The Stream, March 12: Irrawaddy Dolphins Threatened by Hydropower Project on the Mekong River

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 area, while officials at the Mekong River Commission say the project will likely inhibit the migration of fish.

Environmental assessments will be redone for two hydropower projects in western Brazil after a federal court said the dams may be responsible for flood waters on the Madeira River that affected 11,000 people, Reuters reported. The river reached its highest level on record, but the dam operators say the rising water was the result of heavy rainfall.

The most widespread drought ever in Queensland, Australia is currently affecting 80 percent of the state’s land, where dry conditions are hitting livestock production, BBC News reported. In response to the drought, the central government has approved $US 286 million for relief measures.

Thirty million salmon may be trucked from California hatcheries to the ocean due to extremely low water levels in the drought-depleted Sacramento River, Reuters reported. The low water levels in the river would expose the young salmon to more predation, warmer temperatures, and a scarcity of food supplies.

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeks to clarify which waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act, farmers are concerned that new rules could affect small, intermittent streams that run near their fields, The New York Times reported. If the streams are protected by the CWA, farmers and other land users could be subject to more permits and environmental assessments, but conservationists insist irrigation ditches and small gullies would not be included in the new rules.

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