The Stream, February 12, 2021: India’s Government Was Warned About Himalaya Dam Risks


  • Scientists say India’s government ignored warnings about the risk of hydropower dams in the Himalaya.
  • A new study in Denmark finds that mothers who drink water with low levels of nitrate give birth to babies who are underweight.
  • The governor of Alaska authorized $1 million to a community whose only drinking water source was destroyed in a fire.
  • Minnesota rolls out a new statewide strategy to tackle PFAS contamination.

Groundwater in rural Arizona remains unregulated even as the resource dwindles.

“My biggest concern is the water.” – Jeremy Wagoner, who owns 40 acres in Arizona, where he plans to plant a small vineyard. Groundwater across rural Arizona is declining but remains unregulated, the Arizona Republic reports. Some legislators have proposed restrictions on groundwater pumping but the lawmakers have faced opposition from the agriculture industry. Large industrial farms continue to pump massive amounts of groundwater, using wells more than 1,000 deep feet. In many of these rural areas, aquifers are the only water source as the region grows hotter and drier with climate change.


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Study Finds Prenatal Exposure To Nitrate In Drinking Water May Impair Fetal Growth

New research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that nitrate in drinking water of pregnant mothers can impair fetal growth. The study found that, on average, women exposed to nitrate in drinking water gave birth to children who weighed 10 grams less than babies born to women where household water had no detectable nitrate. The authors of the study wrote that while the change in birth weight was relatively small, the findings could have serious public health implications. The researchers only studied pregnant women living in Denmark and they called for more widespread studies to confirm the findings.



Scientists warned the Indian government in 2014 that building hydropower dams in the geologically unstable Himalaya region was dangerous, the Associated Press reports. Ravi Chopra, the director of the non-profit People’s Science Institute, said that he and other experts warned the central government that global warming was melting Himalayan glaciers and that constructing dams in the fragile ecosystem could spur avalanches and landslides. Satellite images show that a landslide was the probable cause of devastating flooding in Uttarakhand on Sunday. As of Thursday, the disaster had killed 31 people.

In context: Uttarakhand Flood Disaster Made Worse By Existing Hydropower Projects, Expert Commission Says


More than three weeks after a fire destroyed the only source of drinking water in Tuluksak, the governor of Alaska authorized up to $1 million in state relief money to the community. The Associated Press reports that the cost to rebuild the water plant and laundromat that were destroyed in a fire in mid-January could reach $6 million, according to officials.


A new statewide strategy to tackle PFAS contamination in Minnesota calls for clearly designating the entire class of PFAS chemicals a “hazardous substance” in state law, the Minnesota Star Tribune reports. Implementing the plan will require funding, which will be challenging to secure. Some Minnesota cities, wastewater professionals, and industries fear the hazardous substance designation is too broad and could open local government and wastewater treatment plants to lawsuits. If the plan is enacted into law, Minnesota would join Delaware in being the first states to declare the entire class of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances.

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