The Stream, January 9, 2020: Tap Water Turns Salty in Drought-Stricken Bangkok, Thailand

The Global Rundown

Seawater seeps into the parched Chao Phraya river in Thailand, affecting water supply in Bangkok. Bushfires pose a variety of risks to Australia’s drinking water, both now and in the future, experts warn. A quarter of Puerto Rico remains without drinking water after a recent wave of earthquakes. Fresno County, California, adopts a plan to combat groundwater over pumping and land subsidence. A new study warns that private well owners relying on Kansas’s Great Bend Prairie Aquifer should test water quality each year due to a rise in nitrate pollution. 

“Drought has come earlier this year, and it’s affecting both water for agriculture as well as for drinking. More parts of the country than in the past could be impacted.” –Surapong Sarapa, head of forecasting at the Thai Meteorological Department, in reference to dry conditions gripping the country. In some parts of Bangkok, tap water is starting to turn salty as seawater infiltrates the drying Chao Phraya river. Bloomberg

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – Stories That Offer Promise For The Days to Come   — Water is a defining issue of the century, and last year saw plenty of challenging events and trends. We’d like to begin the new year with a longer look at a few of last year’s stories that offer promise for the days to come.

HotSpots H2O: Water-Related Violence Spikes in Past Decade Water-related violence has doubled in the past decade, according to data compiled by the Pacific Institute.

By The Numbers

24 percent Proportion of Puerto Rico’s 3 million residents that are without running water following a wave of earthquakes on the island. Roughly two-thirds of the island is without power. President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

Private well owners relying on the Great Bend Prairie Aquifer in central Kansas should begin checking annually for elevated nitrate levels, according to an analysis by the University of Kansas. Researchers found that the rural aquifer is vulnerable to nitrate pollution, and nitrate levels in some shallow wells exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. Science Daily

In context: 

Nitrate Pollution Rising In Private Wells in Iowa
More Evidence of Nitrate Cancer Risk in Drinking Water

On the Radar

As bushfires continue to raze parts of Australia, experts warn that there could be a variety of short- and long-term risks to drinking water supplies. Current risks include direct damage to water and power infrastructure, affecting water treatment and distribution. Long-term, the fires could contaminate rivers and catchments as ash and scorched soil wash into waterways. Several Australian communities have already issued warnings about the potential impacts of the fires on drinking water. The Conversation 

Groundwater has been pumped heavily in and around Fresno County, California, leading to land subsidence and water shortages. In order to combat the problem, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors adopted a plan this week to help sustainably manage groundwater and promote the recharging of area aquifers. The Fresno Bee

In context: Sinking Land Causes California Water Chokepoint

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