The Stream, June 16, 2021: Proposed Commission In Brazil Could Limit Electricity Use Amid Drought


  • A proposed commission in Brazil could lead to electricity rationing amid a historic drought.
  • A Chinese cyberattack on critical U.S. entities in April included a major water supplier in California.
  • A panel of judges affirmed key permits for the Line 3 pipeline project in Minnesota.
  • Czech officials say they will begin negotiations over an open-pit coal mine on the Czech-Polish border that locals say has contaminated water supplies.

New research out of India aims to fill the gap between water science and policy.

“The integration of scientific knowledge with policies for enhancing sustainability continues to be challenging in India because of the slow-paced exchange between science and policy spheres.” – Anamika Barua, a professor in the department of humanities and social science at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT-G). Times of India reports that IIT-G researchers, in collaboration with scientists at the University of Zaragoza, are using a concept known as “virtual water flow” to understand the gaps between scientific knowledge and governmental policy. The research found that in states with chronic water scarcity, planning and implementing sustainable agricultural practices can help achieve water and food security.


In Case You Missed It:  

HotSpots H2O: Farmer-Herder Violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt Persists, a Consequence of Drought and Climate Change – Nigeria’s central states, a region referred to as the Middle Belt, have been overwhelmed by violence for the better part of a decade.

What’s Up With Water – June 14, 2021 – This week’s episode covers new findings from an investigation of a destructive landslide in northern India last year, a rural Canadian community’s fight for clean drinking water, and an airborne pollution monitoring program that found traces of PFAS chemicals in rain samples from the Great Lakes region.

Chinese Cyberattack In April Targeted California Water District

The Associated Press reports that a hack of Pulse Connect Secure networking devices in April included the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people and operates some of the largest water treatment plants in the world. The cyberattack is believed to have been carried out by Chinese hackers, the latest in a long history of Chinese intrusions into U.S. computer systems. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said no Metropolitan systems or processes were known to have been affected and no data had been stolen.



A three-judge panel affirmed Minnesota state regulators’ key approvals of the Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project, the Associated Press reports. The project has drawn criticism from environmentalists and Indigenous communities for perceived threats to water quality and cultural land. Pipeline opponents say their main focus now is appealing to President Joe Biden to intervene, although they are considering an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.


Brazil is preparing a decree that would set up a commission to decide on more drastic measures to control electricity use if there are shortages. Reuters reports the move comes amid the country’s worst drought in nearly a century. Around 65 percent of Brazil’s electricity currently comes from hydroelectric dams, although the drought could force the country to depend more heavily on costly thermal power to compensate for reduced hydroelectric generation.

  • Why it matters: Until very recently, big hydropower projects were seen as essential to stabilizing electricity supplies in power-hungry developing nations, Circle of Blue reported in 2013. Massive hydropower projects are an artifact of the water-intensive, resource-consuming global development strategy of the 20th century. In the 21st century, though, the scale of the big dams and their reservoirs has incited anger among rural and indigenous communities that are waging ferocious campaigns to defend their fisheries and land.


The Czech government has sent a draft proposal to Warsaw to end a dispute over an open-pit coal mine in Poland near the Czech border. Reuters reports that Czechs living near the Polish border have reported drinking water contamination due to operations at the Turow mine. The Czech government plans to begin negotiations sometime this week.

  • Why it matters: On every continent where big hard-rock mineral mines are proposed or are operating, conflict over water availability and management is raising costs, increasing risks for lenders, driving tougher government oversight, and prompting much more aggressive civic opposition campaigns, according to a report from Circle of Blue in 2016.
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