The Stream, August 7: Despite Desalination Efforts, 5-Year Drought Leaves Israel Thirsty

The Global Rundown

Israel reconsiders its water strategy as a five-year drought challenges desalination capacity. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls for a ceasefire in Yemen to distribute cholera vaccines. A decades-long study of Welsh streams reveals a decline in freshwater organisms. Australia announces additional funding for drought-stricken farmers. Residents of Houston, Texas, consider a $2.5 billion bond for bolstering flood protections. Treated water from Bengaluru, India, rots crops in the Kolar district.

“Nobody expected five years of drought in a row, so despite our desalination capacity, it’s still a very, very grave situation.” –Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of energy, in reference to the country’s unprecedented dry spell. As drought exhausts Israel’s surface and groundwater reserves, the country is putting a renewed emphasis on conservation and waterbody rehabilitation in addition to cutting-edge desalination technology. The Washington Post

In context: Israel’s Mediterranean Desalination Plants Shift Regional Water Balance.

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – August 6, 2018 – “What’s Up With Water” condenses the need-to-know news on the world’s water into a weekly snapshot. Coverage this week includes: Myanmar’s deadly monsoon season, climate extremes in Kolkata, India, and PFAS contamination in Michigan.

HotSpots H2O, August 6: Poorly-Defined Water Rights Spark Disputes Over Brazil’s Rivers   – A lack of clarity over who holds the rights to Brazil’s rivers is fueling disputes between industrial leaders, indigenous groups, and the government.

By The Numbers

$140 million AUD ($104m USD) Amount of extra funding pledged by the Australian government to help drought-stricken farmers. The funds, which will provide farmers with payments and mental health support, come as parts of eastern Australia experience “the worst drought in living memory.”  BBC

$2.5 billion Amount of a bond on the ballot in Harris County, Texas. The bond would be used to boost flood protections in Houston and surrounding cities, which were swamped a year ago by Hurricane Harvey. Voting on the proposal will take place in a special election on August 25. Wall Street Journal

Science, Studies, And Reports

An ongoing study of streams in Wales reveals that an array of freshwater organisms have disappeared or declined in the past 40 years. Researchers fear that loss of invertebrates could alter stream ecosystems, impacting other animals in the process. In Wales, urban rivers have become healthier in recent years, but similar improvements have not occurred in rural water bodies. The Guardian

On The Radar

The WHO and other aid agencies are calling for a ceasefire in Yemen in order to distribute cholera vaccinations. According to WHO officials, Yemen may be “on the cusp” of its third major cholera outbreak in recent years. In 2017, more than one million Yemenis contracted the waterborne disease. Al Jazeera

In context: HotSpots H2O, May 7: Yemen Risks Another Cholera Outbreak During Rainy Season, Ramadan.

Spotlight: India

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

In early June, 4 lakes and 121 tanks in Kolar, India, were filled with treated water from Bengaluru as part of the Koramangala-Challagahtta Valley (KC Valley) project, an initiative to improve groundwater levels in Kolar. The much-anticipated water, though, has proved toxic. According to farmers, crops irrigated with the water are rotting and sheep have fallen ill after drinking the tainted lakes. The Times of India

In context: Booming Infrastructure Poisons Bangalore’s Lakes, Depletes Groundwater.

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