The Stream, February 3, 2021: Defendants In Flint Water Crisis Fight Criminal Charges


  • Defendants in the Flint water crisis case, including former Gov. Rick Snyder, attempt to throw out charges against them based on technicalities.
  • Activists organize to stop Enbridge’s Line 3 in northern Minnesota.
  • Wastewater testing helps researchers in Oregon discover the presence of variants of SARS-CoV-2.
  • Local water suppliers in Colorado urge the Biden administration to prioritize salt removal in the Colorado River.

New Mexico water agencies urge communities to prepare for water shortages and restrictions this year.

“If there are any silver linings to drought and water shortages, it’s that it’s an opportunity to get everybody’s attention and make substantive change.” – Mike Hamman, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District chief engineer and CEO and Interstate Stream Commissioner. Amid a multi-year drought and water-delivery debt to downstream users, the Albuquerque Journal reports that New Mexico water agencies are urging farmers to farm only if absolutely necessary. Hamman said this year is on track to bring water shortages and storage restrictions unlike any since the 1950s. Forecasts predict a below-average snowpack and if the region experiences another lackluster monsoon season, large swaths the Rio Grande could go completely dry this summer.


In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: In Ethiopian Conflict, Water Insecurity and Disease Risk Escalate – Destruction to infrastructure in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia has left people without access to clean water and increased the risk of fatal diseases.

What’s Up With Water – February 1, 2021 – This week’s episode covers the resolution of a water supply issue between the state of the Georgia and the Army Corps of Engineers, a multi-million dollar plan from the Biden administration to avoid climate disasters in the United States and a bill introduced in Chicago to address water affordability and residential water debt.

‘Water Protectors’ Organize To Stop Enbridge’s Line 3

Activists, who call themselves water protectors, have organized a makeshift camp in northern Minnesota to oppose Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline. The Bemidji Pioneer reports that activist Taysha Martineau bought a piece of land next to Enbridge’s pipeline corridor, where project opponents have gathered in an attempt to delay construction until all court cases are resolved. Opponents to the pipeline say it violates Indigenous treaty rights, risks the chance of an oil spill and deepens reliance on fossil fuels.



Sewage testing in Central Oregon helped researchers discover traces of the highly contagious U.K. variant of SARS-CoV-2, Oregon Public Radio reports. Clinical testing has detected the variant in three Oregonians so far. Another variant known at L452R was found in several wastewater samples recently. This variant has caused large outbreaks in California’s Santa Clara County and tests have shown Covid-19 vaccines could be less effective against it. As of Monday, the testing lab at Oregon State University has tested more than 1100 samples.

In context: Enthusiasm But Obstacles in Using Sewage to Monitor Coronavirus


Local water suppliers along the Colorado River are urging the Biden administration to address the removal of the nine million tons of salt that flows through the river system as it heads to Mexico. Bloomberg Law reports that after a major earthquake halted the largest brine-removal system in the basin two years prior, the Trump administration ultimately chose to take no action in reviving the project. After releasing its final environmental review, Ed Warner, the Bureau of Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area office manager under the Trump administration, said the “no action” alternative was “in the best interest of public health and safety,” contradicting the advice of other experts. The continuous buildup of salt, experts in the region say, could have drastic economic and water quality impacts.


Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other defendants in the Flint water crisis case are attempting to use various legal tactics to throw out multiple charges against them, Detroit Free Press reports. Snyder and eight other officials, all of whom have pleaded not guilty, were charged last month with a total of 42 misdemeanor and felony counts. Lawyers for some of the defendants now argue that some of the charges were filed in the wrong place. They also question the way evidence in the case is being handled and are calling for the judge in one case to be dismissed due to a conflict of interest. Their cases will be heard over the next two months.

In context: Flint Residents Unimpressed by Snyder Charges Linked to Lead Poisoning

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