Trump Administration Makes Key Decision That Threatens Water Supply Of Millions

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By Reynard Loki for AlterNet – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly issuing a proposed rule to undo the Clean Water Rule that was enacted in May 2015, under President Obama’s last term. The rule protects the water supply for more than 117 million Americans. Also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), the Clean Water Rule puts limits on pollution in the wetlands, rivers and streams that feed the nation’s larger waterways. Those limits are essential for protecting the safety of the drinking water on which millions of American rely. The rule also safeguards those waters for swimming, fishing and other activities. In addition, the rule helps to maintain the biological integrity of those smaller waterways, in turn protecting wildlife by keeping aquatic ecosystems healthy. When the rule was issued, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers resolved decades of legal debate among politicians, environmentalists and public health advocates, saying that smaller waterways across the nations—tens of millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of streams—actually qualify for legal protection under the Clean Water Act, the primary federal law that protects communities and ecosystems from water pollution.

2 Billion People Don’t Have Access To Clean Water, Opens Up Fissures Of Inequality

On 9 February 2016 in central Ethiopia, children and women from a semi-pastoralist community wait their turn to fill jerrycans with clean water at a water point in Haro Huba Kebele in Fantale Woreda, in East Shoa Zone, Oromia Region. Credit: © UNICEF/UN011590/Ayene

By Roshni Majumdar for IPS – UNITED NATIONS, Jul 13 2017 (IPS) – More than two billion people lack access to clean and safe drinking water, according to a new report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Although significant progress to ensure access to drinking water has been achieved, there is still a long way to go to ensure its quality—deemed free from pollutants and safe for drinking. “Clean water and sanitation is central to other outcomes, for example, nutrition among children. While many countries like India have made it a top priority, many others haven’t been able to emphasise the issue yet,” Sanjay Wijesekera, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at UNICEF, told IPS. As many as 400 million people still rely on distant water sources—travelling to and fro from their homes to pick it up. Some 159 million people, according to the report, rely on untreated water from lakes and streams. This puts lives, especially of young children, at great risk. “Every day, 800 children under the age of five die from waterborne diseases like diarrhoea. In fact, diarrhoea is the second biggest cause of death in the world.” Wijesekera added. A lack of access to clean drinking water is also bad news for hygiene and sanitary levels. In many countries, open defecation due to the lack of in-house toilets poses a significant challenge. “The sheer indignity of openly defecating, especially among young girls, takes a toll on other aspects of their lives—such as their poor attendance in school where there aren’t toilets,” Wijesekera explained.

Nine Activists Put Their Bodies On The Line For Water In Detroit

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By Drew Philp for The Guardian – In 1964, while still in her early twenties, Marian Kramer sat at a lunch counter in Monroe, Louisiana, and was served a tuna fish sandwich and a glass of dishwater. A committed civil rights activist, Kramer would regularly participate in integrated lunch counter sit-ins, organize picket lines and register black people to vote. For this, both the Ku Klux Klan and the police were after her. The first time Kramer drove an automobile was because of the KKK, in fact. While being chased by the hate group, the original driver of the vehicle had lost her nerve and Kramer, never one to give up, took the wheel and drove to the house of a black farmer, where they were hidden. When the owner of a local store shot at a young black man, Kramer helped organize a picket line, a full-on boycott. For her trouble in facilitating the sea change of human rights for African Americans in the 20th century, the policethrew her into a recently emptied garbage truck, the walls dripping with the sludge from the trash of a nation. She was placed in jail and, alongside other leaders, spent eight days and nights in solitary confinement. She was charged with disorderly conduct. But that’s ancient history. Isn’t it? More than 50 years and the turn of a century later, Kramer, now 73, sat in a chintzy Detroit courtroom charged with the exact same offense. Her co-defendant, an ordained Methodist minister named Bill Wylie-Kellermann, sat next to her.

Our Nation’s Growing Water Crisis: What You Need To Know

Detroit Water shut-off protest sign. Photograph by James Fassinger

By Staff of EKU Online – The existing water pipes used to supply water to homes, businesses, schools and commercial buildings were installed at different times and were made from different materials and manufacturing techniques. Therefore, they have different life expectancies. Cast iron pipes have a lifespan of around 120 years and were introduced in the late 19th century. On the other hand, ductile iron pipes have an average life expectancy of 50 to 70 years and were introduced in the 1950′s. The water pipes used in many cities across the United States were installed between 70 to 90 years ago. In Washington DC, the average age of existing water pipes is 77 years. This is a real shame considering that the United States is the most developed country in the world as well as the richest nation on the planet, but it’s not able to deliver clean drinking water to it’s citizens safely and efficiently. Take the case of Flint, MI, where the city supplied dirty water contaminated with unbelievable quantities of lead. This was a classic example of areas in which the country is lagging behind. Every single year, an average of 240,000 water breaks are reported. The cost of repairing these broken pipes is incredibly high. In fact, 75% of the cost of drinking water can be attributed to pipe repair costs. On average, 1.7 trillion gallons of water is wasted every year due to broken pipes and lack of pipe replacement.

Battle To Oppose Water Privatization Returns Greece To Frontlines Of E.U. Crisis

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By Maria Paradia for Occupy – In late September 2016, the Syriza administration laid the groundwork to begin Greece’s water privatization, achieving a majority of 152 parliamentary votes and enacting series of new measures to transfer the state-run water companies of Athens (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki (EYATH) into a privatization superfund. The duration of the government’s participation in the superfund was set at 99 years, with lenders promising the Greek government a bailout of barely 2.8 billion euros – far lower than the projected 50 billion euros estimated earlier in the year. While Greece was forced to privatize its water sources, however, other countries like Germany were undergoing the opposite: a phase of de-privatization. In Berlin, after 12 years of poor management and exorbitant price hikes, the local government several years ago reclaimed its water resources. This turn of events caused a series of similar de-privatization initiatives across the country, revealing that the projected economic outcomes via privatization weren’t viable in the long term. In fact, the re-established state-run services were proven to be far more efficient, better organized and capable of providing higher-quality services than their privatized counterparts.

Water And Oil, Death And Life In Louisiana

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By Nora Belblidia for Uneven Earth – Six months ago, a routine public hearing was scheduled in a nondescript gray government building in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Normally these hearings go over really quietly,” said Scott Eustis, the Wetlands Specialist for Gulf Restoration Network (GRN). “Usually it’s me, my associates, and like ten people.” Instead, over 400 people showed up to the Baton Rouge hearing, and stayed for nearly six hours. The debate centered on the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, a proposed route that would run 163 miles from Lake Charles to St. James, forming the “tail” of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and effectively connecting oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana refineries. If built, Bayou Bridge would cross 11 parishes, 600 acres of wetlands, 700 bodies of water, and the state-designated Coastal Zone Boundary. Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) is behind both the Bayou Bridge project and the more infamous DAPL, but the parallels run deeper than a mutual stakeholder. Just like in DAPL, those who resist the project are drawing connections between past wrongdoings, conditions today, and a future climate. Residents cite safety concerns, environmental racism, pollution, and threats to the region’s wetlands and seafood industries as reasons to oppose its construction.

No Pipelines Under The Potomac Camp To Launch

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By No Potomac Pipeline. From Standing Rock to Hancock people are rising up to resist fracked gas pipelines in their community. Following a historic fight in Maryland, where we became the first state with gas reserves to legislatively ban fracking, we still find our communities our under attack by Big Oil and Gas. TransCanada the same company behind the Keystone Pipeline that spilled over 16000 gallons of crude oil on South Dakota land now wants to build a pipeline that would transport fracked gas between Pennsylvania and West Virginia. How are they going to do this? They are going to do it through the shortest and cheapest route by cutting through Maryland and underneath the Potomac River that serves as the source of drinking water for millions of residents in our state and the DC suburbs.

Greece Forced To Sell Public Water Utilities Under EU-Imposed Privatization Plan

A protester takes part in a rally against the privatization of the state-run water utility, in Thessaloniki, Greece.(AP/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

By Michael Nevradakis for Mint Press News – GREECE — In May 2016, the SYRIZA-led Greek government passed a new comprehensive set of economic austerity policies in exchange for receiving new loans that are intended to keep the country’s fragile economy afloat. This represents the fourth such “memorandum” between Greece and its creditors since the onset of the country’s economic crisis in 2009. It follows the third memorandum agreement passed by the SYRIZA-led government in the summer of 2015, just weeks after 62 percent of Greek voters rejected more EU-demanded austerity measures in the historic Greek referendum of July 5. What both of these memorandum agreements have in common, along with the first two agreements voted upon by previous Greek governments, is the wholesale imposition of economic austerity measures, including pension and wage cuts, in addition to a wide-ranging program of privatizations of key public assets. Just in the past year, 14 major regional Greek airports were privatized, as was the port of Piraeus, Greece’s largest port and one of the largest in Europe. More recently, the port of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, was also privatized to a consortium of investors.

Right To Life And Water: Drought And Turmoil For Coke And Pepsi In Tamil Nadu

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By Keith Schneider for Circle of Blue – TIRUNELVELI, India – Just after dusk on a warm mid-January evening, attorney DA Prabakar greeted several visitors on the dimly lit street in front of his home here in southern India. The air was desert-dry and dusty in this rain-scarce river city. All of Tamil Nadu, from Chennai in the north to this city of 500,000 residents near India’s southern tip, has wilted in the state’s worst drought in 140 years. The Thamirabarani River, which runs through the city and is famed for its steady flow even in dry years, meandered through a sickly progression of shallow ponds and mudflats. All of Tamil Nadu, from Chennai in the north to this city of 500,000 residents near India’s southern tip, has wilted in the state’s worst drought in 140 years. A lawyer with decades of courtroom experience, Prabakar was in high spirits despite the wearying dry spell. The law office on his home’s ground floor is a hive of legal activism. He explained that the next morning the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court would consider motions in his high-profile “public interest litigation,” a judicial complaint filed last summer that temporarily halted the city’s Coca-Cola and PepsiCo bottling plants from drawing water from the Thamirabarani.

Huge Victory: Blackfeet Nation To Control Its Own Water After 35 Years Battle

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By Staff for Counter Current News – Harry Barnes, Chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, called it a “historic day for the Blackfeet people,” and well worth the time that Blackfeet staff and leaders had put into the effort the past four decades. “My faith in the wisdom of the people’s vote has come to reality,” he said in a statement. The history of the struggle between the tribes in Montana, and the State of Montana, over water rights began in the 1970s, when the federal government filed court water rights cases on behalf of all Montana tribes. Montana filed competing water rights cases in state court. The U.S. and the tribes challenged Montana’s assertion that it had jurisdiction over Indian water rights on the reservation. What ensued was a history of court battles, meetings and negotiations that eventually led to the compact agreed to by Montana and the federal government. The last step was an April 20 vote by the Blackfeet membership. The compact confirms the Tribe’s water quantity and rights, the Tribe’s jurisdiction and its authority to manage those rights on the reservation. Montana’s legislature ratified it in 2009, Congress approved the bill, and it was signed by President Barack Obama in January 2017.

THAAD Rocket Fuel: Likely Ground Water Contamination Coming To Seongju, South Korea

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By Bruce K. Gagnon for Organizing Notes – The unwelcome US deployment of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense (MD) system in Seongju, South Korea is not only a significant threat to regional peace but is also a major environmental catastrophe waiting to happen. The reason is that rocket fuel contains a deadly chemical component called perchlorate. And since the Seongju area is a melon farming community the risk of ground water contamination by perchlorate should be alarming to all concerned. Perchlorate, the explosive ingredient in solid rocket fuel, has leaked from military bases and weapons and aerospace contractors’ plants in at least 22 states, contaminating drinking water for millions of Americans. In the US scientists have warned that perchlorate could cause thyroid deficiency in more than 2.2 million women of childbearing age. This thyroid deficiency could damage the fetus of pregnant women, if left untreated. Reports indicate that 20 million to 40 million Americans may be exposed to the chemical.

#WageLove: Water Activists Build A Global Movement

Austin Texas protest Resist Disrupt Organize Photo from Steve Rainwater-flickr-cc

By Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes for Truthout – Grassroots efforts by Nicole Hill and Melissa Mays — and the thousands of others fighting alongside them in Detroit and Flint to ensure access to safe and affordable drinking water in Michigan — have galvanized public attention in recent years. But an equally epic battle has been waging in the courts, a slower-paced struggle to stop what is happening in Detroit and Flint and make sure it doesn’t happen elsewhere. Meet civil rights lawyer Alice Jennings. “If you were to actually order a burger with awesomesauce, it would just be Alice Jennings, sitting on your burger,” Nicole Hill told us when we interviewed her in January. Sharp, commanding and full of laughter, Jennings was among the first to recognize the Detroit water shut-offs as a human rights issue, tipped off by early water warrior Charity Hicks. Ever since, she’s been helping to frame the legal issues that will one day ensure your children — or perhaps their children’s children — have access to affordable, clean, safe drinking water, even as this supposedly renewable resource is rapidly privatized. “#WageLove” — named for the hashtag water activists use to commemorate the contributions of Charity Hicks…

Federal Judge Sets Aside $4.2 Million Jury Award For Fracked Water

A sign held at an anti-Enbridge protest in Vancouver. (Photo: travis blanston/flickr/cc)

By Staff of Energy Justice – U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson threw out the award and ordered a new trial unless the parties can come to a settlement.(Scranton, Pa.) – A federal judge has set aside a 2016 jury verdict and $4.24 million jury award to two couples from Dimock, Pennsylvania after the jury unanimously found Cabot Oil and Gas negligent for contaminating their well water during drilling for natural gas. The plaintiffs in the case are Nolen “Scott” Ely and his family, and Ray Hubert and his family who live next to the Elys. The Ely family has lived in Dimock since the 1800’s. Scott Ely said “The judge heard the same case that the jury heard and the jury was unanimous. How can he take it upon himself to set aside their verdict? It’s outrageous.” The Dimock federal civil litigation, which began under the caption Norma Fiorentino, et al., v. Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation and Gassearch Drilling Services, Inc. in 2009, and concludes under the caption, Nolen Scott Ely, et al., v. Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation, had its final verdict in United States District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, located in Scranton, PA.

The Politics Of Water Insecurity

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By Majed Akhter for Al Jazeera – This March 22, World Water Day, we focus attention on global issues of water access. The statistics are not comforting. The poorest ninth of us – about 800 million people – do not have reliable access to clean drinking water. This is the starkest form of “water insecurity” – the inadequate access of individuals and groups to fresh water. The explosive growth rates and technological advancements of the past several decades notwithstanding, we have been unable to provide a global minority – numbering more than the entire population of Europe – the most basic of physiological requirements.

Ten Global Struggles For Public Water

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By Lavinia Steinfort, Satoko Kishimoto and Denis Burke for Occupy.com. Throughout the world there are current battles where people are trying to prevent privatization of their water supply. On this World Water Day, March 22, we bring you 10 inspiring stories of communities and cities working to reclaim public control over water and wastewater services from major private water multinationals. These 10 stories come from Nigeria, Spain, Brazil, Indonesia, Portugal, Montana and California, but this is a global struggle between people, communities and business interests that want to control this vital and essential resource for people.