The Stream, May 17: Water Shortages Will Be Environmental Challenge of the Century, NASA Warns

The Global Rundown

NASA predicts widespread water scarcity after a study shows freshwater decline in 19 global hotspots. Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan agree to study the impact of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. A leaked report warns that the construction of Cambodia’s largest dam could devastate the Mekong River. The Zambian government levies fees on groundwater withdrawals. Espírito Santo, Brazil’s foremost robusta coffee producing state, improves irrigation and adds new crops in the wake of devastating drought.

“I’m not sure when payback will come, but the project gives me safety.” –Jaéder Fiorentini, a coffee grower in Espírito Santo, talking about a new reservoir on his property. Like Fiorentini, many farmers in the region installed improved irrigation systems after a crippling 2015-2016 drought. Farmers are also experimenting with new crops, including black pepper. Reuters

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

In Kabul, Residents Chase Receding Groundwater  – The number and depth of wells is constantly increasing in Afghanistan’s capital city.

What’s Up With Water – May 14, 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: water-related terrorism, cholera in Yemen, and Colorado River water cutbacks.

By The Numbers

250 kwacha ($25) Amount that owners of domestic boreholes in Zambia must pay to have their well licensed, as of March 2018. Zambia also plans to impose fees on any household water use above 10,000 liters per day. According to the government, the new fees will help regulate water use in the face of longer droughts and increasing demand. Reuters

33 kilometers (20.5 miles) Length of a concrete barrier that would be built across the Mekong River as part of Cambodia’s biggest hydropower dam. According to a leaked government report, the dam could “literally kill” the Mekong, the world’s most productive inland fishery. The report warns that the dam would devastate the river’s ecosystem and upset the migration of freshwater fish. The Guardian

Science, Studies, And Reports

The grim results of a recent study have prompted NASA to declare that water shortages will likely be the key environmental challenge of this century. Satellite data collected by NASA revealed 19 global hotspots where freshwater has steeply declined since the early 2000s. The hotspots were found across the world, from California to Saudi Arabia to China. The Guardian

On The Radar

Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan announced a breakthrough in talks over Ethiopia’s $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The countries plan to set up a scientific consultation group, which will analyze the impact of filling the dam, a process that Egypt fears will cut its supply of the Nile River. Another round of talks is scheduled for July 3. The New York Times

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