The Stream, May 27: Illegal Gold Mining Pollutes Peru Rivers, Triggers State of Emergency

The Global Rundown

Thousands of people in Peru may be affected by mercury contamination caused by illegal gold mining, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency. Demonstrators in Ecuador’s largest city are protesting slow progress on cleaning up water pollution and improving water access. The severe drought in India could encourage the growth of a multi-billion dollar water recycling industry. Queensland is assessing the potential for 14 dams to spur agricultural growth. Iconic world heritage sites are increasingly at risk from climate change, a UN-backed report found. It is unclear if a La Nina weather pattern will provide drought relief to California this year.

“The water has too much sewage flowing into it. We are protesting because the local government is not doing enough to manage the private company that is operating the contract.” –Jasmanny Caicedo, an activist in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, on a series of demonstrations in the city this month meant to draw attention to pollution in the Estero Salado river delta. Despite some progress made since the city’s water was privatized in 2001, many residents of informal settlements lack clean water access and the river remains highly contaminated with bacteria. (Guardian)

By The Numbers

$17 billion Potential worth of the water recycling market in India, where a severe drought could trigger growth in the industry. Bloomberg

14 dams Number of proposed projects Queensland is assessing for feasibility in order to double agricultural output. Opponents say the plan would cause large-scale pollution of the Great Barrier Reef. Guardian

Science, Studies, And Reports

At least 31 world heritage sites are at risk from droughts, floods, extreme storms, and rising temperatures linked to climate change, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the United Nations. The Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge, and Venice were among the sites most at risk from floods, sea level rise, and stronger storms. Guardian

On The Radar

As many as 50,000 people in Peru may be exposed to high levels of mercury due to illegal gold mining near rivers. On Monday the government declared a 60-day state of emergency to address the problem. Associated Press

Climatologists in California say it is a toss up whether or not the state gets drought relief from a developing La Nina weather pattern. While an El Nino over the past year helped revive some reservoirs, 95 percent of the state remains abnormally dry. Bloomberg