Weekly Water Report Latin America & the Caribbean Stories

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Brazil: No New Pantanal Hydro Projects Until May 2020

BRASILIA

The National Water Agency of Brazil (ANA) is suspending the granting of rights to use water resources for new hydro projects in the Pantanal region until May 2020. This decision will affect projects that did not begin commercial operations before July 2018. ANA said the goal is to prevent dams from affecting other economic activities in the region, such as fishing and tourism.

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Mexico City Sinks, Water Supply Diminishes

MEXICO CITY

Despite the rainfall between May and September, many of the metropolitan area's more than 20 million residents don't have enough water to drink. Nearly all that rainwater runs off the streets and highways into the city's massive drainage system built to stave off perennial flooding. Drinking water increasingly comes from a vast aquifer under the metropolis.

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End Of Colombia Conflict May Bring New Threats To Ecosystems?

NEW YORK

Governments tend to focus on social and economic growth after a war ends, while environmental protections fall by the wayside. In their paper, Daniel Ruiz-Carrascal of Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society and his colleagues from many institutions outline the threats to Colombia's ecosystems, and suggest ways to avoid the worst of the damage.

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Climate Variability Is "Key Driver" Of World Hunger: UN

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

New evidence continues to signal that the number of hungry people in the world is growing, reaching 821 million in 2017 or one in every nine people, according to the United Nations’ annual “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” report released September 11.

Climate variability affecting rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts and floods, are among the key drivers behind the rise in hunger, together with conflict and economic slowdowns, the report says.

Brazil: Norsk Hydro Settles With Authorities After Aluminum Plant Water Contamination

OSLO, Norway

Norwegian giant Norsk Hydro has reached agreement with Brazilian authorities following February’s discharge of untreated water from the group's Alunorte alumina plant, the world’s largest.

"On September 5, Alunorte signed two agreements representing a milestone to resume normal operations at the alumina refinery in Para, Brazil," Norsk Hydro said in a statement.

Climate Change: "Far Too Many Leaders Have Refused To Listen", Says Guterres

New York, United States

United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres has called on global leaders to rein in climate change faster.

“If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change,” Guterres said at United Nations headquarters in New York September 10.

Harvard Endowment Fund Accused Of Land Grabs Causing Denial Of Indigenous People's Water Access

WASHINGTON, United States

An investigative report has accused Harvard University’s endowment fund of using an opaque corporate structure to acquire control of farmland across five continents during the past 10 years.

This mmonth's report by two non-profits supporting agrarian and social movements highlights case studies in Brazil where the endowment fund’s land acquisitions have been concentrated in the northeast region of the country. The farmland in this area is described as being grabbed at an alarming rate by agribusiness companies for the large-scale production of commodity crops like soybeans and sugarcane.

World Bank Launches Initiative To Raise $3 Billion USD In Sustainable Development Bonds For Water Resources And Oceans

WASHINGTON, United States

The World Bank has announced the launch of a Sustainable Development Bond series to raise awareness of the critical role of water and ocean resources. The bonds aim to raise at least $3 Billion USD and will provide investors with an opportunity to highlight their support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that address water, sanitation and marine protection.

The bond series, announced August 29, supports the World Bank’s strategic focus on conservation and sustainable use of fresh and salt water resources, and forms part of the Bank’s issuance strategy to engage investors around the SDGs since their launch in 2015. The focus for the new series is to support SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 14 (life below water) and follows bond series earlier this year that focused on gender and health and nutrition.

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Improved Water Management Breaks Vicious Cycles In Protracted Crisis Situations

WASHINGTON, United States

A World Bank-United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO joint discussion paper published August 28 finds that institutional failures to address water-related challenges can act as risk multipliers, compounding existing situations of fragility. But improving water management can contribute to building resilience in the face of protracted crises.

Stockholm's World Water Week Highlights Water, Ecosystems, Human Development

STOCKHOLM, Sweden

Stockholm's annual water event, World Water Week, concluded August 31. The conference, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), attracted more than 3,600 participants from 133 countries who attended nearly 300 sessions.

SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren highlighted the participation of younger people in the event this year: “We are on the right track!” he said, adding: “There are many great things going on.” 

Antonella Vagliente from Young Water Solutions stressed how young people from indigenous backgrounds are turning traditional knowledge into new businesses: “They have adapted their lifestyles and their communities to nature and we have a lot to learn from that,” she said. 

This year’s theme ‘Water, ecosystems and human development’, focused on nature-based solutions and how they can be combined with conventional practices. The message was clear - a combination of green and grey approaches is the only way forward.

19 Percent Of Global GDP Comes From Watersheds With High To Very High Water Risk

GENEVA, Switzerland

Nearly a quarter of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Asia and a fifth of the GDP in Africa lies within watersheds with high to very high water risk according to a new WWF Report

"Valuing Rivers - How The Diverse Benefits Of Healthy Rivers Underpin Economies", using a measurement of water risk that incorporates a range of values supported by rivers, finds that overall, 19 per cent of global GDP currently comes from watersheds with high to very high water risk.

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Jamaica: Water Theft Creating Supply Havoc

ST ELIZABETH

The National Water Commission (NWC) is reporting that the persistent practice of illegally connecting to the piped water supply network is wreaking havoc on its distribution operations, especially in several areas of St Elizabeth, and is to be blamed for many of the supply problems affecting that parish.

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Conflict Continues Between 2 Oaxaca Municipalities Over Water Access

OAXACA CITY

A year and a half ago, authorities in San Pedro y San Pablo Ayutla, a municipality in the state’s Mixe region about 100 kilometers southeast of Oaxaca City, connected to the water supply of the neighboring municipality of Tamazulápam del Espíritu Santo when their own supply ran dry.

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WWF Issues New Water Stewardship Brief

GENEVA, Switzerland

International NGO WWF this week released an “update” of its 2013 Water Stewardship Brief paper. The initial document outlined a vision of water stewardship, but was also intended to be a roadmap for the future.

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Brazil State Declares Drought Emergency

MACEIO

Brazil's northeastern state of Alagoas has declared a 180-day state of emergency after dozens of cities in the region experienced water shortages that have affected more than 200,000 people. Local farmers are experiencing a shortfall in tobacco and corn yields and its very different from last year's harvest when corn, beans and cassava were completely sold out.

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Future Fracking Practices Will Require Far More Water Than Previously Estimated

DURHAM, United States

A dramatic increase in fracking's water footprint in the United States from 2011 to 2016 indicates that future hydraulic fracturing practices will require far more water than previously estimated. A new report from Duke University has found that the water use per fracking well increased up to 770 Percent over the period and, importantly, that the toxic wastewater produced in the first year of a well's production jumped to 1440 Percent.

If this rapid intensification continues, fracking’s water footprint could grow by up to 50-fold in some regions by the year 2030 -- raising concerns about its sustainability, particularly in arid or semi-arid regions in western states, or other areas where groundwater supplies are stressed or limited.

Mexico: Manatee Deaths Mystery On Ramsar Convention Site

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico

More than 25 dead manatees have been discovered in the wetlands of Tabasco, Mexico in the last three months, while fishermen have also reported fish deaths in the Bitzal River.

Officials and researchers have not been able to find a singular cause of the animal deaths. 

Mexico has been a signatory to the international Ramsar Treaty on wetlands conservation since 1986, with Tabasco's "Pantanos de Centla" wetlands, including the Bitzal river, listed as a wetlands area of international importance. 

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, named after Ramsar, Iran, where it was signed in 1971, describes its mission as “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

Brazil Legislation Would De-regulate Pesticide Restrictions

BRASILIA

Brazilian lawmakers have reportedly resurrected a 2002 bill that would severely reduce the role of government health and environment departments in authorizing new pesticides. A second bill would ban the sale of organic foods to supermarkets and other major retail outlets.

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South Africa Considers Ban On Microbeads

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs is to consider a total ban on manufacture, importation and use of microbeads – the tiny plastic beads used in cosmetics, toothpaste and sandblasting.

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