The Stream, June 21: Farming, Mining, and Climate Change Endanger the Unique Water System of Bogotá, Colombia

The Global Rundown

Agriculture, mining, and climate change threaten Bogotá, Colombia’s natural water collection and filtration system. A severe acid leak is reported at a recently-closed Indian copper smelter, threatening water supplies. Intense flooding hits the Ivory Coast, killing more than a dozen people. Heavy rains inundate parts of coastal Texas that were hit by Hurricane Harvey less than a year ago. High levels of uranium are found in the drinking water of at least three communities in Australia’s Northern Territory.

“We can’t afford to drag this on any longer. People’s lives are at risk. We need to get that water to a drinkable level.” –John Paterson, chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory, Australia. Health experts are calling on the government to take immediate action after high concentrations of naturally-occurring uranium were found in the drinking water of at least three of the territory’s desert communities. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

19 Number of people killed by flooding in the Ivory Coast, as of Wednesday afternoon. Heavy rains swamped the country’s economic capital Abidjan, as well as several coastal cities, prompting the government to initiate a flood emergency plan. Flooding is expected to continue through the rest of the week. Bloomberg

15 inches Amount of rain that has fallen in some areas of coastal Texas in the last few days, causing flooding and displacement. Many of the inundated communities were also devastated by last year’s Hurricane Harvey. New York Times

Science, Studies, And Reports

Bogotá, Colombia, draws its water from páramos, sponge-like groups of tropical plants that collect and filter moisture from the air. This unique ecosystem has traditionally provided plenty of water to the Colombian capital, but environmentalists warn that farming and coal mining are infringing on the páramos. Researchers also fear that climate change could disrupt the natural water system. CityLab

On The Radar

Vedanta Ltd, the owner of a recently-closed copper smelter in southern India, announced that a sulphuric acid leak has been detected at the plant. Vedanta is asking for a reconnection of the plant’s power supply so that it can address the leak, which threatens to pollute surrounding air and groundwater. The plant was shut down last month over pollution concerns. Reuters

In context: What’s Up With Water May 28, 2018.

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