The Stream, January 28, 2020: Alaska’s Longest Drought on Record Ends

The Global Rundown

Alaska’s longest drought on record comes to an end. Zimbabweans turn to unsafe open wells as tap water cuts continue. Water rates for communities in Flint, Michigan, remain unchanged for the third year in a row. The Australian government withholds funds from New South Wales after the state fails to complete Murray-Darling basin water resource plans. Legislation in Arizona seeks to limit the transfer of Colorado River water from rural to urban areas.

“We just needed to get ahead of it and let them know that we’re not for this. It would be detrimental to the communities. There is absolutely zero development that would happen in any of those communities once the water got transferred out of there.” –Regina Cobb, an Arizona lawmaker, in reference to a proposal by GSC Farm to sell their water rights to the town of Queen Creek. If finalized, the deal would give Queen Creek access to GSC Farm’s annual entitlement of 678 million gallons of Colorado River water. Cobb and other lawmakers, though, say the water is intended for agricultural use, and fear that diverting it could be detrimental for farming communities. They are attempting to block the deal with a bill that limits “fourth-priority” water users from diverting water. AZ Central 

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By The Numbers

96 hours Length of time that tap water is shut off in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, each week as authorities grapple with the country’s worst drought in years. The water cuts are forcing residents to rely more heavily on open wells, which are often polluted with bacteria and other contaminants. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

Alaska is drought-free for the first time since July 2018, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The recent drought was the longest ever recorded in the state. KTVA

On the Radar

The Australian federal government is withholding several million dollars from New South Wales after the state failed to submit water resource plans for the Murray-Darling basin. The plans provide detailed rules on water extraction, and help inform how water is managed during drought. A letter from the federal government gives NSW two weeks to respond, and urges the state to show its commitment to the basin plan by quickly submitting at least a handful of the 20 required resource plans. The Guardian

Genesee County, Michigan, will continue selling water to Flint suburbs for the same price a third year in a row, according to local officials. County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright says that county oversight of the water system, as well as receiving water from the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline, have helped stabilize costs. MLive

In context: Price of Water 2019: Even Without Federal Infrastructure Deal, Cities Continue to Invest

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