The Stream, December 26, 2019: Per Person Water Use in Austin, Texas, Falls to Lowest Level in Decades

The Global Rundown

Per capita water use in Austin, Texas, falls to the lowest level in more than 20 years. Authorities in Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, tell owners of unapproved bores to stop distributing water to the community. November flood damages to St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy, amount to $5.5 million. Radioactive water from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant is more contaminated than originally publicized, leading to concerns about the nation’s plan to dump the water into the ocean. Sewage systems crumble in South Africa.

“This is a national crisis. We have seen children playing in the raw sewage. Old people who can’t buy groceries because they can’t cross the river of excrement to get to the shops. These are only a few examples. It has been very alarming for us.” –Andries Mokoena Mahapa, a colonel in the South African army, who was dispatched to the city of Vanderbijlpark for sanitation repairs in 2018. Vanderbijlpark is one of many towns and cities where sewage infrastructure is either failing or inadequate, leading to sewage overflows in roads, waterways, and homes. The Institute for Security Studies, a South African think tank, states the government must start prioritizing sanitation in the country. Reuters

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By The Numbers

120 gallons Total per person per day water use in Austin, Texas, in 2019, according to Austin Water. The tally marks the city’s lowest per capita water use in more than two decades. Officials say the drop is due to conservation efforts like watering restrictions and water reuse programs. Austin Statesman

$5.5 million (5 million euro) Total damages to St. Mark’s Basilica following unprecedented high tide flooding in Venice last month. The 923-year-old cathedral is a treasured part of Venice history and features inlaid stone pavement and marble walls. Associated Press

Science, Studies, and Reports

Japanese officials continue to grapple with the disposal of radioactive cooling water from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Ongoing cooling means the volume of contaminated water is continually growing, and now, nine years after the disaster, the holding tanks are almost full. The Japanese government must make a decision on how to disperse the radioactive water. One suggestion involves slowly releasing the water into the ocean, but recent analysis shows that the water may be more radioactive than previously thought, leading to concerns among fishermen and environmentalists. The New York Times

On the Radar

Water is running low for residents of Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, prompting some owners of unapproved bores to offer water to the community. One of the owners, Cedar Creek Estate Winery and Vineyard, cited part of the Queensland planning act that allows water to be distributed from unapproved bores in case of emergency. The local council, however, declined the offer, claiming a state of emergency does not exist and that any unapproved water distribution must come to a halt. The Guardian

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