One Drenched Thing: This Winter Was the Wettest Ever

If it felt to you like the rain never ended this winter, you are correct!  According to NOAA, due to “a steady march of snow and rain storms across the country between December 2018 and the end of February 2019 … the contiguous U.S. marked its wettest winter on record.”  How wet was it?  By the numbers, the total winter precipitation was 9.01 inches (2.22 inches above average) in the U.S., which beat the previous record-holder, the winter of 1997-98, by 0.02 of an inch.  This wet weather will help relieve the drought in some parts of the country. By the end of February, the U.S. Drought Monitor had only 11.9 percent in drought conditions, which was down from 16.5 percent in a drought at the end of January.  NOAA also reported that the winter temperature average was 33.4 degrees F, which is 1.2 degrees above average, with warmer-than-average temperatures across the Deep South, the Southeast, and parts of New England.  I (Monica) have been “measuring” the amount of mud my dogs have brought into the house from my backyard (hundreds of towels washed), and it has indeed been a record wet winter!

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Coal Ash Barges in India Continue to Capsize, Jeopardizing Public Health, Mangroves, Fishers

Coal Ash Barges in India Continue to Capsize, Jeopardizing Public Health, Mangroves, Fishers

Since March, five barges filled with toxic fly ash have capsized en route from India to Bangladesh, according to Rishika Pardikar last week in The Third Pole.  The fly ash, which is used to make cement in Bangladesh, is particularly harmful in river systems such as those of the Sundarbans, an area that contains a highly endangered Bengal tiger reserve and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Why This Matters: Rivers are often touted as an environmentally friendly and cheap mode of transportation – even here in the U.S. (e.g., the Mississippi River). But there are many other users who rely on these waterways in India for fishing and other livelihoods.

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Navajo Lack Water to Fight COVID-19 Because Coal Company Drained the Tribe’s Aquifer

Navajo Lack Water to Fight COVID-19 Because Coal Company Drained the Tribe’s Aquifer

Bloomberg News reports that Peabody Energy, the largest coal producer in the country, operated two coal mines on Navajo and Hopi reservation lands that pulled so much water from the Navajo Aquifer that many wells and springs have now run dry. This comes when water is more necessary than ever for essential hygiene since Covid-19 has hit the Navajo Nation harder than any state.

Why This MattersPeabody never replenished the aquifer water it took under a suspect agreement with the Tribes —  as much as 1.3 billion gallons of water from the aquifer annually —  and one-third of residents have no running water in the midst of the worst pandemic in generations.

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Clean Water Protections Under President Trump Continue to Be Eroded

Clean Water Protections Under President Trump Continue to Be Eroded

The Trump Administration’s severe rollback of the Clean Water Act’s coverage went into effect yesterday with numerous non-profits and states vowing litigation, and Colorado has already successfully pushed back implementing the new rule.  In addition, last week the administration decided not to regulate a chemical used in rocket fuel that has been linked to developmental damage ans the Massachusetts state Department of Environmental Protection failed to send federal regulators reports about the safety of watersheds required by the Act, according to the state auditor.

Why This Matters:  There is not much left of the Clean Water Act with the Trump Administration at the helm of the so-called Environmental Protection Agency.

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