The Stream, April 23, 2020: Snowpack Could Become an Unreliable Predictor of Drought in Western U.S., Study Warns

The Global Rundown

A new study claims that winter snowpack will become an increasingly worse predictor of drought in the western United States. An earthquake that struck the capital of Croatia last month caused an estimated $6 billion in damages, much of it to water infrastructure. Heavy flooding along the Mulongwe river in the Democratic Republic of Congo affects 80,000 people. U.S. lawmakers announce two draft bills that would allot $19.5 billion for water infrastructure repairs. Saltwater intrusion worsens in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta.

“The river is dead. There’s not even water for humans, let alone the farms and the animals. We are having to pay hands over knuckles for water [just] to cook.” –Tran Tho Tu, a rice farmer in Vietnam’s Ben Tre province, in reference to the heavy salination that has leached into many areas of the Mekong River Delta. The saltwater intrusion is growing gradually worse, exacerbated by ongoing drought that has allowed the saltwater to seep in farther than ever before. Amid so much salty water, crops and parts of the Delta ecosystem are struggling to survive. Al Jazeera

In context: Severe Drought Tightens Pressure in Mekong River Basin

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By The Numbers

80,000 Residents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s South Kivu province who have been affected by severe flooding along the Mulongwe river. Current reports indicate that at least two dozen people were killed by flash floods, with another 40 injured and several missing. Water and sanitation facilities in the town of Uvira also reportedly sustained damages. UN News

$6.03 billion Damage caused by an earthquake in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, last month. The country is seeking outside aid to help repair the damages, with water supply listed as one of the key priorities for reconstruction efforts. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that winter snowpack levels will become an increasingly unreliable tool for predicting upcoming drought. The paper, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change, argues that warming temperatures and higher rates of rain, as opposed to snow, will require water managers to seek out other methods of estimating potential drought. CPR News

On the Radar

A group of bipartisan U.S. lawmakers on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced two draft bills this week that together would allocate $19.5 billion to U.S. water infrastructure. The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA 2020) would focus on boosting water storage, improving flood protection, and repairing wastewater and irrigation systems. The Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 would be used to aid communities in meeting the drinking water needs of their residents. The Hill

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