The Stream, February 28: Asia Needs $800 Billion Water Investment

The Global Rundown

Countries in Asia need to invest an estimated $800 billion in water and sanitation infrastructure, according to the Asian Development Bank. Communities in Pakistan’s Sindh province worry new coal mines could pollute their water. In China, sand mining operations threaten water levels and water quality in Poyang Lake. Fishermen living near India’s Vembanad Lake are experimenting with sustainable management practices. Researchers urged the European Union to update its Water Framework Directive to improve water quality. Officials lifted water restrictions in South Africa’s Gauteng province, including Johannesburg. Crews will assess the damaged Oroville Dam spillway in California this week and hope to remove debris.

“They will pump dirty water from the mine to store in the (reservoir) and that will pollute the sweet water in our wells. Engro is willing to give us money but we don’t want it. This is our ancestral land and we won’t leave.” –Padma Bai, a resident of Pakistan’s Sindh province, voicing concerns about a new coal mine in the Thar Desert. Pakistan wants to develop the coal reserves to address energy shortages, but critics warn the emissions will exacerbate climate change. (Reuters)

By The Numbers

$800 billion Amount Asia will need to invest in water and sanitation infrastructure by 2030, according to the Asian Development Bank. Overall, the bank estimates the region will need to spend $26 trillion on infrastructure, with more than half going to energy projects. Bloomberg

236 million cubic meters Estimated amount of sand mined from Poyang Lake in China each year, contributing to lower water levels and declining water quality. Mining for sand, which is used in the concrete and asphalt needed for growing cities, threatens waterways around the globe. Guardian

1.5 million people Number who depend on India’s Vembanad Lake for their livelihoods. Faced with pollution, over-fishing, and climate change, local residents are changing management practices and setting up fish sanctuaries to ensure the lake’s continued productivity. Reuters

5-7 days Amount of time crews have to clean debris away from the damaged Oroville Dam spillway before another storm hits California. Officials cut water flows through the spillway on Monday. Los Angeles Times

Science, Studies, And Reports

The European Union should adopt new water monitoring methods, incentivize more frequent and effective water quality monitoring, and prioritize water quality solutions, according to researchers at Germany’s Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. The recommended changes come as the EU revises its European Water Framework Directive, which aims to improve water quality by 2027. Science Daily

On The Radar

Officials in South Africa announced Monday that they will lift water restrictions in Gauteng province, including Johannesburg. After months of drought, heavy rainfall recently filled the region’s dams. News 24

In context: Learn how the drought affected energy and agriculture across South Africa.