The Stream, January 27, 2022: More Than One Million Homes Damaged After Typhoon Rai


  • A famous clear river in Brazil is being muddied by illegal gold mining.
  • New figures illustrate widespread damage from Super Typhoon Rai in the Philippines last December.
  • A new tidal barrier project in the U.K. will protect thousands of buildings from rising waters.
  • A proposed water plan in New Mexico would see even less fields being planted this spring.

Otters are found to have elevated levels of PFAS chemicals in England and Wales.

“When we are washing clothes, or just washing things down the drain, they get into our sewage works, which are not designed to remove PFAS because they’re ancient.” – Emily O’Rourke, a PhD student at Cardiff University. A new study has found elevated levels of PFAS compounds have been found in otters across England and Wales. Researchers detected PFAS chemicals in 50 dead otters found between 2007 and 2009. O’Rourke, the lead author of the study, called otters a “sentinel” species that revealed “widespread environmental pollution” in British waterways.

In Recent Water News

In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: As Dust Settles in Tonga After Volcanic Eruption, Drinking Water Now the ‘Biggest Life-Saving Issue’ – Ocean water and volcanic ash have contaminated the drinking water of tens of thousands of people in the Pacific Island nation.

What’s Up With Water—January 24, 2022 – This week’s episode covers a strategically important dam in Syria that was the target of a U.S. bombing campaign during the war against the Islamic State, the rising cost of water in Chicago’s communities of color, and U.K. water companies that are under scrutiny for improperly handling wastewater.

Brazil’s “Blue River” Is Being Contaminated By Illegal Gold Mining

Federal prosecutors and environmental activists say the Tapajos River in Brazil is being polluted by mud and sentiments from illegal gold mining. The Tapajos was once known as one of Brazil’s largest clearwater rivers, but gold mining has increased since 2019 as world gold prices skyrocketed and environmental laws weren’t enforced under President Jair Bolsonaro.

Today’s Top Water Stories, Told In Numbers


Super Typhoon Rai destroyed or damaged 1.5 million houses after hitting the Philippines in December, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The storm made landfall on the small island of Siargoa with winds of up to 193 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour). Since the storm, the entire island has been without power. IFRC country head Alberto Bocanergra said in a statement that islanders desperately needed clean water supplies, along with shelter and medical care.


U.K. Environment Secretary George Eustice approved a £100m ($112.4 million) tidal barrier project in the county of Somerset. The tidal barrier, which when completed will sit over the River Parrett in Chilton Trinity, will protect an estimated 13,000 homes and 1,500 businesses from coastal shifts.

On the Radar

Farmers should consider voluntarily not planting fields to conserve water supplies, according to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s top water advisor. Mike Hamman told state lawmakers this week that snowpack runoff will most likely be slim this spring, and the state still needs to meet its water delivery obligations to neighboring states. New Mexico officials are seeking $48 million to expand a program along the Rio Grande that pays farmers to not plant their fields.

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