The Stream, June 21, 2019: Snowmelt Rejuvenates Colorado River, Rio Grande

The Global Rundown

Snowmelt replenishes the Colorado River, the Rio Grande, and other waterways across the southwestern United States. The Islamic State group continues to deliberately torch fields in Iraq, just as the country welcomes its first strong crop in years. Monsoon rains reach drought-stricken Maharashtra, India. Severe storms delay wheat sowing in Argentina, but could expand planting area. Environmental groups in Michigan continue to protest a replacement of the Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time. There’s this big sense of relief this year that we’ve kind of rebounded.” –Greg Smith, a hydrologist with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, in reference to the melting snow streaming into parched river in the southwestern U.S. Several states, including Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, experienced above-average snowfall this winter. Now, the snowmelt is rejuvenating the Colorado River, the Rio Grande, and other key waterways. Associated Press

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Chicago’s New Mayor, In Rare Move, Considers Water Shutoff Ban  — Few cities have complete bans on the practice. But some restrict when water can be turned off and which residents are eligible.

Price of Water 2019: Even Without Federal Infrastructure Deal, Cities Continue to Invest  — India’s monsoon, essential for the country’s water supply, arrived a week late this year, testing the patience of a country where extreme weather is fraying the social fabric.   

By The Numbers

180 Crop fires recorded between May 18 and June 11 in Ninevah, Iraq, which is home to about half of the country’s cultivated land. After years of drought and war, Iraq is finally experiencing a good harvest, but the Islamic State is now deliberately torching fields. So far, a relatively small proportion of crops have been burned, but officials warn the blazes could spread to storage sites. Reuters

In context: HotSpots H2O: Islamic State’s Scorched-Earth Tactics Devastate Promising Harvests.

4.4 miles Length of pipeline along Enbridge’s Line 5 that runs directly along the floor of Lake Michigan. Canadian oil company Enbridge says the aging pipeline needs replacement, and was approved to begin construction just as former governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, left office in January. In March, Democratic attorney general Dana Nessel issued a legal opinion saying the decision was unconstitutional, which has halted the replacement for now. Environmental groups and several Democratic lawmakers feel the replacement poses a major environmental threat to the U.S. Great Lakes. The Guardian

In context: Study: Line 5 Oil Spill Would Inundate Large Swaths Of Great Lakes Shoreline.

Science, Studies, and Reports

Heavy storms in Argentina have delayed planting of the country’s wheat crop, but could ultimately boost yields, according to meteorologists. The torrential rains are restoring water reserves across the country, which will allow farmers to sow more land if weather conditions are favorable for the rest of the season. Reuters

On the Radar

On Thursday, monsoon rains reached the southern part of Maharashtra, India, the country’s second most populous state. The late arrival of the rains has hampered crop planting and caused severe water shortages in many parts of the state. Economic Times

In context: HotSpots H2O: Violence Flares in India Amid Record Heat and Delayed Monsoon Rains.

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