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Climate change: lakes and rivers will become drier, increasingly infectious and toxic

Climate change: lakes and rivers will become drier, increasingly infectious and toxic, Stuff NZ, Olivia Wannan, Apr 30 2020  

By dragging our feet on climate action, we increasingly condemn our beloved lakes and rivers to a future of salmonella contamination, algal blooms, species extinctions and drying out, a new report warns.

Our Freshwater 2020, produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ, is a stark reminder that the already-threatened health of our waterways rests on our ability to urgently shift away from fossil fuels.

Even if emissions stay at historically low levels, temperatures will continue to rise in the coming decades, due to the lag between releasing greenhouse gas and the effects on our atmosphere, seas and waterways.

As the climate warms, rain storms will intensify, snowfall will decrease, glaciers will melt, soils will dry out and the sea level will rise – each affecting our lakes and rivers.

In the east, regions such as Hawke’s Bay will see increasingly low waterways by the end of the century, says Ministry for the Environment departmental science advisor Dr Alison Collins.

In the west – particularly in the South Island – rivers and lake levels are expected to rise, potentially leading to flooding.

After extreme downpours, drinking water and swimming spots are at high risk of being contaminated with infectious tummy bugs such as salmonella and harmful strains of E.coli, she says. Northern and remote eastern communities with less-developed water supply systems are particularly vulnerable.

Toxic algal blooms will become more common, as warmer temperatures reduce the mixing between upper and lower levels of deep lakes, boosting nutrient levels at the surface and algal growth. Without the waters mixing, the lake bottom is also deprived of oxygen, which drives out animals such as crayfish (kōura) and mussels (kākahi).

Combined with pollution and habitat loss, climate change is likely to push some freshwater species – both native and introduced – to extinction, the report says. …… https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/121178883/climate-change-lakes-and-rivers-will-become-drier-increasingly-infectious-and-toxic

April 30, 2020 - Posted by | climate change, New Zealand

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