Springing Stories - July and August

Bimonthly recaps of water, plastic, and other Spring to the Tap related news! 
Visit springtothetap.org/p/news.html for a rolling total and archives of all Springing Stories.

To start a hot July and August news update, Spring to the Tap's home state of Washington is currently facing its worst drought in recorded history. The historic-low snowpack is indicative of a drought so bad that even the Queets rain forest in the typically damp Olympic National Park is on fire. The lack of rainfall is severely impacting the Pacific Northwest's salmon runs, with one report stating at least a quarter of a million sockeye salmon returning to the Columbia River are dead or dying due to very warm waters -- a premature-death toll that could rise to 80% of the around 500,000 sockeye returning from sea to spawn. The Columbia River is currently experiencing a 60-year low in water level, but on top of that, officials say, the prolonged periods of above-average summer temperatures make the already stressed fish far more susceptible to disease.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world isn't faring any better. Further south, Californians are trying to plan ahead by spending $55 million revitalizing a desalination plant in Santa Barbara, and another $30 million dumping black plastic balls in a reservoir in Los Angeles (I guess we should blame Obama). In Puerto Rico, their economic troubles are intensified by the worst drought in the history of the territory, causing the government to invest in cloud-sapping water-harvesting technologies. A massive heat wave has doubled the record of consecutive days of extreme heat in Japan, killing 55. Hong Kong recently set a record high temperature, and Germany beat a record high of 105 degrees Fahrenheit previously set last month. In Egypt, blistering heat has killed 61. Indeed, around the world pavement-melting heat has killed thousands of people in the last few months. Widespread record heat and drought are two signs that are forcing millions to consider the grim realities of this climate changed era

Unfortunately, the little water we have left isn't doing so hot either. A crew working for the EPA in Colorado triggered a massive spill of three million gallons of toxic mine wastewater down the Animas River on August 5th. The orange plume containing arsenic, lead, copper, aluminum and cadmium has now reached Utah and New Mexico according to reports. In the Pacific Ocean, the warmer-than-average waters have created ideal conditions for one of the largest toxic algae blooms scientists have ever seen. Stretching from California to Alaska, the "red tide" is up to 40 miles wide and 650 miles deep in places, and is already having dire effects on fisheries and ecosystems.

If that wasn't enough, New Jersey Governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie recently signed a law allowing cities in his state to sell off their municipal water systems to private companies without public approval. The desire to bypass a public vote makes sense because it would be tough to pass a measure allowing companies to profit from the human right to water as it has led to higher prices and lower quality service for residents across the country. But Christie isn't the only one catering to mega-corporations seeking control of our water. Ever since the waste-reducing act of banning bottled water caught on in National Parks across the country, Coca-Cola has been doing everything it can to fight the measures. Corporate interests recently succeeded, by convincing a member of congress to slip a last-minute amendment into the House spending bill barring the Parks Service from using federal money to support such bans. The National Parks Service responded by claiming it will find money elsewhere to support its sustainability initiatives.

On the west coast, the small town of Cascade Locks, Oregon is still awaiting decision on Oxbow Springs. Nestle is in the seventh year of a process aimed at gaining rights to bottle spring water currently owned by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife used for an endangered salmon hatchery. The multinational company has been making runs at small community springs around the Pacific Northwest for years now, using its massive legal and monetary resources (promising opportunity and subtly smearing opposition) as leverage in economically-struggling cities.

Your top three water-related stories to read for July and August are below. Also be sure to follow those linked above and a visit our rolling total of all news articles now available at springtothetap.org/p/news.html.

August 5th, The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here - Rolling Stone
The worst predicted impacts of climate change are starting to happen — and much faster than climate scientists expected.

July 28th, Warm water killing half of Columbia River sockeye salmon- Register-Guard
More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries due to warming water temperatures.

July 8th, We don’t trust drinking fountains anymore, and that’s bad for our health - Washington Post
Fountains were once a revered feature of urban life, a celebration of the tremendous technological and political capital it takes to provide clean drinking water to a community. Today, they’re in crisis.

If you see anything we missed be sure to share it with us in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter!

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