YOUR GLOBAL RUNDOWN
- High fluoride levels in Kenya’s Lake Baringo have caused a bone-weakening disease that has left many villagers unable to walk.
- Environmental and human rights groups sue the Department of Homeland Security for potential environmental pollution caused by the use of teargas in Portland, Oregon.
- Maryland residents have nearly $60 million due in late water bills.
Hurricanes and an otherwise unforgiving tropical climate leaves homes across Cuba beyond repair.
“Now I’m getting to be afraid because it’s collapsing bit by bit.” – Filiberto Suarez, a 75-year-old retired Cuban decorator. A harsh tropical climate and years of negligence due to an underperforming economy have left thousands of Cuban’s homes in ruins, Reuters reports. Salty sea air, high humidity and hurricanes have taken their toll on housing across the country and although the government has committed to building and repairing homes, many say the plan is too little, too late. Water seeps through the ceiling in Suarez’s apartment when it rains, which sits on the second story of a three-story townhouse, after its roof caved in years ago. He still prefers it to communal shelters or attic rooms offered by local authorities, where locals have little privacy and can end up living in for years.
THE LATEST WATERNEWS FROM CIRCLE OF BLUE
The desire for crystal clean water is one that the president repeats frequently, even dating to his 2016 presidential campaign. Immaculate water, he has also said. Clear water. Beautiful water. But the focus on appearances is superficial, according to a number of water advocates and analysts. Revisions to environmental rules that the administration has pursued during the first term of the Trump presidency will be detrimental to the nation’s waters, they said.
In Case You Missed It:
2020 Election: Water Decisions Pepper State and Local Ballots – The legal rights for rivers and municipal financing of sewer improvements are some of the issues being presented to voters.
In Pakistan, Pandemic Derails Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Work – Government focus on Covid comes at the expense of other public health projects.
The DHS’s Use of Teargas in Portland Is Contributing to Environmental Pollution, New Complaint Alleges
Several environmental and human rights groups are suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for their use teargas and other chemical crowd control weapons against protesters in Portland, Oregon for “potentially grave health and environmental hazards,” the Guardian reports. The complaint alleges that gas weapons have been used so much that residue has accumulated in standing water and the drainage system in Portland and have seeped into the Willamette River. Along with a number of human health risks, the defendants claim the “aquatic toxicity” of the gas residues could damage or kill terrestrial and aquatic animals, including endangered salmon species in the area.
TODAY’S TOP STORIES, TOLD IN NUMBERS
4,000 KENYAN VILLAGERS
Villagers near Kenya’s Lake Baringo have unknowingly been exposed to high levels of fluoride in their water, which officials say has resulted in up to 4,000 people in 10 villages developing a bone-weakening disease that has left them unable to walk. The lake’s water contains more than 35 times the amount of fluoride recommended by the World Health Organization. Women have disproportionately been affected by the disease and village elders told Reuters that authorities have barely offered any assistance. Government officials have denied accusations that they haven’t provided villagers with adequate care.
The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) in Maryland said nearly 95,000 accounts owed $58.4 million in late utility dues as of October 16, Fox 5 Washington DC reports. WSSC has remained commitment to suspending service shutoffs and has waived late fees, however they still anticipate $31.7 million in losses for the 2021 fiscal year. Customers have been advised to take measures like taking shorter showers and using a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand to cut their water costs.
- Water Shutoffs Are Suspended, But the Bills Will Still Be Due
- Millions of Americans Are In Water Debt
WHAT WE’RE READING
Recommendations from the Circle of Blue team to start off your weekend.
- Inside the Fall of the CDC from ProPublica
- Dune, the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert
- Animal Agriculture and Climate Change in the US and UK Elite Media: Volume, Responsibilities, Causes and Solutions from Taylor Francis Online
- How would a Justice Amy Coney Barrett rule on the environment? from The World
Jane writes The Stream and covers domestic and international water issues for Circle of Blue. She is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University, where she studied Multimedia Journalism and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. During her time at Grand Valley, she was the host of the Community Service Learning Center podcast Be the Change. Currently based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jane enjoys listening to music, reading and spending time outdoors.