: Switzerland: The Youth Parliament for Water act to save Europe's
More than 60
young parliamentarians from the Rhine, Danube, Po and Rhone Riverbasin
have drafted an action plan to save the continents major rivers
and lakes, following a series of meetings in Switzerland. Members
of the European Youth Parliament said not enough was being done
to combat pollution and protect water resources.
The 5th European Youth Parliament for Water 'from the source to
was organised by Solidarity Water Europe in cooperation with ERN
(Euroean Rivers Network) , and supported by the Swiss Agency for
Development and Cooperation, as part of the United Nations Year
mehr infos in englisch, français, deutsch : http://www.rivernet.org/educ/parlements/parlements_e.htm#5th
: Oil-Rich Central Asia Battles for Water
- The Soviet Union is gone, the glaciers are getting smaller and
in parched oil-rich Central Asia the battle is on for water.
Most of it pours down during the hot summer months from the glaciers
of the towering Pamir and Tien Shan mountain ranges, on territory
claimed by Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Downstream, and thirstier by the year, lie their former Soviet "brothers"
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
"I would not say all is too bad at the moment. But glaciers
in the north Tien Shan have shrunk by 30 percent since 1957, and
will be half-gone by 2025," Asylbek Aidaraliyev, Kyrgyz presidential
aide, told Reuters at an international water conference in the Tajik
capital Dushanbe last month.
"The population will grow, rivers will dry up, sown areas will
decrease - here is the reason for water conflicts."
Before the Soviet Union started falling apart a decade ago, water
in the five "stans" was managed centrally, and with clockwork
precision, to supply the region's 50 million people.
Soviet engineers built giant power stations in the Kyrgyz and Tajik
mountains, the source of the two main regional rivers - Syr Darya
and Amu Darya. Tajikistan's Nurek hydropower station, with the second-largest
dam in the world, alone controls some 40 percent of the flow of
the Amu Darya.
Each summer, Moscow would order upstream Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
to release water to neighbors below, irrigating wide stretches of
orchards, cotton and rice.
In winter, the two kept water in their mountain reservoirs and produced
cheap electricity from coal, oil and gas sent by their neighbors
in return for precious summer water deliveries.
After the Soviet Union unraveled in 1991, Moscow stopped issuing
the orders, the energy system fell apart and farmland turned into
WATER IS WASTED
"Israel and Jordan, populated by some 11 million, use three
billion cubic meters (bcm) of water. The Amu Darya and Syr Darya
supply 110 bcm a year, and it's not enough! It's nonsense!"
said an angry Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Bazarbai Mambetov.
An estimated 50 percent of the arid region's water is wasted, and
the potential conflicts over water is high in volatile Central Asia.
Uzbekistan used to cut off neighboring Kyrgyzstan from natural gas
supplies in cold winter months if payments were late.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, their poverty-stricken economies unable
to afford fuel to generate their own electricity in winter, nowadays
switch on their hydropower systems - often flooding furious neighbors
downstream in the process.
"You have flooded our pastures, villages and destroyed roads,"
Khalilulla Shirimbetov, head of Uzbekistan's Nature Protection Committee,
told the conference, directing his accusations at the Kyrgyz delegation.
Uzbekistan is also worried that a more economically buoyant Afghanistan
will use more water from the Amu Darya river on their border.
And Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov wants to create a lake
in the Karakum desert to immortalize his rule.
Turkmenistan says the "Golden Century Lake" will be fed
by drainage water. Uzbekistan suspects it will take more water from
the Amu Drya.
The lack of water has been compounded by the sad fate of the Aral
Sea. Lying between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, it was once the world's
fourth-largest inland sea.
It is now half its original size and getting smaller, the result
of sucking water from the main rivers that supplied it during Soviet
days to help meet grandiose cotton harvest targets in a region ill-suited
to the thirsty crop.
It has become one of the world's most polluted regions and the fishing
villages along its shores have become arid ghost towns stuck on
dry lake beds.
Experts estimate 75 million tons of the toxic mixture of sea salt
and fertilizers are blown off the dry Aral Sea bed each year.
Story by Alexei Kalmykov
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
: Europes largest water bridge opens
being hailed as an engineering masterpiece, two important German
shipping canals have been joined by a giant kilometer-long concrete
bathtub. The new waterway near the eastern town of Magdeburg opens
Public infrastructure projects are notorious for taking longer than
expected, but Germanys new water bridge tying the Elbe-Havel
canal to the important Mittelland canal, which leads to the countrys
industrial Ruhr Valley heartland, was over 80 years in the planning.
Engineers first dreamt of joining the two waterways as far back
as 1919. Construction to bridge the Elbe river near Magdeburg actually
started in the 1930s, but progress was halted during the Second
World War in 1942. After the Cold War split Germany the project
was shelved indefinitely, but things were put back on track following
reunification in 1990.
Source: Deutsche Welle : http://www.dw-world.de/english/0,3367,1446_A_990878_1_A,00.html
: Icelandic dam saga raises hope and dread
KARAHNJUKAR, Iceland - The first snow falling in the Icelandic highlands
and the piercing wind aren't slowing down the hundreds of foreign
workers building Europe's highest dam in one of its biggest wildernesses.
Iceland's largest-ever industrial project by the national power
company Landsvirkjun is a saga of superlatives, hailed by ministers
and local politicians. Yet it has whipped up a row about the environment
among the population of under 300,000.
The project will increase the North Atlantic island's energy output
by 60 percent but it will have just one customer, an Alcoa AA.N
aluminium smelter which should be up and running in 2007.
The Karahnjukar dam, which will be 190 metres (625 feet) high, 730
metres (2,395 feet) wide and 600 metres (1,990 feet) thick, will
damage the area's unique nature forever, environmentalists say.
"The project is too big for the nature up there and for the
region," said Thurdur Backman, a Left-Green party representative
in parliament. "We who have another view on how to use nature
had hoped to set up a national park there."
But a clear majority of local people support the project, saying
building the power plant and the smelter are the only ways to create
growth and jobs in a remote region.
The plant will have a capacity of 690 MW and an annual output of
4,460 million GWh, a significant size on a Nordic scale.
To feed it, Landsvirkjun is harnessing two of the three main rivers
flowing from Europe's biggest glacier, Vatnajokull. Three dams will
create a 57 square-km (22 square-mile) reservoir -- a rare project
in Europe where few dams have been built in recent decades.
Opponents of the project say it would drown the highland vegetation,
alter the groundwater balance and collect so much mud that it would
form a dust bowl in dry conditions, choking the nearby town in windy
REINDEER, FISH UNDER THREAT
Organisations such as the Icelandic Nature Conservation Association
say the reservoir would disturb the area's reindeer, freshwater
fish and harbour seal population and ruin approximately 500 nesting
spots of the pink-footed goose.
To add to the messy saga, Impregilo IPG.MI , the Italian firm building
the dam and tunnels for the plant for 40 billion Icelandic crowns
($517 million), has run into trouble with local unions which say
it is not paying imported workers enough.
The construction of the dam will employ around 1,500 workers, as
many people as the population of nearby Egilsstadir.
Hundreds, some with families, have already come from Italy, Portugal
and Romania to work here. They live in a remote highland camp, a
1-1/2-hour drive from Egilsstadir.
Cosmopolitan influences have reached the tiny town - pubs now publish
adverts in English, and restaurants are packed on Sundays.
The 322,000 tonne smelter itself, an investment of $1.1 billion,
will be built in Fjardabyggd, some five km (three miles) outside
Reydarfjordur, a drowsy town of 600 people.
Real estate prices have already started rising there.
"I understand the people who oppose Karahnjukar, but I don't
agree with them. I think it's more important to get new jobs in
the east," said Fjardabyggd mayor Gudmundur Bjarnason.
The biggest local industry is fishing, but fish factories have modernised
production, making them less dependent on manual labour. Farming
is a shrinking industry in the hostile climate, and the tourism
season lasts a mere three months.
As employment opportunities have declined, the region has lost one
percent of its population each year to bigger cities.
"A lot of new young people who have moved out to study would
like to move back. I'm sure that once we can create good, stable
jobs, it won't be a problem to get Icelanders to move here,"
said Smari Geirsson, chairman of the municipal council.
The smelter will provide 455 jobs and Geirsson said it would create
at least 300 indirect ones. Fjardabyggd sees its population of just
over 3,000 growing up to 50 percent by 2010.
Yet some locals are sceptical.
"It will be difficult for such a big employer to settle down
in a place which has so few people," Backman said.
The finance ministry estimates that the construction of Alcoa's
smelter and the expansion of another smelter in western Iceland
will help the economy grow by eight percent between 2003 and 2006,
against 0.25 percent growth last year.
It would also bring the country's unemployment down to one percent
from around three percent now.
"This town used to be dead. Now it's thriving. They're building
new houses, after 40 years," said Thorbjorg Snorradottir, who
works at the petrol station in Reydarfjordur.
Snorradottir said she was aware of the problems the dam project
could cause to the nature, but said: "It's animals versus people.
I choose people. We Icelanders have always had a good standard of
living, and we're not letting that fall."
Story by Anna Peltola
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
: Brussels steps in to solve Spanish water row
Daily 1526, 08/10/03 :
Opposing sides in the long-running argument over the Spanish
hydrological plan will meet in Brussels next week in an attempt
agree on potential impacts on the river Ebro of proposals to abstract
large amounts of water for piping to Spain's dry south.
The Spanish government and its detractors, chiefly environmental
are being brought together by the European Commission next Thursday
Friday. Commission officials say the aim is to bridge their "stark
differences" over predicted water flow in the Ebro and how
its delta needs to stay healthy.
"The stakes are very high," one official said on Wednesday.
delta is a unique resource, its protection is something we need
reassured about. If there's not enough water for transfers out of
Ebro, everything else is a redundant question."
Though only one element of the wide-ranging Spanish hydrological
the Ebro transfer scheme underpins many other aspects. The Commission
has put on hold EU funding approval for three other major projects
under the plan until it is satisfied that the transfers can be
sustainable (ED 24/06/03
Follow-up: European Commission http://europa.eu.int/comm,
tel: +32 2 299 1111.
: RAMSAR - moldova designates the lower dniester
The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands is very pleased to announce
that the Republic of Moldova, which joined the Convention in 2000,
has designated its second Wetland of International Importance, effective
20 August 2003. Lower Dniester (Nistru de Jos) lies on both sides
of the Dniester in Tighina and Slodozia districts and covers a surface
area of 60,000 hectares. Read more...
more information : http://www.ramsar.org/w.n.moldova_dniester.htm
01.10.03 : California Moves
to End Colorado River Water Wars
/USA - California took a major step this week toward resolving its
so-called water wars and reducing the amount it draws from the giant
Colorado River, largely at the expense of the state's desert farmers.
Calif. Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation this week to implement
a pact reached between four state water agencies following more
than seven years of often bitter negotiations.
California has been using around 5.3 million acre-feet per year
from the Colorado River but is legally only entitled to 4.4 million
acre-feet through water rights secured in some cases more than 100
Other western states which rely on the giant river, including some
with rapid population growth like Arizona and Nevada, have pressured
California to take less water.
Four years of drought helped to further fuel demands that California
should draw less water from the river.
Earlier this year the federal government lost patience and cut the
state off from "surplus" supplies for 2003, effectively
cutting California's allocation down to 4.4 million acre-feet.
"After years of often bitter negotiations, the Southern California
water agencies that tap the Colorado River have finally agreed a
plan that could lead to peace in their lengthy water wars,"
said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
The settlement means that California will be able to reduce its
dependence on the river over 14 years rather than face a permanent
federally imposed cutback.
The legislation implements a pact between four of the state's water
agencies, San Diego County Water Authority, the Imperial Irrigation
District, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
and Coachella Valley Water District.
Under the deal, water will be transferred from agricultural agencies
to urban water districts with farmers paid to retire land on a temporary
two-year rotation. The largest crop in the affected region is alfalfa.
As California's dependence on water from the Colorado River is gradually
reduced, the other Colorado basin states will be able to claim their
legally entitled amounts of Colorado River water over the course
of the 75-year deal.
"Today California sends an unambiguous signal to the federal
government and to our neighbors in the Colorado River Basin that
California has its water house in order," Davis said in a statement.
State lawmakers earlier this month passed three bills needed to
implement the plan and the water boards need to approve it by Oct.
12, otherwise legislation expires.
Three of the boards have already done so and the fourth, the Imperial
Irrigation District, is expected to sign off on the deal either
later this week or early next week.
The legislation signed this week includes provisions aimed at restoring
and protecting the Salton Sea, California's largest lake and an
important habitat for over 400 species of birds, several of which
Story by Nigel Hunt
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
: Plan for Tibet Dam sets off protests
By Adam Luck
, London Sunday Telegraph , Published September 28, 2003
HONG KONG A dispute over communist cronyism has erupted in
the prime minister approved plans to build a dam on a Tibetan holy
one of the country's remaining great wildernesses.
The $315 million hydroelectric project, which protesters say will
lake and threaten endangered animals and plants, will be built by
giant China Huaneng Group, the country's biggest independent power
The company is run by Li Xiaopeng, the son of the former prime minister,
Peng, and one of China's so-called "princelings" who parachuted
positions of wealth and influence thanks to their family connections.
Li Peng, known for ordering the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989,
the driving force behind China's Three Gorges Dam, which has been
for causing environmental devastation and the forcible removal of
Reformers within the Communist Party had seen the latest dam as
a test of
how far the new leadership, under Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, would
challenge vested interests and charges of government corruption.
But after a two-year battle, Huaneng has been given approval to
dam on Mugecuo Lake, known to Tibetans as Yeti Lake, which is home
pandas, snow leopards and the buffalo-like golden takin believed
inspired the Golden Fleece myth in addition to rare plants.
"We have spent two years and repeatedly lobbied the central
governments about this, but it has all been for nothing," a
"When we were told that the project was going ahead, we were
warned to drop
the matter and to publish no more articles. "This is about
The fact is, this is about Li Peng's son."
Mugecuo Lake lies at the heart of Ganzi, a remote district that
is part of
the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The area is admired by scientists
ecologists for its
unique habitat and scenery but is notorious for earthquakes.
While Huaneng argued that the dam would bring prosperity to a
poverty-stricken region, local Tibetans who risk jail or
dissent and Chinese scientists appealed in vain to the Beijing
to stop the project.
There has been increasing unrest in China over the business interests
its political dynasties. While former President Jiang Zemin's relatives
dominate the telecoms sector, Li Peng's are the biggest players
Although Li Peng retired this year, he still exerts an iron grip
nation's lucrative power grid, thanks to deregulation and privatization.
His wife, Zhu Lin, is believed to control a lucrative listed offshoot
Huaneng while his daughter, Li Xaolin, is the vice president of
international investment and financing arm of China Power, another
One of Li Peng's proteges, Gao Yan, the head of the State Power
believed to have fled China last year to avoid a corruption probe.
Huaneng's plans for the lake emerged in 2001 when, after two government
reviews refused to give it the green light, the State Environmental
Protection Agency approved the project.
One official familiar with the negotiations said: "Because
Huaneng is so
powerful, there is a lot of political prestige at stake and none
officials wanted to come outright and say no."
Although details have been kept secret, it is believed that the
dam will be
210 feet tall and cover large amounts of primeval forest. In time,
is believed to want to create a series of interconnecting dams in
One Chinese scientist who has studied the project closely believes
damage caused by the dam and the risk of earthquake-induced flooding
"Ganzi is what we call a bio-hotspot and is set in one of the
biologically diverse places in the world," said the scientist
condition of anonymity.
"The larger environmental impact will happen downstream, however,
the whole valley and vegetation will disappear and the animals will
disappear with it. But the reason most local people feel uncomfortable
because this is an earthquake area and they have decided to build
reservoir above a river that runs right through [the local capital]
Kanding became the focal point for opposition to the dam this year,
residents complained about the lack of formal debate or consultation
Neither China Huaneng nor the government would comment.
Doris Shen , China Program Coordinator
International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way , Berkeley, CA 94703-1576 , USA
tel: +1.510.848.1155 fax: +1.510.848.1008
: Envisat radar altimetry tracks river levels worldwide
Next week ESA
previews a new product range called River and Lake Level from Altimetry
that provides previously inaccessible information on water levels
of major lakes and rivers across the Earth's surface, derived from
Envisat and ERS radar altimeter measurements. Hydrologists can use
this new data to monitor river heights around the planet, assess
the impact of global warming and help with water resource management.
Inland water bodies are important as key sources of both water and
food for the people living round them. They are also often regions
of maximum biodiversity and represent early indicators of regional
A new processing algorithm has been developed to extract rivers
and lakes level findings from raw radar altimeter data. The development
effort was headed by Professor Philippa Berry of the UK's De Montfort
University: "The new radar altimeter product is a great leap
forward for hydrologists. It gives them a new tool to study both
the historical changes in water table levels and critically important
data to use in forecasting models of water availability, hydroelectric
power production, flood and drought events and overall climate changes."
The Radar Altimeter 2 (RA-2) flown aboard ESA's Envisat environmental
satellite is the improved follow-on to earlier radar altimeters
on the ERS-1 and ERS-2 spacecraft. From its 800 km-high polar orbit
it sends 1800 separate radar pulses down to Earth per second then
records how long their echoes take to return timing their
journey down to under a nanosecond to calculate the exact distance
to the planet below.
Radar altimeters were first flown in space back in the 1970s, aboard
NASA's Skylab and Seasat. These early efforts stayed focused firmly
on the oceans, as less-smooth land surfaces returned indecipherable
signals. But as the technology improved reliable land height data
became available. Envisat's RA-2 has an innovative 'four-wheel drive'
tracking system allowing it to maintain radar contract even as the
terrain below shifts from ocean to ice or dry land.
But rivers and lakes have proved tougher targets. Large lakes and
wide rivers such as the Amazon often returned tantalising 'wet'
radar signals, but echoes from nearby dry land distorted most such
Believing full-fledged river and lake level monitoring was nevertheless
feasible, ESA awarded a contract to De Montfort University to develop
a suitable software product, with Lancaster University advising
on field hydrology.
The De Montfort University team proceeded by painstakingly combing
through many gigabytes of raw data acquired over rivers and lakes,
taking note of the type of echo shapes that occurred. They sorted
different echo shapes into distinct categories, then created an
automated process to recognise these shapes within 'wet' signals
and eventually extract usable data from them.
"To do this, the shape of each individual echo has to be analysed,
and the exact time corresponding to the echo component from the
lake or river must be calculated," explained Professor Berry.
"As well as identifying and removing the echo from surrounding
land, this process is complicated by the frequent occurrence of
islands and sandbars, particularly in river systems. But in the
end this approach has been shown to be very effective indeed, with
successful retrieval of heights from the majority of the Earth's
major river and lake systems."
Next week sees the release of the first demonstration products using
this new algorithm, containing representative data from the last
seven years for rivers and lakes across Africa and South America.
The plan is that global altimeter data for the last 12 years will
then be reprocessed to provide hydrologists with historical information,
invaluable for assessing long-term trends.
ESA also intends to install operational software in its ground segment
so eventually the product can be delivered to users in near-real
time, within three hours or less of its acquisition from space.
Hydrologists need no previous knowledge of radar altimetry to make
use of the new data, with one product known as River Lake Hydrology
providing data corresponding to river crossing points, just as though
there were actual river gauges in place.
Such gauges are the traditional way that river and lake level measurements
are obtained, but their number in-situ has declined sharply in the
last two decades. The new product will compensate for this growing
lack of ground data.
The other product is called River Lake Altimetry, intended for altimetry
specialists, and provides all crossing points for a water body,
together with detailed information on all instrumental and geophysical
Previews of both products can be accessed via a dedicated website
(see right hand bar) or on a free CD email email@example.com
to order a copy. Both products are being formally announced at the
Hydrology from Space conference, beginning Monday 29 September in
European Space Agency
: Environmental groups including WWF are calling for an immediate
halt to river regulation and gravel excavation activities that are
destroying the last-remaining natural stretches of the Drava and
Mura rivers in Croatia.
The untouched lower stretches of the Drava and Mura Rivers at the
Slovenian-Croatian border characterized by pristine floodplain
forests, river islands, gravel banks, and side branches are
being replaced with a canal by the Croatian Water Authorities. The
canal will form a new border between Slovenia and Croatia. The work
threatens parts of the second-largest floodplain forest in the Danube
Basin, as well as endangered species such as the white-tailed eagle,
black stork, and otter.
"Croatia is systematically ruining a remarkable river corridor
of European importance in this region and Slovenia is tolerating
the territorial encroachment the new border represents," says
David Reeder, WWF International's Drava Coordinator. "This
is being carried out without an Environmental Impact Assessment,
breaches several international agreements, and violates EU environmental
"For more then ten years, the preservation of the Drava and
Mura corridor which runs from Austria through Slovenia, Croatia,
and Hungary down to the Danube River in Serbia has been prepared
by experts, local people and politicians," argues Dr Martin
Schneider-Jacoby from Euronatur. "This unique riverine lifeline
should be developed as a special tourist attraction for the border
region between the five countries, combining thermal spas, protected
areas, and vineyards, and attractive bicycle trails instead of being
used as a gravel pit for a very short time."
In contrast to the destruction in Croatia, the upstream stretches
of the Drava and Mura Rivers in Austria are currently undergoing
ambitious restoration, at a cost of some 12 million Euros including
EU support, to create a natural river ecosystem. Slovenia has also
received international assistance to develop restoration projects
for the Mura River.
"The river is being protected in one place and destroyed in
another it makes no sense," says Arno Mohl of WWF-Austria.
"In Austria we are restoring the river Drava and Mura and in
Croatia they are readily destroying what we are paying so much to
get back. Perfectly good alternatives exist which are not so environmentally
damaging: they should obviously be considered, for the good of the
country and the future of the river and the people who live along
Slovenia's accession to the EU requires the country to make agreements
with Croatia on the border issue. The solution appears to be that
the old border along both rivers is replaced, after an exchange
of territories, by a new boundary along the middle of the newly
canalised rivers. Effectively this will be the new external frontier
of the enlarged EU.
"This border solution does not consider the preservation of
this unique environment; moreover it breaches international environmental
agreements signed by both countries. It also violates EU environmental
laws, such as the Water Framework Directive and the Birds and Habitats
Directives," says Irma Popovic of Green Action Croatia.
"This only testifies to the strength of the water lobby and
their attitude towards nature conservation, in both Slovenia and
Croatia. The historical border is being sacrificed for the sake
of a small yet powerful interest group," says Borut Stumberger
of DOPPS-Birdlife Slovenia. "In the near future our two countries
could be separated by an artificial canal, instead of a protected
green corridor which would achieve a peaceful and long-term co-existence
for us. This is why we are pleading that the historical borders
These works constitute the biggest impact on the ecosystem of the
Drava and Mura since the political changes at the beginning of the
"These works are being carried out because of outdated water
management practices, totally at odds with the best practice now
being followed in Europe and also because of economic incentives
that persist in Croatia," says Helena Hecimovic, President
of the Drava League in Croatia. "The 5 million cubic metres
of gravel are being taken out of the natural riverbed of the Drava
to be used for the construction of national highways. For the water
lobby in Croatia it's a hugely profitable enterprise."
WWF, Euronatur, and national organizations such as the Drava League
and Green Action in Croatia and DOPPS-Birdlife Slovenia, are calling
for an immediate halt to the destruction of Europes natural
heritage in Croatia; for the protection of the Drava-Mura 'Lifeline'
in the long term; and peaceful co-existence between Croatia and
Slovenia across the historical border.
pressrelease (with potos and graphics)
For further information:
David Reeder , WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme Office, Tel.: +36
20 514 8786
Arno Mohl, WWF-Austria, Tel.: +43 676 83 488 300
Helena Hecimovic, Drava League, Tel.: +385 48 623 750
Dr. Borut Stumberger, DOPPS-Birdlife Slovenia, Tel.: +386 513 10
Irma Popovic, Green Action Croatia, Tel.: +385 48 130 96
Dr Martin Schneider-Jacoby, Euronatur, Tel.: +49 7732 9272 -21
Laurice Ereifej, WWF Hungary ,Tel: +36 1 214-5554/124
: European Commission proposals fail to protect groundwater (EEB
September 2003 The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Europes
largest federation of environmental citizens organisations,
assesses the Commissions Directive proposal for protecting
groundwater from 19 September as falling short to tackle the alarming
state and trends of our groundwater quality.
It is disappointing that after two years of consultation with experts
from Member States, Industry and NGOs that the Commission has presented
a Directive text which misses the opportunity to protect our remaining
unpolluted groundwater or set EU harmonised approach to deal with
hazardous or potentially hormone disrupting chemicals that can persist
for decades in the groundwater.
While the EEB is pleased to see that the proposals will require
Member States to take precautionary action for an indicative list
of chemicals, we are concerned that the twenty years of experience
gained with a similar decentralised approach has not led to sufficient
action being taken. If the Commission is serious about dealing with
the wide-spread use of hazardous chemicals polluting groundwater
it should adopt the approach established by the WFD for chemicals
polluting surface waters, with common and harmonised measures including
product controls and market bans.
For the first time the Commission proposes legislation that establishes
groundwater quality standards for pesticides leaving Member States
to establish their own for other pollutants. The EEB opposes such
an EU pesticides standard as it relaxes the existing groundwater
directive (which prohibits entry to groundwater) and thereby gives
agricultural businesses a special right to pollute up to the standard,
with no effective controls to prevent this from happening.
The Commission has not taken its responsibility to provide
appropriate EU actions for a very serious European health and environmental
threat, but rather leaves it up to Member States to deal with.
Says Stefan Scheuer from the EEB. A system based on EU or
national quality standards is not a good idea. We do not know enough
about groundwater and compliance checking is extremely inaccurate.
Instead of waiting until it is too late, and large parts of our
groundwater are polluted, common action above the ground would be
A general 0.1 microgram/l pesticides standard for groundwater
is meaningless for human and ecological health., says Robert
Cunningham from The Wildlife Trusts, UK. The 1991 EU principal
decision not to allow market approval for any pesticides showing
up in groundwater will be undermined.
Groundwater is the single most important source of drinking water
and the major contributor to the flow in rivers and lakes. Precautionary
protection of groundwater from chemical pollution is therefore a
precondition for sustainable development and already enshrined by
the 1980 Groundwater Directive, which will be replaced by the Water
Framework Directive in 2013. But the WFD has serious gaps which
permit further pollution of groundwater, leaving it up to Member
States to determine how to stop chemicals entering groundwater and
only requires action after increasing pollution is observed over
- Stefan Scheuer, European Environmental Bureau, +32 2 289 13 04,
- Robert Cunningham, The Wildlife Trusts, UK, + 44 1380725670, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pressrelease: Commission acts to protect groundwater against pollution
(en, de, fr)
: Iraq wants to clinch water deal with Syria, Turkey (Reuter)
- Iraq said its share of water from the Tigris and
Euphrates was not enough and it wanted talks with Turkey and Syria,
who also use water from the rivers.
"We are intending to hold talks with our neighbors very soon
an agreement that divides water among the three of us in a just
manner," said newly appointed Minister of Water Resources Abdul
The Euphrates and Tigris both originate in Turkey. The Euphrates
winds through Syria before entering Iraq, while the Tigris flows
straight into Iraq from Turkey.
"I believe the quantity of water entering to our territory
enough," Rasheed said.
Syria and Iraq both say the current flow from Turkey is too low
their needs, which include drinking and irrigation as well as some
Iraq, Turkey, and Syria have held several meetings in the past on
water-sharing, and Rasheed blamed the ousted government of Saddam
Hussein for their failure to reach a deal.
"Because of its bad relations with its neighbours, the former
government couldn't reach an agreement on water quotas," Rasheed
said. "Now we have a different strategy. We want to improve
with our neighbors."
Saddam's government used to accuse Turkey of blocking efforts to
reach a water-sharing accord.
Rasheed also said he had asked the U.S.-backed Governing Council
US$1 billion to carry out water resources projects in Iraq for 2004.
Among those projects are efforts to restore marshes in southern
that Saddam's government drained in the 1990s as part of a campaign
to drive out Marsh Arabs, who had supported an uprising against
"We have already started pumping water in that area in order
restore the marshes. It will take time, but we aim to restore all
the marsh area in southern Iraq," Rasheed said.
By Hassan Hafidh, Reuters (via IRN)
: Nigeria: Power firm floods more than 100 Nigerian villages (AFP)
More than 100 villages were flooded at the weekend after Nigeria's
state power firm opened an endangered hydroelectric dam, a government
spokesman said Monday.
Mahmud Abdullahi, a spokesman for the northern state of Niger, told
AFP that the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) had opened
gates on Nigerian largest hydroelectric station on Saturday.
The Shiriro dam was at risk from rising floodwaters coming down
Kaduna River from further north in Nigeria, where thousands of
families have already been driven from their homes during annual
Officials said that villagers living downstream of Shiriro were
warned before the water was released and there were no reports of
But hundreds of affected villagers staged a peaceful protest Monday
in front of the office of the state governor in Minna, capital of
The government is discussing with NEPA officials the best way to
solve the perennial problem of flooding caused by water released
In 1999 at least seven local government districts in the state were
flooded when water from the dam was released.
Thousands of houses and buildings in the state, including schools
hospitals, were either destroyed or damaged in the disaster.
Eight people were killed and 2,215 displaced in flooding in Kano
State, in northern Nigeria, last week, state officials said.
And in nearby Kaduna State, flooding last week displaced over 5,000
people, but no one was killed, the Nigerian Red Cross said. State
officials said that two people had been killed.
Red Cross coordinators said that 257 families -- about 1,300 people
-- had been evacuated and resettled in three camps in Kaduna, 186
kilometresmiles) north of Abuja.
Africa Program, International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way , Berkeley, CA 94703 USA
Phone: (510) 848-1155 Fax: (510) 848-1008 www.irn.org
: WWF urges Iceland to establish protected areas in wake of controversial
Kárahnjúkar dam decision
- WWF remains concerned over Icelands biggest dam project
ever, and calls on the Icelandic government to review the potential
impacts of this project on one of the largest remaining wilderness
areas in Europe.
The controversial Kárahnjúkar project involving
3 large dams (the largest being 190 metres high) and a 57km2 reservoir
will supply electricity to an aluminium smelter to be built
by Alcoa. It is being built in the East Icelandic highlands and
will fundamentally alter the fragile environment of the area. Five
hundred nest sites of the rare pink-footed goose will be flooded
and Icelands only reindeer herd is likely to diminish. Wetlands
downstream are also likely to be impacted but according to independent
studies, the economic benefits of the project are uncertain
Despite protests from WWF and other NGOs and a ruling from the Icelandic
Planning Agency against the dam, the project received the green
light from the Icelandic government earlier this year and construction
has now begun.
The resulting disturbance was noted by a WWF team visiting the dam
site recently. Lorries roar up and down a new road in what was previously
a tranquil and undisturbed Arctic landscape. Camps for construction
workers near the site to be flooded look like ugly scars and several
years of noisy construction work lie ahead before the flooding of
the area in 2006.
While the battle to preserve this area from destruction has been
lost, WWF, together with its Icelandic partner organisation INCA
(Icelandic Nature Conservation Association), is now focusing on
achieving protection for the pristine parts of the highlands, including
one of the remaining untouched glacial rivers, Jökulsá
á Fjöllum. This river also has hydropower potential
but another project would cause significant environmental damage
to the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park.
Dr Ute Collier,
WWFs Dams Initiative Leader, and Samantha Smith, Director
of WWFs Arctic Programme, met with the Icelandic environment
minister, officials of the Icelandic environment agency, and representatives
from the the electricity company Landsvirkjun and Alcoa to discuss
the potential impacts of the Kárahnjúkar dam project.
WWF is urging the Icelandic government to designate a new national
park and 2 Ramsar sites, wetlands of international importance, to
protect the area of the Eastern Icelandic highlands unaffected by
heart-breaking to see how the construction work is already affecting
what was previously one of Europes last true wilderness area,
said Dr Ute Collier. But WWF is fighting on to ensure that
at least the remainder of this area will be protected from further
/ source: : http://panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/other_news/news.cfm?uNewsID=8761
Dr Ute Collier
WWF Dams Initiative Leader
Tel.: +44 1483 412549