The Stream, February 8, 2019: Violent Storm Sparks Landslides, Washes Away Buses in Rio de Janeiro

The Global Rundown

Severe storms deluge Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, leaving six people dead. Phoenix, Arizona, boosts its alternative water supplies in the face of Colorado River shortages. Wine production in South Africa’s Cape region is expected to be the lowest in years due to drought. An Idaho town asks neighboring cities for water after exhausting its own aquifer. The Trump administration looks to ease environmental regulations on waterways in California’s Central Valley.  

“Our review will take a hard look at the proposed operations, focus on the biological needs of important fish and wildlife species, and determine whether the Bureau responded to our previous concerns.” –Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in reference to a 871-page “biological assessment” of water use in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The assessment, released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, recommends relaxing environmental regulations and shifting water resources away from cities and wildlife for agricultural use. The Sacramento Bee

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By The Numbers

110 kilometers per hour (68 mph) Speed of winds in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a severe storm lashed the city late Wednesday night. Heavy rainfall caused flooding, landslides, and road closures, even sweeping away buses in parts of the city. The city’s mayor Marcelo Crivella said that “a lot of water” was responsible for the deaths of at least six people. Reuters

1,238,000 tons Size of the 2018 wine grape harvest in South Africa, down by 14 percent from 2017. Wine production this year is expected to be even lower as the industry struggles to recover from a 3-year drought. News24

Science, Studies, And Reports

Faced with minimal rainfall and a dwindling Colorado River, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, is working to boost its drought resiliency. The city has strategically built dams, developed underground storage reservoirs, and set up wastewater recycling systems. City officials say Phoenix is prepared if severe drought fully depletes the Colorado River. Yale Environment 360

On The Radar

The town of Mountain Home, Idaho, has depleted its groundwater supply, largely due to groundwater pumping for agricultural use. Now, with household wells running dry, the town is hoping to recharge its aquifer using water flows from neighboring communities. As the Idaho Department of Water Resources weighs the request, some experts are asking whether recharging depleted aquifers is a sustainable concept in the long-term. High Country News

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