The Stream, July 25: Investigation Questions Australia’s Implementation, Commitment to Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The Global Rundown

An investigative report has raised flags about Australia’s efforts to restore the Murray-Darling River Basin. New climate modeling suggests Australia will likely see more intense droughts linked to extreme El Nino events, even if global warming is curbed. Monsoon rains caused flooding that displaced thousands of people in Myanmar, while rains in Sri Lanka have helped fuel an outbreak of dengue. Floods in Nigeria could harm the country’s cocoa crops. In response to the drought in Italy, the Vatican announced it would turn off its fountains. Environmental violations continue to plague the Rover natural gas pipeline, causing work to be suspended at sites in West Virginia.

“If any states are allowing the theft of environmental water then there is no Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Barnaby Joyce and the [New South Wales] government must respond in the strongest possible terms. Any attempt to make excuses or explain away the issues raised in last night’s program will simply expose an intention from the Liberals and Nationals to destroy the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.” –Tony Burke, a member of parliament and spokesman on the environment for Australia’s Labor party, referring to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that alleged billions of liters of water purchased by the government to restore the Murray-Darling River Basin were instead used for agriculture. The report also uncovered efforts by government officials in New South Wales to share confidential documents with irrigation lobbyists. (Guardian ; ABC News)

In context: Water buyback limit proposed for Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin.

By The Numbers

116,817 people Number displaced by flooding caused by monsoon rains in Myanmar. Reuters

296 people Number killed in an outbreak of dengue virus in Sri Lanka that officials have linked to monsoon rains, which create areas of standing water where virus-carrying mosquitoes can breed. Aid agencies warn that deteriorating sanitation conditions could fuel the outbreak’s spread. Reuters

32 states Number in Nigeria — out of a total of 36 — that are expected to experience floods this year that could cause cocoa crops to be “seriously hampered,” according to the country’s meteorological agency. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, And Reports

The frequency of extreme El Nino events could double by 2050 and nearly triple by 2150, even if global warming peaks at 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to researchers at CSIRO. Extreme El Nino events are linked to intense droughts in Australia and could further disrupt rainfall patterns for Pacific islands. Australian Associated Press

On The Radar

Work was suspended this month on parts of the Rover pipeline, a major natural gas project in the United States, due to environmental violations in West Virginia. The line is also under scrutiny in Ohio, where drilling fluid spilled into wetland areas. Reuters

The Vatican is planning to shut off its fountains as Rome endures a severe drought. The move to save water is reflective of Pope Francis’ views on environmental stewardship, according to reports from Vatican Radio. Associated Press