The Stream, March 14: China’s New Environment Ministry Takes Responsibility for South-to-North Water Diversion Project

The Global Rundown

China restructures its environmental ministry, giving it control over the South-to-North water diversion project. South Africa’s drought is reclassified as a state of national disaster, allowing the government to utilize additional funding. Argentina plans to provide debt relief to drought-stricken farmers. The shortest La Niña in a decade comes to an end as the Pacific warms. An analysis of rivers in the United Kingdom finds that microplastic pollution is worse than feared.

“With the new management structure, the efforts for air, water, soil, and ecological protection will be more coordinated.” –Tonny Xie, director of the Secretariat for the Clean Water Alliance of China, in reference to an overhaul of the country’s environmental ministry. The Ministry of Environmental Protection will be transformed into the Ministry for Ecological Environment, and will take over environmental duties formerly held by the land, water and agriculture ministries. The new ministry will also be responsible for China’s South-to-North water diversion project. Reuters

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – March 12, 2018 – “What’s Up With Water” condenses the need-to-know news on the world’s water into a snapshot for the start of the workweek. Listen to this week’s edition to hear coverage on groundwater conservation in Kansas, accusations of water theft from the Murray-Darling basin, and conflict in drought-stricken Somalia.

HotSpots H2O, March 12: Spotlight on Recent Unrest in Syria  – Violence is escalating across war-torn Syria, leading to civilian deaths, devastated infrastructure, and severe water shortages.

By The Numbers

3 months Length of the most recent La Niña, which began in December and parched crops throughout the Americas. The weather pattern, which was relatively weak and short-lived, is coming to an end as the Pacific Ocean warms. Bloomberg

45 million tonnes Size of the estimated soybean harvest in Argentina, down from earlier predictions of 55 million tonnes. Four months of drought have devastated the country’s corn and soy crops, prompting the government to provide debt relief to farmers. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

A recent study of U.K. waterways found a startling amount of microplastic contamination in rivers. The study revealed that a minor flood event in northern England washed nearly 17 billion particles into the ocean, leading researchers to conclude that microplastic contamination may be far worse than previously assumed. Currently, scientists estimate that there are 5 trillion plastic particles in the world’s oceans. The Guardian

On The Radar

South Africa’s Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Zweli Mkhize has declared the country’s drought and water crisis a state of national disaster. The reclassification will allow the South African government to better coordinate drought-relief efforts and utilize funding reserved for national disasters. TimesLIVE

In context: Circle of Blue’s coverage of Cape Town.

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