Flash droughts, drought in Phoenix and salinity in Uruguay’s water supply system

Due to climate change, not only flash floods but also flash droughts will become more frequent. These droughts can seriously affect agricultural and ecological ecosystems, destroying farmland and plant and animal habitats. According to researchers at the University of Oklahoma, “the risk of flash drought in farmland will increase globally, especially in North America.” Flash droughts result from low rainfall, extremely high temperatures, stronger winds and changes in solar radiation, causing excessive soil moisture evaporation.

Due to drought and high temperatures, Uruguay is in short supply of fresh water. As a result, Uruguay’s State Sanitation Administration has been granted permission to exceed sodium and chloride limits in public drinking water. It now takes water supplies from the La Plata Estuary, where fresh water from the Paraná and Uruguay rivers meets salt water from the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, the amount of sodium in tap water reached 421 mg/l. This is more than twice what the World Health Organization recommends.

Beneath the Phoenix metropolitan area, which is among the fastest-growing places in the US, there is no groundwater to meet projected needs in the next 100 years. The Arizona Department of Water Resources report is a wake-up call to the nation’s fifth-largest city and metropolitan area of more than 5 million people, known for its burgeoning high-tech industry. Thousands of planned and started investments will not be implemented.

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