The Stream, July 31, 2019: Water-Related Land Rights Killings Up Four-Fold, Human Rights Group Finds

The Global Rundown

A human rights group finds a four-fold increase in water-related land rights killings worldwide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposes easing regulations on coal plant waste. The European Commission tells Germany to reduce nitrate levels in groundwater or face fines. New photographs show tens of thousands of expired water bottles abandoned in Puerto Rico in the wake of 2017 Hurricane Maria. Sewage sludge in Florida may be contaminating communities’ water sources. Conflict over water simmers in El Salvador, which is predicted to run out of water by the end of the century. 

“Marginalized communities struggle day to day to get access to enough water. It’s not a question that this could one day cause social conflict – it already is … the whole country is close to crisis.” –Silvia de Larios, former director of ecosystems and wildlife at the ministry of environment and natural resources, in reference to water-related unrest in El Salvador. A recent study found that the country is on track to run out of water within 80 years, and shortages are already causing conflict and displacement in the Central American country. The Guardian

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

HotSpots H2O: Deadly Monsoon Flooding Pummels Southern AsiaA UN briefing estimated that 25 million people in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Pakistan have been affected by torrential floods in the past several weeks.

What’s Up With Water – July 29, 2019 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on water levels in the Rhine River, deepening groundwater wells in the United States, and crippling drought in France. 

By The Numbers

€850,000 ($948,300) Potential daily fine that Germany faces if it fails to lower nitrate levels in its groundwater within the next eight weeks, according to the European Commission. The Commission ruled in 2018 that the nitrate levels were too high, and is now putting pressure on Germany to follow through with decreasing them. EU Policies

164 Farmers and land rights activists killed in 2018, with the highest number of deaths occurring in the Philippines, Colombia, and India. According to Global Witness, the human rights group that compiled the data, water-related killings increased by four-fold last year. Reuters

In context: 2017 Was Deadliest Year for Environmental Activists.

Science, Studies, and Reports

Sewage plants in South Florida routinely export their sewage sludge to counties in Central Florida, where the remnants are spread as fertilizer. Regional water authorities, however, say the sludge may be leaching into surrounding lakes, including several that provide drinking water to Central Florida communities. Water managers say toxic algae blooms, neurotoxins, and other contaminants are becoming widespread in the region’s lakes. Florida Today

On the Radar

On Wednesday, the U.S. EPA introduced a proposal to eliminate some restrictions on the disposal of coal plant waste. The proposal would lift a 2015 measure limiting coal ash dumping to 12,400 tons per site, and instead allow any amount as long as the site filed a demonstration showing that there would be no environmental harm. Coal ash contains arsenic, which has been linked to cancer, as well as other hazardous substances. Improper disposal of coal ash has caused water contamination and other environmental issues across the U.S. The Hill

Last year, news broke that tens of thousands of water bottles that were delivered to Puerto Rico in the wake of 2017’s Hurricane Maria had been abandoned. The water had expired and reportedly disposed of, but recent images taken by international news agency AFP show pallets of water bottles strewn across private farmland 25 miles outside of San Juan. The findings are under investigation. The Hill 

In context: Puerto Ricans Still Desperate for Water Weeks after Hurricane Maria


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