The Stream, October 25, 2019: Zimbabwe Cuts Power to Mines, Farms, Amid Debt and Drought

The Global Rundown

Zimbabwe says it will cut power to mines, farms, and other customers as drought, aging equipment, and debt hamper hydropower output. Egypt and Ethiopia agree to resume negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Frustrated Australians say government mismanagement fueled the collapse of the Darling River. PFAS chemicals are detected in drinking water in Louisville, Kentucky. Flash flooding in France leaves at least three people dead. The Amazon rainforest could stop producing enough precipitation to sustain itself within two years.

“We are seeing the first flickering of that tipping. It’s sort of like a seal trying to balance a rubber ball on its nose … the only sensible thing to do is to do some reforestation and build back that margin of safety.” –Thomas Lovejoy, a professor at George Mason University, in reference to the declining state of the Amazon rainforest. Experts say a combination of deforestation, damaging government policies, and recent wildfires are pushing the Amazon toward a “tipping point,” after which the rainforest would fail to produce enough rainfall to sustain itself. Forecasts suggest the tipping point could occur by 2021. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

$77 million Amount currently owed to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), the country’s state-owned electricity distributor. ZETDC announced this week that it will disconnect power to mines, farms, and others due to the unpaid bills. The distributor is struggling to maintain adequate supply as drought cuts hydropower output. Reuters

3 Death toll from flash flooding in southern France, according to the country’s interior ministry. Flash floods in Italy and Spain also killed three people earlier this week. Rivers are overflowing and transportation is disrupted throughout the region. BBC

Science, Studies, and Reports

Ten PFAS compounds were detected in a drinking water sample from Louisville, Kentucky, according to data gathered by the Environmental Working Group. In total, the compounds comprised 45.2 parts per trillion (ppt) in the drinking water sample, below the current EPA safety guideline of 70 ppt. WKU

In context: From Michigan to the Nation — A Groundwater Emergency.

On the Radar

Egypt and Ethiopia have agreed to resume technical talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, according to an update from an Egyptian presidency spokesman. Talks between the two nations and Sudan have been at a standstill for several weeks. Reuters

In context: HotSpots H2O: Egypt and Ethiopia Spar Over Nile River Dam in Latest Round of Talks

The Darling River, which flows 2,844 km (1,767 miles) through the Australian outback, is currently experiencing its driest two years since record-keeping began in 1900. Adverse weather conditions have fueled the river’s decline, but frustrated residents claim that the government also played a role by pumping water for irrigation and other purposes in 2017. Another hot, dry summer is forecasted. Reuters

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

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