The Stream, December 31, 2019: Groundwater Extraction for U.S. Border Wall Threatens Endangered Fish, Experts Fear

The Global Rundown

Groundwater extraction for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall jeopardizes endangered and threatened fish species, according to experts. Tropical Cyclone Sarai pummels Fiji. Major water shortages may be coming to Thailand after an unusually dry year, a top water official warns. Moderate to severe drought lingers in parts of the southwestern U.S. despite recent rainfall. More than 700 global experts call for action on groundwater.

“But in many places the life-giving and resilience support provided by groundwater is under threat – from over-exploitation and contamination, mostly due to poor understanding and poor land use planning and inequitable management.” –A statement by Karen Villholth and Tom Gleeson, two specialists joining a group of 700+ global experts in a call to action on groundwater. An estimated 1.7 billion people worldwide rely on stressed aquifers, and rampant overuse continues to threaten the world’s water security. The group advocates for three global actions: putting a spotlight on groundwater, committing to sustainable use, and investments in groundwater governance and management. Thomas Reuters Foundation 

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By The Numbers

8 Endangered and threatened fish species that are in peril due to groundwater being extracted to build the Trump administration’s border wall in southeastern Arizona. So far, construction of the 20-mile stretch of border wall, which is taking place on the edge of the San Bernardino national wildlife refuge, has required tens of thousands of gallons of groundwater. Experts say the extraction is affecting spring flow and groundwater levels across San Bernardino, threatening the fish. The Guardian

2,500 People forced to evacuate their homes in Fiji as Cyclone Sarai batters the island nation. The cyclone likely won’t make landfall, but storm and flood warnings are in place for several parts of the country. One cyclone-related death has been reported as of Sunday. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

The latest edition of the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that parts of the southwestern United States are still experiencing moderate to severe drought despite recent storms in the area. The dry conditions are located in the Four Corners region, where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet. The Colorado Sun

On the Radar

Somkiat Prajumwong, director-general of Thailand’s Office of National Water Resources, warns that Thailand should prepare for severe water shortages during March and April, the country’s hottest months. A year of abnormally low rainfall has already depleted the Mekong River, and Prajumwong says water levels are likely to drop further in coming months. The Washington Post

*Correction: The December 27 edition of The Stream incorrectly stated that the city of Houston, Texas, was undertaking a $2.5 million dollar bond for flood prevention. The correct amount of the bond is $2.5 billion.

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