The Stream, August 6, 2019: Drought Strikes 2,000 Miles of Pacific Northwest Coastline

The Global Rundown

Drought hits more than 2,000 miles of Pacific coastline in the U.S. and Canada. Hundreds of rail passengers are stranded in Mumbai, India, as flooded rivers swamp train tracks. France’s EDF utility says they may curb nuclear power generation due to low river levels. Recent testing shows water contamination is still a concern in California communities affected by the Camp Fire. Severe heat and drought force many to migrate out of Gujarat, India. 550,000 acres of land have been submerged since wintertime in the Yazoo backwater area of Mississippi

“Because no one’s died from this, and we live in such a remote place, it doesn’t seem to be important to national news.” –Paul Hollis, a farmer from Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in reference to prolonged flooding in the Yazoo backwater area. This year, intense precipitation coupled with record-high river levels have left 550,000 acres of the Yazoo submerged since February. The area has long been prone to flooding, largely because drainage pumps to channel floodwaters back to the Mississippi River were never installed. The Guardian

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

HotSpots H2O: Taps Run Dry for Millions in Zimbabwe’s CapitalHalf of residents in Zimbabwe’s capital are without municipal drinking water as drought and inadequate infrastructure parch the city of some 4.5 million people. 

What’s Up With Water – August 5, 2019 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on low water levels in the Mekong River, nitrates in groundwater in Germany, and water pollution from hand grenades at a U.S. military base. 

By The Numbers

8 inches (200 millimeters) Amount of rain that fell recently in parts of Maharashtra, India. Rivers in the state are now overflowing after the precipitation was released from dams, a situation that has left hundreds of railway passengers stranded in and around Mumbai, the country’s financial capital. Reuters

76 percent Rainfall deficit in Gujarat, India, in 2018, which spurred an ongoing drought in the northwestern Indian state. This year, Gujarat has also been struck with a sweltering heatwave. In the northern Kutch district, conditions have been especially extreme, with many farmers losing their crops and herds. Many have begun to migrate from the devastated district. Al Jazeera

Science, Studies, and Reports

A stretch of 2,000 miles along the coast of the Pacific is experiencing dry conditions, ranging from “abnormally dry” to “extreme drought.” The drought-affected area starts in Oregon and continues through the coastline of southern Alaska. Bloomberg

On the Radar

Testing of water systems in and around communities hit by California’s Camp Fire show the continued presence of cancer-causing benzenes and other toxins. Many residents of the area are struggling to determine the safety of their water, especially amid mixed messages from private and public water utilities. Experts have criticized the state for slow recovery efforts, and say that homeowners may have to find a way to test their plumbing for themselves. NPR

In context: After Paradise Burned and Plumbing Experts Question California’s Post-Fire Water Testing Guidance

Nuclear power generation in northern France may be curbed this week due to low river levels, according to French utility EDF. The company said the cuts are likely to take effect beginning August 8. Reuters

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