The Stream, January 31, 2020: High Waters in the Mississippi River Could Spur Rare Winter Flooding

The Global Rundown

High water levels in the Mississippi River threaten to flood communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern Iowa. Residents of three Colorado towns near the Peterson Air Force Base are in their fifth year of trying to get government compensation over PFAS contamination. Crop diseases worsen food security in Venezuela. Officials in Portage, Michigan, test 25 private wells for PFAS contamination. Some UK residents who experienced recent flooding are ineligible for compensation. 

“Boris Johnson said everyone that is being flooded would get up to £5,000, but what he didn’t say was that he meant everyone who was flooded between 8 November and 18 November and in a group of 25 houses or more. A flood is a flood, people suffer exactly the same wherever they are, not more in areas which are visited by the prime minister.” –Mary Dhonau, a flood risk consultant in the United Kingdom, in reference to the distribution of grants following November flooding in Yorkshire. Many residents are frustrated with the eligibility criteria, and a source with knowledge of the grant approval process called it “illogical, inconsistent and unfair.” The Guardian

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By The Numbers

43,000 cubic feet per second Current river flow in the Mississippi river in southern Minnesota, compared to a January average of about 15,000 cubic feet per second. 2019 was one of the wettest years on record along the Mississippi, and water levels remain historically high. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warns that communities in southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern Iowa are at increased risk for winter flooding. Minneapolis Star Tribune

25 Private wells being tested for PFAS contamination in Portage, Michigan. The wells are situated near South Westnedge Park, a possible source of PFAS contamination. Officials say they will continue testing wells around the site until they find a zero reading. MLive

In context: From Michigan to the Nation — A Groundwater Emergency.

Science, Studies, and Reports

Venezuela is facing another food security issue: crop diseases. Inflation in Venezuela reached 7,000 percent in 2019, leaving many farmers unable to afford pesticides and chemicals that help to better protect crops. Farmers also claim state-owned labs are often unable to identify the type of pests due to chronic power outages, a lack of running water, and other issues at the labs. Reuters

On the Radar

Firefighting foam used at the Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been linked to PFAS contamination in the nearby communities of Fountain, Widefield, and Security. Residents of these towns have endured a scourge of health problems which they believe may be related to the contamination, although no clear link between PFAS and the health issues has been established. A five-year attempt to get information and compensation from the U.S. government, however, has been largely fruitless. Los Angeles Times

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