The Stream, July 8, 2020: Chicago Expands Water Bill Relief Program

The Global Rundown

Chicago, Illinois expands a program to help homeowners with unpaid water bills. In Australia, drought causes rice production to tumble by more than 90 percent since the 2017-2018 season. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia orders a shutdown of the contentious Dakota Access oil pipeline. Water temperatures in the U.S. Great Lakes soar to unprecedented levels, with some areas surpassing 80 degrees. Data shows that California’s average precipitation in the 21st century has been similar to the 20th century average, despite extreme weather.

“Oddly enough, in the 21st century — because we’ve had those wet extremes and dry years that haven’t been extremely dry — our average comes out really close to [the 20th century].” –Michael Anderson, a California climatologist, in reference to the state’s recent climate extremes. Over the past 20 years, the state has witnessed periods of record-high rainfall as well as years of punishing drought, but the swings have averaged out to an amount of rainfall similar to that of the previous century. Meteorologists say this pattern is consistent with climate change predictions. Los Angeles Times

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By The Numbers

20,000 Households that are expected to receive assistance from Chicago’s expanded Utility Billing Relief (UBR) program. Water and sewer bills for those enrolled in the program will be cut in half, and homeowners will not have their water shut off. Homeowners will also be eligible for debt forgiveness of unpaid water bills if they go a year without falling behind on payments. WBEZ

In context:
Price of Water 2019: Even Without Federal Infrastructure Deal, Cities Continue to Invest.
When It Comes To Water Service How Expensive Is Too Expensive?

90 percent Percentage that Australia’s rice planting and output have declined since the 2017-18 season due to severe drought conditions, according to a report by government forecaster Abares. The report also estimates that output for the 2019-20 crop will be 57,000 tons, the second-lowest on record. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, and Reports

Water temperatures in the U.S. Great Lakes continue to rise, with certain surface areas of Lake Erie and Lake Michigan bypassing 80°F (27°C). In Lake Michigan, the average surface temperature is 74°F (23°C), which is 11°F (6°C) above historical averages. MLive

On the Radar

On Monday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered that the Dakota Access oil pipeline be shut down and emptied within the next 30 days due to a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The ruling states that the violation occurred when the Corps allowed part of the pipeline to be constructed beneath Lake Oahe in South Dakota despite an inadequate Environmental Impact Statement. The ruling is a victory for tribes and environmental groups, who have spent several years fighting the construction of the pipeline. Reuters

In context:
HotSpots H2O: U.S. Federal Judge Calls for Full Environmental Review of Dakota Access Pipeline.
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