The Stream, December 15, 2021: As Demand For Food Grows, Global Freshwater Resources Are Declining


  • Heavy rainfall batters northern Spain, flooding roads and killing two people.
  • Renewable freshwater resources are declining globally, a new report finds.
  • A private contractor in Florida is responsible for water outages among 250,000 people in 2019, a jury finds.
  • After deadly tornadoes, some Kentucky residents could be without water and electricity for weeks.

Some states in the American West are overusing Colorado River Basin waters, a new report finds.

“It’s really time for the Upper (Colorado) Basin (states) to get serious and stop proposing these new water diversions because they threaten all existing users in the state and all existing users in the system.” – Zach Frankel, executive director with the Utah Rivers Council. When western states signed the Colorado River Compact nearly 100 years ago, they overestimated how much water was available in the basin, according to a new report from the Utah Rivers Council. The report found that flows through the Colorado River basin decreased by nearly 20 percent between 2000 and 2018, but Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico are still overusing their share of the river’s waters.


In Case You Missed It:  

What’s Up With Water—December 13, 2021 – This week’s episode covers water scarcity in the Middle East and water contamination in Hawaii.

HotSpots H2O: Report Spotlights Funding Gap in Canada’s First Nations Water Crisis – Nearly half of water systems in the country’s Indigenous communities are considered to have substantial deficiencies.

Storm Barra Batters Northern Spain, Floods Roads And Leaves Two Dead

Heavy rainfall from Storm Barra caused rivers to overflow in parts of northern Spain, killing at least two people and flooding homes and roadways. In Navarre and Basque County, meteorologists reported as much as 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) of rain in 12 hours. Officials in many areas are preparing “for the worst-case scenarios” and asking the federal government for relief aid.



A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that global per capita internal renewable water resources declined by 20 percent between 2000 and 2018. The report found that overall, increased demand for food has put pressure on the world’s water, land, and soil resources. Sustainable agricultural practices can alleviate the industry’s strain on natural resources, although this will require focused data collected and information dissemination in order to manage land resources.    

  • Why It Matters: In Michigan, farmers irrigate with 187 billion gallons of groundwater every year. But demand for new high-capacity wells is keen. As the state’s abundant fresh water and temperate climate become more attractive to out-of-state farm companies, Michigan is experiencing its own early confrontations over water supply and scarcity. For the time being, agricultural water use is just 6 percent of the state’s total water use. But Michigan also has a long and disturbing history of succumbing to economic pressure from other industries, allowing exploitation to ruin the bounty and value of a vital natural resource.

250,000 PEOPLE

A private contractor in Florida is responsible for water disruptions for nearly 250,000 people across several cities in 2019, a jury found this week. During the trial, it was revealed that the company had drilled a 6-inch (15-centimeter) hole into a 42-inch (107-centimer) main at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, affecting a line that supplies water to Fort Lauderdale’s main water plant. The class-action lawsuit represented more than 9,000 restaurants, law firms, and retail stores that were forced to shut down because of the outages.


State officials say residents in Kentucky could be without heat, water, or electricity for weeks or longer after tornadoes swept through the state over the weekend. The state’s governor said search and rescue efforts are underway for more than 100 missing persons as efforts begin to shift to sheltering and delivering drinking water to survivors.

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