The Stream, January 22, 2020: Rainfall in Australia Slows Spread of Bushfires

The Global Rundown

Heavy rainfall eases bushfires in Australia, but blazes still remain. Ongoing drought in Guatemala fuels childhood malnutrition. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that residents of Flint, Michigan, can pursue a civil rights lawsuit over the city’s lead crisis. Twenty-one “critically overdrafted” areas of California prepare groundwater management plans as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Environmental groups say the U.S. Department of Defense is endangering communities by incinerating large amounts of PFAS-laced firefighting foam.

“There’s a need for much more significant research and regulatory action to make sure that disposal is done in a way that doesn’t just move the environmental problem around.” –Erik Olson, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s senior director for health and food, in reference to the burning of firefighting foam by the U.S. Department of Defense. Green groups argue that the impacts of incinerating the foam aren’t fully understood, and that the practice likely violates the Clean Air Act. PFAS contaminants have now been detected in rainwater and waterways throughout the United States. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

87 Fires burning in New South Wales, Australia, on Tuesday morning, down from 101 a week ago. Heavy rainfall over the past week has helped firefighters contain the bushfires, although authorities say many fires are still far from being fully extinguished. The Guardian

15,300 Recorded cases of acute malnutrition in children under 5 last year in Guatemala, a 24 percent increase over 2018. The United Nations states that high rates of child malnutrition are tied to ongoing drought and poor food harvests in the country. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

By January 31, the managers of 21 “critically overdrafted” basins in California are required to submit groundwater management plans under the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Once compiled, the plans will provide insight into the severity of aquifer depletion in the state. KQED

On the Radar

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court said that residents of Flint, Michigan, can pursue a civil rights lawsuit against city and government officials. The lawsuit accuses officials of allowing the city’s water to be contaminated with lead. The justices have rejected appeals by officials to halt the lawsuit. Reuters

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