The Stream, September 17, 2020: Colorado River Reservoirs Likely to Dip To Critically Low Levels

The Global Rundown

New models project water shortages are more likely than previously thought in the two largest man-made reservoirs in the United States. Tens of thousands in Bermuda are left without power after Hurricane Paulette hit the island on Monday. Stolen barrels of oil and refined fuels in Colombia could end up in the nation’s waterways. Hurricane Sally is slowly moving through the southeast United States. Michigan schools received almost two million dollars to test for lead contamination in the drinking water of schools across the state.

“I think a lot of places are afraid to test the water because they are afraid to see what they are going to find. It’s a really good and needed program because we need to get into schools and child care systems with vulnerable populations to check the water to make sure there’s not elevated lead risk.” – Holly Gohlke, the school drinking water coordinator for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). EGLE was awarded a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for lead testing of drinking water at schools and childcare facilities across the state. The program kicked off in July 2020 and is expected to run until September 2023. WWMT

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By The Numbers

25,222 The number of customers that were out of power in Bermuda after Hurricane Paulette knocked out power lines in much of the country on Monday, according to BELCO, the local electricity company. Premier David Burt said there were no deaths, no serious injuries and less property damage than expected. Island military officials said they are still watching out for tropical storms Vicky and Teddy, although soldiers had started road cleanups from Hurricane Paulette. Reuters

2500 The average number of barrels of oils and refined fuels lost every day in Colombia due to an increase of illegal siphoning on pipelines. Theft of oil and fuel puts communities and the environment at risk, according to Ecopetrol, the country’s majority state-owned energy company. The company said the methods used to tap the pipelines can result in spills affecting soil, bodies of water, animals and plants. Ecopetrol is working with the armed forces, police, and regional authorities to fight hydrocarbon theft, it said. Reuters. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released models on Tuesday suggesting water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, where Colorado River water is stored, could dip to critically low levels in the next five years. If this happens, more than 40 million people’s water supply from the Colorado River could be threatened. The forecast could complicate already-fraught negotiations between Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Mexico over future shares of the river that supplies their cities and farms. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said the models provide valuable information to cities and farms preparing for the future as drought persists and average temperatures trend upward. AP

In context: Lake Mead Record Low Reflects Changing American West

On the Radar

Hurricane Sally made landfall early Wednesday morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama and is slowly making its way along the Gulf Coast. The storm lumbered ashore the Florida-Alabama line with 105 mph (165 kph) winds and rain measured in feet, not inches, swamped homes and trapped people in high water as it crept inland for what could be a long, slow and disastrous drenching across the Deep South. By early Wednesday afternoon, Sally had weakened into a tropical storm, with winds down to 70 mph (110 kph), but heavy rain is expected into Thursday as the storm pushes inland over Alabama and into Georgia. As of Wednesday, it was moving at just 5 mph (7 kph). AP

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