This is Eileen Wray-McCann for Circle of Blue. And this is What’s Up with Water, your “need-to-know news” of the world’s water, made possible by support from people like you. 
In Bangkok, Thailand’s largest city, the tap water is starting to turn salty.  Bloomberg News reported that seawater is infiltrating the Chao Phraya river as it dries. The river’s flow is too weak to prevent saltwater from moving upstream and that is affecting drinking water in many parts of Bangkok. Outside the capital, the country’s severe drought is harming farm production. The Thai government told rice farmers not to plant their winter crops, to prevent further water draws that would have been needed for irrigation. Rather than divert the water for farming, the plan is to use it to counteract the saltwater intrusion plaguing the city. The Bangkok Post says that authorities are using these extra water resources in an attempt to flush the salt out of the river.
In Indonesia, environmental groups are urging officials in Jakarta to invest in the city’s natural resources to help reduce future flood damages. Activists say protecting groundwater, planting trees, and focusing on long-term prevention can help avert more flooding disasters. Jakarta experienced record-breaking rainfall this month, which has displaced 175,000 people and killed more than five dozen.
In Australia, bushfires continue to blaze. Engineering experts are sounding the alarm about 
what this might mean for drinking water supplies and infrastructure, both now and in the future.  Stuart Khan is a professor at the University of New South Wales. He says that, in the short-term, power outages associated with the fires can compromise the water treatment process and introduce unwanted pollutants.  Several towns have posted boil-water advisories in recent weeks because of this. In the longer-term, the fires increase the risk of surface water contamination. Heavy rains can flush ash, sediment, and debris into reservoirs and rivers. Water treatment equipment is often not designed to handle such a large influx of small particles. Khan writes: “Impacts to catchments from bushfires and subsequent erosion can have long-lasting effects, potentially worsening untreated drinking water quality for many years, even decades.”
In Puerto Rico, authorities are scrambling to restore power and water to the southern part of the island after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake last Tuesday. Damage to a key power plant initially left nearly a third of the island without power or running water. President Trump declared a state of emergency, which will facilitate the use of federal funds.
In the United States, the Trump administration announced plans to accelerate permitting for major infrastructure projects by shortening environmental reviews. The change means  that projects such as oil pipelines, mines, and roads would face significantly less analysis of their ecosystem impacts than currently required. President Trump said the plan will overhaul what he called the dysfunctional bureaucratic system responsible for massive obstructions.  Environmental groups, however, fear the changes could jeopardize the environment and communities.
In Kansas, experts are advising private well owners to be on the watch for nitrates. Those in the central part of Kansas who rely on the Great Bend Prairie Aquifer should begin checking annually for elevated nitrate levels. That’s according to an analysis by the University of Kansas. Researchers there found that the rural aquifer is vulnerable to nitrate pollution from farm fertilizers, and that nitrate levels in some shallow wells exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.
In Arizona, officials are taking steps to prevent PFAS contamination in municipal water supplies. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the Tucson City Council has instructed its water utility to begin designing treatment plants to remove PFAS chemicals from groundwater. The council wants to contain the spread of the chemicals before they reach parts of the aquifer where Tucson’s municipal wells are located. Current drinking water supplies are not affected. The new treatment system will filter water in two areas where PFAS chemicals have been detected. It is currently unclear how much the system will cost, though estimates range in the tens of millions of dollars. The council is urging Congress to provide funds for communities like Tucson that are dealing with PFAS contamination.
And that’s What’s Up With Water from Circle of Blue, which depends on your support for independent water news and analysis. Please visit and make a difference through your tax-deductible donation.
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