The Stream, February 6, 2019: Eight People Found Dead in Mexico Over Possible Water Dispute

The Global Rundown

Mexican authorities are investigating the deaths of eight people in a possible water dispute. A study finds that thousands of lakes in the Northern Hemisphere will stop reliably freezing over in coming decades. Groundwater pumping causes land subsidence in northern California, with one town sinking two feet in nine years. A tailings dam that collapsed in Brazil met minimum safety requirements, but had issues with drainage and monitoring, according to an August 2018 safety review. Experts urge Australia to rethink the management of flood control dams in the wake of flooding in Townsville, Queensland.

“Studies show that flood control dams lull people living downstream into a false sense of security. Then accidentally, or deliberately, development occurs in the floodplain.” –Jamie Pittock, a professor at Australian National University, in reference to the release of water from the Ross River Dam, which deliberately swamped thousands of homes in Townsville, Queensland this week. Experts say that flood control dams like the Ross River Dam work well in moderate flooding events, but can actually cause more harm if severe rainfall occurs, especially if there is extensive development in the floodplain. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

8 People killed in southern Mexico earlier this week over a possible water dispute. Officials say several dozen people were holding a ceremony at a natural spring when three men arrived and opened fire. A dispute over the spring, located near opium poppy fields, was reported to authorities a week before the shooting. The New York Times

2.14 feet Amount that the community of Arbuckle, California, sank between 2008 and 2017. Arbuckle, along with other parts of the state’s Sacramento Valley, are sinking markedly due to overpumping of groundwater. The land subsidence can be detrimental to roads, pipelines, and other infrastructure. Los Angeles Times

In context: Sinking Land Causes California Water Chokepoint.

Science, Studies, And Reports

A recent study analyzed the impact of climate change on 1.4 million lakes in the Northern Hemisphere. The study found that many lakes that froze annually are now icing over less, or not at all. Researchers say “an extensive loss of lake ice” will likely take place in the next few decades. The New York Times

On The Radar

An August 2018 safety report on the tailings dam that collapsed in Brazil on January 25 noted concerns with the dam’s drainage and monitoring systems. The report, conducted by German company TÜV SÜD, said the dam met minimum safety requirements but showed weaknesses in some areas, including cracks in the drainage system. In the wake of the collapse, TÜV SÜD insisted that “no damages were found” in the 2018 safety inspection. Reuters

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