Below are some examples that show the range of issues in GLOBAL WATER NEWS from the past few years:

•  2014-15: following the debacle of Detroit city’s water shut-off debacle, UN special representatives descend upon the city in October of 2014 to examine the situation and remind the authorities of the human right to water;
•  the widespread citizen protests in resistance to austerity policies in Europe, for example in the Republic of Ireland regarding the government’s consolidation in early 2015 of water services into one single company in charge of handling the introduction of water charges;
•  the affirmation by the Vatican’s Cardinal Peter Turkson, the top official who has lead the Pope’s aggressive ‘Green Agenda’, that water is the archetypal “gift from God” that should not be polluted by the profit motive of privatization - water justice is part of the moral imperative and call for environmental stewardship in the Laudato Si papal encyclical of May 2015;
•  and at the other extreme, the bold claim by Daesh that they aim to gain control of Arab water sources from Istanbul to the headwaters of the Nile as a means to exert pressure order to guarantee the water supply of its self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate, already evidenced since 2013 by its seizing of rivers and dams in Syria and Iraq;
•  in Sao Paulo, the financial center of Brazil, currently in a drought of historic proportions, water reserves have entered the ‘dead level’  such that its electric utility company communicated tariff warnings about electricity rate price adjustments according to the level of water in the reservoirs which provide not just drinking water, but more than three-quarters of the area’s electricity-generating capacity;
•  the strategic territorial gains of the al-Houthis in Yemen helped these militants secure water as a key resource for political power leverage, while at the same time causing acute shortage of drinking water in the city of Sanaa (already predicted to be the first national capital to run out of groundwater reserves in this century), and putting at risk free passage of oil shipments through the strategic Bab al-Mandab waterway;
•  the tension and pending crisis of attrition between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, surrounding the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which is under construction on the Blue Nile; despite the agreement of principles between the three countries, signed in March of 2015, the Ethiopian government's plans to inaugurate the first stages of the mega-hydro project in Oct 2016 runs the risk, according to water experts in Egypt of jeopardizing the downstream countries share of the Nile waters;
•  although not the case even just a couple of decades ago, Asia is now the driest continent, where availability of freshwater is less than half the global annual average estimated per inhabitant; moreover, the fastest-growing Asian economies with growing industrial demand for water and expanding urban populations are all at or near water-stressed conditions, including India, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and China;
•  currently China in particular is in extreme danger of water stress because of inefficient water use and large projects such as the Three Gorges Dam scheme; rivers and lakes have dried up, groundwater aquifers have been over-pumped, and countless species of aquatic life have disappeared - all which have impacted both human and ecosystem health;
•  the daily struggle for water in host countries, such as Jordan, of the Syrian refugee crisis over the last 4 years has exacerbated the region’s chronic scarcity - water shortages have reached emergency levels, and are at best as low as 30 liters per person per day - one-tenth of what the average American uses. Water stress is a main factor in the ongoing migration crisis;
•  in the USA, over the past year, there has been a heightened awareness about water as ‘politics’ in the news media, about future water-wars, such as the opening statement of the ‘60 Minutes’ presentation of November 2014 that “the wars of the 21st century may well be fought over water”.


2015: recurring references in mainstream shows such as Jon Stewart and John Oliver’s late-night HBO comedy series to issues such as water-depletion, water ‘hoarding’, and exceptional drought in California where unprecedented statewide water restrictions have been imposed on state water agencies, businesses and residents;
•  ongoing climate change-denying in Florida - by its state government, by its republican senator and its former governor, both presidential candidates - despite both severe drought in the southern part of the state and evident sea level rise which has dangerously increased flood threat to the coastal cities of the peninsula’s Southeast;
•  in Aug. 2015 the latest expansion of the Suez Canal - a 22-mile channel - opened to shipping; it allows 97 ships to pass through each day, however, also opens a wider path for invasive species from the Indian and Pacific Oceans to flood through the Red Sea into the Mediterranean. Scientists have identified more than 450 alien species of fish, invertebrates and algae not part of the Mediterranean’s natural ecosystem. Experts from Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Lebanon say this invasion has also drastically altered fisheries and undermined the complex ecosystems of the Levant Basin;
•  the Sept. 2015 scientific study which found that 414 towns and cities in the US have already passed their lock-in date - the point at which it's guaranteed that more than half the city's populated land will eventually be underwater - even with strict carbon emissions legislation, including New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Virginia Beach, Sacramento, and Jacksonville, FL;
•  just days after the terrorist attack in Paris on 13 Nov 2015, the City Water Board Services, the public water company Eau de Paris adopted stringent security measures, fearing a biological or chemical attack on the city’s water-supply by jihadists;
•  while the leaders of the world were talking about climate change at the U.N. Paris Climate Change Summit, the city of Chennai, India faced its worst flooding in over 100 years, with rainfall measurements of epic proportions, 34 times the daily average, and led to destruction and great loss of life. Among other reasons for the city’s disaster (such as over-development and choked river channels), was the explanation from scientists that this extreme weather was the result of dramatically raised temperatures in the Indian Ocean, an indication of worldwide climate changes;
•  in the same month extreme rainfall over Wales, Northern Ireland, North-west England and Scotland brought devastating flooding across the northern Great Britain. As the wettest December since records began for the region in 1910, breaking records for both heat and rainfall, with the mean temperature double the long-term average. Three major storms created “extraordinary” hydrological conditions with experts linking the unprecedented conditions to long-term and human-induced global warming;
•  also part of this extreme worldwide weather system over this period were usual winter storms in the Midwest of the USA that sent torrents of floodwaters into major rivers (Mississippi R. and its tributaries, such as the Meramec R.; the Arkansas and Illinois Rivers) causing massive historic floods in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and other southern states, affecting cities downstream, and with countless counties declared disaster areas. The flooding was exacerbated by over-construction, constricted river channels, and shrinking floodplains;
•  parallel to this, more than 100,000 people in four South American countries were forced to evacuate their homes in areas bordering Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina after the worst floods in over 50 years due to heavy summer rains brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon which has intensified the frequency and intensity of rains and is linked to global climate fluctuations;
•  the ongoing drinking water contamination crisis in Flint, MI: water became poisoned by toxic water from corrosive pipes as a result of the city switching its water source as a money-saving measure (the impoverished Michigan city of which 41% of the 100K residents live at or below the poverty line). In April 2014, the city stopped using Detroit’s water system (fresh glacial lake water of Lake Huron) and switched to the Flint River (where toxins from GM & DuPont factories have been dumped for over a 100 years), resulting in up to 100K citizens being exposed to dangerously high levels of lead that cause severe health problems such as long-term brain damage. On 16 Jan 2016, President Obama declared a state of emergency for the city.


•  2016: in a report released 19 Jan 2016 by the World Economic Forum at the annual Davos meeting, projects that current research indicates that by the year 2050 if we continue in our ways, plastic trash in the ocean will outweigh all the fish. According to the WEF, at least 8 million tons of plastics (one garbage truck per minute), leak into the ocean each year. Given the projected growth in consumption, in just 34 years our oceans will contain more plastics than fish by weight;
•  in January, nearly 2 years after Iraqi and Kurdish forces reclaimed Iraq’s largest dam, the Mosul Dam from Daesh fighters, the structure faces threat of collapsing by the spring season, due to insufficient maintenance and serious erosion. This could potentially release 12 billion cubic meters of the Tigris’ waters swollen by winter’s rain and melting snow, which would flood downstream communities, especially the residents of Mosul 50km south, and put the lives of over 500k at risk with a wall of water could be as high as 80 feet. More than a million could be rendered homeless and the country’s supply of clean water and its irrigation system could be disrupted or contaminated;
•  in a paper published 12 Feb. by the journal Science Advances, shows that the global water shortage risk is worse than scientists previously thought. The study - which considers multiple variables including climate records, population density, irrigation and industry - indicates that two-thirds of the world’s population lives without sufficient access to fresh water for at least one month of the year. Among some of their findings: as severe scarcity occurs when water consumption is twice as high as available resources, half of those suffering from water scarcity are in the world’s two most populous countries, India and China;
•  due to an ongoing drought, water resources across Southern Africa are being depleted at an alarming rate; it has already been declared a national disaster in Zimbabwe. As a result of this situation, food supplies have reached critical on the continent, it is expected to affect 49 million people from Malawi to Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, and leave about 14 million hungry. South Africa, a key source of food for the wider region, suffering its worst drought in a century, where dams have dropped 16% since last October, it is believed that this drought is not part of a normal drought cycle but a result of climate change, which will be the future cause of rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, extreme weather, reduced food production, rising food prices etc;
•  a new NASA study published in March, found that the drought in the eastern Mediterranean Levant region (Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey) which began in 1998 is likely the worst one in the past 900 years. The recent drought (1998-2012) stood out as about 50% drier than the driest period in the past 500 years, and 10-20% drier than the worst drought since 1100 b.c. Scientists believe that the Mediterranean is going to be one of the areas that will face more drought in the future due to man-made climate change, with the potential to cause disruption of food systems, and future conflict over water resources;
•  March 11th marked the fifth anniversary of the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan and the Tokyo Electric Power Co. team dealing with radioactive water leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant - now exceeding 760K tons- announced it will need 4 more years to finish the job. Contaminated water in the basements, mixes with groundwater, and although the company has cut groundwater infiltration to 150 tons per day, nearly one-third of the amount 2 years ago, radioactive water continues to leak into the ocean, although at a far lesser rate than it did early in the disaster;
•  according to an Associated Press-GfK tap water poll published in March, about 7 in 10 people in the USA drink it, about half of them first run it through a filter; while 30% of Americans buy bottled water. The poll found only 47% are extremely/very confident about the safety of their drinking water; 33% moderately so; 18% not very/not at all. Trust is weakest among minorities and people with lower incomes. Half of Americans say the federal government should do more to ensure safe drinking water; 40% that the government’s role is about right. More than half of Americans believe that the Flint lead-contaminated water is a sign of widespread problems of tap water in the U.S.
•  A report released by the international charity Water Aid stated that India has the world's highest number of people without access to clean water - 75.8 mil Indians - or 5% of the country's 1.25 billion population are forced to either buy water at high rates or use supplies that are contaminated with sewage or chemicals. This accounts for more than a tenth of the 650 mil people worldwide - more than any single country in Africa or China, where 63 mil have no access;
•  Thomson Reuters Foundation has revealed that Papua New Guinea is the most difficult and expensive place in the world to access clean water, forcing the poor to spend more than half their income on this essential resource.  Roughly 650 million people do not have access to clean water, and must make do with much less than the 50 liters per person per day the WHO deems necessary for domestic use and to maintain health and hygiene. Papua New Guinea, Equatorial Guinea and Angola have the lowest percentage of households with access to clean water in the world;
•  a newly published study by MIT scientists has found that economic and population growth on top of climate change could lead to “high risk of severe water stress” across a broad swath of Asia by the year 2050, an area that is home to roughly half the world’s population. And while climate change is expected to be a source of the shortage, the study underscores the extent to which industrial expansion and population growth may by themselves exacerbate water-access problems;
•  in April, a Drought-stricken California in the fifth year of drought, fell just short of the state's mandated water conservation target - even though an El Nino weather system delivered a near-average year of rain and snow in some parts of the state, and residents statewide used over 23% less water than years before - by reducing irrigation, fixing leaks, taking shorter showers, letting lawns turn brown, flushing toilets less, and other strict measures to save precious water resources;
•  Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival which celebrates the country’s New Year and water, began as the region suffers its worst drought in decades and is forced to cut back on the festival. Critics say that rising temperatures have been exacerbated by China’s extensive damming of the Mekong River - which also runs through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. According to a report by the UN Disaster Risk Management Team, the worst hit has been Vietnam, where the water level has dropped to its lowest in 90 years and nearly 1 million citizens do not have enough to drink;
•  a new analysis published by the trade union UNISON about the pay brackets at the UK’s 19 water companies reveals a worrying gulf between those at the top and those at the bottom of the wages league - even on the proper living wage, it would take nearly 130 years for the lowest paid employees in the water industry to earn the same as the highest paid director in the sector does in 12 months. The average water company employees currently makes less than the living wage of £8.25 per hour (£9.40 in London);
•  this April, over 4,100 people in Catalonia, Spain were sickened with a virus spreading from an unlikely source: bottled water, raising the concern of how a virus find its way into the exact product that people usually drink to avoid getting sick from a local water supply? This was the first time that 'norovirus' has been found in bottled water according to a microbiology professor at the University of Barcelona;
•  an University of Miami study this May found that Florida’s coral reefs, due to the stress of accelerating climate change, are disintegrating far more quickly than previously thought, with warming, acidifying oceans causing a “wasting away” of the coral structures that support an abundance of marine life. Scientists had previously thought that Florida’s reef, the only barrier reef in the continental US, wouldn’t start to break up until around 2050, but the with the falling ocean pH, Florida reefs are already being pushed into structural decline;
•  although Californians were ordered to cut their water use because of a historic drought in the state, Nestlé extracted 36 million gallons of water from the San Bernardino national forest in 2015 to sell as Arrowhead bottled water (compared with 28 mil gals in 2014), rankling residents and environmental groups, who want the U.S. government to cut off Nestlé’s access to the water until an environmental study can be conducted. Nestlé has had the legal rights the water since 1894, but although the firm’s permit to operate its water pipeline in the mountains expired in 1988, since it pays its yearly $524, the license is still considered valid by the US Forest Service and by Nestlé;
•  since Israel took over the West Bank in 1967, it has remained in near full control over Palestinian water resources in the occupied West Bank through water-sharing agreements that have prevented Palestinians from maintaining or developing their water infrastructure. This Ramadan, as temperatures rose the Israeli national water company Mekorot was accused of restricting water supply to villages and towns in northern West Bank. According to UN-OCHA, daily water access: Israelis: 240-300L per person per day; WHO minimum 100L; Palestinians: 73L, and often water consumption can drop to 20L as people have to buy expensive trucked water;
•  June, the River Seine in France burst its banks, and some areas reported the worst flooding seen in a century, declaring a state of natural disaster for the hardest-hit areas. In Paris, rapidly rising storm waters, at around 6.30 m above normal, forced thousands of people out of their homes, while museums scrambled to protect world-famous artworks, with the Louvre moving 150,000 pieces of art - mostly ancient Islamic, Greek and Italian artifacts;
•  in the same month, the summer sea ice cover over the Arctic sea crashed to reach a new record low, with ice cover disappearing at an average rate of 29K miles a day, about 70% faster than the typical rate of ice loss. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Arctic sea ice extent was a staggering 260K sq km below the previous record for June, set in 2010. The loss of the reflective white ice cover in the polar regions exposes more of the absorptive dark ocean to solar heat, causing the water to warm up, raising air temperatures, and melt more ice. Scientists warn the extra heat is the equivalent of 20 years of carbon emissions;
•  July, the flat wetlands of southern Florida have been hit by an “unprecedented” outbreak of blue-green algae causing miles of waterways and beaches to be swamped with foul-smelling toxins with levels 20x higher than a safety threshold set by the WHO. This area has been extensively re-engineered with canals and man-made lakes, and the algae is a result of chronic problems with water management that developed over decades: a redirection of natural water flows, an influx of nutrients from farm and lawn fertilizers, urban runoff and septic tanks, and joins a growing list of harmful algal blooms and oxygen-deprived “dead zones” that are killing fish, poisoning fresh water supplies, harming ecosystems around the world;
•  a study by the University of Eldoret and Ghent University, Belgium, found that the drinking water in Nairobi, Kenya is contaminated with antiretrovirals (ARVs),  pain killers, antibiotics, hormones and anti-depressants, and were found in rivers, waste and ground water;
•  a new Israeli study published in the International Journal of Cardiology finds that drinking desalinated water lacking magnesium is a significant contributing factor to hundreds of deaths per year among heart patients. Israel desalinates more of its water supply than any other country in the world, with 75% of the country’s tap water now being desalinated, and yet in the four years since its approval, Israel has failed to implement a pilot program to restore to drinking water the magnesium lost in the desalination process, and this is a significant contributing factor to hundreds of deaths per year among heart patients;
•  July’s severe flooding across central and southern China killed almost 130 people, damaged more than 1.9 million hectares of crops and led to direct economic losses of more than $5.70 billion and another 295,000 hectares had been destroyed, and water in 43 rivers in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River had exceeded warning levels;
•  researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report that a global coral bleaching event began in June 2014 and is the longest on record. It has sapped the color out of vast areas of coral, and now threatens their health. These normally colorful undersea ecosystems are under increasing stress, mostly because of warming oceans, as heat stress has made corals eject algae that feed them and give them color. Several climate conditions have combined to foster the long bleaching event - the long-term warming of the planet, the short-term period of warmer surface waters in the Pacific Ocean (El Niño);
•  a new U.S. Geological Survey study presented this July, indicates that of more than 20,000 wells assessed nationwide shows that untreated groundwater in 25 states has a high prevalence of being potentially corrosive. In other words, groundwater is potentially corrosive in half of the USA, in states located primarily in the Northeast, the Southeast, and the Northwest;
•  experts have warned that an increase in natural disasters due to global warming is a “threat multiplier” for armed violence. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that 23% of the armed conflicts in ethnically divided places were linked to climate disasters, compared to just 9% of all armed conflicts. According to the research, a quarter of the violent struggles in ethnically divided countries were preceded by extreme weather, and the role of severe heatwaves, floods and storms in increasing the risk of wars has been controversial, particularly in relation to the long drought in Syria;
•  according to the UN, this August 2 million people are without water as the battle for Aleppo between the Syrian government and opposition groups intensifies, heavily damaging the city’s electric and water infrastructure. These cuts come amid a heat wave, leaving people without safe drinking water as what is still available through wells and tanks is not enough to sustain the population’s needs, and puts children at a grave risk of waterborne diseases;
•  in the same month, catastrophic flooding has swallowed swaths of the US state of Louisiana, in a deluge that the governor calls “unprecedented” with 6,900,000,000,000 gallons of rainfall in one week, in as disaster that is the worst to hit the USA since Superstorm Sandy, and storm conditions considered once-every-1,000-year events. More than 40K homes have been damaged, and the cost of the destruction will exceed $30 million and Federal assistance to victims over $120 million;
•  NOAA will classify the Louisiana disaster as the eighth flood considered to be a once-in-every-500-years event to have taken place in the USA in little over 12 months. Since May of 2015, dozens of people have been killed and thousands of homes have been swamped with water in extreme events in Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland. NOAA climate scientists consider these floods extreme because, based on historical rainfall records, they should be expected to occur only once every 500 years, and warn will become even more common as the world continues to warm;
•  according to a new report by Zillow, an online real estate database, released this August, almost 1.9 million homes in the USA - roughly 2 percent of the nation’s housing stock, worth $882 billion - could be underwater by 2100, with six feet of sea level rise. One in 8 Florida homes, representing $413 billion in property value, could flood by the end of the century. In Hawaii, one in 10 homes are at risk, in New Jersey, one in 13, and more than 1 in 6 Boston homes. The new analysis is based on climate projections and mapping from NOAA, and found coastal cities, such as Miami and Honolulu, are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise;
•  according to an archaeologist at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, the impressive pyramids of the ancient city of Teotihuacan in Mexico, may have been built to worship the water that the city’s inhabitants depended on for agriculture. The city declined 1,400 years ago, and researchers have long believed that the pyramids were designed to worship deities representing the sun and moon;
•  Guanabara Bay in Rio, Brazil, site of the Olympic sailing events, has attracted international attention as one of the most polluted water bodies on Earth. An AP investigation in early August found that this Bay and other Rio water bodies also are “contaminated with raw human sewage teeming with dangerous viruses and bacteria.”  However, Rio’s waters are just most visible example of the planet’s polluted bays and rivers, and are similar to so many other places around the world afflicted with calamitous water pollution – a confrontation between rapid urban population growth, polluting industries, and inadequate or non-existent wastewater treatment;
•  according data released just by the U.S. Beverage Marketing Corporation, sales of bottled water are set to outstrip soda sales in the U.S. for the first time since it began tracking the water industry in the 1970s. Industry leaders view this as a public health victory, saying that rising health concerns linked to sugary-laden sodas are largely driving the trend. However, critics point out that bottled water’s surge in popularity, is a result of consumers fear of tap water following public health crises such as Flint, MI. Moreover, is the disturbing danger of beverage companies - like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which each benefit from the rise in sales through their own water brands - taking control of America’s drinking water;
•  according to a new study form scientists at Columbia University, MIT and Hanoi U. of Science, large-scale groundwater pumping is leading to dangerously high levels of arsenic entering some of Southeast Asia’s aquifers, with water now seeping in through riverbeds with arsenic concentrations more than 100X the safety limits. Arsenic in groundwater is a problem in many countries, including parts of the USA, but it is widespread in SE Asia, where its impact on poor communities has been described as the largest mass poisoning in history. Long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage, skin cancers, and can also dramatically affect crop yields;
•  in a research published in The Lancet Global Health journal, between the years 2010-13, Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt lost 3 months of the average person’s life expectancy, while war in Syria has erased 6 yrs off. The consequences of Arab Spring uprisings and the subsequent conflicts in the Middle East and N. Africa have jeopardized 2 decades of health gains, indicating that health and social systems are in failure; fighting has damaged basic infrastructure, with millions at risk of disease outbreaks caused by water shortages and poor sanitation;
•  over 25 years ago when the the 5 former Soviet Republics of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, their relations provided security of water from the upstream republics to downstream ones, who in turn provided gas and coal. But since then, that system has collapsed and has often led to confrontations over water - indicating a danger that relations could deteriorate to the point of future water wars in central Asia - as the more water poor of the nations scramble to find the resources to built dams and man-made lakes to achieve future water security for generating electricity and food production;
•  in August, Germany, currently on high alert after two Islamist attacks, recently announced measures to spend considerably more on its police, security forces, and a special unit to for cyber crime and terrorism in a “Civil Defense Plan”. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the German Interior Ministry will reveal plans to tell citizens to stockpile food and water in case of an attack or catastrophe -  the population will be obliged to stockpile individual supply of food for 10 days, and enough drinking water to last for 5 days;
•  this September, the government of Kenya announced that it plans to restore trees and vegetation across almost 9% of its land mass by 2030, in a progressive move to combat climate change, poverty, food insecurity and to conserve biodiversity. As 3/4 of Kenya's landscape is arid or semi-arid, the E. African country experiences repeated droughts, which trap millions in poverty and hunger. The program will target 5.1 million hectares of deforested and degraded land for: reforestation of degraded natural forests, planting trees on farms and ranchlands, and planting vegetation as buffers along waterways and roads to create what has been called a “green dress” for the nation;
•  the Middle East as a whole has the lowest per capita water availability in the world, while it also has one of the highest rates of population growth. Experts are again warning that water supplies in war-torn Syria are deteriorating fast, as warring parties use control over power and water infrastructure is used as a weapon. This water insecurity, due to conflict, and has triggered migration and disease, and stoked a pollution crisis in neighboring Lebanon, as the extra pressure put on its water supplies and sanitation by the sudden 30% increase in population and is now critical. The amount of renewable water available has dropped from more than 1,000 m3 a year per person – considered the threshold of water poverty – to around 700m3 per person since the refugees arrived;
•  a study in the journal Current Biology, released in Honolulu at the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest environmental and nature conservation event, shows that since the early 1990s, about 1.27 million square miles of wilderness - an area 2x the size of Alaska - been destroyed. In other words, in only 20 years humans have have wiped out 10% of Earth’s wilderness. (hardest hit, the Amazon, losing 30%; and Central Africa 14%, of total wilderness area vanished since the early 1990s). The study defined “wilderness” as “biologically and ecologically largely intact landscapes free of human disturbance”. Today, only about 23% of the world’s land area consists of intact wilderness, and the current rate of loss is nearly double the current rate of protection efforts;
•  according to the UN, nearly 2 million people in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, the country’s largest city and onetime commercial center, and now the epicenter in recent months of fighting in the 5-year civil war, are now without water. UNICEF spokesman explained that water has been used as a weapon of war by all sides in the conflict, with water pumping stations being bombed, and others turned off - an action condemned on 25 Sept. at the 71st UN General Assembly in NY. Now, residents of Aleppo have had to resort to contaminated water, and are at risk from waterborne diseases;
•  an ambitious pilot project in China, funded by central, local government and private sector, is to create 16 “sponge cities” that will reduce flooding by implementing green infrastructure such as permeable pavement, green spaces, and interconnected waterways. The program aims to address challenges including increased urbanization, accurately incorporating local hydrology (urban water system, urban drainage system, solutions for excessive run-off discharge) to make up a make up a sponge city storm-water system. It takes inspiration from low impact development in the U.S., water-sensitive urban design in Australia, and sustainable drainage systems in the UK;
• According to the 2016 Food, Water, Energy and Climate Outlook report released by researchers at MIT, by the year 2050, an additional 1.5 billion people around the globe will experience stressed water conditions by 2050, even if emission reduction goals under the 4 October 2016 ratified Paris Climate Agreement are met. The report indicated that both water use efficiency and water storage will need to improve in order to match future supplies with demand;
•  an UN Environment Report that looks at the impact of climate change on the Kilimanjaro mountain region in Tanzania, indicates that climate change has destroyed 13k hectares of its forests, due to higher temperatures which increased the number of wildfires. Because of fewer trees to trap water from clouds, the annual amount of dew on the mountain is believed to have fallen by 25% - equivalent to losing a year's supply of drinking water for 1 million people year. Mt Kilimanjaro’s forests are a vital source of water for the surrounding towns and the wider region, so according to the report, reforesting the continent’s highest mountain could help protect vital water supplies that are under threat across large parts of East Africa.
•  at Standing Rock in N. Dakota, the standoff since last April over construction of a 1,172-mi, $US 3.8 bil oil pipeline pit thousands of protesters against the fossil fuel industry and its allies in government and finance, to safeguard a sole source of the Sioux tribe’s sacred land drinking water. Since then, thousands of people across the US, joined historic demonstrations in their support. In Dec, the Obama administration denied the company a final permit. Although the final outcome is unknown due to the election of D. Trump, this example of environmental advocacy and water rights is unique in that never before has such an expensive industrial project encountered opposition significant enough to threaten its opening;
•  the ruling of the Obama administration to halt the N. Dakota access oil pipeline construction was reversed by executive order by 'President' Trump in 24 Jan 2017, essentially signalling a sharp turn in the federal government’s environmental policy, also clearing the way the Keystone XL pipeline project, which had been rejected by Obama in 2015. Despite ongoing lawsuits by Native American tribes against the Dakota pipeline, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of the Energy Transfer Partners Company to continue working on the crossing beneath the Dakota reservoir, threatening the contamination of the broader region’s drinking water;
•  14 February 2017, the Trump administration granted the requests from state regulators regarding the exemption from a water protection rule of 3 aquifers near the Fruitvale, Round Mountain and Tejon oilfields in California. This order now gives oil companies permission to dump contaminated waste fluid into the underground water sources - essentially indicating that this administration’s EPA will help oil regulators give California’s water away to the petroleum industry and allow them to operate injection wells and dump waste (often containing benzene and other pollutants)  into underground drinking water supplies;
•  in eastern Mosul, Iraq, following 100 days of street combat in which Iraqi security forces drove Daesh fighters out of the city, water and sewage systems collapsed and left residents without any running water for basic daily activities. Residents have taken to cracking the sidewalk pavement with sledgehammers and dig with shovels, sometimes over 30 ft deep. These improvised ‘wells’ now provide muddy sluggish water, only safe for washing and cleaning dishes. For drinking water, residents must search for secure areas to buy bottled water, as well as fruit, vegetables or other food;
•  Kenya currently faces a national disaster as a result of a devastating drought brought on by a failed rainy season that is affecting not only wildlife, livestock, but 2.7 million people are now in need of food, and conflicts are growing due to fighting over natural resources.  Likewise, many locals accuse the government of diverting water from the Tana River, Kenya's longest waterway in which new hydroelectric dams, irrigation schemes and large agricultural projects are fast straining the river’s resources, and causing much lower water levels downstream - poor water management is compounding the effects of the drought.


•  2017: on 16 Feb, the Trump administration dismantled another environmental protection, potentially impacting the drinking water sources of millions of Americans. By voiding the Stream Protection rule that monitored the water polluting activities of coal mining companies, he made it far easier for coal companies to dump mining waste in rivers, lakes and streams, endangering clean water and public health. This rule had covered 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forest;
•  on 1 June, President Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States, the Earth’s second-largest polluter, from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and global carbon emissions. This decision to abandon the agreement signed by 195 nations is a remarkable rebuke of global environmental action and a unified world community on this issue. Many of the most dire effects of climate change are expected to manifest in water through more extreme droughts, floods, and rising seas;
•  28 June, the anti-environmental Trump administration announces that its EPA will dismantle the Clean Water Act of 2015, that protects the drinking water of 117 Million Americans. This action by Scott Pruitt, who heads the EPA,  would affect both water and public health by removing the needed protections for the streams that feed drinking water sources for one in every three Americans; it also protects against pollution reaching waterbodies and wetlands that provide essential habitats and protect US biodiversity;
•  August, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, climate change may have contributed to the suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers and farm workers over the past three decades. This new research examines the toll that rising temperatures are already taking on vulnerable societies. The ongoing risk remains if families in India are not helped to adapt to an increasingly warmer climate;
•  in August, 3,695 refugees arrived on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, compared to 2,249 in the previous month. More than half of these refugees come from war-torn areas of Syria and Iraq. This unexpected increase in arrivals has left some refugees with limited access to water and sanitation, and the UN refugee agency has requested more international action and assistance;
•  following the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, people in Puerto Rico face a dire shortage of water. Due to ongoing power outages, communities across the island have lost access to running water, and with no immediate end to the shortage in sight, many residents are turning to rivers and springs for their water supplies for all their needs - to drink, to bathe, to wash up, to clean their homes;
•  21 Sept, an article in Bloomberg Businessweek outlines how Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, which has roughly 100 bottled water factories in 34 countries around the world, makes $billions bottling water, now dominating this controversial industry. By going into economically depressed areas with lax water laws, or with the promise of jobs and new infrastructure, in exchange for tax breaks and access, this Swiss multinational bottles and sells a resource it pays little for around the globe;
•  November, 210,000 gallons of oil leak from the Keystone Pipeline in northeastern South Dakota and although officials do not believe the spill impacted any waterbodies or drinking water systems, the event reinforced the opposition the Keystone XL pipeline faces from environmental groups, Native American tribes and landowners;
•  The year 2017 ends with ongoing severe environmental and economic disruption around the world threatening freshwater supplies, from ISIS occupation wrecking Syrian and Iraqi environment and infrastructure by contaminated sites and destroying water systems to the Trump administration's first year of attack on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with actions such as delaying regulatory action on lead in drinking water, and the narrowing of the reach of the Clean Water Act.


•  2018, January, the Trump Administration's Interior Department announces that it will open up previously protected parts of the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans to offshore oil and gas drilling. Areas in the Gulf of Mexico and much of the Eastern Seaboard are included in the new plan. This is the single largest expansion of offshore oil and gas leasing in U.S. waters ever proposed by the federal government;
•  26 Jan, a world-class Chinese research team recently released data showing that 2017 was the hottest year on record for the world’s oceans. Researchers found that the upper 2000 meters (over 6000 feet) of the ocean were notably warmer in 2017 than in 2015, the previous hottest year on record. This long term upward trend that extends back many decades indicates the reality of global warming;
•  according to a new study published in the journal Science, 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific and project this number to increase 40% by 2025. The study showed that the likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89% when corals are in contact with plastic, endangering ecosystem health and human livelihoods, as more than 275 million people rely on coral reefs for food, coastal protection, tourism income, and cultural value;
•  the ongoing water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa, 'peak water' limits have already been surpassed, is to become the first modern major city in the world to completely run dry. Severe drought and high water use have brought strict water restrictions (residents use reduced to 13.2 gallons daily,) and “Day Zero” projected for July, in which taps will be turned off;
•  according to a report published on 5 Feb, private companies such as Coca-Cola and Nestlé are allegedly in the process of privatizing the largest reserve of water, the Guarani Aquifer located beneath the surface of four nations in South America. This issue brings to attention that such a decision to privatize will allow multi-national corporations to control the second-largest aquifer system in the world and profit off this natural resource that should be rightfully available to the people of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay;
•  21 Feb, a study by Newcastle University, UK, published today in the academic journal Environmental Research Letters, has for the first time analyzed changes in flooding, droughts and heatwaves for 571 European cities using all climate models. This landmark study shows the impact and risks of these three conditions for 2050-2100 will exceed previous predictions;
•  Jakarta, Indonesia, is the fastest sinking city in the world and faces a myriad of related water crises including rising sea levels and river pollution (96%). Today, 40% of Jakarta lies below sea level (some coastal areas have descended 14 ft in recent years), due in part to illegal well-digging as the piped water system serves only a third of the population. Over the coming century, the Jakarta area could see sea levels rise 3 feet;
•  in a recent research study at the State University of NY about bottled water, led by journalism organisation Orb Media, it was found that in the 250 bottles bought in 9 different countries from major international and national brands, nearly all of them contained tiny particles of plastic. On average there were 10 plastic particles per liter, each larger than the width of a human hair. Some of the international brands included Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestlé Pure Life and San Pellegrino;
•  once again, violence in war-torn Syria has lead to severe water shortage. Since mid-February Syrian government forces airstrike campaign to retake rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus has demolished neighborhoods and infrastructure, such as water towers. People with no access to clean water are forced to drink from untreated surface wells, and living underground in basements and shelters, they lack access to water and sanitation, making them vulnerable to the spread of waterborne diseases;
•  according to the UN, Syrians in the Kurdish city of Afrin have been cut off from access to clean drinking water after the Turkish army and allied Syrian fighters seized the main dam and water plant from the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in this region of northwest Syria. Thousands of civilians are now are now relying on untreated water from boreholes and wells, and are at risk contracting diseases;
•  Beijing’s 21 million residents are running out of water sources. After depleting groundwater reserves, China’s capital has become water-stressed. In addition, nearly 40 percent of Beijing’s surface water is too polluted for use. The city is increasingly reliant on water pumped from the country’s flood-prone South through a water diversion project that is providing the bulk of Beijing’s water supply today, but water demand is increasing so quickly that additional solutions will be needed;
•  according to the comprehensive annual study by UN Water, more than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies. Over the past 100 years, global demand has increased sixfold and is growing at the rate of 1% each year. By 2050, world population is projected to reach between 9.4 billion and 10.2 billion (today it is 7.7 billion), with 2 in 3 people living in urban areas, and demand for water is rising fastest in developing countries;
•  protests that began last December, continue into March 2018, around the central city of Isfahan and Khuzestan province in Iran, regarding lack of water for human and agricultural uses. People living in towns and villages around Isfahan hard-hit by drought and water diversion have been forced to migrate to other areas. Residents of this area are angered by the high prices and lack of access to water in these rural areas, and belief that the lack of water is not so much drought but mismanagement of water and its diversion to other areas in return for bribes;
•  recent reports indicate that London, a city which has faced water shortages in recent years as the city’s population steadily increases, water demand is expected to exceed supply within the next decade. Its population, close to 9 million, is expected to reach 13.4 million by 2050. As the city gets relatively low rainfall, and with the growing likelihood of hotter, drier summers, there will be more pressure on the city’s water supply. London also faces risk of flooding from sewage overflows, as its key water sources, the Thames and Lea rivers (65% of city water), are severely polluted and clog the British capital's sewer system;
•  in early April, “Day Zero” last projected for July of this year - in which taps will be turned off and people start queuing for water - in drought-stricken Cape Town, South Africa was pushed back by authorities to 2019 as recent rainfall began to raise dam levels in the country. The current stringent consumption restrictions of 50 liters per person per day remain in effect;
•  the government of Israel’s water ministry announced its plan to build 2 more desalination plants to reinforce the 5 it already has built along the Mediterranean  coast over the past 13 years, and to expand its pipelines to ease stress on farmers and the environment. This decision is the result of the past 5 years of drought that has left its natural water sources at their lowest in about 100 years. Currently, desalination and waste-water treatment plants are overtaxed, and has affected the county’s most fertile regions in the north;
•  researchers at the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands have found that river systems around the world are coursing with over-the-counter and prescription drugs waste. Between 70% and 80% of all antibiotics (thousands of tons) consumed by humans and farm animals find their way into natural environments, and are already at dangerous levels for wildlife; for example, endocrine disruptors have caused sex changes in fish and amphibians. Scientists say that if this trend persists, the amount of pharmaceuticals in waterways could increase by 2/3 before 2050;
•  as climate change takes hold in Pakistan, its southern Sindh province hit a new record world temperature for April: 50.2C, an area now facing fast-rising spring temperatures, with 45-degree days coming as early as March. These rapid temperature increases threaten lives and harvests, soil moisture is around 80% less compared to 10 years ago, and is also driving up water and power use as families struggle to stay cool. The rising demand for irrigation water from rivers or wells, puts additional pressure on an already fast-declining groundwater stores and river flows;
•  in May, a NASA study has declared that water shortages will likely be the key environmental challenge of the 21st century. Satellite data reveals 19 global hotspots where freshwater supplies have steeply declined since the early 2000s due to overuse. The hotspots were found across the world, from California to Saudi Arabia to China;
•  researchers from Florida International University discovered that water-related terrorism has risen by 263% from 1970 to 2016. Using the Global Terrorism Database, the researchers identified 675 water-related incidents in 71 countries, and found that water infrastructure was the most common target of water-related terrorism. The terror organizations with the highest number of incidents include ISIS, the Taliban, Colombia’s FARC, and Peru’s Shining Path;
•  in a U.S. national summit on harmful water contaminants, the Environmental Protection Agency prevented 3 news organizations (AP, CNN and E&E News) from attending the first half of the meeting. The news agencies declared that the EPA's selective barring of news organizations from covering such meetings is an alarming and a direct threat to the public’s right to know about what is happening inside their government;
•  June, as the result of Egypt’s introduction of sweeping economic reforms in 2016 as part of a three-year, $12 billion IMF loan program, PM Sherif Ismail approved measures to increase bills for piped drinking water by up to 46.5%, the second rise in less than year, plus a 12% increase in fees for sewage;
•  following years of disagreement over the construction of Ethi0pia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, a $4 billion-hydroelectric project that Egypt has feared will reduce the waters of the Nile that run to its fields and reservoirs from Ethiopia’s highlands (via Sudan), the two country’s leaders come to am agreement. Safeguarding Egypt’s share of the Nile, its main source of drinking water and water for industry and farming has been Cairo greatest fear, while Ethiopia, which is financing the project alone, hopes to become the continent’s biggest power generator;
•  news coming out of Tehran indicates that Iran’s capital and largest city could soon be the epicenter of the country’s water crisis. As a semi-arid nation, Iran faces threats to its water supply, including climate change, population growth, mass migration, political instability, and resource mismanagement. Tehran, its population now near 8.5 million, has a per capita water use that exceeds 400 liters per day, compared with a country-wide average of 250 liters per day. As Iran’s rural areas exhaust their water resources, Tehran is expected to grow even more, which would increase pressure on a city where water use already is excessive;
•  a new report on the state of India’s water by a government advisory body has warned that the country is undergoing its worst-ever water crisis, with about 600m. Indians facing high to extreme stress over water; the situation is expected to worsen as major cities deplete their groundwater over the next few years.. This comprehensive study stated that 40% of India’s population will have no access to clean drinking water by 2030, and warned of conflict and other related threats, including food security risks, unless actions are taken to restore water bodies;
•  although June is the start of the rainy season in Venezuela, the current rainfall deficit has affected the country’s capacity to generate electricity and is aggravating the country’s severe economic recession, prompting looting, protests, and violence. In this socialist nation, where water is supposed to cost nothing, the drought has given the Venezuelan army a reason to seize control of major water points in the capital Caracas and commandeer water trucks, cutting off supply to many and forcing residents to pay steep prices;
•  a new climate change study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) warns that up to 300,000 U.S. coastal homes could face flooding 26 times each year over the next 30 years. The study predicts ‘staggering impact’ of swelling oceans on coastal communities, where frequent coastal flooding will soak coastal residences collectively worth $120bn by 2045, disrupt the housing market, and cause a sharp increase in flood insurance premiums. To generate the research, the UCS used federal data from a high sea level rise scenario projected by the NOAA, and combined it with property data from an online real estate company. It  warns that losses could multiply by the end of the century, and  that as many as 2.4m homes, worth around a trillion dollars, could be put at risk;
•  July, declining rainfall, prolonged droughts, and mismanagement of water resources in both Iran and neighboring Afghanistan have have severely affected agricultural production, food security and availability of drinking water in both countries and led to heightened tensions. Although the nations have no territorial disputes, Tehran has warned of retaliatory actions if Kabul does not allow sufficient water to flow through its dams located in its southern and western areas to reach Iran’s water-stressed southeastern region;
•  August, Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales in the southeast of the nation was declared entirely in drought. This area produces about 25% of the country’s agricultural output. These dry conditions are the most widespread since 1965, and the government’s Department of the Environment & Energy has stated that between 1996 and 2015, rainfall for Australia’s southeast fell by about 11% with a ‘significant drying’ trend particularly from April to October - indicating climate change as the main actor when it comes to the availability of water resources in the region;
•  A recent NASA research study found that even one year of drought can upset the ability of the Amazon rainforest’s to absorb carbon dioxide and act as a ‘carbon sink’ (i.e. pulling more carbon from the air than it puts back into it) which is does with adequate rainfall. For example, after drought, trees lose their leaves and this damages their capacity to absorb carbon while under stress. According to the study, after a dry spell, this capacity can be reduced for years even if rains return, leaving a long legacy of damage. The Amazon rainforest is about 2.3 mil square miles and is the largest tropical forest on Earth.