The Stream, December 2, 2020: Michigan Announces Sewage Testing Sites Across the State


  • Pilot programs for wastewater testing are being launched throughout the state of Michigan, including throughout Metro Detroit, to help curb the spread of Covid-19.
  • Brazil’s energy and water security are at risk due to climate change, according to a military report.
  • A new study found that scientists have drastically underestimated flood risk along the Brahmaputra River.
  • Dueling companies from the United States and Mexico are proposing ideas to fix one of the Tijuana River’s oldest pollution problems.

Hurdles remain as Enbridge secures the final permits needed for the reconstruction of the controversial Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota.

“This is the culmination of six years of evidence and science-based review of the project.” – Juli Kellner, spokeswoman for Enbridge. Although final permits were granted this week, ongoing lawsuits and the threat of mass protests remain obstacles for Line 3, an oil pipeline that will run from Alberta, Canada through the state of Minnesota. MinnPost reports that the pipeline, which would replace one built in the 1960s, could carry roughly 760,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Minnesota’s Department of Commerce has sued Enbridge, saying they haven’t properly shown demand for that much oil running through the pipeline. Several environmental groups and native tribes also filed a lawsuit, challenging a major water pollution permit issued for the pipeline last week.


HotSpots H2O: Water Scarcity in Palestinian Territories Puts Farming at Risk – Water scarcity in occupied Palestinian territories continues to put health and agriculture at risk as conflict over water supplies between Jordan, Israel, and Palestinians flares.

What’s Up With Water – November 30, 2020 – This week’s episode covers a global fund established by the United Nations that aims to address sanitation-related health crises, a new report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization that highlights water scarcity for the world’s farmers and the Canadian energy company Enbridge, which has sued the state of Michigan for shutting down Line 5 and received federal permits to replace the line 3 pipeline in the United States Midwest.

Brazilian Military Experts Predict Climate Change Will Threaten Country’s Energy and Water Security

A group of senior military experts predicted Monday that climate change will put Brazil’s energy and water security at risk, Reuters reports. Deforestation in the Amazon region, the experts said, could alter rainfall patterns in Brazil and affect hydropower plants and water supplies for major urban areas. Around 63 percent of Brazil’s electricity comes from hydropower and water-related sources, government data from 2019 shows. The military’s report also said that Brazil’s armed forces, which have been tasked with monitoring the Amazon where deforestation is surging, could be stretched thin as they continue to respond to humanitarian crises spurred by climate change.



A new study that examined tree rings which showed rainfall patterns going back centuries before instrumental and historical records found that scientists could be vastly underestimating flood risk along the Brahmaputra River. The study, published in Nature Communications, looked through seven centuries of rainfall during monsoon season and concluded that flood hazard is underestimated by up to 38 percent. Only relying on data from post-1950 is insufficient, the study found, because that period was actually one of the driest since the 1300s.


The state of Michigan announced Tuesday that it will begin testing sewage water across Metro Detroit to detect and prevent coronavirus outbreaks, The Detroit News reports. The pilot program, which targets 9 critical ZIP codes where the number of cases has risen drastically, has been funded with an $800,000 grant from the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Approximately 270 testing sites for wastewater surveillance initiatives have been launched in 37 counties throughout the upper and lower peninsulas, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced last week.

In context: Enthusiasm But Obstacles in Using Sewage to Monitor Coronavirus


Voice of San Diego reports that two companies have presented the International Boundary and Water Commission, an international agency that executes border-and-water-related treaties between the United States and Mexico, with plans to recycle wastewater from the Tijuana River. One company based in San Diego, WinWerks, proposed a plan to treat the water before it spills into the Mexican side of river, which could then be resold to Southern California utilities. The other plan, from the Mexican conglomerate Comice, would build a wastewater purification plant on Mexico’s side of the river and stop carrying garbage and other pollutants to the beaches of Southern California. However, because of Mexican water laws, Comice would be unable to resell the water and the Mexican government would likely need to step in to support the project.

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