The Stream, November 7, 2019: California Water Utilities Forced to Rely on Generators Amid Wildfires and Power Outages

The Global Rundown

Water suppliers in areas of California affected by wildfires are forced to rely on generators to continue service. Australia’s Coalition parties are set to unveil $1.5 billion in drought relief for farmers. The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a landmark case related to the Clean Water Act. A Michigan city, St. Clair Shores, finds high lead levels in their water under new state standards. Egyptian concerns over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are exacerbated by rising temperatures and a growing population.

“There is very little Nile water. In winter, sometimes there’s a bit more, but mainly because the land doesn’t need a lot of water in the winter. But in the summer, we don’t get any.” –Ahmed Abd-Rabo, a farmer in Fayoum, Egypt, which lies about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Cairo. Abd-Rabo’s concerns are felt across Egypt, where rising temperatures, a growing population, and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) all pose threats to the country’s fragile water supply. After stalling for several weeks, talks among Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan about the GERD resumed on Wednesday in the United States. Reuters

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By The Numbers

$1.5 billion Size of a drought relief package that Australia’s Coalition political alliance plans to introduce on Thursday. The funding, which has been in the works for months, will aid drought-hit farmers and communities across the country. The Guardian

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

Science, Studies, and Reports

Another Michigan community, St. Clair Shores, detected high lead levels in its water system per recently revised state standards. The city is distributing free water filters kits to affected households. Detroit Free Press

On the Radar

Electrical providers across California are shutting off power to minimize further wildfire outbreak in the state, a move that has forced water, sewer, and other utilities to purchase costly generators in order to continue providing service. The outages are affecting large swathes of the state, from Sonoma’s wine country to parts of Los Angeles. Bloomberg Environment

In context: Severe Drinking Water Contamination Surfaces After Brutal Camp Fire.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over a crucial water pollution case. The case questions whether Maui County, Hawaii, violated the Clean Water Act after wastewater that was injected underground seeped into the Pacific Ocean. If the Court rules that the groundwater is covered under the Clean Water Act, then the decision could greatly expand the regulatory reach of the law. On the other hand, if the Clean Water Act is interpreted more narrowly, some members of the court worry the ruling could allow polluters to sidestep the law. The court is reportedly divided over the decision. Bloomberg Environment

In context: Maui Mayor Rejects Clean Water Act Settlement, Aims for Supreme Court Hearing

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