Australia

Water Contamination Cholera in Haiti’s waterways is a persistent and neglected crisis nearly four years after United Nations peacekeepers allegedly introduced the disease following the devastating 2010 earthquake, The New York Times reported. Clinics treating those affected by the disease have been closing, and large funding shortfalls are leaving communities without necessary water purification tablets […]

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China A startup program in China, initiated by the company behind the Taobao Marketplace, seeks to create a map of water quality across the country by allowing residents to purchase water quality testing kits and upload the results with their smartphones, Bloomberg News reported. The results will be aggregated in a map that the company’s […]

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Queensland’s rush to build desalination and recycled water facilities is a cautionary tale.

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Scientists have called into question the viability of wetland ecosystems recreated on land used for oil sands mining in Canada, saying they do not function as well as before, Yale Environment 360 reported. None of the areas reclaimed by oil companies have yet been certified as meeting government standards, and reclamation efforts can cost as […]

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California, in the third year of its worst drought ever, faces challenges similar to those of Australia. A panel of water policy experts and Circle of Blue journalists questioned whether the nation’s most populous state has the resolve to enact similar reforms.

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Hydropower Environmental groups have raised concerns that the population of Irawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River—which now consists of an estimated 85 individuals—will disappear if construction of a dam on the river is completed, Time reported. A report from the World Wildlife Fund says that explosions during the dam’s construction could kill dolphins in the […]

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Pollution A coal seam gas operation in Australia’s Pilliga forest contaminated groundwater supplies with arsenic, lead and uranium after the facility’s storage ponds leaked, the Guardian reported. The contamination led to a $1,500 fine and calls from environmentalists and farmers to halt the operation, though the company says the groundwater was not part of a […]

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Australia New South Wales and the federal government of Australia have reached a new agreement about government water buybacks in the Murray-Darling River Basin, capping the buybacks at 1,500 gigaliters, the Guardian reported. The buybacks transfer water rights from farmers and other water users to the government, and are meant to keep enough water in […]

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Weather It is becoming more likely that an El Niño weather pattern will form this year, potentially bringing severe drought to places like Australia and India while bringing heavy rains and floods to the Midwest United States and Brazil, Reuters reported. El Niño is caused when surface water temperatures increase in the Pacific Ocean. Hydropower […]

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Pollution Australian government records show that a nickel refinery illegally discharged wastewater into the Great Barrier Reef marine park, introducing hundreds of tons of nitrogen into the environment, the Guardian reported. The company was not penalized, and said the releases were necessary to prevent overflow from the refinery’s tailings ponds during heavy rains. Environmental officials […]

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Water Projects A 2-year federal government study assessing the feasibility of agricultural expansion in northern Australia found that up to 50,000 hectares of crops could be irrigated with water from the Flinders and Gilbert rivers and their tributaries, the Australian reported. The report findings have been challenged by environmental organizations that warn diverting water from […]

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Drought As California endures a drought that could be the worst in 500 years, federal politicians are wrangling over how best to allocate available water supplies, the San Jose Mercury News reported. You can see Circle of Blue’s reporting on California’s drought and water pollution here. Severe droughts are also threatening water supplies for communities […]

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Approximately 100 million people living in rural China do not have access to safe drinking water, a problem driven in part by polluted groundwater, Xinhua reported. In response, some rural communities on Hainan Island are installing “ultra-filtration membranes” to filter out viruses and dissolved compounds, a technology that China believes could be used across the […]

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For the first time since 2008, Australia’s government will sell some of its water allocations in the Murray-Darling Basin, making as much as 10 gigaliters available to irrigators, the Guardian reported. The decision has been applauded by drought-hit farmers, but members of the Greens political party worry that the sell-off could damage communities and environments […]

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Climate Change As much of Australia’s southeastern region remains in the grip of a heat wave, experts from the Climate Council caution that such heat waves are only going to become more frequent, Reuters reported. Heat waves that are more intense and last longer will put increasing pressure on water supplies and the country’s major […]

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While both federal and local government budgets for flood defenses dwindle, the United Kingdom’s government is spending large amounts of money on policies that are counterproductive to flood control, the Guardian reported. Agricultural subsidies that require farmers to keep their land bare of trees, increasing runoff, are just one example of such policies. Africa Improving […]

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Water Contamination Water pollution caused by natural gas and oil drilling operations may be more common than advertised, with cases confirmed in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia, according to an Associated Press review of complaints submitted to the states. The review also found that the states varied greatly in the way they reported possible […]

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Climate Change An increase in global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius would likely result in chronic water scarcity—less than 1,000 cubic meters per person per year—for 21 percent of the global population, according to new climate models developed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Climate Progress reported. An increase of just 1 degree […]

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Australia’s federal environment minister will no longer need to evaluate the ecological implications of large development projects for the Murray-Darling River’s floodplains, wetlands and groundwater, the Guardian reported. The federal government’s lower house voted to remove the ecosystem from a list of threatened environments, a status that some members said created unnecessary red tape. Dams […]

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An estimated 500,000 cubic kilometers of fresh and brackish water exist as groundwater underneath the sea floor of continental shelves, according to a new study from the Adelaide-based National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training that was published in the journal Nature. Researchers say the newly discovered reserves could help relieve water stress in some […]

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