The Stream, July 14, 2020: China Rolls Out “Wartime” Measures as Record Flooding Continues

The Global Rundown

Dozens of rivers in China reach record levels as ongoing flooding in the country prompts “wartime” measures. The city of Jal, New Mexico fights against attempts to divert more local water to gas and oil operations. Many insurers in the U.S. require building owners to take extra precautions against Legionnaires’ disease as coronavirus lockdowns lift. A federal lawsuit calls for a permanent solution to water shutoffs in Detroit, Michigan. A new report shows that improved heatwave warnings in Africa could save lives. 

“Early warnings make people aware to drink water regularly and (governments can) also make drinking water freely available and open public buildings that are cool.” –Friederike Otto, acting director of the Environmental Change Institute, in reference to the lives that could be saved in Africa if better heatwave warning systems were in place. Limited expertise, poor governance and inadequate observational networks have created large gaps in data about the continent’s heatwaves, a situation that is leaving millions of people vulnerable to dangerous heat. Reuters 

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What’s Up With Water – July 13, 2020 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on flooding in China, rising temperatures in the U.S. Great Lakes and alleged collusion between water agency employees in Baja California, Mexico and large companies like Walmart and FedEx.

By The Numbers

33 Rivers in China that have reached record-high levels in the past six weeks as heavy rains flood the country. In total, flood alerts have been issued for 433 waterways and several million people have been forced to evacuate their homes. In the eastern province of Jiangxi, officials say they are resorting to “wartime” measures to combat flooding as water in China’s largest freshwater lake reaches its highest level in decades. The Guardian

Science, Studies, and Reports

Commercial insurers in the United States are taking extra precautions to ensure that potential Legionella bacteria are flushed from pipes in buildings reopening from coronavirus lockdowns. The bacteria, which can cause a lethal form of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease, flourishes in stagnant water. If outbreaks occur in buildings where water has been sitting idle during coronavirus lockdowns, insurers could be responsible, prompting many insurers to require careful preventative measures before reinstating coverage on reopening buildings. Reuters 

In context: Water Contamination Risks Lurk in Plumbing of Idled Buildings.

On the Radar

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is filing suit against the water shutoff policy in the city of Detroit, Michigan, which has left some residents without running water for years. The lawsuit argues that water access is particularly crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that a permanent solution is needed to ensure that residents are not disconnected from services for long amounts of time. In response, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Board has questioned the timing of the suit, and claims that, to their knowledge, water is currently restored to every occupied residence in Detroit. Detroit Free Press 

A water dispute is intensifying in southeastern New Mexico, where two large energy companies are calling for a greater share of local water supplies — a request that the city of Jal is fighting back against. Oil and gas operations already use large amounts of the area’s water for fracking, and officials in Jal argue that allocating any more water to the oil industry could devastate the city’s water supply. Santa Fe New Mexican

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