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Enduring Droughts Plague the United States

US | September 3, 2018

Although it might not currently be making the daily headlines, over a quarter of the United States is still suffering from drought.

As reported in the July 26, 2018, U.S. Drought Monitor, currently 27% of the United States is experiencing drought conditions, distressing approximately 70 million people. Extreme and Exceptional drought are affecting substantial areas of western Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, Texas, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri and southern California.

"Most of the West is dry," said Nancy Selover, Arizona's state climatologist. "You've got dust storms across Interstate 10 in southern New Mexico, and we've got really dry range conditions. We've got lakes that are drying up. It's pretty ugly."

Water shortages are not just a problem in the United States. It is a crisis challenging countries all around the globe. For example, Reuters reported that India is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history,” threatening hundreds of millions of lives and jeopardizing economic growth, a government think-tank report said in June.

According to New Scientist Cape Town, South Africa’s water shortage has been so severe that water is still limited to no more than 50 liters per person per day. At one point, the city almost had to switch off the water supply.

In Iran, approximately 97% of the country is experiencing drought to some degree reports the Islamic Republic of Iran Meteorological Organization. The water shortages have resulted in protests where at least one person has been killed.

Effects of Drought

The consequences of droughts are far-reaching. Droughts and extreme heat are fueling wildfires across large areas of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. The Weather Network reported that 2018 has already seen over 3.3 million acres of forested areas burn in the U.S., a value slightly lower than the one registered this time last year. Last year saw 10 million acres burn away, making it the second-worst year on record.

In California, although the drought has subsided wildfires still are rampant. The SF Gate reports that the forests suffered through years of drought leading up to 2017. And since December 2016 some 129 million trees have died due to drought and insect infestation leaving a large fuel load that takes just a spark to ignite.

What’s more public health is significantly impacted by drought. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a piece ‘Preparing for the Health Effects of Drought: a Resource Guide for Public Health Officials.’ The report discusses the public health effects of drought and highlights the following as some of the most prominent:

  • Reduced access to potable water, food sources compromised
  • Increases in vector-borne diseases and infections due to changes in the patterns and populations of disease carriers
  • Increased respiratory distress, including increased risk of respiratory infections
  • Increased risk of dehydration as well as heat exhaustion and heat stroke during heat waves
  • Worsening of chronic illnesses
  • Adverse mental health effects including stress, anxiety, and depression

There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for these dangerous drought conditions.

Consequently, sustainable water use needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. One way for hotels and commercial laundries to conserve water is by implementing near-waterless laundry by Hydrofinity. The Hydrofinity laundry system replaces up to 80% of the water used in traditional washing systems with polymer XOrbs™ that gently massage textiles to provide superior cleaning results as compared to conventional aqueous washing methods. By combining the molecular structure of the XOrbs with a proprietary detergent solution, dirt from soiled items is attracted and absorbed by the XOrbs, producing cleaner results in ambient water. The reusable XOrbs have a lifespan of hundreds of washes before being collected and recycled.

Topics: US

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