The Stream, August 30: Global Demand for Lithium Fuels Water Competition in Chile

The Global Rundown

Global demand for lithium jeopardizes water supplies in Chile. Desalination may soon be needed in Sydney, Australia, as dam levels plummet. A failed dam in Myanmar forces 50,000 people from their homes. Detroit, Michigan, finds elevated levels of copper and lead in school drinking water. Scientists in Pune, India, use nano-material in an attempt to cleanse polluted rivers. Rising sea levels threaten to contaminate the aquifer serving Miami, Florida

“What we have is a water war in the salt pan. There’s a huge crush on water and nowhere to get it from.” –Alonso Barros, a Chilean attorney, in reference to the competition for water among lithium producers, copper miners, and indigenous groups in the Chilean desert. Chile is home to nearly half of the world’s lithium reserves, which require water for extraction. As global demand for the metal rises, the industry is requiring more and more water, sparking disputes in the region. Reuters

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Toxic Water, Toxic Crops — India’s Public Health Time Bomb — Raw sewage and industrial wastewater contaminated with metals and chemicals irrigate much of the nation’s food.

HotSpots H2O, August 27: Gaza Fuel Shortage Could Shut Down Hospitals, Water, and Sanitation FacilitiesFuel, medicine, and other essentials are running low in the Gaza Strip, threatening to force the closure of hundreds of health, water, and sanitation facilities.

By The Numbers

65 percent Total water storage in Sydney, Australia, compared to 90.7 percent capacity at this time last year. If dam levels fall to 60 percent, the city will begin supplementing its supply with water from the city’s desalination plant, which was last used in 2012. The Guardian

54,000 Number of people who were forced to evacuate their homes after a dam collapsed in central Myanmar on Wednesday. The dam break swamped communities and damaged a bridge. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Recent test results revealed elevated levels of copper and lead in the water supply of 16 Detroit schools, prompting the district to temporarily cut water to its 106 school buildings. The district superintendent said the school system plans to conduct an in-depth analysis of drinking water in its schools to determine long-term solutions. Detroit Free Press

In context: Detroit Water Shutoffs Resume; Bankruptcy Lawyers and Banks Cash In.

On The Radar

Miami, Florida, draws it water from the Biscayne Aquifer, a shallow and porous source that provides the sprawling city with freshwater. As sea levels rise, however, experts warn that saltwater could overtake the aquifer, making the metropolis uninhabitable. Bloomberg

Spotlight: India

Follow The Stream for daily coverage on India’s water crisis.

Scientists in Pune, India, are attempting to combat pathogenic bacteria in the city’s rivers. The bacteria are growing resistant to drugs, making diseases spread by the bacteria increasingly difficult to treat. One solution to the problem involves using nano-material, which absorbs the pathogens. Scientists say they plan to place “floating islands” in the rivers with the nano-material at the base. The Hindustan Times

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