The Stream, November 24, 2020: Water Management Should Be Led By First Nations, Australia Says


  • Australian politicians call for the appointment of an Indigenous representative to the nation’s water authority.
  • Back-to-back hurricanes across Central America are displacing millions and could contribute to the spread of Covid-19.
  • An appeal to stop Nestle from pumping millions of gallons of water from a Michigan well is denied.
  • Sudan boycotts talks with Ethiopia and Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

A new study out of Colorado reveals how tainted agricultural irrigation could expose consumers to dangerous PFAS chemicals.

“Our No. 1 priority is to find where that chain of exposure may exist and how to break it. This study filled in a hole of knowledge.” – John Putnam, environmental programs director for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. A new study has revealed that lettuce and other produce can soak up dangerous concentrations of PFAS through tainted agricultural irrigation, even in areas where drinking water is filtered for the ‘forever chemical.’ The Colorado Sun reports that the study did not test produce in Colorado for high concentrations of PFAS but proves the possibility. It should serve as a warning sign to consumers and regulators, the study’s authors say, of all the places they can be exposed to the dangerous chemical.


As Global Poverty Rises, USAID Plans for Covid-Altered World

Until this year, extreme poverty had been steadily falling across the globe since at least the 1980s. At the same time, hundreds of millions of people had gained access to proper water and sanitation services.

The spread of the new coronavirus has upended those trajectories. The World Bank estimates that an additional 88 million to 115 million people will enter extreme poverty in 2020 because of the pandemic. It’s the first time in two decades that progress has reversed. The bank reckons that as many as 150 million people could be affected through 2021 if the virus is not tamed.

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: Months of Flooding and Violence Force South Sudanese from Their Homes – Nearly a half million people have been displaced due to abnormally heavy rainfall and flooding in South Sudan this year. 

Politicians Across Australia Call for Indigenous Appointment to Water Authority

Representatives across Australia are calling on the Prime Minister’s government to appoint a First Nations representative to lead national water management. Brisbane Times reports that the country’s former federal Water Minister David Littleproud announced that he would appoint an indigenous representative to the authority’s board last September, but the position has remained vacant since. Plans to make progress on filling the position, along with two other vacant spots, is in progress, according to new Water Minister Keith Pitt.



Back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala this month have affected 4.2 million people, the International Red Cross estimates. In the northern Honduras city of San Pedro Sula, ABC News reports that shelters for hurricane evacuees are becoming overcrowded and could be a roadblock in stopping the spread of Covid-19. Orlando Antonio Linares, who oversees a shelter inside a school in the city, said they have been providing folks inside the shelter with masks, but evacuees rarely wear them. Several evacuees told ABC News they’re more concerned about losing their homes and securing basic necessities like food and water than they are with the virus.


An appeal to stop Nestle from pumping 400 gallons per minute from a well near Evart, Michigan by the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians was denied. The Associated Press reports that the groups argued that the pumping, which has been increased by 60 percent, will harm the environment in the Chippewa Creek Watershed. On Friday, an administrative law judge upheld the state permit, saying the pumping rate is “reasonable under common law principles of water law in Michigan.” Nestle has supported the state’s decision, while Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation president Peggy Case said she hopes Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will intervene in the case.


For the first time, Sudan has announced they will refuse to attend talks with Egypt and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the Independent reports. Sudan criticized the way the African Union has facilitated the discussions and said the current approach to reaching an agreement on filling and operating the dam has been unsuccessful. South Africa, who leads the African Union, has not commented on Sudan’s boycott and it remains unclear how the countries would resume negotiations.

In context: HotSpots H2O: Tensions Rise in Horn of Africa as Ethiopia Fills Controversial Dam

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