The Stream, January 12, 2020: Delay in Murray-Darling Basin Violates Indigenous Rights, Groups Say


  • First Nations groups in New South Wales call for action from the federal government to grant water rights to the Murray-Darling Basin.
  • Scientists in Missouri continue to expand a program to test wastewater for the new coronavirus.
  • Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia fail to agree on terms to continue negotiations around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
  • Heavy monsoon rains displace tens of thousands in Malaysia.

Waste from an ethanol plant in Nebraska is a threat to human and animal health, researchers say.

“It is a really significant contamination event that is impacting the local ecosystems and community there.” – Sarah Hoyle, who specializes in pesticide issues for Xerces Society, an Oregon-based conservation organization. Waste from an ethanol plant in Mead, Nebraska is dangerously polluting water and soil, researchers say. The Guardian reports that several complaints to state and federal officials and an inquiry by a researcher from the University of Nebraska found that the AltEn plant in the village of only 500 residents had accumulated thousands of pounds of pesticide-treated seeds that could pose a hazard to human and animal health. An attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council said the situation in Mead is an example of the need for tighter regulation of the pesticide-coated seeds.


In Trump Administration’s Final-Days Deregulatory Push, Army Corps Reduces Stream Protections

The Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rule on January 4 that further retracts federal protections for the nation’s smallest streams.

The revisions to the nationwide permits, which authorize the filling and dredging of waterways, are one of a flurry of environmental deregulatory actions federal agencies are taking in the final days of the Trump administration, even though there is the possibility with a Democratic Congress that the Biden administration will reverse them.

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: River Dredging Near Chernobyl Risks Radioactive Water Contamination – Eight million people in Ukraine are in danger of drinking contaminated water due to the construction of an inland shipping route, reported The Guardian.

What’s Up With Water – January 11, 2020 – This week’s episode covers China’s announcement to reduce flow in the Mekong River, new research that warns of an increase in subsidence around the world over the next 20 years and the fast-melting Tuni glacier in Bolivia.

Negotiations Over The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Stall Again

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia once again failed to resume negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Sudan’s state-run SUNA news agency said on Sunday. Al Jazeera reports that after the three countries agreed to continue discussions over the filling and operation of the reservoir last week, Egypt and Ethiopia said Sudanese objections to the framework for the talks caused the new stalemate. The GERD has been a point of contention between the three nations since Ethiopia began its construction in 2011. Since then, Ethiopia has promoted the dam as a means to provide electricity to its citizens, while Sudan and Egypt have expressed concerns that the project will restrict their water supply from the Nile River.

In context: HotSpots H2O: Tensions Rise in Horn of Africa as Ethiopia Fills Controversial Dam



Heavy monsoon rains in Malaysia last week have caused the deaths of six people and forced nearly 50,000 to evacuate, Al Jazeera reports. Flooding and mass evacuations are common during the country’s rainy season, but residents said this year is the worst flooding they’ve seen in the last 50 years. Rescue efforts, which were ramped up after residents complained of a lack of government assistance last week, have been complicated by a surge in coronavirus cases throughout the country.

In context: In Pandemic, New Thinking on Responding to Weather Disasters


Scientists at the University of Missouri (MU) have spent the last six months testing wastewater to track potential outbreaks of Covid-19, the Missourian reports. The initiative, part of Missouri’s Coronavirus Sewershed Surveillance Project, now tests around 140 samples every week from 59 community wastewater facilities across the state. As more Americans receive the Covid-19 vaccination, the MU scientists leading the charge say their work will become more important than ever in proving the vaccine’s effectiveness.

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


First Nations groups say inaction by the New South Wales (NSW) government has denied their Indigenous rights to water in the Murray-Darling Basin for environmental, social and economic purposes. A study from Griffith University found that Aboriginal organizations in NSW own just 0.1 percent of water assets in the basin, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Two and a half years ago, $40 million was set aside by the federal government to purchase water rights for Aboriginal people across the basin, but the money has yet to be invested.

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