Following up on last summer's analysis of water news in COVID times, the Water Hub team just completed a February 2021 Western water media scan to see how coverage of our issues has been impacted by recent events like the election, administration change, etc.
We found that political news had indeed crowded out many water stories in the period from November to February, but that the overall volume of water news had mostly recovered from the dip we saw in the first months of the pandemic.
Like the weather, water news tends to ebb and flow. We tend to see big spikes in coverage around major research releases (snowpack and drought reports, new scientific studies), high profile project and policy news, and events like fires, floods, etc.
Some of the biggest water stories of the past year included Trump's Clean Water Act rollbacks, Columbia University's "megadrought" study, the lack of water access in Navajo Nation communities hit hard by COVID-19, and the crushing amount of water debt facing families, triggering concerns about a coming wave of water shutoffs.
We are proud to have worked with advocates and experts to bring these issues to light, and recognize that many groups have been working to elevate issues of water affordability and access, in particular, for decades. Our media scan showed that those efforts are bearing fruit, with coverage about infrastructure gaps and failures, and rising water rates increasing.