The Stream, August 21, 2020: Environment Agency Head in UK Could Reform EU River Pollution Law

The Global Rundown

The head of the Environment Agency in the United Kingdom floats the idea of reforming the EU’s water framework directive. China’s Three Gorges Dam is close to reaching its capacity. Water stock in Mumbai continues to rise. The Greenland ice sheet is melting fast. Victims of the Flint Water Crisis are getting reparations.

“This settlement focuses on the children and the future of Flint, and the State will do all it can to make this a step forward in the healing process for one of Michigan’s most resilient cities.” – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. A $600-million preliminary settlement was announced Thursday for Flint residents and businesses affected by the Flint Water Crisis nearly six years ago. Nearly 80 percent of payments will go to those who were under 18 at the time of the crisis. A more complete, formal settlement, which requires court approval, is expected within 45 days, Nessel said. Detroit Free Press

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By The Numbers

75 million liters (20 million gallons) per second The inflow to China’s Three Gorges Dam, the largest in its history due to heavy flooding. On Thursday morning, 11 outlets of the dam had been opened to discharge 49.2m liters (13m gallons) per second, the largest release since its construction. Officials have assured the public the dam would not be breached; however the dam is quickly reaching its capacity of 98.8m liters (26m gallons) a second. The floods have displaced hundreds of thousands and are expected to continue, threatening to derail the country’s fragile recovery from Covid-19 and raising concerns about food security. The Guardian

82 percent The filled capacity of water stock in Mumbai after Modak Sagar became the third of the seven lakes that supply Mumbai water to overflow. The current reserve can last around 320 days, although there is still no clarity over revoking the 20 percent daily water cut for Mumbai households. Hindustan Times

Science, Studies, and Reports

New satellite images showed that the Greenland ice sheet lost a record amount of ice in 2019. Almost 255bn tons were lost in July alone, equivalent to the average loss annually since 2003. If the entire ice sheet melts, sea levels would rise almost 20 feet (6 meters). Researchers said we’re not to the point of no return yet and that cutting carbon emissions will slow the melting. Melting the ice sheet entirely will take centuries, during which time the rise in global temperatures could be reversed. Nature

On the Radar

The head of the UK’s Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, has endorsed a proposal to weaken laws on cleanliness of polluted rivers, lakes and coastlines after Brexit. Bevan said he wanted to reform the EU’s water framework directive (WFD) to end the one-out-all-out rule and allow rivers to be judged on one criterion rather than all four. Many were outraged by the statement, saying that if enacted it could make rivers seem healthier than they are. The Guardian

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