The Stream, February 18, 2021: Cuenca Residents Vote To Ban Future Mining Projects


  • Residents in an Ecuadorian city vote to ban future large-scale mining.
  • Mapping groundwater research across Africa.
  • A new well in Venezuela’s capital provides water to 15,000 residents.
  • Unusually heavy snowfall in Greece shuts down many parts of the country and leaves some residents without water.

Groundwater in Kabul, Afghanistan is being depleted as the result of urbanization.

“There is a possibility that the capital [Kabul] will be like Sana’a in Yemen, a capital without water. It could lead people to emigrate back to villages.” – Najib Fahim Agha, a former minister for disaster management in Afghanistan. Unchecked population growth, unregulated drilling, the asphalting or concreting of large swathes of land, and climate change have increased water demand in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul and depleted groundwater supplies. The Telegraph reports that as the water recedes, the wealthy dig wells deeper and the poor, who depend on shallow community pumps, are left to rely on private firms who have the resources to drill and sell water. Climate change could make matters worse because the replenishment of water reserves depends largely on snowmelt, which has been highly variable in recent years.


The Pandemic’s Unequal Impact on North Carolina Water Utilities and Their Customers

The story of the pandemic has been its inequality. By almost every measurement — job losses, vaccine distribution, death rates — the public health emergency has resulted in unequal outcomes that have struck hardest against people already on the margins.

So it is for water utilities and their customers. Some have financial aid programs and partnerships with community organizations that will send help to those in need. In Charlotte, residents of the state’s largest city who call a helpline will be connected to three local nonprofits that are providing financial assistance during the health emergency.

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Water Could Make Michigan a Climate Refuge. Are We Prepared? – Michigan is at the forefront of research and expectation among leaders developing scientific and analytical tools for anticipating human migration in the United States.

HotSpots H2O: Landslide Triggers Devastating Flash Floods in India – The collapse of a mountain flank in India’s Northern Uttarakhand state last week triggered devastating flash floods in the region and destroyed two hydroelectric projects.

New Research Maps Groundwater Recharge In Africa

New research in Environmental Research Letters has mapped groundwater recharge rates across Africa between 1970 and 2019. The study found that long-term average recharge can be found in most environments. The average decadal recharge is approximately two percent of estimated groundwater storage across the continent, although extreme variability exists between sedimentary aquifers in North Africa and crystalline-rock aquifers in tropical Africa. The authors of the study write that African countries with low recharge possess substantial groundwater storage, while countries with low storage experience high, regular recharge.



Residents in Cuenca, Ecuador voted to prohibit future large-scale mining in an area that stretches over 1,197 square miles (3,100 square kilometers), Al Jazeera reports. The area covers five watersheds and is home to 580,000 people. Environmentalists previously raised concerns about mining projects near the El Cajas National Reserve paramos. These are high-altitude ecosystems that provide most of the city’s water.

15,000 PEOPLE

The Chacao district in Venezuela’s capital Caracas installed a new well to supply water to 15,000 people in 42 buildings, Reuters reports. The new well aims to offset years of underinvestment, lack of maintenance, and a shortage of qualified personnel amid an economic collapse that has led to chronic water shortages throughout the district. Chacao has built nine wells in the last three years, drawing from underground sources that normally flow into the Guaire river.


The Associated Press reports that an unusually heavy snowfall in Athens, Greece, on Tuesday resulted in power cuts and halted Covid-19 vaccinations. The storm left many parts of the country in a standstill, stopping public transport and causing blackouts in several suburbs. Residents in some neighborhoods were also left without water.

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