The Stream, January 14, 2021: Enbridge Defies Order From Michigan Governor To Stop Line 5 Operations


  • Enbridge said they will continue operating Line 5 in Michigan after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered a shutdown of the oil pipeline.
  • New research predicts drastic reduction in terrestrial water storage around the world.
  • The state of Utah continues to face extreme drought as winter sets in.
  • The cause of death for a species of perch around Lake Victoria in Uganda is unknown.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will be charged for his role in the Flint water crisis.

“He swept things under the rug, in my opinion, and to me that makes him just as guilty as everybody else because he should have come out singing like a canary.” – Edna Sabucco, a 61-year-old resident of Flint. Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, along with other ex-officials have been told they will be charged following a new investigation of the Flint water crisis. The Associated Press reports that sources said the attorney general’s office told defense lawyers to expect initial court appearances soon, but the AP could not determine the nature of the charges.

In context: Years After Flint Water Crisis, Lead Lingers in School Buildings


Four International Water Stories to Watch in 2021

Water will direct the course of history again this year, through events small and large.

The fallout from the pandemic will continue to cast a shadow. So will negotiations between countries that share major rivers with unsettled politics, like the Mekong and Nile. Stuart Orr, who leads the freshwater practice at WWF, said that 2021 will bring more awareness of the water risks for businesses and the need to restore ecosystems to build resilience to rising seas, stronger storms, and harsher droughts. The Climate Adaptation Summit on January 25-26 will set the stage for more discussion of the topic at the UN climate conference in Glasgow in November.

In Case You Missed It:

In Trump Administration’s Final-Days Deregulatory Push, Army Corps Reduces Stream Protections – Changes to the nationwide permits for dredging and filling waterways will expose more stretches of small streams to development. 

Grape Crop Brings in Millions, but Farm Workers Live a Harsh Life – Vineyards well watered, while people struggle for water.

New Research Predicts Reduction in Terrestrial Water Storage

Research from an international team of scientists is predicting a large reduction in terrestrial water storage (TWS) in two-thirds of the world due to climate change, Michigan State University reports. TWS is the accumulation of water in snow and ice, rivers, lakes and reservoirs, wetlands, soil and groundwater. The new study, published in Nature Climate Change, is based on 27 global climate simulations over a 125-year period.



The Salt Lake Tribune reports Utah is facing an abnormally dry winter, compounding the impact of nine straight months of dry weather. Around two-thirds of the state was remains in the Exceptional Drought category, the worst rating given, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Utah Division of Water Resources said there is still ample time to prepare for water shortages should the current trends continue through April as many experts expect them to. Currently, this year’s snowpack is two times below levels at this time last year.


After Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the shutdown of the 68-year-old Line 5 pipeline, Enbridge said it will continue operating the pipeline until a court orders the company to stop. Michigan Radio reports that Enbridge Inc. said Whitmer has no authority to issue such an order and operations will continue under the Straights of Mackinac until a replacement is built. Critics of Whitmer’s order have praised Enbridge’s refusal to comply, while those who oppose Line 5 called Enbridge’s attempt to reverse the governor’s order “desperate.”

In context: Michigan Governor Whitmer Orders Enbridge Line 5 Shutdown, Citing Easement Violations


Fishermen around Lake Victoria in Uganda are concerned about a number of dead perch that have washed up on the lake’s shore, Reuters reports. Uganda’s ministry of agriculture and fisheries said hypoxia could be to blame, but the true cause of the dead fish is unknown. Several environmental concerns have been raised throughout the Lake Victoria area in recent years, including concerns around poison and chemicals from local farms and industries. The ministry said further tests were being conducted to determine the cause of the deaths, which have only seemed to affect Nile Perch so far.

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