The Stream, June 30, 2021: Water Scarcity Top Concern For Global Economy


  • The global consumer staples sector could face massive losses if water scarcity continues to increase.
  • Flooding in Germany on Monday causes dozens of road accidents and hundreds of rescue calls.
  • The Australian EPA grants three coal mines permission to release wastewater into a nearby river to mitigate flooding.
  • Sudan rejects Ethiopia’s proposal for filling a controversial Nile River dam.

Agroforestry could preserve biodiversity and water quality in Brazil.

“Agroforestry is a system for recovery, for attracting pollinators and wildlife to return, and for providing ecological services.” – Cláudio Maretti, a former president of ICMBio, a federal agency overseeing protected land in Brazil. National Geographic reports that local agroforestry cooperative in Brazil called RECA could become a model for agriculture in Brazil—one that requires far less land than cattle ranching, preserves biodiversity, protects soil and water, and sequesters carbon in its trees, mitigating climate change. Operating since 1989, the co-op reconstructs rainforest conditions by planting up to 40 species, about a dozen of which they process into food products sold throughout Brazil. More than 300 families earn about five times more per acre through agroforestry than local ranchers do from their pastures, all while maintaining soil fertility and water quality nearly as well as wild Amazonian forests.


In Chicago, Flooding Overwhelmingly Strikes Communities of Color

Chicago’s Tunnel and Reservoir Project was conceived as a solution to a perennial problem in the city. Chicago has a combined sewer system that carries both toilet flushes and street runoff in the same pipes. Just one or two inches of rainfall can overwhelm this network, forcing sewage back through the pipes to where it came. When this happens, sewage flows into city streets or residents’ basements in what’s known as urban flooding. If there is still too much strain on the system, the city opens its floodgates, pouring the mix of sewage and street runoff into local rivers and Lake Michigan, which is also the city’s main drinking water source.

Forty-eight years, nine mayors, and more than $4 billion after the Deep Tunnel was commissioned, urban flooding continues to plague residents–particularly in Chicago’s communities of color—and some experts say it is time for a fresh approach.

In Case You Missed It:  

HotSpots H2O: Anishinaabe Activists and Allies Resist Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline, a Project that Threatens Wetlands and Ignores Treaty Territory – In northern Minnesota, the new Line 3 corridor cuts directly through wetlands and waterways that are already struggling in unusually dry conditions. The pipeline also infringes upon centuries-old tribal treaty rights, and runs near, and sometimes through, reservation lines, water crossings, and state forests.

What’s Up With Water – June 28, 2021 – This week’s episode covers the body of Indigenous activist Tomás Rojo Valencia that was recovered last week in Mexico and drought and toxic algal blooms in Iowa that are putting drinking water supplies for more than 500,000 people at risk.

Global Consumer Staples Sector Faces Massive Losses As Water Scarcity Increases

A recent research note published by analysts at Barclays found water scarcity was “the most important environmental concern” for the global consumer staples sector, CNBC reports. The analysts warned that even companies with relatively limited financial exposure to water risk should brace for disruption. Consumer staples, which includes food, beverages, and household products, could be the sector most adversely affected by water scarcity and face a $200 billion impact.

  • Why it matters: In 2018, a World Economic Forum survey found that private sector executives in Egypt, Iran, Namibia, and Pakistan ranked “water crises” as the top business risk in their countries. Circle of Blue reported that fluctuations in the availability of fresh water are even more apparent the deeper one looks at the report. Executives around the world worry about having too little water or too much, about damaging storms and droughts, and about the social and political fallout from those situations.



Torrential rain flooded parts of southern and western Germany late Monday night, the Associated Press reports. In the city of Stuttgart, rescue teams were called in more than 330 times Monday and early Tuesday. States like Bavaria, Hesse, and Baden-Wuerttemberg – where Stuttgart is located —  were hit especially hard by the rainfall. Dozens of road accidents were reported by early Tuesday morning, although the number of people injured in the crashes was not immediately known.


Two coal mines in the Australian state of Victoria received permission from the Environmental Protection Agency to release water into the Latrobe River, ABC reports. The move comes after recent flooding prompted concerns of a mine wall collapse. The EPA granted Energy Australia, the owner of the mines, a permit to discharge up to 232 megaliters (61 million gallons) of wastewater per day until the end of August. Another mine, which closed in 2018, was also retrospectively given permission to release water under emergency powers granted by the state government in June.


Sudan, for the second time, rejected Ethiopia’s proposal for filling and managing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. According to Reuters, Ethiopian officials said they will fill the reservoir behind the dam after seasonal rains start this summer. It will be the second consecutive year that Ethiopia has added water to the reservoir and a move that both Sudan and Egypt oppose without a binding agreement. Sudan and Egypt have long voiced concerns over the hydropower dam project, which they say could cut off their water supply.

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