The Stream, January 2: Millions Lose Water In Damascus

The Global Rundown

Deliberately damaged infrastructure cut water supplies to a large area of Damascus, Syria over the past several weeks, the United Nations said. Illegal water vendors have set up shop in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to cater to residents pressured by drought and aging infrastructure. Burundi’s environment and water minister was shot to death over the weekend. A new law went into effect in California requiring water utilities to develop ways to enforce water conservation. Flood risks are increasing in the northern United States, and decreasing in the South, a study found. Aid agencies identified drought and food insecurity in the Horn of Africa as a priority for action in 2017.

“You want to have all the tools in your toolbox. (The fines and shaming) were definitely a tool that allowed us to ratchet up savings.” –Jenesse Miller, spokesperson for California’s East Bay Municipal Utility District, on its decision to assess penalties for excessive water use and publish the names of the offenders. Under a new state law that took effect yesterday, water utilities statewide are required to come up with similar ways to enforce conservation measures. (San Francisco Chronicle)

By The Numbers

4 million people Number in Syria’s capital, Damascus, who lost water supplies in the last two weeks after the infrastructure that delivered water from springs outside the city was “deliberately targeted and damaged,” according to the United Nations. Reuters

$1 Amount some illegal water vendors are charging residents in Bulawayo for a 20-liter bucket of water, nearly a third of the average person’s income in Zimbabwe. A drought and failing infrastructure in the country’s second largest city has curbed supplies. AFP

Science, Studies, And Reports

The risk of minor and moderate flooding has increased across the northern regions of the United States, while it has mostly decreased in the southern regions of the country, according to a study by researchers at the University of Iowa. The researchers measured the amount of water stored in the soil to assess flood threats, with waterlogged areas at greater risk.

On The Radar

Responding to droughts and food insecurity in the Horn of Africa will be a priority this year for several international aid organizations, according to a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Global humanitarian crises are expected to affect nearly 93 million people and cost $22.2 billion in 2017. Reuters

Burundi’s minister for the environment and water was murdered in the country’s capital yesterday. The killing was likely related to the political unrest and violence that began in Burundi in 2015. Reuters