The Stream, August 26, 2021: Heavy Rains Flood Chicago, Surrounding Suburbs


  • Heavy rain floods part of Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
  • A new report from a Michigan advocacy report calls for more plans for removing PFAS chemicals from the state at a former Air Force base.
  • Less than 10 districts in the Indian state of Odisha receive adequate rainfall this monsoon season.
  • Researchers in Australia are working with water utilities to explore using wastewater in hydrogen production.

La Nina conditions could worsen drought in Argentina.

“At best it could become normal in some areas. But a return to normal rainfall will not correct the flow of the river, which is going to have an extremely serious effect on shipping logistics, hydroelectric power generation, and the provision of drinking water.” – German Heinzenknecht, a meteorologist at the Argentine consultancy Applied Climatology. Analysts say La Nina conditions in South America will worsen drought in Argentina, Reuters reports. Argentina’s agricultural sector has already been deeply impacted by low water levels on the Parana River, a key transport route for grain cargo ships. Dryness is expected to worsen over the next six months, reducing corn and soy crop sizes and further complicating grain transports.


Droughts Push More People to Migrate Than Floods

After a year of extreme weather, people in the drylands of northern California and the hurricane-drenched bayous of southern Louisiana are brooding on the same question: should we leave?

New global research suggests that one of these “water shock” scenarios is more likely to result in migration. World Bank researchers found that people are five times as likely to move following drought conditions as they are after floods or periods of excess water.

The finding is part of a lengthy report on water and migration released on Monday during the opening day of World Water Week, an annual conference. The report details the nuanced relationship between changes in water availability and the movement of people.

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: In Malaysia, the Mah Meri Resist Eviction from Coastal Homeland – A proposed beach resort dubbed a “world-class eco-city” is threatening to evict Mah Meri families from one of their oldest coastal towns, what is today known as Bagan Lalang.

What’s Up With Water – August 23, 2021 – This week’s episode of What’s Up With Water covers Afghanistan’s troubled water sector, water availability in the United States amid the pandemic, and an African nonprofit claiming that the textile and apparel industry is poisoning rivers with polluted wastewater.

New Report Outlines Air Force’s Failures in Michigan

The advocacy group Need Our Water and the National Wildlife Federation released a new report, demanding the state of Michigan and the United States Air Force take more action to clean up PFAS chemicals around the site of the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. The report included timelines of what they deemed failures by the state and the Air Force, and included recommendations moving forward. According to Michigan Radio, the Air Force is currently preparing plans for cleanup, which environmental groups have deemed unsatisfactory.

  • Why it matters: In Oscoda the source of water contamination is well documented. The chemicals are flowing underground, mostly unimpeded, from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base where PFAS compounds, sprayed for decades during training exercises to extinguish petroleum fires, soaked into the groundwater. Current and former Oscoda residents and veterans who served at Wurtsmith have stories of odd cancers and a profusion of illnesses that have stumped doctors looking for a cause. They wonder if their ailments are connected to the relatively unstudied toxic residues in soil and water, Circle of Blue reported in 2018.



Only six of 30 districts in Indian state of Odisha received adequate rainfall this monsoon season, Down To Earth reports. In the district of Bhadrak rainfall was deficient by 49 percent. The lack of rain has been particularly hard for the state’s farmers, who risk losing most of their harvest without proper rainfall.


Heavy rainfall flooded parts of Chicago and surrounding suburbs on Tuesday, CBS Chicago. Northern McHenry County suffered the most rainfall, receiving 4.2 inches. In other areas, roads and parking lots flooded, while strong winds took town trees and tipped over boats on Lake Michigan.


Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, will work with four water utility companies to explore using wastewater in hydrogen production as a way to increase sustainability in the water sector, CNBC reports. According to Water Research Australia, the project aims to repurpose “used water as the feed for hydrogen production via water electrolysis.”

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