The Stream, July 16, 2020: Ethiopia Begins Filling Its Renaissance Dam, Despite No Agreement with Egypt and Sudan

The Global Rundown

Ethiopia confirms that it has begun filling the reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Brazil’s economy minister estimates that the country’s sanitation sector will receive more than $110 billion in investments in the coming years. A flash flood kills at least 21 people in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province. U.S. Great Lakes Michigan and Huron will likely fall short of record-high levels this year. Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission votes to set limits on PFAS chemicals. 

“I’m in shock. We’ve been working on this for over four years.” –Liz Rosenbaum, founder of the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition, in reference to a unanimous decision by Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission to implement state limits on PFAS chemicals. The toxic “forever” chemicals have been detected in several waterways and water systems across the state. The new limits regulate PFAS levels to 70 parts per trillion, matching health recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The decision also establishes guidelines for cleanup of the chemicals. Colorado Public Radio 

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By The Numbers

21 Death toll from a flash flood in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province, as of Wednesday afternoon. Two people are missing and 10 were injured following the flooding, which began Monday evening after heavy storms caused three rivers to overflow. So far, almost 3,000 people have been evacuated. Associated Press 

600-700 billion reais ($111.6 – $130.1 billion) Amount that Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said their sanitation sector is likely to receive in investments over the next several years. The country passed a bill last month that pushes states and municipalities to privatize their water and sewage operations, a move that is expected to draw investors. Reuters 

Science, Studies, and Reports

After several months of being on track to reach record high levels, experts now say it is unlikely that the U.S. Great Lakes Michigan and Huron, which are measured as one waterbody, will break the 1986 record of 582.35 feet. The rapid rise in water levels was slowed by recent drier-than-average conditions and scientists now expect the lakes to maintain their current levels before beginning to recede next month. MLive

On the Radar

Ethiopia confirmed that it began filling the reservoir behind its controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) without reaching a water-sharing agreement with Egypt and Sudan. The three countries have tried for years to broker a deal on the filling of the dam, which Egypt and Sudan fear will deplete their supply of the Nile River. Egypt’s Foreign Minister previously warned that filling the dam prior to reaching an agreement would “heighten tensions and could provoke crises and conflicts,” further destabilizing the region. BBC

In context: HotSpots H2O: Egypt and Ethiopia Spar Over Nile River Dam in Latest Round of Talks

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