The Stream, February 19, 2020: Sydney, Australia, Plans to Ease Water Restrictions Following Heavy Rainfall

The Global Rundown

Sydney, Australia, plans to ease water restrictions next month after torrential rainfall boosted the city’s reservoir levels. Drought leaves a quarter of Lesotho’s population hungry. Wisconsin lawmakers prepare to vote on a $10 million plan to improve water quality issues in the state. Residents of Brega Valley, Australia, are forced to rely on carted in water after floodwaters wash large amounts of ash and sediment into the local catchment. Activists propose a new water protection law in Detroit, Michigan, in the wake of a dock collapse that contaminated the Detroit River last year. 

“For too long, we have allowed industry to operate with these archaic practices and just said ‘this is the status quo. We shouldn’t have to live in neighborhoods where people are struggling to breathe, where people question the water quality and people can’t enjoy their neighborhoods.” –Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, a Detroit City Councilwoman, in reference to a new proposal that would help eliminate “gaps and failures” in the practices of companies operating along the Detroit River. The proposal comes in the wake of a dock collapse in November 2019 that spread contaminants into the waterway. The ordinance would attempt to minimize “unpermitted operation” among riverside companies, as well as monitoring which bulk materials could be used and stored along the river. The Detroit News

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – February 17, 2020 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on increased reservoir levels in Sydney, Australia, new funding for clean drinking water in the Gaza Strip, and new legislation on overdue water bills in Ohio. 

HotSpots H2O: Drowning In South Africa Sparks Riot Over Water ShortagesA young girl’s drowning in eastern South Africa this January aggravated existing frustrations over water supply in the parched nation. 

By The Numbers

150 millimeters (5.9 inches) Amount of rain that fell across the Brogo catchment in Bega Valley, New South Wales, Australia, last week. The catchment was scorched by bushfires in January, destroying vegetation and other natural buffers, which allowed large amounts of ash and sediment to wash in and render the catchment’s water undrinkable. Bega Valley residents are currently relying on carted in water for their drinking water. The Guardian 

$10 million Size of a funding package that would help improve water quality issues in Wisconsin. State lawmakers are voting on the plan this week. If approved, the funding will help address PFAS contamination and tainted groundwater. Wisconsin Public Radio

Science, Studies, and Reports

Half a million people in Lesotho are facing food insecurity, warns the United Nations, adding that aid from the international community may be needed to overcome the shortages. Drought and poor rainfall have led to meager harvests, a situation that the UN estimates will take $74 million in food aid to overcome. The New York Times

On the Radar

On March 1, Sydney, Australia, plans to relax water restrictions from level 2 to level 1 after the “biggest rain event in 20 years” boosted the city’s reservoirs to 80.4 percent capacity. Officials say several initiatives are in place to ensure the water’s safety, but that testing should be completed by the end of the month. Level 1 water restrictions still prohibit washing vehicles, leaving running hoses unattended, and using standard sprinklers. The Guardian

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