The Stream, July 28, 2020: Two Great Lakes Miss All-Time High Water Levels by Mere Inches

The Global Rundown

Lakes Michigan and Huron are inches away from setting all-time water level highs. Citizens of a West Virginia town have been without water for a week. Residents of the Hawaiian island of Kauai narrowly miss the wrath of Hurricane Douglas, while Hurricane Hanna continues to devastate the Texas Gulf coast. DigDeep announces a new project to bring water to families in Central Appalachia. The United States and China are at odds over Chinese dams in the Mekong River.

“This is becoming a geopolitical issue, much like the South China Sea, between the United States and China.” – Witoon Permpongsachareon of the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network. Since Beijing has overtaken Washington in both spending and influence in countries at the mercy of China’s control of the Mekong River, the two countries have reignited a “war of words” in determining whether China’s 11 dams on the river are harming downstream nations. A report by a U.S.-based research and consulting company showed “missing” waters downstream, a claim Chinese officials have vehemently denied. The U.S. has accused China of “hoarding” the water in their dams, harming the livelihoods of millions of people in Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Japan Times

In context: HotSpots H2O: Lower Mekong Nations Seek Greater Cooperation from China Following Recent Study 

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – July 27, 2020 – This week’s What’s Up with Water episode looks at a fuel spill in Russia that cost the world’s largest producer of palladium and nickel around $2 billion, severe rain and flooding in Asia and Covid-19 outbreaks in Egyptian prisons and police stations due to lack of sanitation.

HotSpots H2O: In Burkina Faso, Seasonal Floods Spread Illness, Uproot People – The rainy season has hit Burkina Faso, and with it an array of flooding and waterborne disease that has uprooted people from their homes.

By The Numbers

563 The number of customers in Gary, West Virginia’s water system that are without water because of a broken pump. As handwashing remains a priority during the Covid-19 pandemic, residents have been scrambling to get water into their homes for the last week. City officials have made donated water available while the West Virginia National Guard and nearby city of Welch have provided water via tankers. It is unclear when the pump will be replaced, but city officials are urging residents to be “patient and relaxed” in the meantime. AP

2 The number of inches Lakes Michigan and Huron are below record-setting levels. If no major rain events occur, scientists say the lakes may not get any higher. The Midwestern bodies of water have been at record levels every month this year. Despite previous predictions, the water will most likely begin to drop after this month before reaching an all-time high. Michigan Radio

40 The number of miles Hurricane Douglas was away from hitting land on Hawaii’s Kauai island. While residents of the island still experienced wind, rain and high surf, the hurricane’s passage was surprisingly mild. The hurricane had the potential to be only the third in history to touch landfall in Hawaii, a state more frequently visited by less threatening storms or remnants of tropical cyclones. The Washington Post

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new report by Cambodian land rights and human rights groups revealed Phnom Penh’s wetlands and residents are being threatened by a politically-connected development group. The report, ‘Smoke on the Water,’ said that in 2004 developers with government backing gradually began destroying the Tompoun/Cheung Ek wetlands. Projects associated with the company could destroy 90 percent of the wetlands, which naturally store 70% of the city’s rain and wastewater and provide jobs for more than 1000 families in the area. The Guardian

On the Radar

Hurricane Hanna devastated the Texas Gulf coast over the weekend, drenching communities in up to 18 inches of rain and winds reaching near 50mph. Border communities already struggling to maintain Covid-19 outbreaks are now scrambling to effectively provide relief from the hurricane. Doctors and aid organizations are urging locals to seek help if affected by the hurricane, assuring them that Covid-19 precautions will still be in place. The Guardian 

The U.S.-based human rights nonprofit DigDeep announced today the Appalachia Water Project, which they said will bring clean, running water to families in Central Appalachia. The project, they said, is a continuation of the Navajo Water Project, which began in 2014. DigDeep

In context: Kentucky AG Investigates Rural Water System That Has Been Failing for Decades

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