YOUR GLOBAL RUNDOWN
- The U.S. Supreme Court dismisses Florida’s claims that Georgia overused a shared river basin.
- Recent rains send contaminated Tijuana River water farther north through San Diego County, in California.
- New data shows hundreds of thousands of instances of raw sewage discharge into English rivers and coastal waters last year.
- Two water utility companies in the United Arab Emirates sign a multimillion-dollar deal to build a desalination plant near Dubai.
The Chilean government will create a new ministry to oversee water resources.
“The new ministry will help channel and lead that discussion. The rights have to have some sort of permanence over time otherwise that person won’t be able to complete its activities.” – Alfredo Moreno, the current public works minister in Chile. Bloomberg reports that Chile’s government sent a bill to Congress to create a joint Public Works and Water Resources Ministry that would oversee and coordinate the more than 40 institutions in Chile that regulate water. The move comes as the government tries to improve oversight for one of the world’s most privatized water systems amid broader unrest over inequality and the country’s worst drought in more than a decade.
IN RECENT WATER NEWS
President Joe Biden unveiled a wide-ranging jobs and infrastructure plan on Wednesday, asking Congress to support a $2 trillion investment in the built and natural systems that sustain American life, from trips to the grocery store to a glass of water from the faucet.
The administration is calling the proposal the American Jobs Plan, and among its many parts it includes $111 billion for water systems. A month after winter storms crippled water and electric providers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, the plan also calls for $50 billion to prepare the country’s infrastructure for an era of severe floods, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes.
Against the backdrop of recent carbon neutrality pledges from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and President Joe Biden, activists have ramped up their arguments that the Canadian oil giant Enbridge Energy is threatening Michigan’s water as well as its climate future.
Now, as a federal judge considers whether Line 5 should shut down in May and state and federal regulators decide whether to let Enbridge replace it with a tunneled pipe deep below the straits that could keep the oil flowing for decades, they’ll grapple with an issue of global significance: Are pipelines like Line 5 a “bridge to the energy future,” as Enbridge CEO Al Monaco has said, or a climate liability that threatens Michigan’s and the world’s progress toward carbon neutrality?
In Case You Missed It:
In Flooded Michigan Neighborhoods, Who Should Pay For Sea Walls? – Scientists expect severe floods to become increasingly common as climate change alters rainfall and temperature patterns in Michigan. That leaves Michigan residents with two options: Reinforce their properties to prevent the next flood, or live with the consequences.
HotSpots H2O: Homeless San Franciscans Are In A Clean Water Crisis – People living on San Francisco’s streets and in its parks face daily barriers to finding and accessing clean water, according to a report released earlier this month by the nonprofit organization, Coalition on Homelessness.
Recent Rains Could Send Contaminated Tijuana River Water Into The Pacific Ocean
Recent rains sent contaminated Tijuana River water farther north, forcing San Diego County health officials to issue an advisory about ocean water quality in the La Jolla neighborhood, NBC San Diego reports. During periods of heavy rain, water from the river overwhelms treatment plants and cannot be diverted or treated.
TODAY’S TOP WATER STORIES, TOLD IN NUMBERS
400,000 RAW SEWAGE DISCHARGES
New data from the UK Environment Agency revealed that water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers and coastal waters more than 400,000 times in 2020. The Guardian reports that new data shows discharge-related incidents have risen 37 percent since 2019. This is the first time sewage discharge data has been made publically available after pressure was put on the EA, water companies, and the government in the last year.
120 MILLION IMPERIAL GALLONS PER DAY (144 MILLION GALLONS)
Two water utility companies in the United Arab Emirates signed a multimillion dollar water sharing agreement, the Khaleej Times reports. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and the privately owned company Utico signed a deal to build a desalination plant south of Dubai that will process 120 million imperial gallons (144 million gallons) per day. The project is expected to be completed by March 2024.
ON THE RADAR
Bloomberg Law reports that the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Florida’s lawsuit against Georgia, which claimed Georgia farmers use too much water from the shared Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin. The court rejected Florida’s request to ensure more freshwater flows to the state’s wild oyster population along the Gulf Coast. In the opinion for the unanimous decision, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote that Florida did not present sufficient evidence that it faced serious injury from Georgia’s water use.
- Why it matters: Tensions over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin have been boiling for decades. Florida first filed a complaint against Georgia in 2013, only to have it denied in 2018. When the case returned to the courts last month, Georgia was already favored to come out on top.
Jane writes The Stream and covers domestic and international water issues for Circle of Blue. She is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University, where she studied Multimedia Journalism and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. During her time at Grand Valley, she was the host of the Community Service Learning Center podcast Be the Change. Currently based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jane enjoys listening to music, reading and spending time outdoors.