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  • 31.05.01: The Pak Moon dam a global example?
  • 31.05.01: Québec : people will be more involved in decisions concerning power stations (eng)
    Production d'électricité : le grand public sollicité (Québec) (fr)
  • 31.05.01: Floods inundate some parts of the world, while others are parched
  • 29.05.01: National Park Service Detains Environmental Leaders At Lake Powell
  • 29.05.01: Fresh Initiative Taken To Refresh Nairobi River
  • 29.05.01 : Quebec: 425 MW small hydro against outdoor enthusiasts

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31.05.01: The Pak Moon dam a global example?

The Pak Moon situation has reached its point of culmination. A genuine solution seems to be within reach. But still this unique opportunity can break down completely and dissolve in endless conflict damaging all parties. Can the media play a role in the course of events between ongoing disaster or a hope-giving perspective? And what is appropriate research in this situation?

Two panel-discussions will be devoted to these questions on Saturday 2nd June, 10.00 ? 15.00 hours, in the new Dr. Puey Center, Wat Pathum-Kongka, Songwad road, Bangkok.

Discussants will be a.o. Ajarn Sulak Sivaraksa, Dr Chermsak Pinthong, Prof. Surichai Wan?gaeo, Suchada Chakpisuth, Mae Majuree, Natedao Paethakul, Dr. Komart, Prof. Thanet. The opening of the Pak Moon dam and the subsequent education & research period provides an opportunity for Thailand to show to the world-community its capability to resolve social conflicts. The Pak Moon situation stands model for similar, increasingly pressing, problems worldwide.

a.. Can the Pak Moon dam become an international example of empowerment of People?s Organisations; and demonstrate a creative consensus on new directions in sharing food, energy, water, health, work, income, education in a spirit of fairness, justice and a Culture of Peace?

b.. Is an agreement possible in which all villagers? groups as well as EGAT play a constructive role up to the best of their civil responsibilities? Is there a sincere wish from the side of EGAT to reach an agreement or are hidden tactics driving its actions?

c.. What kind of public support is needed to facilitate the new Government to play its mediating and democratic decision making role? What can be the supporting roles of the business community; religious groups and spiritual leaders; education & research institutes?

d.. The chemical fertilizer industry is an extremely high energy consuming economic sector. Can farmers commit to organic practices in farming (natural farming) in order to reduce energy consumption?

e.. What can be the role of the media in advancing sustainable solutions for the problems of our time: do they benefit primarily from confrontation or from reconciliation?

Ajarn Sulak Sivaraksa will give a presentation on this subject at the international congress of the World Association for Christian Communication, 4 ? 7 July in Noordwijkerhout (near The Hague) and on 8 July 2001 in De Rode Hoed, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Prasittiporn

Kan-Onsri [NOI] Friends of the People [FOP.] 99 , 3rd Floor Nakorn Sawan Road Pomprab Bangkok 10100. THAILAND. Tel, Fax ; (662) 2811916 , 2812595
email: ;
Assembly of the Poor. and
Protection Mun River Network. and
Protection Yom River Network. and

31.05.01: Québec : people will be more involved in decisions concerning power stations (eng)

The governement of Québec is going to modified the rules on the evaluations of the environmental impacts of some power stations. So far, those studies were compulsory for station producing more than 10 megawatts. The limit will now be for the construction, reconstruction and exploitation of thermic station using fossil energy and nuclear power. Most of the new of projects of small hydroelectric power stations will also be submitted to public approval.

Production d'électricité : le grand public sollicité (Québec)

Le gouvernement du Québec devrait modifier le règlement sur l'évaluation et l'examen des impacts sur l'environnement afin d'abaisser le seuil d'assujettissement pour certaines centrales destinées à produire de l'électricité. Ainsi, celui-ci devrait passer de 10 à 5 mégawatts et vise les projets de construction, reconstruction et exploitation de centrales thermiques fonctionnant aux combustibles fossiles et des centrales nucléaires. Les autres filières énergétiques telles que la thermique fonctionnant à la biomasse, la solaire et l'éolienne conserveront un seuil d'assujettissement de 10 mégawatts. Concrètement, en abaissant le seuil d'assujettissement de 10 à 5 mégawatts, la plupart des projets de construction de nouvelles petites centrales hydroélectriques pourraient être soumis à une audience publique.

31.05.01: Floods inundate some parts of the world, while others are parched

By Maryann Bird, Time Europe
Floods inundate some parts of the world, while others are parched. Managing our water is a 21st century challenge
Water, not oil, is the most precious fluid in our lives, the substance from which all life on the earth has sprung and continues to depend. If we run short of oil and other fossil fuels, we can use alternative energy sources. If we have no clean, drinkable water, we are doomed. As the 6 billion passengers aboard Spaceship Earth enter a complex new century, few issues are as fundamental as water. We are falling far short of the most basic humanitarian goals: sufficient and affordable clean water, food and energy for everyone. "I cannot bear to watch the nations cry," wrote Derek Walcott, the Caribbean-born Nobel laureate, whose poetry often reflects his African heritage. With regional disputes over water resources increasing, and people and ecosystems alike facing urgent, immense challenges, business as usual is not a viable option.
On a planet that is 71% water, less than 3% of it is fresh. Most of that is either in the form of ice and snow in Greenland and Antarctica or in deep groundwater aquifers. And less than 1% of that water - .01% of all the earth's water - is considered available for human needs; even then, much of it is far from large populations. At the dawn of the 21st century, more than 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. Some 2.4 billion - 40% of the world's population - lack adequate sanitation, and 3.4 million die each year from water-related diseases.
The global governmental neglect behind those numbers is "the most critical failure of the 20th century" and the major challenge for the 21st, contends Peter Gleick, one of the world's leading experts on freshwater resources. "Governments, ngos and local communities must address this problem first - as their top priority," says Gleick, director of the California-based Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security. "There are many tools for doing so, and the economic costs are not high compared to the costs of failing to meet these needs."
"We are facing a world water gap right now, this minute," the World Commission on Water has warned, "and the crisis will only get worse. The consequences of failing to bridge the gap will be higher food prices and expensive food imports for water-scarce countries that are predominantly poor." Hunger and thirst are also linked to political instability and low rates of economic growth.
Scientists, water professionals, environmental campaigners and others have warned for decades that a water crisis was building - alarm bells that rang on many a deaf governmental ear. The crisis is partly due to natural cycles of extreme weather and the expansion and contraction of arid regions. But human activity has been playing an ever-greater role in creating water scarcity and "water stress" - defined as the indication that there is not enough good-quality water to meet human and environmental needs. Like so much of the earth's bounty, water is unevenly distributed. While people in some parts of the world pile up sandbags to control seasonal floods or struggle to dry out after severe storms, others either shrivel and die - like their crops and their livestock before them - or move on as environmental refugees. In Canada - which has about the same amount of water as China but less than 2.5% of its population - the resource has been labeled "blue gold." In parched Botswana, dominated by the Kalahari Desert, water is so precious that the national currency is called pula - "rain" in the Setswana language. The planet is not actually running out of water, of course. But its people are having an increasingly difficult time managing, allocating and protecting the water that exists. In some areas the hydrological cycle - by which the fresh water of rain and snow eventually evaporates, condenses in clouds and falls again - may be taking longer to complete as humans use water faster than nature can renew it. As governments, international agencies and local officials grapple with the situation, research findings and conflicts over water rights illustrate the immensity of the task. For example:
. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 792 million people in 98 developing nations still are not getting sufficient food to lead normal, healthy lives. Even in the industrialized world and in post-Soviet "countries in transition," 34 million people remain undernourished. In the Commonwealth of Independent States, the prevalence of undernourishment is greatest in Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, while in Central Europe, Bulgaria is considered the worst case. In the Middle East and North Africa, Yemen, Morocco and Iraq are among the worst off.
. Asia and the Pacific have more chronically hungry people than elsewhere, says the FAO, but the "depth of hunger" - a calculation based on what energy they get from their food and the minimum energy needed to maintain body weight - is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa, home to some of the world's poorest countries. There, some 186 million people - more than a third of the population - are considered undernourished.
. In many sub-Saharan countries, according to a report by the World Water Council, the average per capita water-use rates are 10 to 20 liters a day, which it calls "undesirably low." By contrast, per capita residential use in Europe runs as high as about 200 liters. Beset by agricultural failure, fragile ecosystems, erratic weather, war and other factors, 18 sub-Saharan countries face the severest problems in feeding their people, says the FAO. . Disputes over water - including threats of "water wars" - bubble in areas where rainfall is sparse. Ignoring Israeli opposition, Lebanon began pumping water in late March from the Hasbani River, which flows into the Jordan. The village of Wazzani, which had been without water during two decades of Israeli occupation, views access to the river as a matter of simple rights as well as a symbol of sovereignty. Other current disputes involve Turkey, Syria and Iraq (the Euphrates); Israel and Syria (the Sea of Galilee); Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (the Jordan); Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and others (the Nile); Senegal and Mauritania (the Senegal); and Iran and Afghanistan (the Helmand).
. In some places, water that is shared by nations has been poisoned - sometimes accidentally, as in last year's Romanian cyanide spill in the Tisza and Danube Rivers, and sometimes naturally, as in arsenic poisoning of groundwater in India and Bangladesh in recent years. More than 200 river basins are shared, and about half of them are in Europe and Africa, according to the Pacific Institute. Nineteen basins are shared by more than five political entities, led by the Danube with 17.
As a 21st century issue, freshwater scarcity was ranked second only to global warming in an International Council for Science survey of environmental experts in more than 50 countries. Next on the list were the related topics of desertification and deforestation. Desertification is a feature of every continent, and it seriously threatens the livelihoods of more than 1.2 billion people in more than 110 countries. Stemming from a variety of factors - including climactic variations, overgrazing of livestock, tilling land unsuitable for agriculture and chopping trees for firewood - desertification has made its greatest impact in Africa. The continent is two-thirds desert or fragile dryland, and nearly three-quarters of its extensive agricultural drylands are degraded to some degree.
"There is a great deal of natural rhythm in all of these shifts," says Vaclav Smil, professor of geography at Canada's University of Manitoba and an expert on environmental and energy matters. But he says better farming practices can help: "recycling crop residues, planting leguminous cover crops [plants with seeds in pods], planting trees everywhere." Smil also believes that even the poorest people should be charged for their water - "as much as they can bear" - to help ensure both efficient use and quality systems. "Otherwise they will waste as much as anybody else." While much of the focus is on Africa, developed but semiarid European countries along the northern Mediterranean also are suffering from desertification and deforestation. Much of the soil of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal has become saline and sterile as a result of fire, drought, floods, overgrazing, overtilling and other factors. Such degradation can be irreversible. As industry, tourism and farming place greater stress on coastal areas in particular - and groundwater levels decline - "water wars" are becoming internal. Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards recently took to the streets of Madrid and Barcelona to protest government plans to divert the country's largest river, the Ebro, to supply water to the southeast. Marcelino Iglesias, president of the regional government in northeastern Aragón, through which the Ebro flows, has denounced the plan as "aiming at an absolutely unsustainable model of development ... while consolidating a second-class Spain in the interior."
Indeed, dams and irrigation are two of the most controversial aspects of the global water debate and are being examined ever more critically. The final report of the World Commission on Dams concluded that while dams have delivered significant benefits, the price paid - in cost, environmental impact and displacement of people - has in many cases been unacceptable and often unnecessary. The report found "far greater scope" for alternatives to dams in meeting water, food and energy needs. "We excluded only one development option - inaction," says the commission chairman, Kader Asmal, a former South African Minister of Water Affairs.
"We must rethink water management," says Gleick. "We no longer live in an era, or a world, in which rivers can be endlessly dammed, aquifers relentlessly pumped, ecosystems degraded and impoverished ... We have to focus on how we use water. That's where new water will be 'found.' "
As the world begins to address the situation more seriously, a range of proposals, old and new, are coming to the fore. They include: reducing waste in irrigation (providing more drip to the drop); desalinating (where energy sources and funds permit, as in Saudi Arabia); recycling; making appropriate local choices of crops and grain-fed animals (growing corn rather than wheat in areas where water is not plentiful, raising chickens rather than pigs); employing low-cost chlorination and solar disinfectant techniques; increasing water "harvesting" - from sources like rain and fog - for agricultural use, particularly at village level; and transportation of potable water in giant polyurethane bags to dry areas (as has been done in Cyprus and the Greek islands for years).
Access to adequate, unpolluted water is increasingly being viewed in development circles as a basic human right, something that governments must ensure. As Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the dam commission: "In an age of globalization, greater efforts can and must be made to reconcile the need for economic growth with the need to protect the dignity of individuals, the cultural heritage of communities and the health of the environment we all share." For billions of people, that - like water itself - is a matter of life and death.

29.05.01 : Quebec: 425 MW small hydro against outdoor enthusiasts

Dam it? Outdoor lovers outraged
By Lynn Moore, The Gazette
Quebec's largest white-water festival will be wiped out and sports on the popular Rouge River and other waterways might be crippled if the province goes ahead with its small-dams project, outdoor enthusiasts warned yesterday.
The project, announced Thursday by Natural Resources Minister Jacques Brassard, would put 36 small private hydro-electric dams on 24 rivers by 2005. Some of the targeted sites are popular canoeing, kayaking and rafting venues.
The project "is absurd, unjustifiable and unjust," said Jasmin Lefebvre, a lawyer and avid canoeist who, with other volunteers, helped organize the Festival d'Eau Vive de la Haute Gatineau, now in its fifth year.
The small private dams will primarily benefit the dam-owners and U.S. companies that will be able to buy cheaper electricity. But they will destroy valuable natural resources that bring pleasure to thousands of Quebecers and draw tourists, Lefebvre and others concerned with protecting wilderness areas said yesterday.
In an era where tourism authorities the world over are promoting and developing adventure and eco-tourism, the word will spread that Quebec "is cementing over its rapids and tourists won't come," Lefebvre said.
Last year, about 800 people, including U.S. tourists, participated in the whitewater festival held on an 8-kilometre stretch of the Gatineau near Maniwaki at the end of August, he said.
Festival Promotion
This year, the provincial government - through the sports and leisure branch of the Municipal Affairs Department - offered a $10,000 subsidy, in part to promote the festival, which has in previous years been touted by Tourism Quebec, Lefebvre said.
If the dams go through, instead "of rapids along a pristine stretch of river with beautiful scenery, there will be two (man-made) lakes and lots of concrete," Lefebvre said.
Yesterday, as many as 1,000 people were enjoying water sports like rafting and kayaking on the Rouge River, said Chris Phelan, owner of New World River Expeditions, one of the firms that offers rafting on the river.
Phelan said that he heard Quebec lifted its moratorium on small-dam construction but didn't yet know the details of what it planned for the Rouge.
According to information available on the Web site of the Quebec Natural Resources Department and elsewhere, a dam is planned for the Seven Sisters area of the Rouge near Grenville. It is not clear whether the dam will be placed at the falls or the rapids.
"If they flood the rapids (for the dam), they would destroy the recreational potential of the river," said Phelan, whose firm owns land along the river and has a lease with Hydro-Quebec that enables it to access the riverbed, which is owned by the utility.
Flooding rapids on one of the most popular rivers in Quebec doesn't make sense, Phelan added. "Why would they target one of the few places (handy to Montreal and Ottawa) where there are recreational opportunities?"
Phelan predicted that the outfitters and small businesses that use the river, as well individuals, "will resist that to the end."
Brassard's spokesman did not respond to an interview request yesterday.
Government's Decision
Should the project go ahead, about 425 megawatts of power would be generated by the 36 dams. Individual dams producing more than five megawatts will be subject to public hearings.
Lefebvre, who described himself as a former Parti Quebecois member, said the government's decision to build small dams is contrary to what PQ members have told the party they wanted.
He pointed out that the plan calls for the dam-promoters to enter agreements with municipalities near the dams and said that aspect smacks of a bid by the province to curry favour with the regions.
"We are like a banana republic if we go ahead with development projects like this, which are not sustainable over the long term," he said.
Alain Bonin, also involved in the Gatineau festival, noted that Quebec rivers - including the Gatineau - are laced with dams that are no longer used, but which remain eyesores.
"Once a dam is built, the damage is done. You can't go back," he said.
A spokesman for the association representing Quebec's canoe and kayak clubs said the group adamantly opposes the dam project.
- For more information about the dam project and a list of rivers that would be affected, the province's announcement can be found on the Web at
- The Web site for the Federation Quebecoise de Canoe-Kayak d'Eau Vive has information about dams that will be supplemented shortly. It can found at:
- Lynn Moore can be reached by E-mail at:

Lead Editorial Tuesday 29 May 2001
Say no to the dams
The Gazette
In a move suggesting that the provincial government has either taken leave of its senses or is gearing up for the next election, Natural Resources Minister Jacques Brassard has announced that private buyers can build hydro-electric dams on 24 of the province's most beautiful and well-used recreational waterways. The government has put no minimum price on the 36 sites it has listed as potential dam sites. If all 36 sites were dammed, private promoters could generate as much as 425 megawatts of electricity, even though barely a year and a half ago the Quebec Energy Board recommended they be given a maximum quota of 150 MW.
Gilles Lefrancois, the head of the Quebec Association for the Production of Renewable Energy, an association of private energy producers, was particularly pleased by the energy board's abandoning the concept of a "socially acceptable price" of energy in favour of a "commercially acceptable" price.
Those who can see past the Parti Quebecois's need to direct regional-development dollars into the hinterland before the next election are less pleased with these latest developments. Consider some of the sites the government has suggested could be dammed by 2005: the Sainte-Anne falls on the Sainte-Anne River; the Sainte-Ursule falls on the Maskinonge River; the Neuf falls on the Batiscan River in the town of Notre-Dame-de-Montauban; and the Petite-Nation and Gatineau rivers in the Outaouais. The Rouge River in the Laurentians is another, highly controversial site where, every spring and summer, thousands of vacationers from Montreal and Ottawa go to canoe, raft and kayak in the whitewater rapids and limpid pools.
In a province where there is no pressing need to expand hydro production for domestic consumption, the idea that some of the best recreational sites should be stopped up with concrete defies logic. While the initial impulse to pry some of the hydro-electric production out of Hydro-Quebec's monopolistic hands is a good one, there is no need to sacrifice some of the province's finest recreational spots over it. It is important to keep in mind that those whom the small-dams project is expected to benefit are the private dam owners and the U.S. market, with private electric companies able to buy electricity more cheaply.
The province has promised that local communities will be consulted before a dam is allowed to be constructed, but it does not explain what constitutes a community. Will the vacationers count as part of a community? Or the tourist companies whose livelihood also depends on the rivers and falls? They surely have as much a right to make their living from their natural resources as private dam owners.
There is also the thorny problem of Hydro-Quebec now saying the small-dam project is not viable financially. A year ago, the energy board ruled that Hydro-Quebec, which has about 33,000 MW of installed power, should pay the private producers 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, a figure equal to or less than what the utility calculated it would cost to develop large power sites.
Now, however, Hydro-Quebec has revised its estimates and says that a dam project with production costs estimated to be more than three cents a kilowatt/hour is unacceptable. Not one of the small-dam projects can produce electricity at less than three cents a MW/hour. Will this lead the local hydro-electric producers to pare their costs to a minimum? How safely can it be done?
If ever a project needed to go back to the drawing board, this is one. Philip Raphals Directeur adjoint / Associate Director Le Centre Hélios / Helios Centre for Energy Research 326, boul. St-Joseph, suite 100 Montréal (Quebec) Canada H2T 1J2
(514) 849-7091 (telephone) (514) 849-6357 (fax)

29.05.01: National Park Service Detains Environmental Leaders At Lake Powell

Page City Councilmember's Boat Sustains Damage
Law enforcement officers of the National Park Service (NPS) on Sunday detained environmental leaders at Lake Powell reservoir (Glen Canyon National Recreation Area) near Page, Arizona. Leaders of the Sierra Club's Glen Canyon Group, Living Rivers, and Glen Canyon Action Network of Moab, Utah, were on board two powerboats with news media representatives near Glen Canyon Dam, engaged in outreach efforts to promote restoration of Glen Canyon, protection of Native American Indian sacred sites, and the decommissioning of Glen Canyon Dam.
"It seemed obvious to us that the Park Service's interruption of our event and detention of our boats were not matters of safety or law enforcement, but an attempt to squelch our message and intimidate us," said Owen Lammers, Executive Director of Glen Canyon Action Network.
The environmental leaders were concluding a successful Memorial Day weekend contacting Lake Powell visitors, informing them of the need to drain the nation's second-largest reservoir. On Saturday, leaders of the Diné (Navajo) Medicinemen's Association accompanied the environmentalists and press representatives to Rainbow Bridge, a sacred site to indigenous peoples of the Colorado Plateau, and a National Monument operated by the NPS and partially inundated by Lake Powell. The medicine men expressed great concern about the damage to this sacred land and about the large amounts of revenue generated by tours to Rainbow Bridge for Lake Powell concessionaire ARAMARK Corporation, which has a virtual monopoly on such trips. The profitable tours run several times each day to Rainbow Bridge, which is surrounded by Navajo Nation lands, but provides no revenue to the tribe or to tribal members, many of whom live in extreme poverty. 56% of Navajo families live beneath the poverty line, and the reservation is burdened by a 50% unemployment rate. The per capita income on the Navajo Nation is just $4,106 per year-roughly the amount needed to rent and supply an ARAMARK houseboat on Lake Powell for a family vacation this Memorial Day weekend.
The group also toured the site of the proposed Antelope Point Marina near Page, a major development that would damage ceremonial and archeological sites, and increase water and air pollution in the Glen Canyon area. The Park Service recently contracted with Phoenix-based trucking conglomerate Swift Transportation Company, to construct and operate the marina in the plume of the massive Navajo Generating Station electrical power plant, one of the largest air pollution sources in the nation. The project is being challenged by a coalition of Native American and environmental advocacy groups.
At around 11:00 AM, Sunday, May 27, rangers in an NPS patrol boat, with blue lights flashing, approached the environmentalists. Tying up to the boats, the officers demanded identification from the individuals, informing them that they were investigating a complaint of harassment lodged against the environmentalists by unspecified recreational boaters.
Seasonal law enforcement ranger Julie Lyn Yucker, a student at Northern Arizona University, admitted that there was no evidence other than hearsay to justify the intervention. As she was making this admission to Sierra Club volunteets, she suddenly pulled the NPS patrol craft away from the first boat and, with lights flashing, approached the other boat, demanding that a reporter in that watercraft stop photographing the incident. When pressed, Officer Yucker admitted that she had observed no one doing anything wrong, and stated repeatedly that, "you are in no trouble whatsoever."
Nevertheless, Yucker and fellow seasonal law enforcement ranger Tim Havens, on loan from Zion National Park, ran warrant searches on the environmental leaders and the press. Simultaneously, another NPS ranger stood on the shoreline about 150 yards away, monitoring the interrogation.
"It was evident that Park Service police not only sought to silence the anti-dam activists, but wanted to ensure that their intimidating tactics were not recorded," said Jeffrey St. Clair, editor of the political newsletter Counterpunch. "These are the kinds of chilling tactics one would expect in Beijing or Teheran, not a national park."
During the detention, the NPS boat forced the environmentalists' boats to become pinned against a metal cable system designed to keep watercraft out of the area in front of the dam. The boat, graciously rented to the environmentalists by Page businessman and City Councilmember Tim McDaniels, owner of Doo Powell, Inc., the largest off-lake supplier of rental watercraft at Lake Powell, sustained damage estimated by Mr. McDaniels at $700.00.
"We expect the Park Service will appropriately compensate Mr. McDaniels for the damage done to his boat," stated John Weisheit, Chair of the Sierra Club's Glen Canyon Group. "We know this has been a trying experience for him."
# # #
G L E N C A N Y O N A C T I O N N E T W O R K People for the Integrity of the Colorado River : ;

29.05.01: Fresh Initiative Taken To Refresh Nairobi River

By Robert Otani (ENS) - The Nairobi River, one of the most polluted rivers in Kenya, is the focus of an intense cleanup campaign by the United Nations Environment Programme which is headquartered in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi, through which the river runs.
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