The Stream, June 16, 2020: Drought Reaches “Extreme” Levels in Parts of Colorado, New Mexico, California, and Oregon

The Global Rundown

An abnormally warm May deepens drought in the western United States. A settlement of mud huts on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela, where residents lack running water, power, and sanitation services, expands amid the country’s ongoing economic crisis. The coronavirus pandemic worsens water access in the Dominican Republic. Potential contamination caused by recent flooding in mid-Michigan could jeopardize wildlife at the nearby Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. As climate change worsens, water-sharing tensions between Afghanistan and Iran intensify.

“Afghanistan and Iran both share a hot climate in summer and depend on water, but there isn’t enough. We’re increasingly fighting over water.” –Sheer Agha Noorzai, a farmer in Afghanistan’s southern Nimroz province, in reference to water-sharing disputes between Afghanistan and Iran. Over the past 20 years, weather patterns in the region have become more erratic, causing water tensions both within Afghanistan and with neighboring Iran. The Helmand River, which provides irrigation and drinking water to the two nations, is the main source of contention between the two countries. Reuters

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By The Numbers

10,000 acres Size of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge near Midland, Michigan. The Cass, the Tittabawassee, the Flint, and the Shiawassee rivers all meet at the refuge, which is home to myriad types of wildlife and is a key stopover for migratory birds. Wildlife in the area may be in danger, however, following recent flooding that may have stirred up dioxins and other contaminants at the nearby Dow chemical complex. The Dow Chemical Company and the state of Michigan are currently taking soil samples to determine whether contamination occurred. Michigan Radio

9.3 million People in Venezuela who are facing hunger or inadequate nutrition as the country slides further into economic collapse. The adverse conditions in the country have led to the growth of a mud hut village on the outskirts of Caracas. In the settlement, known as “Los Trailers,” residents live without running water or toilets. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

May 2020 was the fifth-warmest May on record, according to a summary by the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the sweltering temperatures resulted in deepening drought across the western United States. “Extreme drought,” which is the second-worst category outlined by the Drought Monitor, is now affecting parts of Colorado, New Mexico, California, and Oregon. Los Angeles Times

On the Radar

Nearly one in two households in the Dominican Republic have no running water and rely on private tankers for their supply. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted tanker deliveries, leaving millions without consistent access to water as the country faces one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the Caribbean. Reuters 

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