The Stream, August 7: A Year After Olympics, Rio de Janeiro Water Quality Still Struggles

The Global Rundown

Water pollution in the rivers and bays of Rio de Janeiro remains a stubborn problem a year after Brazil hosted the Olympic Games. Researchers in Europe warn, by the end of the century, thousands of people could die each year from extreme weather linked to climate change. Confusion over pictures showing water behind Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam last month highlighted ongoing tensions over the controversial project. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to review claims for economic damages from the Gold King Mine spill in Colorado. A severe “flash drought” has damaged crops across the northern U.S. Plains. Heavy rains in New Orleans caused flooding over the weekend and raised concerns about the city’s ability to withstand stronger storms.

“The authorities did nothing when Brazil was doing well, when they were looking forward to the Games and money was not lacking. What would they do now that they have the great excuse of the [financial] crisis?” –Mario Moscatelli, a biologist and environmental activist, referring to a lack of progress in improving water quality in Rio de Janeiro. A year after the city hosted the Olympics, activists say the government has still not fulfilled promises to clean up places like Guanabara Bay. (Associated Press)

By The Numbers

3 months Amount of time it took to for a severe drought to spread across the northern U.S. Plains this summer, earning it the name “flash drought.” The drought has damaged crops in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Associated Press

$1.2 billion in economic damage claims will be reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in relation to the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster, which spilled toxic wastewater into the Animas River in Colorado. The claims were previously denied. Reuters

20 to 25 centimeters Amount of rain that fell in areas of New Orleans during the span of a few hours on Saturday, overwhelming city pumps and raising concerns about their ability to withstand stronger storms and hurricanes. Associated Press

Science, Studies, And Reports

Approximately 152,000 people could die each year in Europe by the end of the century due to extreme weather linked to climate change, according to a study by researchers at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. That compares to an annual average of 3,000 deaths related to extreme weather between 1981 and 2010. Guardian

On The Radar

Experts are warning that climate change is not being adequately addressed in negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan regarding the Grand Renaissance Dam. Tensions over the dam remain high, with Egypt raising concerns last month about water flows in the Nile after pictures appeared to show the reservoir behind the dam filling. The pool of water shown in the pictures was eventually attributed to seasonal flooding. The Economist

In context: Egyptian concern for Nile water security spurs cooperation over Ethiopia’s new dam.

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A news correspondent for Circle of Blue based out of Hawaii. She writes The Stream, Circle of Blue’s daily digest of international water news trends. Her interests include food security, ecology and the Great Lakes. Contact Codi Kozacek