river system at Menindee was a devastating sight. However, it is wrong to blame cotton growers for this incident.” –Michael Murray, general manager of Cotton Australia, in reference to allegations that the cotton industry has depleted river flows and caused recent fish kills in the Darling River. On Thursday, the New South Wales government called for a special commission of inquiry into the fish deaths. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

240 Water samples gathered during the latest monitoring period of the Newark, New Jersey water system. The testing ran from July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018, and more than 100 of the collected samples showed lead levels above the federal standard of 15 parts per billion. Lead levels in the city are the highest they have been since 2002.

1.14°C (2°F) Amount that Australia’s collective 2018 temperatures were above average, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Last year was the third-warmest on record in Australia, and rainfall was the seventh-lowest on record for the southeastern part of the country. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Researchers at the University of California, Merced, say that multi-year droughts are especially taxing on California forests because the trees rely on water stored below-ground. In low-precipitation winters, the underground water reserves aren’t replenished, and the subsurface water storage is gradually depleted. The study notes that some trees can tolerate five to six years of drought, while others may only survive one to two dry years.

On The Radar

The U.S. EPA employs hundreds of inspectors to detect pollution violations at factories, water treatment plants, and other industrial sites. The majority of these inspectors are currently furloughed amid the ongoing government shutdown, raising concern about illegal or accidental air, land, and water pollution in the meantime. The New York Times

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