The Stream, February 13: California Dam Troubles Force Thousands To Evacuate

The Global Rundown

Damage to the spillways at California’s Oroville Dam prompted officials to issue evacuation orders for thousands of people downstream. Aid groups warned of an impending famine in drought-hit Somalia. India’s Supreme Court ordered the state government of Madhya Pradesh to pay families displaced by a major dam project. Untreated sewage is a persistent water quality problem in Mumbai and other Maharashtra cities, a study found. To aid in the economic transition away from oil, Saudi Arabia announced it will spend billions of dollars on its water, environment, and agriculture sectors. An initiative to link hydropower companies to watershed restoration in Latin America has promise, researchers said.

“We are undoubtedly in a crisis, but the situation will even get worse, especially if the April rains perform poorly. We need to act decisively, we need to act massively, and we need to act now if we are to prevent a repeat of the awful scenes of 2011.” –Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Africa director for the International Federation of Red Crescent Societies, warning of an impending famine in Somalia, where more than half the population needs emergency food assistance. (Los Angeles Times)

By The Numbers

188,000 people Number ordered to evacuate from cities located downstream of California’s Oroville Dam after an emergency spillway was damaged during massive water releases over the weekend. The dam’s main spillway is also damaged. ABC News

In context: Learn about the evolving risks to dam safety in the United States.

$90,000 Amount the Madhya Pradesh state government must pay to each of the 681 families that were displaced by the Sardar Sarovar dam without compensation. Reuters

$24.5 billion Amount Saudi Arabia allocated to assist the water, environment, and agriculture sectors as the kingdom transitions its economy away from oil dependence. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

More than 87 percent of surface waters tested across Maharashtra were rated “medium” to “excellent”, according to a water quality study released by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board. However, poor water quality conditions driven by releases of untreated sewage persist around the state’s major cities, including Mumbai. Hindustan Times

On The Radar

An initiative at the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance aims to find ways for hydropower companies to invest in watershed protection and restoration in the cloud forests of Latin America. Restoring the forests could improve energy security and reduce maintenance costs at dams by boosting the amount and quality of water flowing downstream, according to researchers. Reuters