The Stream, July 14, 2021: Water Levels On Lake Ontario Are Dropping Amid Great Lakes Drought


  • Water levels on Lake Ontario are nearing record lows.
  • A new report from the UK Environment Agency finds the country’s water industry is failing to meet environmental pollution standards.
  • Experts say military conflict can’t be ruled out as negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia
  • Drought is exacerbating water shortages on a group of islands in British Columbia.

Human development on floodplains, coupled with inadequate regulation, is increasing the threat of floods in India.

“Rivers do not always flow in a fixed line but have the virtue of expanding on both sides of the rivers, several times in a year. Here the floodplains allow them a comfortable zone to accommodate the excess water and prevent flooding of human settlements. However with the passage of time, these floodplains have become victims of illegal as well as planned legal invasion from the governments across the country.” – Jayshree Vencatesan of Care Earth Trust, Chennai. Experts and environmentalists say India’s poor regulation of river floodplains is making the country more vulnerable to damaging floods, Mongabay India reports. Human development on natural floodplains, both legal and illegal, is raising the risk of dangerous flooding. As climate change brings with it heavier and more frequent flooding events, experts say policies in place to reduce risk are insufficient.


Cheap Cybersecurity Defenses Exist, But They’re Not Reaching Water Utilities Who Need Them

On February 5 of this year, a hacker gained remote access to a water treatment plant in the town of Oldsmar, Florida. The intrusion lasted only a few minutes — just long enough for the hacker to raise the concentration of lye in the water by a factor of 1,000. It was detected five and a half hours later, when an employee happened to glance at his screen and noticed an irregularity.

It was an outcome that cybersecurity experts had been warning of for ages. And Oldsmar, which serves just under 15,000 people, wasn’t an outlier; one in six water systems reported experiencing at least one IT-related incident in the past year, according to a survey by the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC) earlier this year.

The vast majority of water utilities in the country serve fewer than 10,000 people, and they tend to have less resources and tighter budgets than their larger counterparts. As a result, these utilities face unique challenges in defending themselves against cyberattacks

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: Kazakhstan’s Lake Balkhash is Disappearing, Continuing a Trend of Desiccation in Central Asia – For decades, Lake Balkhash, and the seven rivers that empty into it, has been endangered by increased evaporation and the extraction of water for agriculture.

What’s Up With Water – July 12, 2021 – This week’s episode covers a call in China for greater protections along the Yellow River and a controversial pipeline that will not be built in Tennessee.

UK Report Finds Water Industry Fails To Meet Environmental Pollution Standards

The Guardian reports that the UK Environment Agency’s (EA) annual performance assessment of England’s water industry found that it is failing to cut pollution from spills of raw sewage into rivers and coastal waters. The EA report said Southern Water was one of the worst performing companies last year, days after the utility was fined a record amount for dumping billions of liters of raw sewage into protected waters. Overall, the report concluded the industry failed to meet targets to reduce serious pollution by 50 percent compared to 2012.



Levels in Lake Ontario are currently 245.34 feet above sea level, only two feet higher than the record low for this time of year. reports that the levels are well below the average for this time of year, making it difficult to use some fixed docks. Drought across much of the Great Lakes Basin has led to “critically low” water levels in late spring and early summer, a stark contrast from twin deluges in 2017 and 2019 that pushed lake levels to record highs.


The Independent reports that as discussions around the $4.8 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam continue, Egypt and Sudan are running out of diplomatic options. Over the last 10 years Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have tried and failed to negotiate the terms to fill and operate the dam. Both countries say they feel the United States may be the only country that could broker a deal between the three eastern African countries. Because the Biden administration has seemed reluctant to put pressure on the dispute, experts say military conflict can’t be ruled out.


An unprecedented heatwave in British Columbia has exacerbated severe water shortages on the Gulf Islands, CBC reports. Freshwater shortages on the group of islands have become common as the climate continues to warm. During this sweltering dry spell, groundwater levels could become so low that many people may have to truck water in from Vancouver Island, which can be expensive. If drought conditions continue, residents on Salt Spring Island, the most populous of the islands, could be forced to cut back on water use during certain hours of the day.

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