The Stream, December 10, 2019: 1.9 Billion People At Risk from Shrinking Mountain Water Supply

The Global Rundown

A quarter of the world’s population is at risk from shrinking glaciers and depleted mountain water supply, a new study warns. Zambia’s drought is now the worst in a century, officials say. Planned water shutoffs in Baja California, Mexico, are suspended, but water supplies in the region remains critically low. Floods and landslides in New Zealand strand 1,000 tourists. Australian media publishes “day zero” dates for several coastal cities. 

“I hope we get the beautiful summer rain that we are used to in Sydney and the coastal areas. I hope we get some east coast lows. But we have to look at the evidence. We have to look at the inflows, we have to look at the outflows, but this is what the plan says at the moment.” –Melinda Pavey, the water minister in New South Wales, Australia, in reference to current water shortages in the state. Local media published a recent list of “day zero” dates for coastal cities, predicting that some could run out of water as soon as January and February 2020. Pavey urged residents not to panic, saying that predictions were based on a worse-case scenario of no rain and no changes in water use. The Guardian

In context: In Australia, Echoes of Past, Glimpses of Future As Country Braces for Hot, Dry Summer.

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By The Numbers

1.9 billion People who are at risk from shortages in mountain water supply, according to a new international study published in the journal Nature. Rising global temperatures and increasing demand are depleting mountain glaciers, snowpacks, and waterbodies, which could prove detrimental to a large portion of the world’s population. The Guardian

In context: With Rising Temperatures, Stark Changes Ahead for Asia’s Water Tower.

1,000 Foreign tourists trapped on New Zealand’s South Island after severe storms sparked flooding and landslides. The violent weather cut off access to a handful of small west coast towns, which are waiting on food and water deliveries. Meteorologists say the storm system is now moving northward. The Guardian

Science, Studies, and Reports

Tijuana and Rosarito, two cities in Baja California, Mexico, recently underwent a two-week water rationing program after the region’s El Carrizo dam dropped to critically low levels. Additional water shutoffs were scheduled for the rest of December, but have now been suspended after rainfall also boosted levels in the dam. Local officials say water stress remains a key concern throughout Baja California, however. San Diego Tribune

On the Radar

Dry conditions are continuing to overwhelm Zambia, which the government says is now experiencing its worst drought in a century. Zambian President Edgar Lungu said the severe dry spell is “a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment.” The drought has slowed the well-known Victoria Falls down to a trickle. Reuters

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