The Stream, September 28, 2021: Drought In South America Affects All Walks of Life


  • Drought in South America offers a glimpse into a future shaped by climate change.
  • Plastic pollution is building up in the Great Lakes.
  • The construction of thousands of homes in the United Kingdom is being delayed by concerns over water quality.
  • Low river levels in Newfoundland, Canada, could have lasting impacts on the region’s salmon population.

Repairing homes and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip could cost millions. Foreign aid is the only way to fund it, officials say.

“We fear the collapse of streets, roads, water lines and sewage networks.” – Hosni Muhanna, the head of the Gaza Municipality Media Department. As reconstruction begins in the Gaza Strip, Al-Monitor many are concerned that some donor countries will not deliver on their promises to help pay for the rebuilding of thousands of homes that were destroyed or damaged. After 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, 225 people had died and massive damage to infrastructure like water treatment plants and water and power lines was reported. According to Gaza officials, the estimated cost of rebuilding is at $479 million. Naji Sarhan, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza, said the ministry fears that reconstruction in Gaza could be hindered by the political divisions and differences between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

  • Why it matters: In May, just days after Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement, Circle of Blue reported that the damage to Gaza was immense. After more than a week of air and artillery strikes, three of Gaza’s few crucial desalination plants, were offline because of the bombings. Underground pipe networks, which reach 800,000 people, had burst, turning rubble-ravaged streets into canals of sewage and human waste. Without international intervention, rehabilitating Gaza’s infrastructure to meet a livable standard, one the city has not experienced in decades, will be nearly impossible.


As Drought Grips American West, Irrigation Becomes Selling Point for Michigan

As the American West faces epic drought, new narrative about water and irrigation is becoming more significant in Michigan. ⁠ ⁠

At age 60, Larry Walton was raised on his family’s 500-acre farm in St. Joseph County, along Michigan’s border with Indiana. Like other growers engaged in American agriculture, St. Joseph’s farmers count on reasonable stability in weather, soil, labor, costs, and commodity prices to reduce the inherent risks all farmers face. ⁠ ⁠

Oh, and one more essential risk reducer: water. Indeed, on the Walton farm, and all across St. Joseph County, ample reserves of water assure farm prosperity. Specifically, high-capacity irrigation wells that pump at least 100,000 gallons a day – typically over 1 million gallons daily — and apply it at scheduled intervals and in precise quantities to reduce risk. Walton has five wells. There are at least 1,000 more spread across the county, irrigating 123,000 acres, or half of all county cropland. St. Joseph, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture farm census, is the second-most heavily irrigated county east of the Mississippi River.

But here’s the challenge in St. Joseph and throughout a state with one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water, and an expanding agriculture economy that delivers nearly $9 billion annually to 46,500 farms: is the contemporary balance between farm prosperity and sufficient water secure over time? Will there be enough water for Michigan’s thriving farm sector, and for every other use of a natural resource growing scarcer across much of the rest of the nation?⁠

In Case You Missed It:

What’s Up With Water – September 27, 2021 – This week’s episode covers a new study out of India that finds that arsenic from irrigation water is entering the country’s food chain, unanswered questions after a toxic wastewater spill from one of the world’s largest diamond mines in southern Africa, and conservation data released last week that finds California residents are barely conserving water.

Drought in South America Previews Waterless Future

In South America, drought is killing crops, shutting down major tourist areas, upending transit and increasing prices for everything from coffee to electricity. The drought’s impact threatens to cost billions of dollars. The current conditions, according to The Washington Post, are only a taste of what’s to come for the region as water becomes more and more scarce.

  • Why it matters: On the Paraná River, which stretches through the heart of central South America, water levels sit at record lows. Reverberations of the river’s distress are shellacking the environment and economies alike. Along the Paraguayan border, where the Yacyretá and Itaipu dams have made Paraguay into one of the world’s most substantial exporters of hydroelectric power, crucial energy losses have disrupted the small country’s vulnerable economy. And on local levels, throughout the region’s small and biodiverse communities, the lack of water is threatening fish populations–such as the surubí and sábalo–and the area’s abundance of rare birds, which has famously elevated the river delta into an ornithologist’s playground.


10,000 TONS

An estimated 10,000 tons of plastic waste enters the Great Lakes every year, which supports nearly 50 million people in the United States and Canada, every year. The CBC reports that while plastic industry officials say they are working on the problem internally, advocates blame a lack of regulation by the government for the pollution.

40,000 HOMES

 The construction of as many as 40,000 homes is being delayed because construction would add to the levels of nitrates and phosphates in waterways. The Financial Times reports that the move to block development that was not phosphate and nitrate neutral has increased since 2019, when high levels of the chemical compound were found in the Solent straight. The problem has spread since then, and 20 councils have been advised by Natural England to follow suit.


Low river levels in central Newfoundland, Canada, could have lasting impacts on wildlife, CBC reports. The impacts are especially severe for the region’s salmon populations, which are dying off at alarming rates.

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