The Stream, April 12: Cities Worldwide Are Using Massive Amounts of Rural Water Supplies

The Global Rundown

A new international study finds that 16 billion cubic meters of water are pulled from rural areas to serve growing urban populations. Brazil says it will file criminal charges against mining company Vale following a January tailings dam collapse. Thousands of government-subsidized housing units lie in U.S. flood plains. Rice prices fluctuate across southeast Asia as Thailand faces drought and Bangladesh enjoys a bumper crop. The death toll from Cyclone Idai tops 1,000. Water in Iraq dams rises to record-breaking levels after weeks of rain and snowmelt.

“Today, the Tharthar barrage is seeing the highest levels of water passing through in its history.” — Dam chief Kareem Hassan, in reference to a brimming reservoir near Baghdad, Iraq. Water levels in several dams across the country are reaching historic levels after weeks of rainfall and melting snow. The government plans to store the excess water for use in the dry summer months.

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By The Numbers

1,005 Latest death toll from Cyclone Idai, including 602 dead in Mozambique, 344 in Zimbabwe, and 59 in Malawi. Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique on March 14, and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The disaster also sparked a cholera outbreak, with over 4,000 cases reported in Mozambique so far. Al Jazeera

450,000 U.S. citizens living in government-subsidized housing that is at high risk for flooding. Much of the housing, located in cities like Houston, New York, and Miami, was built before flood dangers were well-researched. Now, many residents are stuck: faced with frequent flooding, but unable to use their housing vouchers elsewhere. In response, a group of Houston citizens is bringing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The New York Times

Science, Studies, and Reports

A study by the University of Oxford on rural-urban water reallocation found that 16 billion cubic meters of water are being relocated from the countryside to cities across the globe. The study estimated that 69 cities, with a combined population of 383 million people, are consuming the water–and the urban demand for water is expected to grow further in coming decades.

On the Radar

Brazilian prosecutors announced that they will file criminal charges against mining company Vale SA, owner of a tailings dam that collapsed in January and killed hundreds near Brumadinho, Brazil. Evidence has emerged that Vale knew the dam was unsafe, and subsequent charges against the company could include murder, manslaughter, environmental damage, and false representation. Reuters

The cost of rice in southeast Asia is fluctuating in response to several factors. In India, prices and exports are down following a bumper harvest in neighboring Bangladesh. In Thailand, prices are on the rise as domestic buyers purchase the crop amid fears of drought. Reuters

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