The Stream, March 24: Drought Fuels Fires and Air Pollution in Southeast Asia

Vast fires in Indonesia have started earlier in the season than usual and are spreading widely, in part due to a severe drought gripping Southeast Asia, the Guardian reported. The fires, which may have been started illegally to clear land for palm oil and paper plantations, are creating hazardous air pollution in cities like Kuala Lumpur.

China’s Ministry of Finance has announced draft guidelines for a national pollution permit market that would place limits on air and water pollutant discharges and require companies that exceed the limits to purchase permits, Reuters reported. A national market could be in place within the next three years.

North America
State investigations of Duke Energy’s February spill of 82,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River will now be joined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which agreed to help state regulators, The New York Times reported. The Duke Energy spill was the second major incident this year that polluted U.S. rivers used for drinking water, following a January chemical spill in West Virginia.

The first flow of water from the Colorado River ever released to Mexico for environmental purposes began its journey from the United States this weekend, New Scientist reported. The intentional release of 130 billion liters of water is meant to replenish the Colorado River Delta, where the river no longer reaches the sea.

Drought in the western United States is creating more interest in recycled water for a wider variety of uses, Bloomberg News reported. Experts say that one of the keys to cost effective water recycling is adjusting the treatment level to suit different water uses—for example, treating drinking water at a higher level than water used for irrigation.

Several investment funds are focusing on water markets as a way to tap into global climate change trends and a growing need for updated water infrastructure, Reuters reported. The funds are investing in companies involved in all aspects of the water cycle, from those that increase supply and quality to those that work to conserve water.

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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