The Stream, April 12: Lake Chad Region In Humanitarian And Ecological Crisis

The Global Rundown

Food security is suffering in Africa’s Lake Chad Basin due to a confluence of conflict, drought, and declining water levels, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. A report suggests that concerns about water could soon prompt Argentina, Chile, and other Latin American countries to enact stricter environmental regulations for mining. California farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are set to get their full water allotments for the first time in a decade. Leaky water infrastructure is compounding a severe drought in Cuba. Water disparities between the northern and southern United States could one day lead to diversions from the Great Lakes, a NASA scientist predicts. Flooding from Cyclone Debbie exacerbated erosion in Australian river basins that contribute large amounts of sediment to the Great Barrier Reef.

“Because there’s so much fresh water, you can imagine that 50 years from now…there might actually be a pipeline that brings water from the Great Lakes to Phoenix. I think that’s part of our future.” –Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, speaking about potential future diversions of Great Lakes water to address water disparity in the United States. (ideastream)

In context: Learn more about out-of-basin water transfers from the Great Lakes, and the safeguards against future diversions.

By The Numbers

100 percent Amount of water allocations that will be delivered to California farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta this year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. It is the first full delivery since 2006. The Fresno Bee

In context: Buckled canals, damaged because of groundwater pumping, impair California’s ability to deliver water and control floods.

18.5 kilometers Length of a plume of brown water carrying sediment from Australia’s Burdekin River out to sea after heavy rainfall from Cyclone Debbie exacerbated erosion in the basin. The sediment could harm the Great Barrier Reef. Guardian

50 percent Estimated water loss from leaky pipes in Cuba, where residents are struggling to secure water supplies amid a severe drought. Aljazeera

Science, Studies, And Reports

Argentina, Chile, and countries in Central America could all enact stricter water regulations for mining companies in the future, according to a report by London-based BMI Research. “When the negative externalities of gold mining, namely mercury and cyanide exposure to water sources, are left unaddressed, public opinion on all mining activity can motivate extreme legislation,” the report said. Just last month, El Salvador voted to ban all metal mining due to water concerns.

On The Radar

The Lake Chad Basin is in the midst of a humanitarian and ecological crisis, according to the director-general of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Violent conflict, droughts, and declining water levels in Lake Chad have all taken a toll on the region’s food security. FAO