The Stream, February 2: Emergency Food Needs Rise in Zimbabwe Amid Drought

The Global Rundown

A severe drought may double or even triple the number of people needing emergency food aid in Zimbabwe. Drinking water quality has declined in South Africa, a government report found, while the economic costs of a lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, may just be starting. Projects to clean up Brazil’s polluted Guanabara Bay do not have government funding, and a quarter of residents in Mexico City are temporarily without water due to maintenance issues. A science advisory panel continues to raise concerns about a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study on hydraulic fracturing.

“I don’t want to condemn hydraulic fracturing across the United States with a broad brush; I want to say that in many areas it is safe and there isn’t a problem, but we have to figure out in these areas where there is a problem, what that problem is.” –Dean Malouta, an oil and gas consultant and a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board review panel looking at hydraulic fracturing. The panel continues to raise concerns about an EPA study released last year that found no “widespread, systemic” effects on drinking water from fracking. (Bloomberg)

By The Numbers

8 percent Decline in South Africa’s drinking water quality between 2013 and 2014, according to the 2014 Blue Drop Report recently released by the country’s Department of Water and Sanitation. eNCA

1.5 million people Number in Zimbabwe requiring emergency food aid last year. That number could double or triple this year due to a severe drought, government officials said. Bloomberg

1/4 Proportion of Mexico City’s population temporarily without water service during week-long repairs to the Cutzamala system, a supply scheme that the city relies on to supplement dwindling groundwater reserves. Vice News

Science, Studies, And Reports

The economic fallout from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, could affect the state’s finances long into the future, according to a report released by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, a credit rating agency. The report said the cost of infrastructure upgrades, health and social services, and lawsuits over lead-contaminated drinking water could put more pressure on the state. Reuters

On The Radar

Proposals to clean up water pollution in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay and its tributaries ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games include trash-collecting barges, plastic recycling, and building wetlands. In all, 20 proposals have been put forward by a consortium of Dutch organizations and businesses under the Clean Urban Delta Initiative, but most of the projects are having trouble securing financial backing from Brazil. Guardian

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