The Stream, January 17: Lead in Flint, Michigan, at Lowest Levels Since Before Water Crisis Began

The Global Rundown

Lead levels in water samples from Flint, Michigan, are the lowest since the city’s devastating lead crisis began. Heavy rains and flooding are expected to continue in northern Argentina. Water diversions have disrupted the natural balance of Australia’s Murray-Darling river system, raising the likelihood of disasters like the recent fish kills, scientists say. Lead is found in the drinking water systems of two New Jersey counties. Researchers consider the impacts of glacier melt on Kazakhstan and beyond.

“The government explains that in the near future there will be a shortage of water. So every farmer needs to think about his money, so if tomorrow we don’t have this water, what will we do.” –Aleksi Gorbatuk, a farmer in Karaoy, Kazakhstan, who hopes to implement drip irrigation in his fields. Melting glaciers in Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau, and the the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges will jeopardize the water supply of millions in coming decades. Experts say local governments and residents should start planning now for glacial retreat, but many water-saving irrigation measures are too expensive for the region’s farmers. The New York Times

In context: HotSpots H2O, November 19: Deadly Water Disputes Intensify in Central Asia as Glaciers Melt.

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By The Numbers

90 percent Proportion of water samples from Flint, Michigan, taken during the last six months of 2018 that contained 4 parts per billion of lead or less. Lead levels are now the lowest they have been since the city’s water crisis began in 2014. MLive

In context: Circle of Blue’s coverage of the Flint water crisis.

224 millimeters (8.8 inches) Amount of rainfall in Resistencia, Argentina, on January 8, which set a new 24-hour precipitation record. Parts of northern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil have received five times the long-term expected average rainfall since 2019 began. Heavy rains and flooding in the region are expected to continue for the next week. Al Jazeera

Science, Studies, And Reports

Recent fish kills have struck Australia’s Murray-Darling river system, and scientists say decades of water diversions likely play a role. The diversions have upset the natural balance of the basin, allowing the river system to dry into disconnected pools during periods of severe drought. Unless natural water flows are allowed to resume, scientists say the river ecosystem is at further risk.

On The Radar

Lead contamination above federal safety levels have been detected in the water systems of New Jersey’s Bergen and Hudson counties. Water leaving the state’s SUEZ Haworth plant, which serves 800,000 people in North Jersey, is lead-free — but inadequate corrosion control treatment seems to be allowing lead to leach out of piping and into the water.

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