The Stream, July 3: Water & Land Shortage to Increase Egypt’s Food Imports

Water Scarcity
A growing population and Egypt’s food subsidy programs are pushing farmers to grow more wheat, but land and water constraints will likely mean that imports of the staple crop will increase, Reuters reported. Agriculture accounts for the use of 85 percent of Egypt’s water supply, the vast majority of which comes from the Nile River and may be reduced in the future due to climate change and upstream development.

Droughts, higher temperatures and the spread of destructive forest insects are leading to more wildfires in the western United States, where the Forest Service now spends half of its budget on firefighting, Bloomberg News reported. Meanwhile, increasing development in fire-prone areas means more homes are at risk, and fires are more likely to be fought than allowed to run their course.

Water Quality
In response to agricultural and industrial pollution, New Zealand has passed new minimum water quality standards that will apply to all of the lakes and rivers in the country for the first time, The New Zealand Herald reported. Critics say the standards, which will require all freshwater bodies to be of a high enough quality for boating and wading, will not necessarily make the water safe for swimming or improve ecological health.

A large rainstorm in the Chicago area forced water managers to release storm water and partially treated sewage into Lake Michigan, a practice used when the region’s sewer system overflows, the Chicago Tribune reported. Chicago has pursued large infrastructure projects to reduce the frequency of these overflows, but still released 32 billion gallons of wastewater into Lake Michigan between 2007 and 2013.

The Stream is a daily digest spotting global water trends. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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