YOUR GLOBAL RUNDOWN
- Seventy-one rivers in China exceed warning levels and officials expect big floods in the coming months.
- Water infrastructure in Gaza remains impaired following a cease-fire agreement with Israel.
- Drought in Mexico’s northern Chihuahua state is hurting the production of Indigenous farmers.
In northeast India, one of the world’s smallest ethnic groups is confronting environmental problems that they trace to mining operations across the border in Bhutan.
“The mining in Bhutan has been making life difficult for us but no one seems to be bothered. The natural streams that once remained full of water have died. We have to depend on a lone active stream inside the forest for our daily water needs. But it also fails to fulfill our requirements during the extreme summers.” — Reshma Toto, a 22-year-old who is a member of one of the world’s smallest ethnic groups, the Toto. The Third Pole reports that streams in the village of Totopara, in the Indian state of West Bengal, have gone dry. Villagers blame the loss on quarries and stone crushing operations upstream, in Bhutan. Many residents now pipe water from the forest stream, or walk three to four kilometers to gather water from wells.
IN RECENT WATER NEWS
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After months of research and interviews with dozens of authorities on five continents, WASH Within Reach unravels the complexity of a global sector that now spends over $20 billion a year and is on its way to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: clean water, safe sanitation, and hygiene for everyone on Earth by 2030.
In Case You Missed It:
The Central California Town That Keeps Sinking
How Corcoran came to dip nearly 12 feet in more than a decade is a tale not of land but of water, and the ways in which, in ag-dominated Central California, water is power — so much so that many residents and local leaders downplay the town’s sinkage or ignore it entirely.
This piece is part of the Tapped Out collaboration, exploring power, justice, and water in the West.
Drought Cuts Farm Output in Mexico’s Chihuahua State
Production of corn, beans, potatoes, and forage sorghum fell by 90 percent in districts of southern Chihuahua state, El Heraldo de Chihuahua reports. Most of the farmers in the districts are Indigenous, who grow crops for subsistence. The drought has become a key issue in the state governor’s race. The election is scheduled for June 6.
TODAY’S TOP WATER STORIES, TOLD IN NUMBERS
People in Gaza — one-fifth of the population — who do not have regular access to a clean drinking water supply, according to the aid group Oxfam. Water and electric systems in the coastal enclave were damaged during 11 days of Israeli airstrikes earlier this month. A cease-fire agreement on May 20 paused the barrage.
ON THE RADAR
Officials at China’s Ministry of Water Resources warned of the potential for major flooding again this summer, especially in the central and southern regions. Reuters reports that 71 rivers have exceeded warning levels and the Yangtze through the city of Wuhan is more than two meters above normal. Last year, heavy rainfall in the Yangtze basin triggered widespread flooding, which is expected to worsen in the region along with the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton