The Stream, May 13, 2020: California’s Coachella Valley Water District May Cut Budget by $40m Due to Covid-19

The Global Rundown

California’s Coachella Valley Water District revises its annual budget in response to the Covid-19 crisis. A U.S. federal judge upholds an April ruling cancelling an environmental permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Laos prepares to move ahead with a sixth dam along the Mekong River. NASA satellite data shows continued flooding in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan following a dam break last week. A U.S. District Court temporarily blocks a recent plan by the Trump administration to divert large amounts of California’s water to the state’s agricultural industry. 

“We applaud the court for hitting pause on the Trump Administration’s reckless attempt to expand water export operations at the expense of California’s wildlife and habitats. Today’s victory is critical, but the fight is not over. We have the facts, science, and the law behind us, and we look forward to making our case in court.” –California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in reference to a temporary block on the Trump administration’s new California water diversion plan. The plan, which was announced earlier this year, would redirect much of the state’s water to southern agricultural areas. Within 24 hours of the plan’s signing, California filed suit against it. The court’s ruling grants a preliminary injunction in the case. The Hill

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

HotSpots H2O: Flooding, Locusts, and Covid-19 Strike East AfricaHeavy rainfall and fatal flooding struck parts of East Africa over the past several weeks, leaving hundreds of people dead and displacing thousands. 

What’s Up With Water – May 11, 2020 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on a dam break in Uzbekistan, flooding in western Kenya, and U.S. industries seeking federal aid amid Covid-19.

By The Numbers

$40 million Amount of spending that could be cut from the annual budget of California’s Coachella Valley Water District, which is being rewritten due to economic strain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The new budget was introduced as a staff proposal, and will be discussed by the board of directors this week. Desert Sun

$2.073 billion Estimated cost of the Sanakham hydropower plant, the sixth dam that Laos hopes to construct along the Mekong River. The dams are part of a plan by Laos to export roughly 20,000 megawatts of electricity to surrounding nations by 2030. So far, a total of two dams have been completed, despite criticisms by environmental groups. Construction on the Sanakham plant is expected to start later this year. Reuters

In context: One By One Big Hydropower Dams Disrupt Mekong River’s Free Flow

Science, Studies, and Reports

NASA satellite data of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan shows continued flooding around the Sardoba Reservoir, where a dam break occurred on May 1, 2020. The disaster inundated downstream villages and forced thousands to evacuate. NASA Earth Observatory 

On the Radar

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris upheld his April 15 ruling cancelling an environmental permit for the Keystone XL pipeline following a request by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the ruling be narrowed. Morris did revise the original ruling to allow for continued construction of non-pipeline projects, including electrical transmission lines, stating that the smaller projects were less likely to cause environmental harm. Reuters

In context: Water and Climate Safety, Finance Security, Drive Keystone XL Conflict

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