The Stream, April 29, 2020: New Trump Water Rule Still Too Strict, Ranchers Claim in Lawsuit

The Global Rundown

U.S. ranchers sue the Trump administration over a relaxed Obama-era water restriction, which they allege is still too strict. A new model by Rice University shows that the use of recycled water in urban areas could substantially reduce cities’ need for surface water. A string of mechanical failures led to the recent oil spill in Port Valdez, Alaska, officials say. U.S. communities hit by recurrent flooding seek new flood prevention solutions. The coronavirus pandemic exposes water shortages across Africa

“We have the ministry of water there, Lake Victoria there, but at times you can go for three days without water. Yet they say wash your hands with soap, use sanitizers and remember everything goes with water. They [the government] added 21 more days [of movement restrictions], how do you expect us to survive in this situation, really?” –Samuel Koyondo, a street vendor in Kisumu, Kenya, which sits near Lake Victoria, the largest body of freshwater in Africa. Across much of Africa, from Namibia to Kenya to Ghana, the lack of clean water access is becoming more widely felt as residents struggle to meet handwashing recommendations issued in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. Deutsche Welle 

In context: Healthcare Facilities in Developing Countries a High Risk for Coronavirus Transmission

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By The Numbers

$20 billion Damage caused by floods along the Missouri, Mississippi, and Arkansas rivers in 2019. The National Weather Service warns of more heavy flooding this spring, although the agency states the risk has been decreased by below-average rainfall in the past two months. Flood-prone communities say they are still seeking new ways to protect against overflowing rivers, including shifting planning so that cities complement floodplains, and harnessing natural assets more effectively. Associated Press

14 barrels Amount of oil that has been recovered so far from the Valdez Marine Terminal in Port Valdez, Alaska. The spill was discovered earlier this month after water had leached into the harbor for nearly two weeks. Officials say the spill was due to a series of mechanical failures. Associated Press 

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study by researchers at Rice University found that utilizing recycled water could partially ease the need for surface water in urban areas. Researchers used Houston, Texas, as a model, and created a plan that would reduce surface water needs by 28 percent through the recycling and reuse of wastewater.

On the Radar

The New Mexico Cattlemen’s Association filed suit this week against the Trump administration over the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaced the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. rule. Ranchers argue that the new regulation is too strict, and violates “the Constitution, Clean Water Act, and Supreme Court precedent.” The suit also alleges that the revised rule lacks clear definitions, leaving it unclear which government bodies have oversight over which waterways. Environmental groups have likewise criticized the rule and have expressed a willingness to sue over it, arguing that it offers the least amount of protection in decades. The Hill

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