United Nations

The Global Rundown The world’s aquifers are disappearing, and the Aral Sea is vanishing. Researchers from Massachusetts have deduced that the water on earth has been here since the planet’s formation, while scientists from Nebraska and Illinois have written a computer program for buying and selling water rights. Record floods in August caused mass amounts […]

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Water Access North America, Middle East, Africa Two experts from the United Nations found that water shutoffs to Detroit residents unable to pay their water bills are a violation of human rights, the U.N. News Centre reported. The experts visited the city over the weekend, where as many as 3,000 water customers are being disconnected […]

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Climate Change Nearly 1,000 high-altitude lakes have been formed in Peru over the past 40 years as the country’s glaciers have melted 40 percent, Reuters reported. The glaciers are the source of much of the drinking water in Peru but are disappearing due to climate change, the Peruvian government said. Declining Arctic sea ice is […]

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Water Supply Residents of Sao Paulo will likely be facing daily water shutoffs due to a drought that has drawn down water levels in its main drinking water reservoir to just 5 percent of capacity, Bloomberg News reported. The city’s water utility has so far resisted shutoffs, but Brazil’s national regulators say it will not […]

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Water Supply A community in California’s Sierra mountains is concerned that plans to expand geothermal energy production in the area could threaten drinking water supplies, NBC News reported. Residents worry increased pumping of geothermal water could draw down water levels in the community’s cold water aquifer during an ongoing drought. Mexico is building a $US […]

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Water Supply As water supplies continue to decline in Tehran, Iran is spending $US 11 million to complete a new water treatment plant and mulling a plan to import water from Tajikistan, Bloomberg News reported. Officials are also considering stricter measures to get residents to reduce water consumption, which is much higher in the capital […]

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United States Approximately 90 percent of urban streams and 61 percent of rural streams in the United States contain levels of pesticides above thresholds that are considered safe for aquatic wildlife, though they are generally safe for humans, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey, Reuters reported. The percentage of contaminated urban streams […]

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Human rights groups have sent a report to the United Nations arguing that water shutoffs by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department are violating the human right to water, the Detroit News reported. Half of the city’s water accounts are overdue, and the city has so far shut off 4,500 of the 46,000 customers that […]

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Desertification Approximately 105 million hectares, or 32 percent of India’s land, is degraded and one quarter is facing desertification, according to India’s environment minister, Reuters reported. The trend is thought to be caused by overuse of land for grazing livestock and shifting rainfall patterns. India is not alone. Globally, 2 billion hectares a year are […]

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Water Scarcity Water supplies are increasingly being used as a weapon in conflicts, especially in the Middle East and Africa, Inter Press Service reported. The United Nations has recently expressed concerns about forces in Syria deliberately cutting off supplies to civilians, which it called a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. Water shortages […]

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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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Water and Energy The World Bank has approved a $US 73 million grant to continue the development of the Inga 3 hydropower project, the first in a series of large dams planned for the Congo River, Inter Press Service reported. The Grand Inga project would give the Democratic Republic of Congo the third highest hydropower […]

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Water Scarcity Food security in the Near East and North Africa region will be strained as the availability of fresh water could decline 50 percent by 2050 and the regional population continues to grow, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN News Centre reported. The UN has formed […]

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Pollution Discarded computers, tablets, refrigerators, and other electronics are the fastest growing type of waste in the world, according to a report from the United Nations Step initiative, the Guardian reported. The toxic “e-waste”, primarily generated in the developed world, poses a serious pollution threat to the water, air and soil of developing countries, where […]

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Water Investment An increase in global water investment to 2.2 percent of the world’s gross domestic product could yield a net $US 1 trillion in economic benefits each year, according to a new study released by the United Nations, AlertNet reported. This level of investment, over 20 years, would give everyone in the world access […]

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Health and Sanitation Waterborne diseases caused by water supplies contaminated with sewage are a major threat to public health in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. The city’s crumbling water and sanitation infrastructure means that many residents are forced to defecate outside, while aging city sewage pipes have burst […]

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Climate Change The next report released by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to contain stronger warnings about the security of the world’s food supply, The New York Times reported, citing a leaked version of the report. Previous releases from the IPCC reflected hope that the increased plant growth prompted by […]

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Water Quality Large blooms of algae in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon have destroyed sea grass beds and forced manatees to eat poisonous macro algae that can kill them, NPR reported. The algal blooms are thought to be the result of nutrient-rich water releases from Lake Okeechobee and seeping septic systems. Australia’s government is requiring environmental […]

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Water Supply There will likely be a “rapid increase” in the amount of wastewater used globally for irrigation and drinking water as the costs to recycle become competitive with measures to secure scarcer fresh water, according to a study from Japan’s Totorri University and the U.N. University, Reuters reported. North America produces enough treated wastewater […]

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A new document released by the United Nations inventories shared water resources in the Middle East, providing detailed data to encourage cooperative water management, AlertNet reported. The inventory also notes that the region’s water quality is declining. Water Quality A toxic spill in China’s Fu River caused spiking ammonia levels and resulted in thousands of […]

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