This week’s episode of What’s Up With Water covers water outages in Ukraine, water rationing in Chile’s largest city and the western United States, and the biggest environmental concerns among Americans.
Welcome to “What’s Up With Water,” your need-to-know news of the world’s water from Circle of Blue. I’m Eileen Wray-McCann.
In Ukraine, nearly two months of war have taken a toll on the nation’s people – and also on its infrastructure. According to a new assessment, about one and a half million people in eastern Ukraine are without piped water. The region has been under attack since February 24, when Russia began its invasion. The assessment noted at least 20 incidents in which water systems were damaged by explosions, power outages, or other fallout from the fighting. The assessment was carried out by the WASH Cluster, a collection of 32 international organizations that is led by the United Nations Children’s Fund. To assist Ukrainian communities with water supply, the group has been providing treatment chemicals, generators, and bottled water. As the war continues, many more communities could soon be in need. The WASH Cluster says some four and half million people are at risk of losing their water supply due to the wartime stress on aging systems and on their operators.
In Chile, there are concerns about water supplies, but for a different reason. Record-breaking dry conditions have forced government officials to plan for rationing water to the country’s largest city. AFP reports that water cuts could affect over a million and a half households in Santiago. Rationing is the last step in the government’s four-tier plan. Initial steps encourage conservation and reduce water pressure. If cuts do happen, they would last for 24 hours and rotate throughout Santiago. The need for rationing will be based on the flow of two rivers that supply the city. This is the 13th year of drought for the region.
Drought is also squeezing communities in the American West. Because of low snow totals and depleted reservoirs, federal officials are eying emergency water cuts in the Colorado River basin. The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the big reservoirs on the river, is considering a reduction in the amount of water it releases from Lake Powell, which is shrinking faster than expected. Officials are keen to preserve the reservoir’s ability to generate hydropower and they want to prevent unforeseen strains on the dam’s operating equipment as water levels decline. However, keeping more water in Powell has a domino effect. It would mean less water gets released downstream to Lake Mead, which is also shrinking. The bureau aims to finalize its plan in the coming weeks.
Droughts like those in the western states are among the conditions affecting how people in the entire country view their surroundings. For the U.S. public, concern over environmental quality is near a two-decade high, according to a recent Gallup poll. Water issues topped the list of Americans’ concerns. Overall, 57 percent of U.S. adults named drinking water contamination as a major fear, followed by pollution of waterways and loss of tropical rain forests. Only 28 percent of Americans said they were “not at all” worried about the state of the environment, while 44 percent worry “a great deal.”
And that’s “What’s Up With Water,” from Circle of Blue, where water speaks. More water news and analysis await you at circleofblue.org. This is Eileen Wray-McCann – thanks for being here.
Eileen Wray-McCann is a writer, director and narrator who co-founded Circle of Blue. During her 13 years at Interlochen Public Radio, a National Public Radio affiliate in Northern Michigan, Eileen produced and hosted regional and national programming. She’s won Telly Awards for her scriptwriting and documentary work, and her work with Circle of Blue follows many years of independent multimedia journalistic projects and a life-long love of the Great Lakes. She holds a BA and MA radio and television from the University of Detroit. Eileen is currently moonlighting as an audio archivist and enjoys traveling through time via sound.