The weekly wash-up (April 19)

The week that was in river and water news – April 19th, 2013

Not a lot of river-related news from Australia this week. But water shortages in India are having a range of “flow-on” effects:

Water stocks beat oil, gold as shortages loom  Shares of water companies are beating those of gold and oil producers as governments from China to India boost spending on basic infrastructure to avert shortages threatening economic growth and political stability. “We can’t live without water, we can live without gold,” said Simon Gottelier, manager of a fund in London involved in $3.2 billion of assets including a water fund.

Colarado River tops 2013 endangered waterway list   The annual top-10 list of endangered American Rivers warns drought and demand are pushing the Colorado River beyond its limits — with the needs of more than 40 million people in seven Western states projected to outstrip dwindling supply over the next 50 years. Rankings are determined by nomination from river groups and advocates based on the size of the threat, the significance of the waterway to people and nature and whether it can help influence action in the coming year.

River Ganges at Varanasi. Photo by JM Suarez.

River Ganges at Varanasi. Photo by JM Suarez.

The healing power of the Ganges   In 1895 India’s most sacred river was found to contain antiseptic properties that killed the cholera germ. This was identified 22 years later as the work of a bacteriophage. Phage therapy was used to treat a range of bacterial diseases but fell out of favor after the development of penicillin and other antibiotics. But with the seemingly unstoppable march of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the bacteriophage is now informing the design of a new treatment for the infection-causing bacterium MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.)

Thirsty India looks to Murray-Darling model   Australia’s experience in managing the water of the Murray-Darling Basin is being used to help India address one of the world’s most serious looming water crises. The Australian government’s eWater agency has signed a memorandum of understanding to share its hydrological modelling platform Source with the Indian Institute of Technology. Australia developed the Source software over 15 years as a modelling tool to improve the management of Australia’s major river system, the Murray-Darling Basin.