The Stream, November 11, 2020: Flash Floods Wreak Havoc Across Crete


  • Water projects in the Colorado River basin are being put on hold.
  • Heavy rains fall on the Greek island of Crete for the second time in two weeks.
  • Tropical Storm Eta makes landfall in southern Florida.
  • A new report outlines several species on the verge of extinction in the Mara river basin that stretches across parts of Kenya and Tanzania.

Wildfires in the western United States could impact water supplies for years after flames are extinguished.

“When the fire comes, you impact that infrastructure—you’re prone to these incredible mudslides that go in and block water and send debris downstream. It is water quality; it is water quantity.” – Gail Schwartz, a member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board representing the Colorado River watershed. Extreme droughts across the western U.S. and this year’s intense wildfire season could pose a years-long threat to water supplies throughout the region, Bloomberg Law reports. Wildfires tend to burn up mountain slopes and valleys that hold snowpack that water managers call the west’s largest reservoir. Wildfires can also transform watersheds when they burn trees, exposing snow to more sunshine and melting it faster—often taking soot and ash along with it.

In context: Western Wildfires Damage, Contaminate Drinking Water Systems


California Water Board Collects Data on Household Water Debt, Utility Finances

California regulators sent a survey on Monday to 150 of the state’s largest water providers in an attempt to shed light on the financial fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The State Water Resources Control Board wants to know how economic slowdowns related to the virus have affected utility finances and, at a household level, how many residents have overdue water bills.

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: Water Systems in Eastern Ukraine Deteriorate as Conflict Continues – Following years of conflict between Ukraine and Russian separatist forces, frontline communities in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and southwestern Russia still lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

What’s Up With Water – November 9, 2020 – This week’s episode looks at Detroit, Oregon’s lack of access to clean drinking water, residential wells in New Hampshire that have gone dry or are slowing due to severe drought, and new recommendations for groundwater quality standards from Wisconsin state health officials.

Heavy Rain Lashes Island of Crete For the Second Time In Two Weeks

For the second time in two weeks, the Greek island of Crete has been hit with devastating storms. Heavy rainfall fell in parts of Crete on Tuesday, unleashing waters that flooded homes and streets, Reuters reports. The fire brigade on the island said it has received 230 calls to pump out rainwater from homes and help people evacuated flooded areas. Crete’s civil protection governor, Tassos Kouroupakis, told Greek state television that the damage at this point is “inestimable,” but scenes have shown cars almost completely underwater and storefronts and homes blocked by rising rainwater.


65 MPH (105 KPH)

Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in southern Florida on Sunday night, bringing heavy rainfall and flash floods to several coastal areas. The storm sustained maximum winds of 65 mph (105 kph), The Washington Post reports, and has now drifted back over the Gulf of Mexico. Intermittent tropical downpours will likely last through early next week in areas like Miami and Palm Beach, which are already dealing with significant flooding. Forecasters predict the storm will make landfall in northwest Florida by the end of this week. 


Water pollution, habitat loss, over-abstraction and drought could send 10 freshwater species in the Mara river basin in Kenya and Tanzania into extinction, a new report from the World Wildlife Federation found. The report is the first of its kind to take stock of the river basin’s 473 native freshwater species. At least 73 percent of households around the Mara rely on the wetlands to harvest fish, an overabundance of human activity has put at least two percent wildlife in the area at risk of extinction. The report recommends increased monitoring of freshwater biodiversity, a promotion of wider awareness about freshwater biodiversity and coordinated efforts to address existing threats to the Mara river basin.


Proposals to divert water in parts of the Colorado River basin have seen serious setbacks this year. Three separate projects in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah were stalled this year, KUNC reports. In New Mexico, the Gila River Diversion was originally proposed as a way to provide water supplies to four rural counties in the state. Without a solid plan for executing the project, the proposal failed in June of this year. Similarly, a project to pump groundwater from Northern Nevada to Las Vegas failed when a judge denied some water rights associated with the project. In Utah, the Lake Powell pipeline project has been criticized for years for being too costly, but intense opposition from environmental groups and political pressure from other users on the river is putting the proposal’s future in jeopardy.

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