The Stream, September 29, 2021: Water Rights Battle Continues As Bodies of Missing Yaqui Men Found in Mexico


  • Remains of five men who belonged to Mexico’s most persecuted Indigenous group were uncovered this week amid centuries-old battles over water rights.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy wants to relax testing for toxic chemicals in waterways around the nation’s most leading nuclear weapons laboratory.
  • Tropical Storm Dianmu is wreaking havoc in parts of Thailand.
  • Canadian researchers begin an exploration of underwater groundwater aquifers.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans lack indoor plumbing.

“It’s not only that the gap between the water-rich and the water-poor is widening in America, it’s also that it’s driven by a housing sector that lacks any safety net for working families, especially households of color, that cannot afford the astronomical prices of San Francisco, Seattle, or now even Portland.” – Katie Meehan, lead researcher of the Plumbing Poverty Project (PPP) and professor of environment and society at King’s College London (KCL). New research from PPP and KCL found that nearly half a million American households lack basic indoor plumbing, according to The Guardian. Of all Americans living without running water or flushing toilets, it is most common among renters and people of color living in wealthy and fast-growing cities. The problem is most severe in San Francisco, California, where 0.9 percent of the population goes without piped water in their homes. In 2017, only nine percent of San Francisco’s population was Black. However, Black households accounted for 17 percent of those without indoor plumbing.


In Case You Missed It:

As Drought Grips American West, Irrigation Becomes Selling Point for Michigan – Michigan farmers irrigate with 187 billion gallons of groundwater a year. Is the state prepared for more?

What’s Up With Water – September 27, 2021 – This week’s episode covers a new study out of India that finds that arsenic from irrigation water is entering the country’s food chain, unanswered questions after a toxic wastewater spill from one of the world’s largest diamond mines in southern Africa, and conservation data released last week that finds California residents are barely conserving water.

Water Wars, Drug Cartels, Gangs To Blame for Increased Violence in Northern Mexico

The skeletal remains of five Yaqui men, part of Mexico’s most persecuted Indigenous group, were found this week in northern Mexico, the Associated Press reports. Although officials have attributed some of the increased violence in the area to drug cartels and allied local gangs, activists say that the killings can also be blamed on a battle over water rights along the Yaqui River.



As New Mexico prepares for its three-year review of surface water rules, the U.S. Energy Department is looking to relax testing for detecting cancer-causing chemicals at and around a premier nuclear weapons laboratory. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, state regulators and environmentalists oppose the push for less stringent testing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in up to 140 miles of streams in and around the site. If the Energy Department had its way, the federal agency’s test would fall short, pinpointing PCB levels that are 35 times greater than New Mexico limit, according to the state’s Environment Department Surface Water Quality Bureau chief Shelly Lemon.

70,000 HOMES

Tropical storm Dianmu has caused flooding in 30 provinces throughout Thailand and has inundated 70,000 homes, the Times of India reports. Officials in Bangkok are now rushing to protect parts of the city from floodwaters that have already killed six people in the country’s northern and central provinces. Officials have taken precautions like setting up barriers and sandbags in order to avoid a repeat of the devastating 2011 monsoon season, during which a fifth of the city ended up underwater and 500 people died.


Researchers in Canada are searching for underwater aquifers off the coast of Prince Edward island. The CBC reports that island is the first location being explored for the project, but their findings could have massive implications for islands across the globe that rely on groundwater resources. The project aims to investigate whether freshwater can be found under the sea floor and how available the resources are.

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