The Stream, July 5: China Floods Displace Thousands, Cut Hydropower

The Global Rundown

Extensive flooding in southern China has destroyed thousands of homes and forced officials to cut production at two of the country’s largest hydropower plants. A spill of wastewater from a phosphate factory has contaminated a riverbed in Israel’s desert. More than a year after the Samarco mine disaster in Brazil, indigenous communities living along the Rio Doce are still contending with pollution. Offshore oil drilling in Brazil’s coastal waters poses a significant risk to a recently discovered coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon River. Innovation is key to combating water scarcity and climate change in the Arab region, according to leaders of the Arab League and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

“We have no home, no money or any means to pay for what they did to the river, what they did to us. If we could choose anything in this world, we would want the river back.” — Leonir Boka, chief of Atora village in Brazil, commenting on the way the Samarco mine disaster has irrevocably changed life for the Krenak indigenous people who live along the Rio Doce. The river was contaminated when a flood of toxic wastewater spilled from the mine in 2015, and community members say they remain unable to fish or use its waters for cultural practices. (Agencia Publica ; Aljazeera)

In context: Floods, dam failures, and public opposition batter big hard rock mines.

By The Numbers

56 people Number killed by widespread flooding and landslides across 11 provinces in China over the weekend. The storms also destroyed thousands of homes, and could cost $3.72 billion. Xinhua

2/3 Reduction in capacity at the Three Gorges and Gezhouba hydropower plants in China as operators closed 26 generators in order to alleviate floods in the Yangtze River basin. Reuters

30 percent Chance that a unique, newly discovered coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon River would be affected in the case of an oil spill from offshore drilling operations proposed nearby. Guardian

Science, Studies, And Reports

Government ecologists in Israel say there could be long-term soil damage and ecological problems in the Ashalim riverbed following a spill of acidic wastewater from a phosphate factory. More than 100,000 cubic meters of wastewater was released into the riverbed due to the partial collapse of a reservoir at the factory. Reuters

On The Radar

Leaders of the Arab League and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations are urging the Arab region to pursue innovations to confront water scarcity and climate change. They say the region’s future is “tightly linked” to water, and that failing to address scarcity could threaten political and economic security. FAO