The Stream, August 8: Under-Construction Dams in Guatemala Pollute Water Sources of Indigenous Maya, Activists Claim

The Global Rundown

Activists claim that two Guatemalan dams, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), have polluted indigenous water sources. Switzerland airlifts water to parched cows in the country’s drought-stricken Alpine foothills. Baltimore, Maryland, considers legislation that would ban the sale or lease of its water system. A report by Human Rights Watch urges Bangladesh to relocate Rohingya refugees at risk from monsoon flooding. Bacteria flourish in Nordic fjords due to record-high water temperatures. Farmers in Karnataka, India, block a roadway and demand water for irrigation. Thousands remain without water following an earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia.

“These communities depend on water for their livelihoods. The construction of the dams has contaminated rivers, harmed the ability of communities to fish and grow crops and maintain their traditions.” –Liliana Avila, a lawyer with the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense, in reference to the pollution of indigenous Maya water sources in northern Guatemala. Rights groups allege that tainted water from two under-construction dams, which were partially funded by the IDB, have impacted the health of indigenous children, among other issues. Activists are urging the IDB to withdraw its funding of the projects. Reuters

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By The Numbers

40,000 Number of cows that graze in high-altitude pastures in Switzerland every summer, each requiring 40 gallons of water per day. This summer, ongoing drought is forcing the Swiss army to airlift water to the thirsty livestock. Reuters

98 Death toll from an earthquake that rocked the tourist island of Lombok, Indonesia, on Sunday. The quake has left thousands of islanders without adequate access to water, food, and electricity. BBC

Science, Studies, And Reports

A 68-page report by aid agency Human Rights Watch urges the Bangladeshi government to relocate thousands of Rohingya refugees threatened by monsoon landslides and floods. The report criticized a proposal by Bangladesh to move 100,000 Rohingya to an uninhabited mangrove island, saying that the island could be fully submerged if a cyclone were to occur. Al Jazeera

In context: HotSpots H2O, June 11: Over 200,000 Rohingya Refugees At Risk from Monsoon Flooding, Landslides.

On The Radar

On Monday, the City Council of Baltimore, Maryland, unanimously approved legislation that would ban the sale or lease of the city’s water system. Residents of the city will vote on the measure in November. If the legislation is approved by voters, Baltimore will become the first major U.S. city to prohibit privatization. The Baltimore Sun

Europe’s heatwave is heightening water temperatures in Nordic fjords, allowing vibrio bacteria to flourish. The bacteria can cause vibriosis, a sometimes-fatal illness. Officials in Norway and Sweden have advised residents to avoid swimming, as well as eating raw seafood from the fjords, until temperatures cool down again. Reuters

Spotlight: India

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

Farmers in Manvi, a town in Karnataka State, India, blocked a road for several hours and demanded improvements to local water distribution. The farmers, whose crops are wilting due to below-average rainfall, claim they are not receiving adequate water despite two major irrigation projects nearby. A local official said the issue will be resolved promptly. The Times of India

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