The Stream, June 14: Japan Cities Urged To Privatize Water As Costs Mount

The Global Rundown

Japan’s government is encouraging cities to privatize their water systems to address the growing cost of replacing old water and sewage pipes. Officials in Pakistan say construction could soon begin on a massive hydropower dam in the Indus River Basin. A report alleges several large clothing brands source materials from factories that are polluting water in China, India, and Indonesia. The Philippines plans to move ahead with several major projects to boost water supplies for Manila. Norway plans to spend millions of dollars to protect the world’s seed vault from melting permafrost. Cape Town, South Africa still faces a severe water shortage, despite recent rains.

“It may take a few seasons of normal rainfall for the dams to recover and therefore continuing to cut water use drastically is vital.” –Xanthea Limberg, a member of the city council in Cape Town, South Africa, warning that the city still faces a severe water shortage even after heavy rainstorms caused flash floods last week. (Reuters)

In context: Reservoirs supplying city of 4 million are nearing bottom during record-setting drought.

By The Numbers

28 percent of the sewage pipes in Japan are expected to reach the end of their useful lives over the next two decades, contributing to an estimated $9.1 billion in water infrastructure replacement costs. To alleviate the financial burden, the Japanese government is encouraging cities to sell their water utilities to private companies. Reuters

In context: Trump proposal to fix U.S. water infrastructure invites large role for private investors.

$12 – 14 billion Estimated cost of the 4,500-megawatt Diamer-Bhasha dam proposed for the Indus River Basin in Pakistan. Officials say construction on the dam, which has been opposed by India, could begin later this year. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Factories that produce viscose, a substitute for silk used in a wide range of clothing, are polluting rivers and lakes in China, India, and Indonesia, according to a report released by the Netherlands-based Changing Markets Foundation. The report alleged that several large clothing brands — including H&M, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, and Tesco — source from such factories. Guardian

Norway plans to spend $4.4 million to improve or redesign elements of the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard to protect it against intrusions of water from melting permafrost. “A group will investigate potential solutions to counter the increased water volumes resulting from a wetter and warmer climate on Svalbard,” the government said. Guardian

On The Radar

The new administrator of Manila’s water and sewage system aims to move forward with the controversial Laiban Dam to secure water supplies for the Philippine capital. The dam is one of several projects, including the Kaliwa Dam and the Sumag River diversion project, that are under consideration. Philippine Daily Inquirer