09.06.00 : California calls
a truce in water wars Sacramento (ENS)
California, June 9, 2000 (ENS) - California's decades
long tradition of fighting over water may be relegated to the history
books. A multibillion plan unveiled today could call a truce between
environmentalists, farmers and cities. For full
text and graphics visit: http://ens.lycos.com/ens/jun2000/2000L-06-09-08.html
09.06.00 : Dam project on
Tong River canceled to protect endangered species
The Korea Herald 6th, June 2000
President Kim Dae-jung officially announced yesterday
that the government was scrapping a controversial dam construction
project in Yongwol, Kangwon Province in order to protect the ecosystem
of the Tong River area.
"The government is canceling the Yongwol Dam
project in order to protect the ecosystem and the 20 endangered species
that are found there. We also want to protect the seven varieties
of animals and plants that have been discovered for the first time
in the area," Kim said.
Kim made the announcement in his speech at a
ceremony marking Environment Day, which was held at the Sejong Cultural
Center in downtown Seoul.
The Yongwol Dam project has been bitterly contested
for years by environmentalists and its proponents, who claimed a dam
was necessary to control flooding and solve the water shortage problems
in the area.
Kim said that the Tong River area would be designated
a "nature-friendly cultural and sightseeing zone," and would create
jobs and other economic benefits for the local community.
"The government will ensure water shortage and
flood prevention problems are resolved after separate, in-depth consultations,"
the President said.
Kim said that in order to tackle environment
problems, he would name a presidential advisory council, tentatively
named the "Committee for Sustainable Development."
The envisaged panel, which would include government
officials, private company executives and civic activists, would be
commissioned to coordinate economic and environmental policies, he
Tong River Dam Plan Scrapped
The Korea Times 6th, June, 2000
President Kim Dae-jung said yesterday he will
launch a presidential advisory body, named the Sustainable Development
Committee, aimed at striking a balance between development and environmental
preservation. In a speech at a ceremony marking
the Environment Day at the Sejong Cultural Center, Kim also formalized
the government's decision to scrap a plan to build a dam in the Tong
River in Kangwon-do, which was intended to cope with flooding and
secure water resource
``The envisioned committee will harmonize views
between advocates of development and environmental preservation so
that development could be made while minimizing environmental damage,''
Kim outlined three principles in resolving the
recurring clashes between environmentalists and advocates of development
-- openness and participation, dialogue and compromise, and patience.
In the ceremony attended by 4,000 people, including
Environment Minister Kim Myoung-ja, business leaders made public a
charter for environment-oriented business management.
05.06.00 : Turkey to delay flooding of
archaeological sites by 10 days
Agence France-Presse ISTANBUL, June 5 (AFP) - Turkey's
Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer has postponed for 10 days the flooding
of the Euphrates river, southeast Turkey, so archaeologists can document
relics there, Turkish papers reported Monday. Ersumer had put back
the flooding of sites including the Zeugma site, known to specialists
as the "Turkish Pompeii", from June 18 to June 28 on the advice of
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the dailies Sabah and Hurriyet reported.
If that was not enough, the cabinet would think about another delay,
so long as the international consortium managing the hydroelectric
dam did not seek compensation, said Ersumer. Archaeologists had appealed
on Friday for the authorities to release flood waters after the Birecik
Dam reservoir began overflowing, flooding nearby villages and archaeological
dig sites. The flooding bgean at the end of April forcing some local
people to abandon their homes and livestock. The Birecik Dam is part
of is part of a vast, hydroelectric irrigation programme in the southeast
of the country, one of 22 projects on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
The controversial project has been attacked by Kurdish groups and
environmental campaigners, arguing that it will devastate the local
environment and force tens of thousands of Kurds from their homes.
: Dam waters rise on Turkey's ancient Hasankeyf (DPA)
By Claudia Steiner Hasankeyf, Turkey (dpa) - The
small town of Hasankeyf in southeastern Turkey is still well worth
a visit, although the Ministry of Tourism has already sounded its
death knell, deleting it from its maps long before it finally sinks
beneath the waters of a new dam. The new maps showing Turkish attractions
like the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the ancient ruin of Ephesus
omit the town on the banks of the Tigris, although it will be a couple
of years yet before it disappears along with several dozen villages
under the planned Ilisu Dam. The town, some 40 kilometres from the
provincial capital of Batman, lies on the old Silk Road and bears
witness to the Assyrian, Christian, early Islamic and Turkish cultures
that have swept over it. As recently as the 1970s Turkish authorities
regarded the town, beautifully set along the river, as an archaeological
conservation site. It was an old Roman outpost against the Persians.
Hasankeyf contains a ruined city with crumbling churches and mosques.
Alongside the new bridge over the Tigris the remains of the old bridge,
probably built in the 11th century, can still be discerned. In the
cliffs nearby around 5,000 caves have been carved out in which a few
families continue to live. According to the plans for the dam, in
seven years the tips of the minarettes sticking up out of the water
will be the only trace of the mosques, and all that will be left of
the town is a small section on high-lying ground. "If Hasankeyf goes
this will be a great loss to humanity," the town's mayor, Vahap Kusen,
says. "This is especially true as we don't even know what lies under
the ruins." The largely Kurdish population wants to remain in the
town. "My family has been living here for 450 years," one man says,
criticizing the government's poor public relations on the project.
"If you complain, they tell you you are a terrorist," he adds. Although
no compensation plans have been revealed, Isa Parlak, the governor
of Batman Province, insists the state will take care of everything.
"Nobody will suffer loss as a result of this dam," he says. Those
to be made homeless by the Ilisu dam - estimates of those affected
run from 16,000 to as high as 45,000 - will either receive new homes
from the state or be paid compensation for their homes and property.
Parlak is keen to outline the advantages the dam will bring. Ilisu
is part of the huge GAP project in southeastern Anatolia comprising
22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power stations that will provide electricity
and irrigation. Nevertheless he insists all possible will be done
to rescue any historic treasures. "They want to extinguish the culture
of a thousand years for the sake of one burning light bulb," a Hasankeyf
man says. Opponents of the huge project have joined forces. Lawyers,
journalists and artists are fighting for the town's survival. "We
are not opposed to a dam, but we don't want to lose Hasankeyf," Arif
Aslan of the town's voluntary association says. He suggests that if
the height of the planned dam is lowered, Hasankeyf could be saved,
although this would lead to a reduction in the amount of electric
power generated. As the discussions on Hasankeyf's future continue,
archaeologists are working against the clock some 300 kilometres to
the southeast near Gaziantep. They are measuring antique villas and
saving from the rising waters as much as they can of the mosaics,
frescoes and coins that they hold. More than 2,000 years ago the city
of Zeugma lay here at the site of the first and only bridge across
the Euphrates. Archaeologists believe many artefacts lie hidden beneath
the surface, but not all of them will be saved in time. By the middle
of June the dig near the villages of Belkis will probably be under
31.05.00 : Newest developments
during the negotiations on the Water Frame Directive
MEPs "abandon Ospar commitment"
ENDS Daily - 26/05/00
The European Parliament no longer wants EU member
states to make a legally binding commitment to eliminate discharges
of hazardous substances into water within twenty years, according
to NGO coalition the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). The group
says a compromise proposal offered during conciliation negotiations
to settle the final form of the water framework directive could seriously
delay any phase-out.
Voting in February to change a governmental agreement
on the draft directive, the parliament insisted that member states
should "progressively eliminate pollution of waters by continuously
reducing discharges, emissions and losses of hazardous substances,
thereby moving towards the target of their cessation by 31 December
2020" (ENDS Daily 16 >>February). The wording echoes the Ospar commitment
made at Sintra, Portugal, in 1998. Governments have bitterly opposed
enshrining the commitment in the directive.
This week, however, the parliament's conciliation
delegation presented a proposal to EU diplomats at the first official
talks to hammer out a deal. In it, they now say governments should
cease discharges only of those substances targeted for action on a
priority list to be established under the directive (ENDS Daily 24
February). This should happen twenty years after the list is approved,
An EEB campaigner told ENDS Daily today the parliament
had now "lost the Ospar commitment" by "giving away the 2020 date."
Member states wanting to delay its effect could easily stall agreement
on the priority list, he said. In addition, he claimed, the change
would allow contamination of waters to take place before action was
taken. "The parliament has abandoned its precautionary approach to
hazardous substances," he said.
Diplomats have yet to respond to the compromise offer;
the conciliation meeting concluded with little discussion on the issues
after most effort went into finding an agreement on the end-of-life
vehicles directive (ENDS Daily 24 May). Another meeting has been scheduled
for the end of June.
Stefan Scheuer EU-Policy Assistant Water Campaign
European Environmental Bureau Boulevard de Waterloo 34 B-1000 Brussels
tel: +32 2 2891090 Tel: +32 2 2891304 Direct Fax: +32 2 2891099 E-mail:
: Narmada activists mount pressure on Germany
Indian opponents of the controversial Maheshwar dam,
being built as part of the Narmada Valley power project, have mounted
pressure on the federal government here not to grant Hermes export
credit guarantee to two top German companies, which would clear the
decks for their participation in the project. According to officials
of Blue 21 and Urgewald, two German NGOs supporting the cause of the
dam opponents, a three-member delegation of representatives from the
Narmada region held meetings with federal government officials for
eight days here recently, a few weeks ahead of the expected decision
by the Schroeder government. The delegation under the aegis of the
Narmada Bachao Andolan has unequivocally demanded that Siemens and
Hypovereins-Bank should not be granted the Hermes guarantee which
would clear the way for their participation in the project. The two
companies have sought the Hermes guarantee from the German government
for loans and turbine supplies to the tune of around $170 million
for the construction of the dam and power station in Madhya Pradesh.
An inter-ministerial task force here comprising officials from four
ministries — foreign affairs, finance, economics and development cooperation
— is examining the issue.(PTI)
25.05.00 : WWF Poland launches
a campaign for living rivers
Press Release “Keeping Polish Rivers Alive Pays Off”
WWF Call for Living Rivers in Poland
Warsaw, Poland - WWF, the conservation organization,
today launched a campaign for Living Rivers in Poland and called on
authorities, business and industry, water management agencies, and
other stakeholders to act on specific targets for pollution reduction,
protection and restoration of rivers and floodplains, and ecological
flood protection. It also urged for the involvement of all relevant
organisations to tackle conservation and water management along the
Odra and Vistula rivers.
WWF President Ruud Lubbers, the former Dutch Prime
Minister, highlighted the major ecological crisis of Europe’s rivers.
WWF launched a European Living Rivers initiative last year to reverse
this trend. Poland is one of Europe’s richest countries in terms of
free flowing rivers *, which, he said, “makes WWF concern, support
and action very relevant”.
According to WWF’s experience in Europe and in Poland
, an approach that secures Living Rivers makes economic sense. Prof.
Lubbers said that “concerted action to secure the natural values of
Polish rivers will help underpin much needed economic development
in the country.” He explained that a Living Rivers approach will help
secure Poland’s water supplies, improve water quality, benefit coastal
and river fisheries, reduce flood risk to people and properties, lower
the costs of managing the rivers and improve tourist and recreation
Ireneusz Chojnacki, WWF Programme Coordinator for
Poland, highlighted the disproportionate pollution loads carried by
Polish rivers to the Baltic Sea (e.g. 30% of total N load) and called
for renewed action to meet existing commitments to the HELCOM Convention.
Highlighting the fact that almost all Poland’s 74
species of fish and lampreys are threatened by pollution and river
engineering works and stressing the wide benefits of conserving river
habitats, Mr. Chojnacki called for a commitment to protect 500 km
of valuable river stretches and restore degraded river stretches through
5 model projects by 2005 and a national strategy for the recovery
of the wild salmon which is virtually extinct in Poland and endangered
worldwide. Finally, in view of the severe pollution and water resource
problems and the current preparation of major development plans for
the Vistula and Odra, WWF calls for a forum of all relevant organisations
and stakeholders to develop a strategy to secure water resources and
the natural values of these rivers.
Prof. Lubbers presented many examples from other countries
where investments in Living Rivers have shown real benefits, including
the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, France and in the Lower Danube
countries. All these projects received major funding from either the
EU or the GEF/World Bank. “In the EU countries we have made many mistakes
and destroyed a lot. Restoring some of the natural functions of our
rivers has proven to be extremely expensive,” he added, “but the end
results have always been beneficial – financially, socially and environmentally.”
* Poland’s most important rivers with well-preserved
natural characteristics are the Vistula, Bug, Odra and Warta. There
are also hundreds of smaller semi-natural rivers e.g. Biebrza and
Narew, in eastern Poland. The Polish river network extends over 100,000km.
The Vistula is the ‘ecological backbone’ of the country and is the
2nd largest river entering the Baltic Sea. WWF’s worldwide ‘Living
Waters campaign’ will focus on the Vistula catchment – which covers
56% of Poland’s territory – to demonstrate sustainable approaches
to water management as one of 5 global examples. ** WWF is involved
with several projects throughout Poland such as the “Green Belt Oder-Neisse”
(achieving the establishment of 90,000 ha of protected areas along
both rivers), and the “Biebrza National Park-Conservation and Restoration
of Wetlands” (rehabilitating wetlands, developing ecological tourism
and supporting the cooperation between partners in the region). WWF
is currently starting a project for the sustainable development of
the Vistula and supports a full examination of all options to solve
the particular problems of the Wloclawek dam in the Lower Vistula.
The HELCOM Convention (or Helsinki Convention) of
1974, issued to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea,
was the first international agreement to cover all sources of pollution.
The Helsinki Commission makes recommendations to governments through
ministerial meetings. > Speech by Prof. Ruud Lubbers, President of
WWF, at the Living Rivers Press Launch in Warsaw on 15 May 2000
24.05.00 : Rhone River:
Hydroelectric dams threaten Lake Geneva - magazine
UK: May 18, 2000 LONDON
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
- Hydroelectric dams on the tributaries of the Rhone
River in Switzerland are threatening the pristine waters of Lake Geneva,
New Scientist magazine reported.
The nine dams built in the past 40 years are disrupting
the flow of the river and depriving the lake of vital supplies of
dissolved oxygen in summer floods from melting snow and glaciers that
is needed for the stagnant depths of the popular lake. Biologists
believe the lake is being starved of oxygen which could trigger the
growth of plankton and algae that could suffocate the lake, whose
shores are known as the Swiss Riviera.
"The net result could be a runaway breakdown of the
lake's chemical health," the magazine said on Wednesday.
Biologists Jean-Luc Loizeau and Janusz Dominik told
the magazine that without a minimum of four to five milligrams of
oxygen per litre of water at the bottom of the lake, there would be
a release of phosphorus from its sediments.
The phosphorous over-fertilises the water "and sparks
a process called eutrophication, where algae form smelly toxic tides
which suffocate the lake," New Scientist said. Loizeau and Dominik
said they could not be sure but it was possible this was already happening.
23.05.00 : French company
Lyonnaise des Eaux buys 51% of the national water company of Cameroon
Business Report 23/5/00
Cameroon sells 51% of water firm
Reuters, 23 May 2000
Yaounde - The government of Cameroon said at the weekend
it had signed a provisional agreement for France`s Suez Lyonnaise
des Eaux to take a stake of 51 percent in the national water company,
SociCtC nationale des eaux du Cameroun (Snec), after an international
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The announcement came within a week of the departure
of a joint World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to
evaluate Cameroon`s progress in a structural adjustment programme
that ends in June.
The international organisations had warned that accelerating
the privatisation process in the country, especially as regards the
water company, was crucial if Cameroon hoped to benefit from the heavily
indebted poor countries debt relief initiative.
''The 140 000 Cameroonian households that are currently
benefiting from the present water supply (by Snec) is discouragingly
low and needs to be improved,'' the IMF`s Menachem Kartz told state
radio on May 15.
Snec of was created in 1967 to produce, store, transport
and distribute drinking water in the central African country.
An overwhelming majority of the people, even in urban
centres, depend on polluted streams, springs and lakes for their water
needs. Even in the capital, Yaounde, and the commercial centre, Douala,
the water supply is irregular. In 1999, there was a chronic shortage
in the capital, drawing protests from the diplomatic community.
In the year to June 30 1999, Snec had net turnover
of nearly 16 billion CFA francs (R158 million) from the sale of some
43 million cubic metres of water.
: Protests at the AGM of Balfour Beatty, the
UK company involved in the Ilisu dam project (ERN - 17/05/00)
Comedian-activist Mark Thomas took part in the AGM
of Balfour Beatty, the UK company which, among other things, is going
to receive 200 million dollars of taxpayers money to help finance
the highly controversial dam project of Ilisu (Turkey) which is going
to evict 25,000 Kurds from their homes. He wrote a article on what
took place there. Here is a short summary: Despite the important security
staff, 15 protesters managed to reach the stage before the board could
sit down. Each of them was wearing a T-shirt with one letter printing
on it, spelling out "STOP THE ILISU DAM". Surprisingly, this was welcomed
by cheers and applause from both the protesters and several shareholders
Then many questions concerning human rights violations,environmental/financial/scientific
problems linked with the project were asked to the board. The reaction
of the latter was of mild exasperation till angry campaigners began
to stand on chairs or rush the board's platform to demand the company
account for their actions. Lord Weir, who was chairing the meeting,
then decided to suspend the assembly. This action will give more coverage
to the campaign and shareholders will be aware of what is really going
on, which is essential.
18.05.00 : U.S.
reports seen heating up salmon vs dams debate
USA: May 18, 2000 SAN FRANCISCO
- A noisy debate pitting salmon against four hydroelectric
dams in the Pacific Northwest is set to grow a louder this month when
two new federal reports spell out ways to save dwindling fish stocks.
"There's a lot hanging on what comes out in these
reports...and there could very well be lawsuits if we are not happy
with what is contained in them," said Amie Wexler, a policy associate
at the environmental group Save Our Wild Salmon.
In the first report, to be issued next week, the National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will set legally-binding guidelines
for all federal dams in the Northwest, including the four in focus
on the Lower Snake River in Washington: Lower Granite, Lower Monumental,
Little Goose, and Ice Harbour. The second report, based on studies
by the NMFS and eight other federal agencies, will make non-binding
recommendations to help salmon recovery efforts throughout the Columbia
and Snake River basins, an area that extends into six states and Canada.
The number of salmon returning from the sea to spawn
each year in these basins has declined from an estimated stock of
10 to 16 million a century ago to about one million today. Environmentalists,
Indian tribes, and commercial fisherman claim the dams pose the single
biggest danger to the salmon, 13 species of which are now listed as
endangered, and argue that the best way to speed the salmon's recovery
is to take out the dams.
But the dams, among some of the biggest structures
in the world, are also a major source of electricity, helping power
cities from Seattle to Los Angeles, and are central to much of the
region's economy. The four dams produce up to 3,500 megawatts of power,
enough to light up 560,000 homes, and account for about seven percent
of all electricity generated in the Pacific Northwest.
They are also used to irrigate close to 37,000 acres
of farmland in eastern Washington, and carry barges loaded with grain
and other commodities shipped out of southern Idaho.
The region's vast agricultural and industrial interests
acknowledge more can be done for the salmon, but are far from willing
to see the dams torn down, a recommendation most government officials
say is unlikely to appear in the reports.
A LACK OF SCIENTIFIC AGREEMENT
One of the primary difficulties in the ongoing debate
has been the lack of scientific agreement between the nine federal
agencies, six states, and nearly two dozen interest groups involved
in salmon recovery efforts. Almost no one would challenge the evidence
that hydropower dams, logging, mining, rural and urban development,
pollution, and overfishing have taken a steep toll on salmon stocks.
But there is little agreement among scientists and
the region's various interest groups on where to assign blame and
how best to reverse the situation.
The strictest environmentalists call for removing
the dams to allow the salmon to resume their annual migration from
the sea to freshwater spawning grounds hundreds of miles up river.
This would also end problems of water warmed in reservoirs
to harmful temperatures for the fish and cut the level of disolved
gasses in the water at the foot of the dams' spillways.
"These dams must come out. This must be the cornerstone
to any plan, but...we must also address the other factors contributing
to the salmon decline," Justin Hayes, a spokesman for American Rivers,
an environmental group that for the past two years has called the
Lower Snake the most endangered river in North America.
Dam-removal proponents also note that if the salmon
ever became extinct, the U.S. government would be legally bound to
compensate local Indian tribes for lost fishing rights guaranteed
by 19th century treaties. While not disagreeing that dams have hurt
the salmon, those opposed to tearing them down advocate alternatives,
like extending a 20-year programme of barging fish past the dams and
raising river levels at key times of year to aid fish passage.
"We need a more comprehensive plan that looks at alternatives
(to breaching the dams)...science does not offer us any certainty
that dam-removal would increase salmon levels," said Bruce Lovelin,
executive director of the Columbia River Alliance, which represents
industrial users of the Snake river. Adding to the debate's confusion
are conflicts and lack of agreement between various federal agencies.
Last month, for example, the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, which oversees dam-compliance with the federal Clean Water
Act, criticised a recent environmental study by the Army Corps of
Engineers for failing to "adequately characterise" the effects of
the dams on water quality. In a letter to the Corps, which operates
the 29 federal dams in the Northwest, the EPA also cited the absence
of any preferred choice by the Corps in the list of solutions in its
report. Meanwhile, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has flatly stated
dam removal is the best way to preserve the salmon.
THIN POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR DAM REMOVAL
Any effort to remove the dams will have to clear
Congress, which makes the final decision on managing federal assets.
And right now, knocking the dams down has little support in Washington
Regional elected officials at the state and congressional
level, treading carefully so as not to offend labour or environmentalist
constituencies, overwhelmingly favour keeping the dams in place. But
there is no unanimity on the issue.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has gone
on the record to endorse dam removal as a viable solution.
Story by Spencer Swartz
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
17.05.00 : Thailand
: The Pak Mool dam is worse than useless
The Nation, May 15, 2000
Let's admit it. The Pak Mool dam is one of Thailand's
worst mistakes. The hydroelectric project not only falls short of
expectations on economic gains, but also generates economic losses
for thousands of fishing families in the Mool river basin.
Today more than 2,000 fishermen living along the river
will march to the notorious dam site and demand that the government
take action. They vow to make the site their stronghold until the
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) agrees to open
all of the dam's gates to restore fisheries.
We find the proposal to decommission the Pak Mool
dam highly sensible. Since its completion in 1994, the Pak Mool dam
has done more harm than good to the country's economy, not to mention
its ecology. The dam was suppose to have an electricity generating
capacity of 136 megawatts. But today it does not generate more than
an average of 40 megawatts, partly because of a miscalculation on
water flow by Egat engineers. In August and September when the Mool
rises to become even with the level of the Mekong, the dam at the
confluence of the two great rivers generates almost no electricity.
There is simply no headwater to run the turbines. The latest important
study of the Pak Mool dam's economic viability by the World Commission
on Dams (WCD) found that the more Egat runs the dam, the higher operation
costs it has to bear. The study indicates that the miscalculation
on water flow raises the dam's daily operating costs. The WCD is an
internationally recognised independent organisation founded by the
World Bank and the dam building industries in developed countries
to assess the performance of dams worldwide. Other projects under
WCD investigation include the gigantic Grand Coulee Dam in the United
States, the Tucurui dam in Brazil and a system of 37 dams in Norway.
Although dam building more often than not involves
cost overruns, the cost of Pak Mool dam was almost double its original
estimate. In its first >feasibility study, the construction cost was
calculated at Bt3.3 billion while the actual cost when the dam was
completed was Bt5.8 billion.
Egat as a state enterprise simply passes the prices
of its mistakes onto consumers and taxpayers. If one traces Egat's
performance, Pak Mool is not the only dam having such economic problems.
Needless to say, the agency >would have gone bankrupt if it were a
Now look at what the Pak Mool dam has done to riverine
ecology and the local fishing industry. The WCD recorded that 169
out of 265 species of fish in the Mool River were affected by the
construction of the dam. Of >these, 56 species have completely disappeared.
Before the dam, Thailand's largest tributary of the
highly genetically diversified Mekong, the Mool River, was considered
one of the most fertile fishing grounds in Southeast Asia. A writer
once noted that if the Mekong were a monarch, the Mool would be the
closest to the throne in terms of natural fertility.
Such a dramatic depletion of fish in the Mool is directly
linked to the dam at the mouth of the Mool River. The dam blocks migratory
fish from swimming up from the Mekong to feed and spawn in the Mool
River during the rainy season.
Opposition against the dam from fishermen, who predicted
the consequences, prompted Egat to build a fish ladder to serve as
a passage for fish. But as predicted again by the villagers, the ladder
provided little help.
Last year, a fisherman found a nearly 100-kilogramme
fish struggling to get past the concrete dam and into the Mool. The
fish was found to have bruises all over its body and finally died
By opening wide the water gates, the river can be
restored almost to its natural condition with no need to remove the
concrete structure itself. Due to its unique design as a run-of-the-river
dam, the dam does not have a large storage reservoir. The electricity
from the Pak Mool dam can also be replaced by other alternatives.
The WCD report found that it is cheaper to generate the same amount
of power by using natural gas and bio-mass fuel.
The decommissioning of the Pak Mool dam involves little
technical complication, but requires strong political will. Public
support is needed to boost the courage of the government. Only by
admitting that the dam is a mistake can a correction be made. Thailand
is not the only country in which >people cry out loud for dam decommissioning.
The world's major dam builders, such as the United States, have gone
through the same process.
For decades, the Pak Mool and other dams - which affect
people's livelihood by taking away their land and resources - have
been symbols of unjust economic development policy. The poor and powerless
have always been told to sacrifice for the good of the nation. But
we seem to forget that the poor, who happen to be the majority in
this country, are also a part of our nation.
Southeast Asia Rivers Network (SEARIN) 25/5 Moo 2
Soi Sukhapiban 27 Changkhien-Jed yod Rd. Chang Phuek Muang Chiang
Mai 50300 Thailand
Tel&Fax (66) 53-221157