The Stream, January 8, 2021: Subsidence Could Affect 19 Percent Of World’s Population By 2040


  • New research shows almost 20 percent of the world’s population could be affected by the gradual sinking of land in the next 20 years.
  • Chinese officials say they will hold back Mekong River waters for 20 days.
  • Native American tribes in Wyoming are opposing the Trump administration’s approval of up to 5,000 oil wells that they say violate treaty rights and could compromise water quality.
  • The Trump administration awards Puerto Rico a $3.7 billion grant to rebuild water and wastewater treatment plants destroyed during Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Ohio’s governor signs a new water quality bill into law.

“HB7 is going to help protect one of our state’s most precious resources, which are our waterways.” – Ohio state Rep. Haraz Ghanbari. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation creating a statewide watershed planning and management program to improve water quality, reports. The legislation originally provided $900 million to pay farmers to reduce runoff, among other things, but lawmakers removed the funding from the bill last year amid ongoing financial concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Years After Flint Water Crisis, Lead Lingers in School Buildings – In its 2021 budget, Congress included millions for lead testing in schools, where children are still exposed to the toxic metal.

India Has Water for Its Economic Plans – If Farms Can Be More Thrifty – India’s farmers are key to the country’s industrial future, think-tank report finds.

Subsidence Could Affect 19 Percent of the World’s Population By 2040

New research has found that if no action is taken, human activity, combined with drought and rising sea levels, could cause subsidence to affect 19 percent of the world’s population by 2040. Subsidence, or the gradual sinking of land, continues to put many of the world’s coastal cities at risk of flooding. The Guardian reports that subsidence can be caused by extraction of groundwater, but lack of pumping regulations and rapidly increasing populations are the most likely factors. The recently published research, developed by an international team of scientists, found subsidence to be a global issue linked to global warming and unsustainable farming practices. Solutions range from satellites and radars to identify areas of subsidence and localized “policies and tools” to combat the problem.

In context: A Sinking Metropolis



The Mekong River Commission and Thailand said on Wednesday that China notified downstream nations it is holding back Mekong River flow for 20 days. Reuters reports that the statements came a day after a new U.S.-backed monitoring system found China had implemented water restrictions on Dec. 31 and failed to notify countries along the Mekong. Last October China reached an agreement to share water data with Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, where 60 million people depend on the Mekong River for fishing and farming. 

In context: One By One Big Hydropower Dams Disrupt Mekong River’s Free Flow

5000 WELLS  

Native American tribal leaders said the Trump administration’s decision to permit five oil companies to drill up to 5,000 wells in Wyoming could compromise water and air quality, destroy cultural resources and violate existing treaty rights. Supporters of the project, including state officials and industry groups, point to its economic benefits, including bringing in billions of revenue and close to 10,000 jobs. The Bureau of Land Management’s order also allows for 1,500 multi-well pads, hundreds of miles of gas and water pipelines and year-round drilling on federal leases in Converse County, the Caspar Star-Tribune reports.

In context: Energy Companies Eye Big Oil and Gas Expansion in Wyoming


The Trump administration will award a $3.7 billion grant to rebuild Puerto Rican water and wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and reservoirs damaged more than three years ago by Hurricane Maria. Al Jazeera reports that the grant covers 90 percent of the estimated costs of water and wastewater improvement projects. After the water funding is allotted, the Trump administration will have contributed more than $40 billion in recovery funds to the island, the White House said Tuesday.

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