Blue gold, an endangered gem – Liberation

Climate change is taking its toll across the planet. In particular, it is changing the rainfall regime by highlighting the extremes: some regions are increasingly confronted with sudden rain showers, while others are suffering from a prolonged lack of rainfall. Drought and the scarcity of blue gold are particularly present this summer, with dire consequences for society and biodiversity. Release takes you around the world.

In Iraq, national taxes are disappearing

In the southern part of the country, the Chibayish marsh is one of the four wetlands classified by UNESCO in 2016. Again this summer, the lack of rainfall and the persistent drought reduce these reservoirs of biodiversity. In this delta of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, with the withdrawal of the marsh, the sea infiltrates more and salinizes the small remaining water. Human health and biodiversity are affected. The fish are dying galore, the populations and flocks of buffaloes raised in this region are moving massively in search of blue gold. The country, with an already very hot climate, and which is experiencing recurring water crises exacerbated by poor management of dams, is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world. Above 50 ° C was recorded in the capital Baghdad in June.

In the United States, a staggering shortage of water

The western part of the country is experiencing its worst drought in … 1,200 years. Like neighboring California, Nevada does not see the end of the drought that has raged for several years. Currently, Lake Mead has only a quarter of its capacity, and it is struggling to power Hoover Dam, which generates electricity for hundreds of thousands of American homes. The work is taking place in the Colorado Basin, a river that is drying up due to the growing demand for water combined with climate change. It is located near Las Vegas, a city of abundance located in the middle of the desert. Its degree of filling, which has lost about fifty meters since 1983, has never been so low. See the white boundary line.

Lake Powell in Utah is also fed by the Colorado River and is also at its lowest. So much so that the Glen Canyon dam, which is dependent on its water, could no longer produce electricity by 2023. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are the largest reservoirs in the United States, supplying water to 40 million people.

As Lake Mead shrinks, it reveals the remains of dried fish on its cracked shores. The bass fishing competition, which had been held every year for fifty years in Lake Mead, had to be moved to another location this year. Other remains, this time humans, were also found. It would be two victims, one of whom was found in a barrel attached to the mafia that once operated in Las Vegas.

Also in the United States, in Utah, Great Salt Lake is turning into a salt drought

It has already lost two-thirds of its surface due to drought. The largest salt lake in America, it is fed by meltwater from the mountains upstream. He gave his name to Salt Lake City, a city founded by the Mormons, home to three-quarters of Utah’s population. With the drying up of the lake, the shrimp and insects that used to inhabit the area risk disappearing, which would affect the 10 million migratory birds that pass through there each year. “The lucrative extraction of magnesium and other minerals from the lake may stall”also warns New York Times. There is still “more alarming” according to the newspaper. “The seabed contains high levels of arsenic”. When the water evaporates, the substance turns to dust. It can be carried by the wind during storms and make the air in Salt Lake City toxic.

In Mexico, the country’s second city is experiencing a shortage of drinking water

Monterrey, Mexico’s industrial capital and metropolitan area with 5 million inhabitants, has not seen constant rain for fifteen months! In the northern part of the country there is scarce water. Two of the three dams and water reservoirs that supply the inhabitants’ taps are dry. The one of La Boca is the most affected by the drought: it is completely empty, as are the terraces of dozens of restaurants on the edge of the old body of water. Only grenades and boats stranded in the mud are left.

In early June, authorities decided to ration running water in Monterrey. She is only available a few hours a day. Few houses have a cistern or tank to store water, as is the case in districts of the capital, Mexico City, to cope with water cuts. As soon as a tanker truck shows up in the streets, families run to fill empty cans. Since Wednesday, state of emergency for drought “severe, extreme or unusual” is decreed in several places in the country.

Britain, considered rainy, is starting to save its water

The Lindley Wood Reservoir, located in the north of England in Yorkshire, is drying up. As this is a reservoir used to store the overflow from other reservoirs, there are currently no consequences for the supply of drinking water to households. In the largest county in the UK, “reservoirs currently operate at only 62% of their normal water level due to a longer period of below-average rainfall”, the Yorkshire Post notes, however. The excessive heat simultaneously generates an increase in the demand for water, which increases the pressure on the precious resource. As Britain expects a wave of “extreme heat” at its latitudes from Sunday, with temperatures exceeding 35 ° C. Water companies have urged the British to save every drop, with sometimes whimsical advice. Yorkshire Water, for example, recommends heating only the exact amount needed for your cup of tea …

The drought is hitting our Italian neighbor hard

Since May, the country has suffered from the unusually early heat and lack of rain, especially on the agricultural plain of Po, which has been hit by its worst drought in 70 years. The government has declared a state of emergency in five regions (Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont), four of which are fed by Po. This river, which crosses the northern part of the country from east to west, is in places seven meters below its usual level.

The drying up of what is the peninsula’s largest water reservoir could cause a loss of 30% of national agricultural production and threaten half of the farms on the plain, including those intended for Parma ham. Several municipalities that are dependent on the river have announced restrictive measures. Verona, 250,000 inhabitants, for example, decided to ration the use of drinking water. The production of hydropower has also fallen sharply, while the installations, which are for the most part located in the mountainous region of northern Italy, produce almost 20% of the energy in this country.

France is far from immune

The drought in the country could, according to Météo France, reach a historic level by the end of July. The government is trying to predict“possible problems with the drinking water supply». For two months, an unprecedented drought has affected the rivers and lakes of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, especially threatening the future of tourist activities in the Verdon Regional Nature Park. With long-term risk of deficiency. If Verdon continues its course at the moment, its flow is less. This season, EDF has decided not to release water upstream of the canyons from the hydraulic dams to reserve the small amount of water available for agricultural irrigation, human needs and industry. Rafting, one of the river’s emblematic activities, is therefore no longer possible this summer.

Pictures of news, everyday life, art or big names in the history of photography … Find every week in the section “In pictures” in Release the choices from the newspaper’s photo service, which favors unique, innovative or surprising writing. And because it has always been a concern Releasealso discover our picture pages in the weekend edition.

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