The drought is worse than you think

first_imgNo related posts. When the water went off in March, it was for a few hours at a time. Then, a few weeks later, it shut off for eight hours every day, then for 16 hours. Now, in May, San Isidro de Heredia residents are lucky if they get any water at all. “It affects more than you would think,” said resident Laura Astua.“You can’t wash anything, you can’t bathe. The area lacks basic sanitary services.” Astua is one of 20,000 people in Costa Rica affected by water rationing, according to the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute (AyA), which manages more than 50 percent of the country’s water. Residents hope that light rains that began to fall Thursday night will continue. Otherwise, the situation will get worse, they say.What caused the drought?The problem is not the lack of rain now, but the lack of rain before. “The issues this year can be attributed to irregular behavior during the transition period,” said Eladio Solano, a meteorologist with the National Meteorological Institute (IMN).By transition period, he means all of April and early May, which in a normal year see a few good storms. “For the past several years, we have seen unusual behavior at the end of summer, where there is no rain at all,” he said. Usually, the country’s reservoirs can handle a dry transition period with rainfall accumulated during the rainy season. But this year that didn’t happen. “Last year El Niño was active,” Solano said.“When that happens, the level of rainfall here in Central America is very low.” That unusually dry rainy season in 2012 left the aquifers dry. El Niño is a weather phenomenon caused by an unusually warm band of ocean water formed at the Pacific coast of South America. As the water moves up the coast, the higher water temperatures create hotter weather in Central America and less rain along the region’s Pacific coast.“There are some communities where this is going to cause problems,” Solano said. “It’s pretty simple. Reservoirs need water in order to be reservoirs.”Water rationingUnsurprisingly, being hit with dual weather phenomena means the drought has left more than a few Costa Rican communities in a bind. Heredia, north of the capital, and Cartago, to the east, have experienced drastic cuts in services.“We haven’t been in a situation like this since 1998,” said Andrea Fonseca, a spokeswoman for the Public Services Company of Heredia (ESPH). “In these types of situations, it is Heredia that gets hit the hardest.”The reason, according to Fonseca, is Heredia’s reliance on surface reservoirs for water. In a drought, rivers, lakes and streams dry out. Underground wells and pools do not. Across the province of Heredia, the ESPH has cut water distribution from the normal 196 liters per second to just 20-30 liters per second. “Every area has its own system,” said Sergio Núñes, assistant director of AyA’s greater metropolitan area branch.“This means that we have some areas that have more problems than others. They have less rain or lower reservoirs.” With four high-production reservoirs, San José has experienced very little rationing thus far, but if the rainy season does not start in force, certain areas outside of the capital could begin to see cuts.Water strikesWhile both AyA and the ESPH point to differing systems to explain the inconsistent rationing across the country, residents of the driest areas have begun petitioning for their water to be turned back on. The townspeople of Tejar del Guarco were the first to strike. reported that on April 22, a group of some 40 residents blocked a local bridge, threw rocks at police and lit fires.Despite the protest, the town’s taps are still dry with the only water coming in from a truck once a day, according to the daily La Nación. Other communities struggle with just a few hours of water a day. According to Núñez, AyA will send water trucks to communities with rationing, but only “those most affected.”ESPH also says they are prepared to send trucks, but only after an area goes 24 hours without water. After three weeks of severe rationing, San Isidro is also on the verge of protesting. “We are in the planning phases of a strike,” Astua said. “We only have water for a few hours a day and sometimes it isn’t even potable. There are kids with stomach aches all over town and it costs ₡60,000-70,000 to get a truck to come.”Plan of actionThe ESPH has enough water to last for three weeks at the current level of rationing. But if continual rain doesn’t fall soon, the company will need to decrease water output even further. The company says it will need at least three weeks of heavy rainfall to restore the reservoirs to normal levels.Núñez said that AyA will not increase rationing in the areas where cuts are already in place.But if rain does not start within the next several weeks, other areas will have to begin rationing. AyA reservoirs will need two to three weeks of strong rain to refill depending on the area. According to the IMN, rains are expected to start this weekend and will continue in strong, short bursts, as is typical of the beginning of rainy season.Light rains began to fall over the Central Valley on Thursday night, continuing into Friday, but as of now, a solid rain has yet to take place.Acid rainLack of rain doesn’t affect only humans. Even the volcanoes are beginning to feel the drought. According to Gerardo Soto, a volcanologist with the National Seismological Network, the lack of rain is causing the lake in the Poás Volcano, northwest of San José, to dry up. If the drought continues, the lake could disappear altogether. “The water in the lake serves as a filter for the volcano’s acid,” Soto said.“When the lake dries up, that acid evaporates, leading to more acid rain in the area.” While the Poás area always experiences some acid rain, air with high acid levels is dangerous when breathed in by humans and animals, and can kill nearby plants. 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State Highlights NJ Employers Shift Health Care Costs To Workers In Atlanta

first_img The Tennessean: Health, Education, Traffic Woes Threaten Progress In Booming Nashville Starting last month, a rare but devastating genetic disease is now part of the routine blood screening given to all California babies shortly after birth. Adrenoleukodystrophy – commonly called ALD – is a tongue-twisty name for a brain disease that primarily strikes boys, often in the prime of childhood. Until now, it’s usually been detected too late to save children from deteriorating into a vegetative state, if not early death. (Buck, 10/3) Come Nov. 8, Florida could be the 26th state to legalize full-strength medical marijuana for patients with cancer, epilepsy and a host of other conditions. That gives supporters and opponents of Amendment 2 just five weeks to persuade voters. And they’ve started in earnest, pumping millions of dollars from wealthy donors into TV ads, mailings and recruiting big-name endorsers. Pro-medical marijuana group United for Care has logged $5.2 million since 2015, most of it from large donors, including a $1 million contribution last week from pot activist group New Approach. (Auslen, 10/3) Tampa Bay Times: Bankrolled By Big Donors, Florida Ballot Battle Over Medical Marijuana Heats Up Exact Sciences Corp., a Madison maker of molecular diagnostic tests, said Monday its flagship test for colon cancer has been added to a data set that is widely used to measure the quality of health plans. The test, called Cologuard, is now included in the 2017 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set quality measures for colorectal cancer screening. More than 90% of all U.S. health plans use the HEDIS information to measure performance on care and service. (Gallagher, 10/3) Georgia Health News: Atlanta Lags In Black Women’s Survival Of Breast Cancer  The disparity between breast cancer death rates for black and white women in Atlanta is greater than in any other major U.S. city, a new study has found. Among black women in Atlanta, 44 per 100,000 died of breast cancer in the period 2010 to 2014. Meanwhile, 20 white women per 100,000 died of breast cancer in Atlanta. The differential is the largest in the nation – and the gap is growing. Atlanta also had the largest increase in the black/white disparity on breast cancer mortality. (Miller, 10/3) New Jersey employers shifted more of the cost of health insurance to their employees in 2016, helping them slow down the rise in insurance premiums, a survey released Monday by the state’s biggest business lobby group found. The New Jersey Business and Industry Association, however, said increase in health care costs still far outpaced inflation. It prompted the organization to call on Trenton to take steps to protect consumers from steep charges when they use a provider out of their insurance company’s network. (Diamond, 10/3) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Exact Sciences Test Gets Boost Asbury Park Press: NJ Employers Stick Health Costs On Workers Wyoming has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation, but last week, the state joined the National Crisis Text Line to make it easier for people at risk of suicide to reach out for help. People can text “WYO” to 741-741 and hear back from a crisis counselor within five minutes. The counselors can help them talk through their problems, and then help them find services in their communities. (Elder, 10/3) State Highlights: N.J. Employers Shift Health Care Costs To Workers; In Atlanta, Steep Racial Disparities Exist For Breast Cancer Survival Rates Outlets report on health news from New Jersey, Georgia, Wyoming, Louisiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, California and Florida. center_img Hundreds of Louisiana government documents and emails between officials obtained by ProPublica through freedom of information requests show widespread mismanagement and understaffing at Red Cross-run shelters. Some evacuees went hungry, thirsty and without medical attention as a result. People at one shelter had “no food or water for 24 hours over the weekend,” wrote the head of a local nonprofit eight days after the flooding began. “A woman gave birth with no medical assistance.” Another day, the shelter served only 195 meals out of 500 because Red Cross workers showed up late. (Kravitz, 10/3) Supporters of a constitutional amendment that would broadly legalize medical marijuana in Florida received a $1 million boost this week from a political committee focused on similar initiatives in other states. The committee, New Approach, is tied to the family of the late philanthropist Peter Lewis, the former head of Progressive Insurance who died in 2013 and who financed medical-marijuana proposals in Washington and Massachusetts. New Approach also was a major contributor to an Oregon initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. (10/3) Sacramento Bee: What’s ALD? A New Genetic Test Will Identify California Newborns With Debilitating Disease  Aspire Health, a Nashville-based palliative care provider, inked $32 million in venture capital in a deal led by an investment arm of Google. Aspire is trying to make care for people in the end stages of terminal disease more comfortable by employing providers who support the specialty care teams to make visits to the person’s home as a way to eliminate unnecessary hospitalizations. (Fletcher, 10/3) The Tennessean: Bill Frist’s Aspire Health Gets Google Venture Funding ProPublica: Red Cross ‘Failed For 12 Days’ After Historic Louisiana Floods  Wyoming Public Radio: Suicide Prevention Advocates Set Up A New Text Line In Wyoming In a city full of doctors, hospitals and health care businesses, residents face higher chronic disease rates than the national average. Meanwhile, the percentage of those with academic credentials beyond a high school degree is lower than Nashville’s peer metropolitan cities, and the region’s traffic woes are expected to double by 2040. (McGee, 10/4) Health News Florida: Pro-Marijuana Group Gets $1M Boost This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more