The Stream, January 5, 2022: Can “Smarter” Tech in the Great Lakes Combat Climate Change?


  • Lacking faith in government, South Africans take it upon themselves to deliver basic necessities like water to their communities.
  • Few Chinook salmon survive after a summer of warm water  in the Sacramento River.
  • A sewer line fails in California, causing streets to flood and beaches to close.
  • Water bill payments will resume in Phoenix, Arizona.

Scientists hope for “smart” technology to monitor the Great Lakes.

“If it’s getting warmer, and the lakes are not freezing as often as they usually do, that means there’s more evaporation of the lake into the air, and now were potentially losing the overall water balance. So, those are really important insights that we need to be able to have more of to help us better prepare and manage the lakes.” – Kelli Paige, chief executive officer of the Great Lakes Observing System. Researchers, scientists, and government agencies are hoping to implement “smarter” technologies to monitor the Great Lakes. These include sensors on buoys, satellite imagery, cloud-based computer platforms and other data gathering tech. As climate change worsens, scientists are hoping to more accurately monitor its effects on water temperatures and quality, lake levels, coastal erosion and algae blooms.

  • Why it Matters: Officials in California have implemented technology like satellite imagery to make sure that farmers or landowners aren’t illegally diverting water amid ongoing drought. These high tech tools have modified behavior in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Disputes over water in the Delta aren’t about quantities of water. They are instead about which right a diverter has.

South Africans Band Together to Deliver Water, Other Basic Necessities As Faith In Government Dwindles

Lacking faith in their government, many South Africans have taken it upon themselves to better their communities. Many, like 58-year-old teacher Louise Masimela, help deliver water where supplies are scarce. With the help of one of South Africa’s biggest NGOs, The Gift of the Givers, she supplies water to a makeshift school for young children in a township just south of Graaff-Reinet. Others work on their own or with others in their communities to secure reliable electricity supplies, organize vaccination drives, or deliver protective gear to hospitals.

Today’s Top Water Stories, Told In Numbers


Less than three percent of Chinook salmon survived last summer along the Sacramento River, experts say. Populations of the species, which are already endangered, are dropping off at drastic rates as climate change warms river waters across the country.


After a 60-year-old sewer line failed in the city of Carson, California, 8.5 million gallons of raw sewage flooded streets and sidewalks, eventually flowing into the Pacific Ocean and forcing nearby beaches to close. LA county supervisor Janice Hahn has called for a full investigation into the cause of the spill, although experts say the sewer main was probably strained after heavy rainstorms in Southern California. The sewage spill comes only months after a warehouse fire in Carson leached chemicals into the Dominguez Channel, killing plants and releasing large amounts of sewer gas.

On the Radar

Water bill payments are set to resume in Phoenix, Arizona next month, city officials say. The Phoenix City Council voted in March of 2020 to restore water service to all customers, even those with overdue bills. Officials say several financial assistance programs are available to any of their 1.5 million customers with outstanding balances.

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