The Stream, March 3, 2021: Urban India Still Faces Water Stress Despite Ambitious Water Projects


  • Much of urban India still faces water stress, a report finds.
  • The Magpie River in Canada is given personhood status.
  • Parts of Appalachia are flooded from heavy thunderstorms earlier this week.
  • South Africa’s Standard Bank will assess its role in a crude oil pipeline after international opposition.

A new report says Colorado River managers may be overestimating future water demand.

“We said you can’t plan the future of the river based on these aspirational use projections when there’s a clear demonstration that we never end up using as much as we aspire to use.” – Jack Schmidt, the Lawson Chair in Colorado River Studies at Utah State University. A new report says water-use projections for the Upper Colorado River are unrealistic because they overestimate demand. The Colorado Sun reports that as coal-fired plants are decommissioned, agricultural land transitions to residential developments and regulations and political barriers prevent more transmountain diversions from the river, future water use is unlikely to increase. The paper concludes that water managers will need innovative thinking in order to tackle the problems posed by climate change.


Rights vs. Regulations: When it Comes to Septic Codes, Property Rights Remain a Big Barrier

Even before COVID-19, septic systems weren’t much of a priority in the Legislature. The last time an attempt was made to get Michigan statewide regulations for septic systems was in 2018, when two bills could have established state standards for septic systems, also known as “onsite wastewater systems,” and also have required regular inspections of those systems with the results of those inspections maintained by the then-Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Under the measures, a committee would have advised the DEQ, now the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, on standards.

Both bills made it to the House Committee on Local Government before stalling in late 2018 and then going no further.

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: Florida-Georgia Water Dispute Returns to Supreme Court – A long-running dispute between Florida and Georgia over water resources reached the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

What’s Up With Water – March 1, 2020 – This week’s episode covers a drought in Taiwan that is forcing the tech industry to prepare for water rationing and a new report that finds that nearly a third of global freshwater fish populations are endangered.

Magpie River In Quebec Given Personhood Status

CBC reports that the Magpie River in Quebec, Canada, has been granted personhood status by the regional municipality of Minganie and the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit. The designation is a bid to protect the river from future threats like hydropower development. The movement to grant “environmental personhood” to rivers is a growing recognition of Indigenous rights and the evolution of legal concepts, said David Boyd, an environmental lawyer.

In context: Florida County Overwhelmingly Supports Granting Legal Rights to Rivers



A new report from the Observer Research Foundation found that even as a project takes shape to provide potable tap water to 28.6 million Indian households by 2024, much of urban India continues to face severe water stress. Increased urbanization, unsustainable water use and decaying water infrastructure contribute to current conditions. To secure India’s water supply, the study recommends finding additional surface storages and restoring aquifers.

In context: Choke Point: India


Heavy thunderstorms in parts of Appalachia on Sunday and Monday flooded rivers and caused multiple water rescues, mudslides, road closures and power outages, the Associated Press reports. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on Monday and said 13 counties and cities had done the same. On Monday, around 13,000 customers in Kentucky and West Virginia were without power, according to a utility tracking service.


After immense international backlash, South Africa’s Standard Bank said it will hire an independent environmental and social adviser to assess its involvement in Total’s East African Crude Oil Pipeline, Reuters reports. Over 260 civil society organizations around the world have encouraged chief executives of 25 banks not to fund the pipeline’s construction. The environmental groups say the project could threaten local communities, water supplies and biodiversity in several East African countries.

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