The Stream, March 21: Colorado Basin States Send Finished Drought Plan to Congress

The Global Rundown

The seven Colorado Basin states finalize their drought contingency plan. The death toll in Mozambique tops 200 in the wake of Cyclone Idai. Seventy-four Nebraska cities declare states of emergency as floodwaters engulf the state. Residents of Papua, Indonesia, plan a mass burial following deadly flooding that killed at least 100. Andrew Wheeler, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, says unsafe drinking water is a more pressing environmental threat than climate change. Australian farmers hold off on buying fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides amid predictions of a second year of crop failures.

“I would normally have bought about 100 tonnes of (fertilizer and crop protection) product by now, but there has been no rain, we have no soil moisture, so I haven’t purchased any this year.” –Tom Woolaston, a farmer in Somerton, Australia, in reference to predicted drought in the country this year. Meteorologists are warning that parts of Australia may see a second year of failed crops, prompting some farmers to hold off on purchasing fertilizers and other agricultural products. Reuters

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By The Numbers

200+ People killed in Mozambique by Cyclone Idai, which brought flooding and landslides to the country over the weekend. The flooding, which also hit Zimbabwe and Malawi, has affected over 2.6 million people. A representative for the Red Cross called the disaster the worst humanitarian crisis in Mozambique’s history. Reuters

74 Nebraska cities that declared a state of emergency on Tuesday due to flooding, along with 65 counties and four tribal areas. The intense flooding, which is impacting much of the midwestern United States, has left three dead and caused up to $1 billion in damages to farms and ranches in Nebraska alone. USA Today

In context: Historic Missouri River Flood Damages Water Infrastructure.

104 Latest death toll in Indonesia’s eastern Papua province, where flooding and landslides also injured 160 people. The country’s disaster mitigation agency says a mass burial is being planned for the victims. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

On Tuesday, representatives from the seven Colorado Basin states signed a letter asking Congress to approve their drought contingency plan. The states wrapped up the plan in recent weeks after months of delays and questions of whether the federal government would have to take control of the planning process. The finalized plan excluded California’s Imperial Irrigation District (IID), a major Colorado River water user, after the IID refused to sign on unless the federal government allocated $200 million toward cleaning up the polluted Salton Sea. Arizona Daily Star

On The Radar

In a recent interview, new EPA head Andrew Wheeler downplayed the importance of climate change and named unsafe drinking water as the biggest environmental threat currently facing the planet. Wheeler said the threats posed by climate change are “50 to 75 years out” and shouldn’t be overly emphasized by 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Chicago Sun Times

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