The Stream, January 26, 2020: Thailand Calls For Environmental, Human Impact Data For Proposed Dam


  • Thailand rejects a technical report for a dam along the Mekong River.
  • The mayor of Baltimore, Maryland will not privatize the city’s water meter system.
  • Cyclone Eloise causes flooding in parts of Mozambique’s second-largest city.
  • One of the United Kingdom’s top climate experts is calling for more preventative measures as climate disasters become more frequent.

As climate disasters like floods and hurricanes become more frequent, more Americans are moving inland.

“Really, there isn’t a community in America, particularly in coastal America, where we are not seeing some transition away from the coast and moving into higher ground. Places like Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco, even in D.C., we see environmental risk from flood shaping property values and shaping where people want to live.” – Jesse Keenan, who teaches at the Tulane School of Architecture and studies the effect of climate change on people and cities. As floods, hurricanes and wildfires become more frequent, more people are taking climate risk into consideration when moving. Not all Americans can afford to move as climate change worsens, CBS News reports. Those who can are migrating to The Great Lakes region, which is viewed as being exposed to fewer climate stresses.


‘Mass Aging’ of Dams a Global Safety and Financial Risk, UN Report Says

A global dam-building binge that spanned the early- to mid-20th century is now reaching a turning point, according to a report published by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health.

These dams are nearing middle and old age, when their operation and maintenance poses growing financial, environmental, and safety challenges. Though each dam is a unique case, an older fleet has common risks: Rising maintenance costs and declining capacity to store water due to sediment buildup. Continued environmental harm from blocking fish migration and stagnant waters in their reservoirs. And designs that may not stand up to an era of more intense rainstorms and severe weather, putting them in danger of collapse.

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Baltimore Mayor Says City Water Meter System Will Remain Public

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott will reverse a decision made by former Mayor Jack Young to privatize the city’s water meter system, Associated Press reports. Young planned in October to outsource the work of installing, repairing and manually reading water meters to Itron Inc., though the contract was never signed. The city of Baltimore and Baltimore County have spent more than $130 million on the joint water system since 2011. In December, a joint report found millions of dollars in lost revenue, citing tens of thousands of faulty water meters and 8,000 unresolved problems with county water accounts.


10 INCHES (250 MM)

Cyclone Eloise poured 10 inches (250 mm) of rain on Mozambique’s second-largest city, Beira, in 24 hours, BBC reports. According to local officials, four people have been found dead so far. More than 160,000 people have been directly affected, Antonio Beleza from Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management and Reduction said. The region is still recovering from Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in 2019, which killed hundreds and displaced thousands.


After Storm Christoph prompted 167 flood warnings throughout the United Kingdom last week, one of the nation’s top climate change adaptation experts said there’s more work to be done to protect homes from climate disasters. The Guardian reports that Julia King, a member of the U.K. Committee on Climate Change, said improvements are needed to protect houses from flood damage and overheating in the summer. Some important measures, like the construction of flood barriers and gates, have been implemented. Other actions, especially for homes built in flood-prone areas, are still missing.


Thailand rejected a new technical report on Laos’ Sanakham dam project, Voice of America reports. Somkiat Prajamwong, the secretary-general of Thailand’s Office of National Water Resources, said the new report did not include data on the dam’s environmental impact or how it would affect people who lived below the dam. If built, the dam could displace 3,000 residents in villages along parts of the Mekong River.

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