The Stream, August 26, 2020: Low Nutrient Levels in Great Lakes Are Threatening Wildlife

The Global Rundown

A new report shows nutrients in most of the Great Lakes are declining. Water levels in China’s Three Gorges Dam are dropping after a record-setting high over the weekend. A hurricane is set to make landfall in the U.S. Gulf Coast this week. Three-fourths of residents in an Indian village are sick after reports of contaminated water. Egyptian farmers fear the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will devastate their already crumbling livelihoods.

“The dam means our death.” – Makhluf Abu Kassem, a farmer in Egypt. Abu Kassam and other farmers fear the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will further threaten their livelihood after years of mismanagement, corruption and increasing population led to the loss of three quarter of farmland in the area. Egypt, who relies on the Nile for more than 90 percent of its water supply, has expressed these fears in negotiations with Ethiopia, who says the dam is necessary to provide electricity to its nearly 110 million citizens. AP

In context: HotSpots H2O: Tensions Rise in Horn of Africa as Ethiopia Fills Controversial Dam

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By The Numbers

75 The percentage of villagers in Shahapur, a town in India’s Thane district, that have fallen ill in the past two months after residents from around 30 villages complained of receiving contaminated water. Water flows into the villages directly from the Bhatsa River without any kind of purification process, which officials said can be blamed on low funding. Drinking contaminated water, and using it for cooking and cleaning, is a common problem during monsoon season in rural villages, especially during the pandemic when many have lost their jobs and cannot afford to buy purified water. Hindustan Times

165 meters (541.3 feet) The water level of China’s Three Gorges Dam on Monday, which dropped from a record of 167.65 meters (550 feet) over the weekend. The water remains far above the limit set to control flooding and authorities are remaining vigilant as heavy rains are expected to persist through Wednesday. Water levels have fallen in upstream cities, and floodwaters continue to recede from roads and other affected areas. Nikkei Asian Review

Science, Studies, and Reports

The International Joint Commission’s Science Advisory Board released a report earlier this summer that nutrients in some deeper offshore waters in the Great Lakes are declining, disrupting the food chain and starving some fish populations. In every lake except Erie, phosphorous levels in waters more than 20 meters deep are below the targets established by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada. Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are dealing with the most damage to their fish populations from low nutrient levels, while data from Lake Superior and Lake Ontario suggest the problem could occur in the future. International Joint Commission

On the Radar

Tropical Storm Laura became a hurricane on Tuesday after moving into the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is expected to make landfall this week and could flood entire towns along the Gulf Coast. The storm has already killed at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where it knocked out power and caused flooding. Hurricane Laura is moving toward the coast after another storm, Hurricane Marco, all but petered out after making landfall Monday evening. CBS News

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