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    "Newer" News

  • 09.06.00 : California calls a truce in water wars Sacramento (ENS)
  • 09.06.00 : Dam project on Tong River canceled to protect endangered species
  • 05.06.00 : Turkey to delay flooding of archaeological sites by 10 days
  • 02.06.00 : Dam waters rise on Turkey's ancient Hasankeyf (DPA)
  • 31.05.00 : Newest developments during the negotiations on the Water Frame Directive
  • 28.05.00 : Narmada activists mount pressure on Germany
  • 25.05.00 : WWF Poland launches a campaign for living rivers
  • 24.05.00 : Rhone River: Hydroelectric dams threaten Lake Geneva - magazine
  • 23.05.00 : French company Lyonnaise des Eaux buys 51% of the national water company of Cameroon
  • 18.05.00 : U.S. reports seen heating up salmon vs dams debate
  • 17.05.00 : Protests at the AGM of Balfour Beatty, the UK company involved in the Ilisu dam project (ERN - 17/05/00)
  • 17.05.00 : Thailand : The Pak Mool dam is worse than useless
  • older news

Text :

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:

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 said. (CSY)

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 said.
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.

02.06.00 : 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 water.


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, they say.

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:

28.05.00 : 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 potential.

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


- 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 tender.

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.

more information

17.05.00 : 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


- 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.


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) 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.


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 D.C.

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


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 private corporation.

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 of exhaustion.

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





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