The Stream, June 24, 2020: Water Bills in U.S. Cities Jumped 80 Percent Between 2010 and 2018, Investigation Claims

The Global Rundown

A new investigation of 12 U.S. cities conducted by The Guardian states that water and sewage bills rose by an average of 80 percent between 2010 and 2018. The U.S. Supreme Court chooses not to hear a case related to water rights in the Klamath Basin, which spans parts of Oregon and California. Infrastructure repairs, including improvements to water systems, come to a halt in hundreds of U.S. cities as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts budgets. A coalition of environmentalists and Native American tribes files suit in an attempt to stop the United States’ new Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Parched residents of Caracas, Venezuela, gather rainwater and seek out natural sources in the face of ongoing water outages.

“We went looking for water at a spring near our house and stood in line for 12 hours. I save water in tubs and pots all over our house. I’m an expert at showering with a 2-liter Coke bottle. I even have some water left over in the end.” –Betty Gomez, a resident of Caracas, Venezuela, in reference to the widespread and devastating water shortages plaguing Venezuela. Running water is scarce and most residents now rely on public spigots, natural waterways, or rainwater collection. A lack of clean water for handwashing is potentially exacerbating the spread of Covid-19 in the country, which reinstated strict lockdown rules after a loosening of restrictions led to a jump in cases. Bloomberg / Quint  

In context: HotSpots H2O: Aid Groups Airlift Water and Sanitation Supplies to Venezuela 

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

HotSpots H2O: Aid Groups Airlift Water and Sanitation Supplies to VenezuelaThe United Nations Children’s Fund last week shipped 90 tons of medicine, water, and sanitation supplies to Venezuela, the third such shipment to the country since the coronavirus crisis began. 

What’s Up With Water – June 22, 2020 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on the Mekong River basin, Venezuela’s economic collapse, and steps being taken by commercial buildings to lower the risk of Legionnaires’ disease as society reopens from Covid-19 lockdowns. 

By The Numbers

80 percent Average amount that water and sewer bills rose between 2010 and 2018 according to a recent Guardian analysis of 12 U.S. cities. The jump in water bills has already put access to clean water at risk for several million Americans, according to the investigation. The report’s analysts claim that clean water could become unaffordable for many more low-income urban dwellers over the next decade if current cost trajectories continue. The Guardian 

In context: The Price of Water

700+ U.S. cities that have halted plans for infrastructure projects, including improvements to water and sanitation systems, as the Covid-19 pandemic undermines budgets. Experts warn that the suspension or termination of critical infrastructure projects will cause long-term economic and health impacts on civilians. Estimates show that more than $500 billion in federal aid would be needed to cover the funding gaps faced by U.S. cities in the wake of the pandemic. The Washington Post 

In context: Covid-19 Crisis Could Decimate Water Utility Revenue, Worsen Affordability Problems 

Science, Studies, and Reports

The United States’ new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which loosens regulations protecting intermittent and ephemeral streams, took effect on Monday of this week. It has been met with a lawsuit by a coalition of tribal governments, environmentalists and labor advocates, who fear the changes will open waterways to pollution and degradation. AZ Central 

On the Radar

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case related to water rights in the Klamath Basin, located in the U.S. states of Oregon and California. The case centered on a 2001 government decision to redirect water away from farmers and ranchers to protect endangered fish species. The farmers and ranchers sued, arguing that their water had been unconstitutionally taken. Federal courts ruled that the irrigators did not own the property they claimed was taken, however, and that the region’s Native American tribes hold senior rights to the water. In declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court affirmed that ruling. OPB 

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