The Stream, November 26, 2019: Arizona Residents Rank Water Availability as Most Important Issue

The Global Rundown

Arizona residents rank water as a key concern in a recent survey. Air pollution blankets New South Wales, Australia, as fires burn 2.5 million acres. Catastrophic flooding hits France, Greece, and Italy. Twenty Superfund sites in Michigan could release dangerous chemicals in a flood event, a new federal analysis warns. Minnesota officials say a change in federal water laws would “kneecap” their ability to protect the state’s waterways. 

“On the one hand, the EPA is telling us that the states need to be able to exercise their own authority to protect clean water. That’s the argument for limiting federal protections on [Waters of the U.S.]. But now they’re weakening the rule that gives states the ability to do exactly that. It’s frustrating.” –Jared Mott, a conservation director at Minnesota’s Isaak Walton League, in reference to a new EPA proposal that would limit Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Section 401 gives states and tribes the authority to determine whether federally-approved water projects also meet local laws. Minnesota regulators say the new EPA proposal would “kneecap” their capacity to protect state waters. Minneapolis Star Tribune

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – November 25, 2019  — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on water allocation in China, water accessibility in the U.S., and the Chesapeake Bay’s annual “dead zone” review. 

HotSpots H2O: Food Emergency for Millions in AfghanistanMore than 10 million people in Afghanistan do not have enough to eat and need humanitarian aid according to the latest alert from an international coalition that analyzes hunger and malnutrition.

By The Numbers

2.5 million Acres that have burned in New South Wales, Australia, in recent weeks. Hot, dry weather and heavy winds continue to fuel the destructive fires, which are also causing major air pollution in Sydney and other Australian cities. The Washington Post

In context: In Australia, Echoes of Past, Glimpses of Future As Country Braces for Hot, Dry Summer.

7 People killed by intense storms and flooding in France, Greece, and Italy over the weekend. According to Greek media, the storms left a trail of “biblical destruction,” causing flash floods, landslides, and the collapse of an overpass. The Guardian

Science, Studies, and Reports

A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office looked at the risks of chemical contamination from Superfund sites in the event of a flood, and found that twenty sites in Michigan are likely to release dangerous chemicals during flooding. In total, the analysis found that more than 1500 sites across the U.S. could release toxins in the midst of floods, wildfires, storm surges, or sea level rise. Lansing State Journal

On the Radar

A survey of Arizonians found that water availability is the foremost concern among residents, ranking higher than issues like healthcare, immigration, and gun control. More than three-quarters of respondents expressed worries about the future of water in the state, with drought and population growth ranking as the biggest threats supply among survey respondents. AZ Central  

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