The Stream, March 4, 2020: Citing Coronavirus Fears, Activists Call for Detroit Water Shutoffs to End

The Global Rundown

As the coronavirus spreads across the U.S., activists urge Michigan officials to end water shutoffs in Detroit. Rising sea levels and changing weather patterns could engulf half of the world’s sandy beaches by 2100. A new analysis warns that flood-prone U.S. homes may be overvalued by up to $34 billion. The largest farm water district in the U.S. is granted a permanent entitlement to water from California’s Central Valley Project. Children in impoverished areas of northern Argentina die due to malnutrition and dirty water.

“The place where they access their water source has high salinization or even chemicals that have been used for agriculture, which cause many gastrointestinal diseases, diarrhea, malnutrition and, above all, dehydration.” –Diego Tipping, president of the Red Cross in Argentina, in reference to water availability in the Wichi community in northern Argentina. Children in several impoverished communities in the region’s Salta province have been falling ill and dying, prompting the provincial government to declare a public health emergency. Officials say the illness is due to a combination of malnutrition and tainted water sources. Reuters

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – March 2, 2020 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on a new law in Madhya Pradesh, India calling water a human right, a ruling against temporary well permits used in poultry operations in Oklahoma, and a an initiative in Chicago to help conserve water drawn from Lake Michigan.  

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By The Numbers

9,500 Households in Detroit without running water as of mid-January. Over the past several years, Detroit has temporarily disconnected thousands of residential customers for nonpayment. Last Friday, several activist groups called on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to declare a public health crisis and end the shutoffs, arguing that handwashing is a crucial part of preventing the fast-spreading coronavirus. Others, including the ACLU and the Detroit City Council, have also called for the shutoffs to end due to broader health concerns. Bridge

3.8 million Homes built in floodplains across the United States. A new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that these properties may be overvalued by up to $34 billion due to inadequate understanding and analysis of flood risks. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change warns that up to half the world’s sandy beaches may be erased by the end of the century due to rising sea levels and shifting weather patterns. Australia, Canada, and Chile face the highest amount of projected coastline losses, and the United States ranks sixth. Researchers warn that the disappearing coastlines may also leave inland environments more prone to saltwater intrusion and other disruptions. Reuters

On the Radar

California’s Westlands Water District, the largest farm water district in the U.S., was awarded a permanent entitlement for yearly irrigation deliveries. The contract, which was granted by the U.S. Interior Department, entitles Westlands to around twice as much water as the city of Los Angeles uses each year. Despite the new contract, Westlands will still face early cuts during periods of water shortage. Los Angeles Times

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