The Stream, June 18, 2020: More than 300 Mid-Michigan Wells Are Dry Following Dam Break Last Month

The Global Rundown

Recent flooding in mid-Michigan leaves more than 300 wells dry. Japanese researchers detect the coronavirus in wastewater plants, mirroring similar findings in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. In drought-stricken Zimbabwe, some residents are forced to queue overnight for water. A new ruling by Nevada’s top water regulator halts groundwater pumping around Coyote Springs, a proposed master-planned community northeast of Las Vegas. Residents of the Navajo Nation, where most homes lack running water, say their supply was devastated by coal mines.

“I use the same water at least five or six times before I throw it out. It’s very dirty, but otherwise, I would run out of water in less than a week. And I can’t afford that.” –Percy Deal, a Navajo Nation member, in reference to the two 55-gallon drums that he fills for his weekly water supply. Chronic water shortages afflict much of the Navajo Nation, which covers parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. Tribal members argue that coal mines, which drained the aquifers serving the Navajo Nation, are the main source of the tribe’s current water stress. Bloomberg Law 

In context: As Pandemic Magnifies Navajo Nation Water Deficit, Coronavirus Funding Questions Arise

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By The Numbers

300+ Dams in Midland and Gladwin counties that are dry or facing low pressure following recent flooding and dam failures in mid-Michigan. Officials are still investigating the water shortfall, but say the wells were most likely supplied by surface water from Wixom Lake, which was drained when the Edenville Dam failed on May 19, 2020. The Detroit News 

Less than 30 percent Capacity of the three main dams serving Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the country’s second-largest city. Drought is intensifying across Zimbabwe, and some residents report that they are now standing in lines overnight to ensure that they can fill their buckets when water tankers arrive. Reuters 

Science, Studies, and Reports

A joint study by three Japanese universities analyzed 27 wastewater samples from four treatment plants in western Japan, and detected the SARS-CoV2 virus in seven of them. The findings corroborate similar studies conducted in Australia, Europe, and the United States, and researchers say the presence of the virus in sewage systems could serve as an early warning system for future outbreaks. Reuters 

In context:
Enthusiasm But Obstacles in Using Sewage to Monitor Coronavirus

Virus Hunters Find Coronavirus Clues in Sewage  

On the Radar

Nevada’s top water regulator issued a ruling this week that caps groundwater pumping in an area spanning north of Las Vegas and into Lincoln County. State regulators say water use in the area must be capped at 8,000 acre-feet to remain sustainable and protect the endangered Moapa dace fish. The ruling will have a major effect on developments northeast of Las Vegas, including Coyote Springs, a proposed master-planned community. The Nevada Independent 

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