YOUR GLOBAL RUNDOWN
- Monsoon rains slam Mumbai, India, causing widespread flooding.
- A new report finds water stress disproportionately affects communities of color in Oregon.
- The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is below the five-year average, NOAA reports.
- A Canadian water treatment plant will receive over $200 million for infrastructure upgrades.
Indigenous water treaty rights could be the key to stopping the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota.
“If we have water rights, which I believe we do, then you need our consent to even cross the waters or use waters for another purpose that we think is harmful. When we get to that consent place, it’s going to change the dynamics across the nation.” – Frank Bibeau, a member of the Anishinaabe Nation living in northern Minnesota. Grist reports that Indigenous treaty rights could stop construction on the Line 3 oil pipeline in Minnesota. Bibeau, an environmental lawyer that has fought against Line 3 for years, argues that the risk of oil spills threatens water quality, and thus interferes with use rights guaranteed by an 1837 treaty between the United States and the Anishinaabe people.
- Why it matters: Indigenous treaties are being used in attempts to stop other oil pipelines from operating. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revoked the easement that allows the Line 5 pipelines to operate. Cited in the revocation, for the first time in the history of Line 5, Michigan’s administration officially acknowledged nearly 200-year-old Indigenous Chippewa and Ottawa treaty rights as one of the reasons to shut down the project and protect Great Lakes ecology and fisheries.
IN RECENT WATER NEWS
As climate change alters our world, Michigan’s bounty of fresh water — if managed smartly — could be the foundation of a thriving state economy and superior quality of life. The state still suffers from water pollution, for instance, in some cases with little power to punish those responsible. Our failure to prepare the state’s aging infrastructure for climate change has worsened flooding and imperiled water supplies.
But how might Michigan’s future look if we get it right? Experts say more ‘garden cities,’ fewer septic systems and the expansion of sustainable agriculture could hold the keys to the future.
The Department of Health and Human Services released $166.6 million in federal funds for a program to help low-income residents pay off their past-due water bills or to reduce their water rates.
The new program — temporary for now, though some Democrats want permanent status — is called LIHWAP. Congress provided more than $1.1 billion to the first-ever federal water bill assistance program in separate appropriations in December and March.
Not all the money will go to people in need. The funding released last week represents about 15 percent of the total. Fifteen percent is the amount that Congress allowed to be used for administrative costs in setting up the program at the state and local levels. This initial distribution is intended for that purpose.
In Case You Missed It:
Marine Blooms of Harmful Algae Increasing in Europe, Much of the Americas – First global review of marine harmful algal blooms identifies regional trends linked to the rise of fish and shellfish farming.
HotSpots H2O: The Toto, One of the World’s Smallest Ethnic Groups, Face Water Shortages Along the India-Bhutan Border – Quarries in Bhutan’s Tading hills have caused water shortages for the village of Totopara in the Himalayan foothills of West Bengal.
New Report Finds Water Stress Disproportionately Affects Communities of Color In Oregon
The Oregon Water Futures Project report found communities of color were disproportionately affected by challenges associated with safe drinking water, infrastructure, and emergency preparedness. The report draws from a year’s worth of conversations with Native, Latinx, Black and various migrant communities across the state.
TODAY’S TOP WATER STORIES, TOLD IN NUMBERS
4,880 SQUARE MILES
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting that the Gulf of Mexico’s low-oxygen “dead zone” will stretch roughly 4,880 square miles this summer. WUSF reports that the hypoxic zone, where an overgrowth of algae and excess nutrients deplete oxygen and kill marine species each year, is smaller than the five-year average of approximately 5,400 square miles. The dead zone’s size is affected by multiple factors, including river discharge during the month of May.
A water treatment plant that serves nearly a quarter of residents in Saskatchewan, Canada, is receiving $222 million to upgrade its aging infrastructure, CBC reports. The most recent updates to the plant were made over 30 years ago. In recent years, electrical failures at the plant have threatened to trigger drinking water shortages. Construction on the upgrades is set to begin in 2022.
- Why it matters: In the United States, aging water infrastructure is crippling rural communities. Updates to the sewer system in Ishpeming, Michigan, could cost more than $10 million. Without adequate funding, the affordability of rural water service has become a “monstrous elephant in the room” when it comes to long-term financial viability.
ON THE RADAR
The Hindustan Times reports that the India Meteorological Department issued a red alert for the Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts as monsoon rains pelted the region Wednesday. Heavy rains led to road closures in many places, forcing some people to abandon their cars on flooded streets. Rains have also suspended local train service and city police have asked Mumbai citizens to stay away from inundated areas.
Jane is a Communications Associate for Circle of Blue. She writes The Stream and has covered domestic and international water issues for Circle of Blue. She is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University, where she studied Multimedia Journalism and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. During her time at Grand Valley, she was the host of the Community Service Learning Center podcast Be the Change. Currently based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jane enjoys listening to music, reading and spending time outdoors.