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Taiwan faces worst water shortage in 56 years: Sun Moon Lake turns into moonscape

Sun Moon Lake, an iconic tourist spot in Taiwan is turning into barren wasteland as the island is experiencing its worst water shortage crisis in 56 years due to months of scant rainfall and a lack of typhoons making landfall last year.

As the largest natural freshwater lake on the island, the water level of the lake has plunged by 12 meters, hitting a record low with some parts of the lake drying up completely. Netizens have been drawn to the drastically altered landscape, posting photos with densely bold cracks seen on the lakebed, with captions such as “Sailing on Land” and the “Sun Mook Lake Prairie.”

The management department of the lake has closed the park since April 1 due to safety concerns.

This is the worst drought Taiwan is facing in half a century and the reservoirs in central and southern Taiwan have nearly bottomed out. If the current drought continues, major water supply reservoirs in the island will only have enough water to last two more months, according to Taiwan officials.

On March 15, Taiwannews.com reported that the Zengwen Reservoir in Chiayi County was down to just 15.3 percent of its capacity, Liyutan Reservoir in Miaoli had plummeted to 13.7 percent, and Techi Reservoir in Deji Reservoir in Taichung was down to just 8.2 percent.

If Plum Rains are unable to replenish reservoirs in central Taiwan, a red alert will have to be issued in May, according to local reports.

Local newspapers reported that large water buckets are selling out and due to water-saving measures, many people have rushed to buy waterless clothes, clothes that can go weeks without being washed. Meanwhile, beauty salons and restaurants have said they simply can’t get enough water to meet their business needs as water trucks in the region are busy transporting industrial water to big tech companies that consume large amounts of water.

The island has stepped up nationwide water restrictions and some areas of Taichung, Miaoli, and Changhua have been subjected to a suspension of water supply two days per week on a rotational basis, affecting about one million people.

In response, Tsai Ing-wen, the regional leader of Taiwan, has called on residents to conserve water and set up an emergency response center to deal with the water shortage. But she was criticized for ignoring the warning of meteorologists who alerted the authority months ago that the island would face severe water shortage in the spring.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is also under attack due to their approaches to drought alleviation. For example, the irrigation department joined with a famous temple to pray to Mazu, the sea goddess, for rainfall. And the economic affairs ministry allowed companies to drill emergency wells in a technology hub to increase their water supply.

Both of the methods were criticized as “unscientific” as some warned the drilling could cause land subsidence or damage manufacturing equipment in the park and some doubted that groundwater levels are likely lower than usual due to the drought.

Courtesy of shine.cn

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Major Drought Disaster Areas Named in 17 More Counties in Nebraska, USA

Drought Emergency Alert_2

More than a dozen Nebraska counties have been designated as disaster areas because of drought.

Over the past week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued disaster declarations for 17 counties, mostly in northeast and western Nebraska, the two areas where drought conditions have been the worst.

The counties designated as primary natural disaster areas were: Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Deuel, Dundy, Garden, Hitchcock, Keith, Kimball, Madison, Morrill, Pierce, Perkins, Platte, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Wayne.

Lincoln saw one of its coldest Octobers ever

They join Colfax, Cuming, Dawes, Dodge, Stanton and Thurston counties, which were declared as disaster areas last month.

Counties with a disaster declaration are eligible for emergency loans for losses caused by drought, which can be used for purposes such as paying to replace equipment or livestock or refinancing debts.

That eligibility also extends to more than two dozen counties that are contiguous to the counties with disaster declarations.

6 Nebraska counties named disaster areas because of drought

Nebraska is seeing its worst drought conditions since 2013. As of Thursday, nearly 86% of the state was in some level of drought, with 12% — all in the Panhandle — in extreme drought.

Both severe and extreme drought can lead to lowered crop yields, scarce hay supplies and serious declines in groundwater levels.

The one thing the dry weather has helped with is harvest. As of Monday, the soybean harvest was essentially done in the state, while about 86% of corn had been harvested. That’s well ahead of the five-year average.

Drought tightens grip on Nebraska as hot, dry spell looms.

Courtesy of norfolkdailynews.com

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Wildfires and droughts devastate South American biodiversities

Wild Fire Alert

Under stress from a historic drought, large swathes of forest and wetlands in central South America known for their exceptional biodiversity have been ravaged by devastating fires.

Experts on Friday said wildfires in a region that spans Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, especially the region between the Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay rivers, have become critical in 2020.

“There has been a dramatic increase in fires. In Argentina there has been an increase of around 170 percent, it’s very serious,” said Elisabeth Mohle, an environmental politics researcher at Argentina’s San Martin National University (UNSM).

She says it’s part of a wider problem affecting multiple regions around the world this year, including in Brazil’s Amazonas state, Australia, California, and the Gran Chaco, South America’s second largest forest after the Amazon.

The Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands that span Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, is experiencing its worst drought in 47 years.

The Parana river, one of the most powerful on the planet that originates in Brazil and empties into the River Plate estuary, is at its lowest level since 1970.

In August it was down to 80-centimetres in Rosario, eastern Argentina, rather than the usual 3-4 meters for that time of year.

It’s the same thing with the Paraguay river that is at its lowest level “in half a century,” according to Paraguay’s national weather center in Asuncion.

The fires are being fanned by ideal conditions, including strong winds, temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius and the dry season in which farmers use slash-and-burn techniques to try to regenerate the soil.

In Paraguay, “the fires … at the end of September and first week of October, broke all records,” Eduardo Mingo, a top official at the national weather center, told AFP.

The number of fires were up 46 percent in 2020, according to authorities.

Paraguay’s capital Asuncion and several towns in northeastern Argentina and southern Brazil spent days and even weeks submerged under a thick fog due to the intense fires.

And without the usual rainfall that moistens the soil, the wetlands have been particularly badly affected.

Images from the Brazilian Pantanal of the charred carcases of birds, snakes, caimans and trees have shocked the world.

A quarter of the area was devastated between January and September, while the Paraguayan Pantanal had already been badly affected by fires in 2019.

The Parana Delta that is home to species such as the jaguar, Pampas cat and several rodents, has been hit by fires of an unprecedented intensity since January, leaving a “desert of ashes” over tens of thousands of hectares of wetlands.

“Reptiles, migratory birds, small mammals and tortoises have died,” Cesar Massi, a naturalist in Argentina’s Santa Fe province, told AFP.

“I remember that during the last drought in 2008, there were fires. But this year they’ve been stronger, more intense and lasted longer.”

Agriculture is a massive source of income for the countries in this region but the slash-and-burn techniques used aggravate the situation.

In the north of Argentina “despite Covid-19 restrictions, between March 15 and September 30… twice the area of Buenos Aires was deforested,” according to Greenpeace.

The Mighty Earth NGO says that Paraguay’s dry forests are “one of the main sites of deforestation in the world, mostly due to the expansion of pastureland and more recently soyabean plantations.”

Argentina’s government has accused cattle farmers of setting fires to “increase pastureland area” in the Parana Delta.

One problem is that NGOs don’t have the necessary funding from governments to enforce rules and instigate large restoration or protection projects.

“The provincial government has less and less of a budget for prevention, there are no surveillance posts, the environmental police have been disassembled,” Alfredo Leytes, a member of the Ambiente en Lucha environmental collective based in Cordoba, Argentina, told AFP.

In Brazil “there has been a 58 percent decrease in ‘Brigadistas’ contracts,” said Alica Thuault from the Centro de Vida institute, referring to the volunteers that mobilized to tackle fires. She attributes blame firmly at the feet of President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic.

Mohle wants different players, including farmers and ecologists, to work together “to regulate the use of land to ensure a more sustainable development than currently exists.”

Courtesy of trtworld.com

https://tinyurl.com/y5hqfr3b

Hundreds of dead cattle due to drought and fires in Formosa, Argentina

Livestock Alert

The town of San Martín 2 is suffering the effects of the drought, in addition to human irresponsibility and strong winds.

The consequences: kilometers of burned fields were lamented, deaths of cattle and small livestock, as well as vehicles, fences and tools that were consumed by the fire.

The mayor of San Martín 2, Luis Rivero, from the Patiño department, commented that the fire that almost entered the downtown area could be contained thanks to the joint work between the police and the people.

Courtesy of elnueve.com.ar

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Disaster declared due to extreme drought in Aroostook County, Maine, USA #Drought #AroostookCounty #Maine #USA

Drought Emergency Alert_2

The federal government has declared Aroostook County a “drought disaster” area as the region faces a prolonged dry spell.

This summer was one of the driest on record for The County — which has been placed under a severe drought status known as D2 — brought on by low soil moisture, lack of rainfall, drying vegetation and low stream flows.

The designation is given to areas experiencing severe droughts for eight consecutive weeks or a higher level drought intensity value for any period of time. Water levels in Aroostook and Penobscot rivers reached an all-time low earlier this year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The only other drought in Maine as severe as this was nearly 20 years ago — from 2001 to 2002.

“We have over 150 years of records at [the Penobscot water monitoring] location,” Nick Stasulis, the geological survey’s data section chief, told The Houlton Pioneer Times earlier this month. “So certainly that is a significant data set when you’re looking at the historical perspective.”

Due to the severe drought conditions, farmers in Aroostook, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington counties are eligible for emergency assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

Farmers have eight months from the date of a disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans from the USDA. The Farm Service Agency considers the extent of production losses on the farm and the operator’s security and repayment ability in reviewing emergency loan applications.

These emergency loans can be used to restore or replace “essential property,” pay off production costs accrued during the disaster year, cover family living expenses, reorganize farming operations and refinance debts, the agency said.

Other services such as the Livestock Forage Program, Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, the Emergency Conservation Program and the Non-insurable Crop Assistance Program are also available to farmers in counties in a severe drought.

Farmers in need of hay for their livestock can use the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Hay Directory, too.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry also encourages farmers to plan for future droughts by upgrading their water supplies and improving soil. Farmers should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or local Natural Resources Conservation Service for help with soil health practices.

Courtesy of bangordailynews.com

https://tinyurl.com/y59r456g

Extreme drought triggers water crisis in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia #Drought #EastNusaTenggara #Indonesia

Drought Emergency Alert_2

Five villages in Rote Ndao regency in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) are suffering from clean water shortages as a result of extreme drought. Deskiel Haning of the Rote Ndao Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said the five villages were Holulai, Nentenaen, Meoain, Lifuleo and Pukuafu. They had experienced extreme drought for more than 60 days. “The water crisis has been ongoing since July,” he said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com. The agency has been regularly distributing clean water to residents of the five villages in order to mitigate the water scarcity.

Authorities also urged villagers to only use clean water for drinking and bathing. “The clean water comes from tanks owned by the Rote Ndao BPBD and [an unidentified] third party,” said Deskiel. Several other villages in the regency have also requested Rote Ndao administration’s assistance in providing clean water. Deskiel went on to say that authorities were trying to fulfill those requests as soon as possible.

Courtesy of thejakartapost.com

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The drought is continuing to worsen across Maine, USA #Drought #Maine #USA

Drought Emergency Alert_2

Maine’s Drought Task Force says conditions are getting worse, with little relief on the way.

Since the task force met two weeks ago, the area in severe drought has grown to 42 percent of the state.

It now covers parts of Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington Counties in addition to Aroostook County.

That area has been in severe drought for more than seven weeks.

While above-normal precipitation is expected in the next 6 to 10 days, conditions may still get worse.

Courtesy of wabi.tv

https://tinyurl.com/y6m8f8d8

Almost 3,000 cattle dead due to drought in Las Tunas, Cuba #Cattle #Drought #LasTunas #Cuba

Livestock Alert

Illustration Photo

This June 9, the state-owned Periódico 26, belonging to the province of Las Tunas, outlined the critical situation in which the largest cattle are in that province, two thousand 954 cattle have died from malnutrition in recent months.

“The main causes of the deaths continue to be malnutrition, with two thousand 954”.

This is mainly because the farmers are not able to guarantee the food for the dry season, and it is not only about the grass, or the feed, this also includes not having sufficient water reserves. Keep in mind that at least one beef needs 120 liters of the precious liquid daily.

But the situation goes a little beyond these figures, as detailed in the newspaper 26 Newspaper.

“Until the end of May, the province accumulates seven thousand 069 deaths, with two thousand 593 more than in the same period of the previous year and an index of 2.80 percent, of 1.65 allowable. By municipalities, are Tunas (860) and Jobabo (642) had the worst results in that period “,

The bovine mass in Las Tunas amounts to 241 thousand 800 heads, to which must be added more than 2,600 buffaloes, as Jorge Luis Lozada Hechavarría, deputy delegate of Livestock in the Delegation of the Ministry of Agriculture, recently declared to the press. He specified that these animals are in the hands of some 15,000 owners.

Another cause that affects livestock losses is accidents , with 922. “For these two reasons alone, 54.8 percent of total losses occurred, ” said the aforementioned state newspaper.

Courtesy of adncuba.com

https://tinyurl.com/y95ga33z

At least 500 cattle dead due to drought in Veracruz, Mexico #Cattle #Drought #Veracruz #Mexico

Livestock Alert

Photo Illustration

The dry season left at least 500 head of cattle dead in the central area of ​​the state, with Tierra Blanca being one of the most affected municipalities, informed the president of the Livestock Union in that area, Jesús Ortega Couttolenc.

“The reports we have are more than anything from Tierra Blanca, it is not that the other places have not been given, but that was where there was the death of cattle, there are some who have reported to us about 400 or 500 heads, which are what we know us, there must be a lot more dead cattle, but we cannot talk about what has been done to us formally, if it was a very difficult time, “he said.

He explained that although with the start of the rainy season the land is already beginning to get wet and green in the central area, the damage could take 30 more days.

“Fortunately, a little water has already fallen, in the central area it was not what we could expect, but the one that fell has already started to green the grass, it is still a problem and it will continue for another 30 days but here we go,” he concluded.

Courtesy of eldemocrata.com

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Drought warning as dam levels decline in Cape Town, South Africa #Drought #Dam #CapeTown #SouthAfrica

Drought Emergency Alert_2

CAPE Town’s dam levels have declined by 0.6%, according to readings from earlier this month.

This was recorded over the week from May 4-10 and resulted in 54.3% of total dam level capacity.

Water consumption for the period increased to 676 million litres per day.

Consumption was at 662 million litres per day, in the previous week, the City said.

Two years ago the City of Cape Town experienced the Day Zero water crisis.

Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said although the bulk of the region’s rainfall traditionally falls between May and June, rainfall in 2020 to date was lower than the long-term average between January and April.

Water consumption is well below the long-term average, so low rainfall was not a significant cause for concern, she said.

“The possibility that the drought may not be over does warrant a reminder that we need to remain aware of water restrictions.

“Reacting quickly and effectively to changes in water restrictions is the most important intervention during drought periods,” said Limberg.

She told Weekend Argus that Cape Town pulled off a world record-breaking drought response, in its reduction in water consumption and many of these changes have been permanent.

“Through efforts by residents to reduce water consumption, a range of interventions by the City administration (including intensive pressure management, restructuring of water tariffs and water augmentation projects), we pulled through the worst of it without ever having to turn off taps and implement the Day Zero scenario,” she said.

Residents reduced consumption by almost 60% in world record-breaking time, resulting in the city being formally acknowledged by the International Water Association, said Limberg.

The city was recognised as the global “Water Saving Capital” by the International Water Association in 2018.

There was a decline in water consumption when looking back over the previous 1-2 months.

Water consumption normally goes down in winter and up in summer, so a drop in consumption over April/May is to be expected, added Limberg.

Jo Barnes, an epidemiologist and senior lecturer at the Stellenbosch University’s faculty of health sciences, said water use would vary depending on many factors.

“Weather plays a role (unexpectedly hot weather tends to cause higher water use). It is a lockdown week, so very few industries were in full operation so much less water would have been used.”

There was also 13mm of rain recorded which reduced consumption towards the end of last week.

Jacqueline Goldin, the Unesco chairperson for groundwater at UWC, said climate change has not mobilised the world in a way that the coronavirus has, but it should have.

“We should have a solidarity fund, a climate change command officer, policing and coming together as a globe to reduce our carbon footprint, save water and save our planet,” said Goldin.

Courtesy of iol.co.za

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