The Stream, January 19, 2022: Black Chicagoans Hold Ten Times More Water Debt Than White Residents


  • A new study sheds light on the staggering racial disparities of water debt in Chicago.
  • Traces of fuel are once again detected in Iqaluit, Canada’s water supply.
  • Earthquakes in drought-ravaged Afghanistan kill 26 people.
  • For the first time in a year, California is free of exceptional drought.

A new report details just how much the climate crisis could cost the U.K.

“Adaptation can no longer be an afterthought. Action on climate change of all kinds needs to be right at the heart of government policy and programs.” – Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK. A new report from the UK government found that global climate change will shave off at least one percent of the country’s economy every year by 2045 if the atmosphere warms more than 2 degrees Celsius. Annual damages due to flooding and extreme weather are expected to exceed £8 billion. Announcing the report, the government told the Guardian that it is investing £5 billion in new flood defenses, and more than £750m on peat restoration, and woodland creation and management.

In Recent Water News

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: In Chile’s Lithium Mines, Climate and Environment Are Dueling Priorities – A battle is brewing over the future of lithium, an essential component of the world’s transition to renewable energy.

Chicago Water Affordability Report Reveals Staggering Racial Disparities

Majority-Black neighborhoods in Chicago hold ten times as much water debt than majority-white areas in the city, according to a study released on Tuesday by two urban planning nonprofits. The study also found that in 2019, customers without a water meter, who are concentrated in the city’s majority-Black and majority-Latino neighborhoods, paid an average of $500 more per year than metered customers. Some homeowners are “unable to pay off the snowballing debt,” the authors wrote, noting that half of the water debt owed to the city comes from delinquent bills.

  • Why it matters: Across the country, millions of Americans are in water debt. A Circle of Blue investigation in 2020 found that more than 1.5 million households in a dozen large U.S. cities owe $1.1 billion to their water departments.

Today’s Top Water Stories, Told In Numbers


Traces of fuel have once again been detected in the water supply of Iqaluit, Nunavut, a rural community in northern Canada. The announcement comes just 5 weeks after a “do-not-consume” order was lifted there. Testing has determined that the water is safe to drink, but city officials are seeking an alternative water source to ease residents’ concerns drinking water with residual odors of fuel. Iqaluit’s 8,000 residents, about half of whom are Indigenous, spent two months without tap water last fall after a petroleum leak, which the city has said came from an aging underground fuel tank.


Two earthquakes hit Afghanistan’s north-west province of Badghis on Monday, taking at least 26 lives and damaging up to one thousand homes. The disaster is but the latest strain on the province, one of Afghanistan’s poorest, which is already suffering through years of drought and the country’s ongoing political instability.

On the Radar

For the first time in more than a year, maps released by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Tuesday show no part of California is experiencing the worst category of drought. Only 1.4 percent of California experiencing “extreme” drought, the second-worst category, according to the maps. Though last month’s record-breaking snow brought much-needed relief, NOAA predicts that the rest of the winter will be drier than average, causing drought conditions to persist in most of the state.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply