The Stream, January 21, 2021: Costs To Raise the Wyangala Dam Could Exceed $2 Billion


  • The cost of a dam in New South Wales could be three times more than originally estimated.
  • An attorney for a former Michigan governor is asking for charges related to the Flint water crisis to be thrown out.
  • Water supplies in Ethiopia’s Tigray region are running low amid ongoing conflict.
  • Water officials in Denver, Colorado are warning residents of water restrictions this summer as drought continues throughout the state.

Oregon’s first audit of hemp farms reveals dozens of water violations.

“It’s really hard to just point to one particular industry’s influx and impact on the resource and say ‘that is definitely why.’ But it adds to it, right? It’s a contributing factor. Each new straw in the bucket is going to lower the bucket.” – Jake Johnstone, who manages Southwest Oregon for the state water resources department. Oregon recently finished its first-ever audit of water use on hemp farms after receiving a significant number of complaints of illegal water use. Jefferson Public Radio reports that the audit found violations on almost a third of all registered hemp sites visited by the department. Johnstone said the results of the audit should be seen as an opportunity for more outreach to Oregon’s hemp industry, to educate farmers on water laws within the state.


California Households Owe $1 Billion in Water-Bill Debt – A statewide survey indicates that low-income households and communities of color are most affected by overdue water bills that have climbed during the pandemic, further hurting those who were already in financial stress.

Flint Residents Unimpressed by Snyder Charges Linked to Lead Poisoning – While Flint residents said they’re glad to see criminal charges after years of waiting, anger was the prevailing sentiment Thursday morning as they learned former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one-year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.

Attorney For Former Michigan Governor Asks State To Dismiss Indictment

Michigan Radio reports that recent charges against Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder were filed in the wrong county, according his lawyer. Snyder faces two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty for his role in the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan. The indictment claims Snyder’s crimes were committed in Genesee County. Attorney Brian Lennon argues that during the time Snyder’s crimes allegedly occurred, he remained in his office in the capital city of Lansing. For this reason, Lennon is asking the state to dismiss the indictment.



The cost of raising the Wyangala Dam in New South Wales could reach $2.1 billion, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. The new estimate for the dam is three times more than original projections. WaterNSW, New South Wales’ water utility, says that raising the height of the dam by almost 33 feet (10 meters) would increase its reservoir capacity by over 50 percent and improve drought resiliency. However, the utility’s own modeling found the benefits to the project were drastically overestimated.


The United Nations said 2.3 million people in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region are in need of aid, Reuters reports. An Ethiopian state-run news agency said  clean water supplies are running low as conflict has damaged infrastructure and left a dam inoperable. On Monday, the region’s interim leader Mulu Nega told Reuters the government had begun distributing aid last weekend.

In context: HotSpots H2O: U.N. and Ethiopia Reach Aid Deal After Weeks of Conflict


Denver Water officials are warning residents of potential water restrictions this summer, Fox31 reports. Todd Hartman with Denver Water said spring runoff could result in more water being absorbed by dry soil than usual, resulting in less water in the reservoirs that serve Denver residents. Current modeling predicts stream flow between 67 and 83 percent of normal, Hartman said, forcing the department to form contingency plans to further limit water this summer.

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