Drastic Cuts Threaten Future of U.S. Water Infrastructure
The following is a statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter:
“The proposal of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies for fiscal year 2013 threatens our nation’s critical drinking and clean water resources by cutting the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs—the mechanism by which the federal government dispenses funds for the upkeep of our tap water and sewerage systems).
“Specifically, the House Subcommittee’s proposed budget would cut a combined $867 million from the SRFs. It would undermine the ability of local utilities to ensure that all Americans have access to safe, clean, affordable water.
“Water is an essential, irreplaceable resource no matter the budgetary or political climate. It is a shame the funding for clean, safe and affordable water is left to the whims of Congressional appropriators.
“The lack of investment in our nation’s water infrastructure and failure to provide low interest loans to communities struggling to provide these basic, essential services poses a threat to our communities that Congress should not ignore.
“The continued gutting of the SRFs further highlights the need for a dedicated source of federal funding to help ensure that community water systems receive the funds necessary to modernize and maintain aging water systems, many of which are over a century old. We need to create a Clean Water Trust Fund that would ensure a source of money for critical community water systems no matter the funding whims of congress and the president.”
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
For a deeper dive:
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By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.