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Water Scarcity News 2022

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This page provides a few video reports about water scarcity and what people in different regions are doing to address the problem. Videos are posted in chronological order with the most recent at the top. Descriptions provided are from the source page on YouTube. Some of the reports describe the drought which is a driving force behind water scarcity.

ViewCation (11 Dec 2022)

“Mississippi River Drought Reveals Horrors Beneath the Surface” — Did you know that the Mississippi River is currently experiencing a massive drought? The waters have receded to alarming levels, which is having many seen and unforeseen consequences. One of the more interesting things that happen when bodies of water have large and unexpected recessions is that there is suddenly a multitude of items unearthed. [Source]

CBC News (28 Nov 2022)

“Somalia hasn’t seen drought this bad in 40 years” — Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years has decimated crops and farm animals that many Somalis rely on, forcing large numbers of people to walk for days in search of food, water and medical aid. [Source]

CBS Mornings (19 Nov 2022)

“Arizona town to cut off water to Rio Verde Foothills amidst western water crisis” — After years of warning to find another source of water, Scottsdale, Arizona will officially cut off water to Rio Verde on January 1. The move is the latest amidst the west’s growing water crisis. CBS News correspondent Brook Silva-Braga has more. [Source]

Deutsche Welle (19 Nov 2022)

“Madagascar’s impending hunger crisis” — It has not rained properly in southern Madagascar for years. Last year, one million people were dependent on emergency aid, and this year, aid organizations fear that the number will rise. The rains are still not coming – even though it is actually the beginning of the rainy season. Our correspondent Adrian Kriesch visited the Ambovombe region, where the situation is particularly bad. [Source]

PBS NewsHour (18 Oct 2022)

“Utah’s Great Salt Lake shrinks to unsustainable levels amid a decades-long megadrought” — The Great Salt Lake in Utah is the largest body of water in the western hemisphere without an outlet to the sea. Its levels fluctuate naturally, but scientists say the record-low water levels the lake has seen in recent years are worrying. A megadrought means less precipitation, and a growing population is taking more water before the lake can refill. Stephanie Sy reports.

NBC News (6 Oct 2022)

“Drought-Starved Mississippi Slows Barge Traffic” — The Mississippi River is at its lowest level in nearly a decade, slowing shipping traffic to a crawl. KAIT’s Griffin DeMarris reports.

AP News (4 Oct 2022)

“California wells run dry as drought depletes groundwater” — Excerpt: “Amid a megadrought plaguing the American West, more rural communities are losing access to groundwater as heavy pumping depletes underground aquifers that aren’t being replenished by rain and snow. More than 1,200 wells have run dry this year statewide, a nearly 50% increase over the same period last year, according to the California Department of Water Resources. By contrast, fewer than 100 dry wells were reported annually in 2018, 2019 and 2020.” [More]

ABC News (19 Sep 2022)

“Devastating drought sparks widespread starvation in Somalia” — ABC News’ Matt Gutman reports from Somalia as the nation stands on the brink of famine with drought caused by climate change leaving millions starving.

Deutsche Welle (11 Sep 2022)

“How the West shirks its responsibility for Africa’s climate emergency” — Africa is bearing the brunt of the global climate emergency. The UN says climate change threatens to expose over one hundred million vulnerable Africans to droughts, floods and extreme heat by 2030. One of the worst hit countries is Somalia. Almost 8 million people there, or about half the country’s population, are facing crisis hunger levels. The most affected area is the Bay region in the south. The UN says, barring a massive influx of assistance, that region is likely to see a full-scale famine in the coming months. Clearly to prevent such impacts of climate change in Africa, something needs to be done urgently. And industrialized countries need to fulfill their funding promises for contributing the most to climate change. That’s a point that was reiterated by Ghana’s president Nana Akuffo Addo earlier this week in Rotterdam. And that’s why earlier this week African leaders traveled to the Africa Adaptation summit in Rotterdam, Netherlands. But European partners did not turn up. And that was strongly criticized by African leaders.

ABC News Australia (8 SEP 2022)

“The Vanishing River: USA’s Mega Drought” — The once mighty Colorado River is in trouble. Stretching from the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains all the way down to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, its’ waters are a lifeline to tens of millions of people. But the pressures of the decades-long megadrought in America’s Southwest and a warming planet mean the water levels in the river and its dams are dropping. [Watch on YouTube]

HISTORY (7 SEP 2022)

“Mega-Drought Plagues Earth” — Scientists believe that we may be on our way to a long-lasting “mega-drought” that would be devastating for human life. Learn more in this clip from “Mega Disasters.” [Note: This video contains dramatized speculation and depiction of future scarcity.]

VICE News (4 Sep 2022)

“Ranchers Are Selling Their Cattle to Deal with Drought” — Ranchers and their cattle are contending with harsh drought conditions across the American West this summer. In Texas, ranchers are selling off their herds in large numbers and some are even turning to more heat-resistant breeds.

KPIX CBS (1 Sep 2022)

“Parched: California’s Climate Crisis” — A special report on California’s changing climate and the ongoing drought by CBS stations across the Golden State.

GMA (30 Aug 2022)

“Water crisis in Mississippi as pumps shut down” — A state of emergency was declared after torrential rain and flooding left Mississippi’s largest city without running water, affecting over 100,000 people.

KTLA 5 News (30 Aug 2022)

“Los Angeles-area water districts discuss major shut down coming next week” — A major water delivery pipeline will be shut down starting Sept. 6 for a long-term repair project. In the meantime, residents and businesses are asked to forego all outdoor watering for 15 days, through Sept. 20.

NBC News (29 Aug 2022)

“Western Megadrought Shrinks The Colorado River, Bringing Multi-State Consequences” — The Colorado River is a 1,400-mile, life-sustaining artery for the American West – supplying water for seven states while generating hydroelectric power for millions. Experts tell NBC News’ Steve Patterson that the river’s power is shrinking, thanks to heavy demand, combined with rapid climate change and a decades-long megadrought. Steve gets exclusive access inside the Glen Canyon Dam as the crisis leads to historic water rationing. Levels at Lake Powell and higher water temperatures are changing the ecosystem inside the Grand Canyon.

Deutsche Welle (28 Aug 2022)

“Drought on the Rhine: What it means for economy and ecosystems” — The Rhine is dwindling down to a trickle, devastating Germany’s environment and economy. Large parts of the country have seen hardly any rain this summer. Germany’s longest river has less water than ever before.

CBS (27 Aug 2022)

“Amid record-breaking drought in China, rivers are drying up and crops are at risk” — A large part of China has been enduring a record-breaking heat wave over the past two months in addition to record-low rainfall. The lack of water could worsen economic growth in the country, where nearly 20% of electricity comes from hydropower. Ramy Inocencio reports.

Deutsche Welle (26 Aug 2022)

“Drought has left Lake Mead and Lake Powell with record low water levels” — Facing critically low water levels at the two largest man-made water reservoirs – Lake Powell and Lake Mead – as well as an extreme drought in the West- federal water managers (US Bureau of Reclamation) recently announced and decreed that Nevada, Arizona and Mexico will have less water to use in 2023.

PBS (26 Aug 2022)

“Climate change threatens the survival of iconic saguaro cactus in the Southwest” — The saguaro cactus is being threatened by drought conditions and rising temperatures. Scientists surveying Saguaro National Park in Arizona say the situation is increasing the mortality rate of young saguaros. Stephanie Sy has more on what those trends mean for ecosystems in the Sonoran desert.

Al Jazeera (25 Aug 2022)

“China’s largest freshwater lake is drying up due to heatwaves” — Many of China’s rivers have been hit by an intense heatwave. Now its biggest freshwater lake is shrinking. The Poyang Lake is vital for crops in several provinces which produce rice. But it is just a fraction of its normal size, and the worst may not be over. Al Jazeera’s Priyanka Gupta reports.

Deutsche Welle (24 Aug 2022)

Climate change is causing temperatures to rise. And everyone is consuming more water – whether it’s to make soda, microchips or cattle feed. But our reservoirs are running dry. Investors are buying water rights, prices are going up and farmers are running out of water. The climate crisis is worsening worldwide. In many countries, increasing drought is threatening not only human survival, but entire ecosystems. Livestock farmers are running out of water. In India, farmers can no longer irrigate their fields. People are fleeing their homes in large numbers. Who owns water? Will there be more and more conflicts, even wars, over water? What will happen if our water disappears? This is a three-part documentary series.

PART #1 — The fight for water

PART #2 — What happens when our water dries up?

PART #3 — Who owns the water?

China to use geoengineering to combat historic drought

China is suffering a severe water shortage after its hottest and driest summer since the government began recording rainfall 61 years ago. Authorities try to protect this year’s harvest from intense drought by using chemicals to generate rain and people are warned to save ‘every unit of water’ as a severe drought continues.

Italy — Historic drought is threatening Italy’s water supply

Scarce rain and successive heat waves across Europe have affected river discharges and water levels. In Northern Italy, there hasn’t been significant rainfall for months, and snowfall this year was down 70%, resulting in less meltwater. That’s led to a drying up of important rivers like the Po, which flows across the country’s agricultural and industrial heartland.

Deutsche Welle (23 Aug 2022)

“Disruption in water cycle threatens the Earth” — According to the European Commission, the current drought could be the worst “for at least 500 years.” Large swaths of the continent are now in a state of drought alert or drought warning. Rising temperatures and extreme heat have left countries around the world parched. From China to the United States and Mexico to Kenya, drought has taken hold.

“Droughts and floods: How to save the world’s water supply” — It’s World Water Week, and unprecedented droughts and heatwaves have put water scarcity in sharp focus. Worldwide, more than two billion people lack access to clean water, and water-scarce regions suffer from acute hunger, poor sanitation and disease. South Africa is on the front line. Four years ago Cape Town feared its water would run out. But now another city further East is facing that problem: Our correspondent Adrian Kriesch reports from Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape. It’s going through an extreme water shortage. But while some parts of the world struggle with a severe lack of water, other regions face the devastating effects of too much water brought by extreme downpours. In the United States, heavy rain and flash flooding have been causing chaos in parts of the south and southwest, with hundreds of people forced to evacuate.The state of Texas has been particularly hard hit, with record-breaking rainfall in Dallas.

PBS (22 Aug 2022)

“Conservationists urge action as the headwaters of the River Thames vanish” — Across Europe, rivers have sunk to historic lows because of brutal heat waves fueled by climate change. In Britain, conservationists are urging the government and water companies to take action to counter devastating droughts. Meanwhile, the source of the legendary River Thames has dried up and moved several miles downstream, further than it’s ever gone before. Malcolm Brabant reports.

BBC (17 Aug 2022)

“Heatwave forces canals to close across the UK” — Canals across the UK have been forced to close, with the heatwave and a lack of rain said to be to blame.

PBS (16 Aug 2022)

“Federal water restrictions in the West underscore severity of climate crisis” — The federal government on Tuesday announced a second round of water restrictions to states that depend on the Colorado River Basin. The move comes as the American West faces unprecedented challenges to preserve water that continues to recede rapidly. Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River program director for the National Audubon Society, joins Stephanie Sy to discuss. [Source]

Deutsche Welle (12 Aug 2022)

“Europe’s rivers are running dry as the climate crisis worsens” — Much of Europe and the Northern Hemisphere is battling either wildfires, low water levels, harvest warnings, water use restrictions or a mixture of all these. In Germany, one core focus of the drought is the Rhine River, which ultimately connects the Alps with the North Sea. Europe’s second-longest river after the Danube, it is also a core shipping lane for western Germany. It is still open to freight traffic for now, but already boats are unable to run fully laden. Germany’s Federal Institute of Hydrology warned on Thursday that without rain, one notorious shallow point on the river could become completely impassable next week. [Source]

Deutsche Welle (16 Jul 2022)

“Floods, drought and the consequences of extreme weather” — Long periods of sunny weather; a few heavy rain showers. That’s all fine…or is it? With increasing frequency, summer days are turning into long periods of drought, while rainfall is causing catastrophic flooding. Whereas weather systems were relatively moderate and predictable in recent centuries, now they appear to have been thrown off balance. What’s heading our way – and what can we do to protect ourselves?

BBC (4 Jul 2022)

“South African town running out of water” — Authorities in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay are racing to prevent taps from running dry. “Day Zero”, when the water supply runs out, will see close to two million residents without water. A prolonged drought and poor management of water infrastructure have been blamed for the crisis. A strict water-saving regime has been implemented to try and help the town cope.

Deutsche Welle (20 Mar 2022)

“Our drinking water – Is the world drying up?” — Only 0.3 percent of the Earth’s total water supply is suitable for human consumption. Ominously, this precious resource is beginning to shrink. Natural water reservoirs are drying up due to climate change. Glaciologist Daniel Farinotti surveys melting glaciers in the Swiss Alps. If glaciers continue to melt at the current rate, he says, there will be no ice left by the end of the century. The disappearance of glacial meltwater would have fatal consequences. From the heights of the Swiss Alpine glaciers, the documentary travels down to the seafloor, off the coast of Malta. Here, the crew of the German expedition ship “Sonne” wants to track down mysterious freshwater deposits in the Mediterranean. Next up is Peru where, in a bid to counteract the threat of water shortages, work is underway on projects that use ancient Incan methods.

VOX (17 Apr 2020)

“World’s Water Crisis” — In partnership with Vox Media Studios and Vox, this enlightening explainer series will take viewers deep inside a wide range of culturally relevant topics, questions, and ideas. Each episode will explore current events and social trends pulled from the zeitgeist, touching topics across politics, science, history and pop culture — featuring interviews with some of the most authoritative experts in their respective fields. [Source]

Older Reports

60 Minutes (24 Oct 2021)

“Running Dry” — In 2021, Colorado River water levels dropped so low, the federal government for the first time declared an official shortage. As Bill Whitaker reported, the river’s health is a concern for 40 million people in the West. NOTE: This video was originally broadcast on 24 Oct 2021. It was posted to YouTube on 26 Dec 2021.

VICE News (14 Aug 2021)

“40 Million People Rely on the Colorado River, and Now It’s Drying Up” — The first-ever official shortage on the Colorado River is expected to be announced on Monday, Aug. 16. A shortage will mean mandatory cutbacks to some users in the Southwest and offers a stark warning of what’s to come if conditions don’t improve.

VICE News (5 Mar 2021)

“The Town Trying to Pump Billions of Gallons of Water to Their Desert Community” — Washington County, Utah is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and to sustain that growth they want to build a pipeline to divert billions of gallons of water from the Colorado River. Conservationists say the project could be a disaster for the drought-stricken Southwest.

Netflix (17 Apr 2020)

“Explained: The World’s Water Crisis” — In partnership with Vox Media Studios and Vox, this enlightening explainer series will take viewers deep inside a wide range of culturally relevant topics, questions, and ideas. Each episode will explore current events and social trends pulled from the zeitgeist, touching topics across politics, science, history and pop culture — featuring interviews with some of the most authoritative experts in their respective fields. In this episode: The global water crisis is at an inflection point. How do we price our most valuable resource, while also ensuring access to it as a human right?

Further Reading and Resources

Here are some additional links you may find interesting.

  • DESALINATION — “As Water Scarcity Increases, Desalination Plants Are on the Rise” Yale, 11 JUN 2019. [Source]
    • EXCERPT: “After decades of slow progress, desalination is increasingly being used to provide drinking water around the globe. Costs for processing salt water for drinking water have dropped, but it remains an expensive option and one that creates environmental problems that must be addressed.”

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com