The Stream, December 17, 2021: A $200 Million Investment Aims To Raise Lake Mead Levels


  • An ongoing investigation into a Canadian oil and gas company found it has consistently cleared land and used water in northeastern Namibia without acquiring the proper permits.
  • Lead levels in Benton Harbor, Michigan’s water supply are declining after years of high contamination.
  • Water regulators investigate nearly 1000 reports of violations to the Water Management Act in New South Wales.
  • Hunger and drought will likely persist in Iraq, a new survey says.

Some western states volunteer to scale back water use on the Colorado River as levels plummet.

“I see this as yet another building block, on top of previous agreements that we’ve entered into, for the sustainability of the river and for Lake Mead and Lake Powell.” – Central Arizona Project General Manager Ted Cooke. officials from Arizona, Nevada, and California agreed to reduce water withdrawals from the Colorado River in order to avoid mandatory cutbacks. The state water agencies, along with the Department of the Interior, will invest more than $200 million into water use reduction and efficiency projects in 2022 and 2023, aimed at keeping Lake Mead from dropping to critically low levels.


Perspective | More Attention needed on Freshwater Biodiversity

Despite unprecedented and ongoing decline of freshwater resources, research and conservation related to freshwater ecosystems receive far less attention than those of terrestrial and marine realms.

As a journalist, Stefan Lovgren has been asking why it is that freshwater issues are so often ignored. It doesn’t make sense. After all, fresh water is fundamental to life on Earth. Almost all of us live in river basins.

In a new op-ed for Circle of Blue, Stefan writes that if policymakers are to take action on freshwater ecosystems, scientists and conservationists need to coordinate to deliver a more forceful message. The good news is that we’re seeing more signs of that happening.

In Case You Missed It:  

This Central Valley Town Has a Carcinogen in its Water. Why Are Solutions So Slow?  – The water supply in Fuller Acres, California has been contaminated with a byproduct of agricultural soil fumigants for decades. Residents say officials aren’t doing enough to warn people. This article was originally published by California Health Report as part of the Tapped Out series documenting power and water justice in the rural American West.

High Costs, Few Customers: Benton Harbor Water Woes Loom for Michigan Cities — Shrinking populations and wealth have left many local governments unable to collect enough ratepayer revenue to cover long-term water system costs. This article was originally published by Bridge Michigan as part of the Great Lakes News Collaborative.

A Canadian Oil and Gas Company Is Threatening Water Supplies in Namibia

An ongoing investigation into the Canadian oil and gas exploration company Reconnaissance Energy Africa by National Geographic found that it has consistently cleared land, conducted test drilling, and used and disposed of water on protected land in northeastern Namibia before receiving proper permits. Critics have repeatedly warned of the environmental risks of ReconAfrica’s operations, which are further threatening the Okavango Delta’s fragile ecosystem and dwindling water supplies.



After three years of lead contamination that dramatically exceeded state and federal levels, contamination in Benton Harbor, Michigan’s water supply has declined, according to new testing. Michigan officials say the test results prove that corrosion control to prevent lead from entering residents’ drinking water is helping. Officials warned, however, that Benton Harbor residents should still only use bottled water for basic activities such as drinking and cooking.


More than 150 landholders in New South Wales were penalized last quarter by the National Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) for breaching state water laws. The landholders, the majority of which were horticulturists on the Coffs Coast, were pinged for violating the laws of the Water Management Act, including illegal dams and improper water metering. All in all, the NRAR investigated and finalized nearly 1,000 reports of breaches to the water laws.


One in two Iraqi families require food assistance, and persistent drought will likely make matters worse, decimating the coming harvest, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. The country’s water shortage is driving mass migration to cities as economic hardship skyrockets. The aid agency’s latest survey of 2,806 households found farmers across seven provinces had lost crops and livestock. Many reported that they had lost their jobs, and even more said they had moved.

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