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The capital city relies on water pumped in from miles away, and in an Earth Day address, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the drought will likely continue to impact water supply and could increase the risk of wildfires, Reuters reports.
Why This Matters: Researchers from Mexico City note that rapid growth in Mexican cities has led to increased demand for water, but that the country needs better water management to ensure residents have access to water as the resource becomes more scarce. And with climate change, scientists warn that “northern Mexico will face serious problems in responding to ever-growing water demands.” The higher temperatures, dryer soil, and intense but sporadic rainfall brought about by climate change all make droughts worse, and researchers estimate that by 2050 Mexico City’s natural water availability could fall by 10-17% as temperatures rise.
Cities like Cape Town serve as a startling reminder to the rest of the world that water management and climate mitigation cannot be delayed for water-stressed cities. Yet for Mexico City, whose metro area is home to 20 million people, severe water scarcity could be a significant destabilizing force.
Western US Drought: North of the Mexican border, the situation is not any better. The Western U.S. has been in a state of drought since 2000. Right now, the U.S. Drought Monitor puts 60% of the region in a severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.
Bradley Udall, a senior climate and water scientist at Colorado State University’s Colorado Water Center, calls the type of drought this part of the country is experiencing “aridification” or “hot drought” — one brought about by heat-induced lack of water due to climate change, not just a year with light rainfall. The Colorado River Basin, the biggest water system in the West that supplies water to California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah, is already 20% lower than last century when the states formed a compact to divvy up the water. Without major climate action, it’s projected to drop another 20-35% by the end of the century.
“I always say climate change is water change,” Udall told Yale Climate Connections. “It means too much water, not enough water, water at the wrong time. It means reduced water quality. You get all of these things together as the earth warms up.”
As California’s drought conditions are worsening, Nestle is pumping millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino forest. State water officials have drafted a cease-and-desist order to force the company to stop overpumping from Strawberry Creek, which provides drinking water for about 750,000 people.
The ice-out date for Maine’s Lake Auburn is now three weeks earlier than it was two centuries ago, the Portland Press Herald reports, and other lakes across New England show similar trends. Climate change is not good for ice, and that includes Maine’s lakes that freeze over every winter.
Why This Matters: A disrupted winter with lakes that “defrost” earlier has multiple knock-on effects for freshwater: in addition to harming fish in lakes, the resulting large cyanobacteria algae blooms that form can be harmful to human health.
One of the largest chicken producers in the country — the family-owned Mountaire Corp. — agreed to pay $205 million to settle two court cases that its Delaware plants contaminated water wells, waterways, and the surrounding air with improperly disposed of wastewater.
Why this Matters: Groundwater contamination affects communities across the country. In Orange County and Oakland, California groundwater polluted with industrial waste is seeping into sources of drinking water.
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