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Drought worsens; water managers to meet to discuss increasing restrictions

Earth News
Florida, USA

March 31, 2007
Using words like "grave" and "critical" to describe the drought, water managers warned that existing watering restrictions may not be enough to deal with conditions that they said are AMONG THE DRIEST ON RECORD and likely to worsen. New information shows water levels dropping dramatically in areas that supply South Florida's drinking water. "In just the past week, the water shortage situation has grown considerably more grave. And with little or no rain in our short-term forecasts, we could potentially be facing a critical water shortage situation the likes of which our residents have never experienced. Just two weeks ago, no one could have predicted the precipitous water level drops we've seen recently, and we want residents to be mindful of the severity of this shortage."

NEVADA USA- Santa Cruz residents will soon be facing restrictions on water use due to some of the DRIEST WEATHER IN OVER A DECADE. Santa Cruz's water system is different from other local systems in that it's 98 percent dependent on surface water sources such as the San Lorenzo River. Without rain the streams and San Lorenzo River are running very low. Of the four levels of water conditions affecting the Santa Cruz water supply, the fourth and highest level, "critically dry," is in effect now. Santa Cruz's water is tied into the rest of the state as part of the same hydrological system connected to the Sierras. And the Sierras have had a bleak winter as well. The California Department of Water Resources conducted its fourth survey of the Sierra snow pack for the 2006-2007 snow season Wednesday morning and found that the amount of water in the statewide snow pack is at 46 percent of normal levels.

THAILAND - This year's drought has already affected more than eight million people in 58 provinces, with water levels in several major rivers ''critically low''. The total number of drought-hit villagers since the dry season began in November has jumped to 8.2 million, and the number was likely to increase with the drought crisis expected to grow even more severe this month. About 114,000 rai of farmland has been affected. To relieve water shortages, the department has installed water pumps and distributed drinking water to villages in the worst-hit areas. The Irrigation Department reported on its website that water in major rivers had dropped to critically low levels. The chief of the artificial rainmaking unit in the Central Plains, expressed concern over the worsening drought situation in Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, and Lop Buri, with no rain in the region for months. Water storage in Central Plains reservoirs are expected to drop to critical levels within the next two months because unusually high temperatures, triggered by the El Nino weather phenomenon, have caused more rapid evaporation of stored water than normal.

INDIA - As summer begins, Bangalore like many other Indian cities face water shortage forcing residents to walk long distances in search of it. Long lines of pots before taps is a common sight in Lingarajapuram, which receives water supply just three times a week. Water sometimes just trickles or sometimes it doesn't come at all. "We keep fighting over water, we cannot do anything else. We cannot take our children to school. This is the biggest problem". "They [People in other areas] fight with us and say don't come here. We do not have water for ourselves".

INDONESIA - Water shortages are forcing authorities in India's remote Andaman Islands to tap dozens of Second World War wells. The return of tourism after the 2004 tsunami, combined with a lack of rain, has caused severe shortages in the archipelago, located about 1,200 km east of the Indian mainland. Authorities are rationing water and cleaning old wells dug by Japanese forces in the mid-1940s, but many people think this is only a temporary solution. "There is an urgent need to build water reservoirs."

NIGERIA - As an acute water shortage persists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital and its environs, the Governor has pronounced a State of Emergency on the water situation in the state. The State Government has spent over N7billion on water provision, but portable water supply in the state has become elusive. Findings also indicated that there are cartels who specialise in vandalising water pipes in a bid to secure inflated contracts to fix such water equipments that were vandalised by them.

IRAQ - a water shortage is threatening the lives of children in Iraq. This month, due to a lack of funding, UNICEF was forced to stop its water tanker program, which delivers clean water to tens of thousands in Baghdad. The UNICEF program, which also supplies sanitation and hygiene services, is currently $30 million short because the organization underestimated the amount of time it would be serving children in Iraq. The Iraqi government has said its water systems will not be able to provide an adequate supply for at least 18 months. The UN said that the incidence of diarrhea has been increasing, and UNICEF is stockpiling millions of sachets filled with oral re-hydration salts to use in case of an outbreak.
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