20.12.03 : A project to save the Aral
The desiccation of the Aral Sea was caused to
a large extent by the
irrigation of cotton crops during the Soviet era. This is considered
one of the worst ecological disasters in recent decades. However
should be a partial recovery of the Aral sea.
The river Syrdarya which drains into the Aral
sea flows into the strait
between the Small Aral Sea and the Great Aral Sea. The aim is
to fill up
the Small Aral Sea by building a dike which is sufficiently high
resistant (the previous one built in 1993 broke up rapidly). The
km in length, will bring water from the Syrdarya to the southern
the sea. Several years will be needed for the level of the Small
to rise by 4 metres. Then a sluice will direct the surplus water
Great Aral Sea.
The level of the Aral Sea has fallen by 22 metres since 1960.
Aral Sea only represents one tenth of the overall surface. It
impossible for the water to rise to its former level simply due
to the fact
that the flow of the two rivers, the Syrdarya and the Amudarya
has been dry for several years) has decreased sharply. The dams
Syrdarya will permit sufficient flow to be maintained. Although
this is not
the answer to the whole problem it is better than nothing as in
view of the
present situation and the limited means available it is difficult
to do any
better. Experts all agree on this point.
Nikolaï Aladin from the academy of science in Saint-Petersburg
that disasters caused by man can be put right by man. The dike
completed by the end of 2004. This project has raised hopes in
000 inhabitants) which was the main port on this sea until 1970
is today situated 80 km from its shores! The closure of the canning
factories preceded the economic collapse of the region at the
same time as
the break up of the Soviet Union. This region is poor and the
conditions are deplorable: infant mortalities are very high and
many cancers of the digestive tract due to the salinity of groundwater,
The climatic conditions in the region have changed: storms whip
of dust which are difficult to bear. The fish have disappeared
from the sea
species by species following the increased salinity of the water
current levels in the waters of the Great Aral Sea are 85 g/l
places and 49 g/l on average compared with 10 mg/l in 1960! With
levels all trace of life seems to have disappeared except for
proliferate in pools. Some 600 km² of uncovered seabed will
which will modify the local climate. More frequent rainfall should
and revive pastures and make the water drinkable once again. Dilution
rainwater should lower the levels of salinity (10 to 17 g/l) which
permit the return of numerous species.
At the same time the irrigation of cotton must
be managed together with
that of vegetable crops along the rivers.
The world bank is financing 70% of the cost of the project which
estimated at 85 million dollars.
source : sea-rivers N° 125
: EU : Decision delayed on Spanish water transfer
Margot Wallstrom, European Environment Commissioner,
has said she will delay any decision on funding for a controversial
Spanish water transfer project until she sees further proof that
it doesn't break EU environmental laws.
The delayed Ebro Transfer project is one part of the Spanish National
Hydrological Plan. The Plan consists of two parts: first a big
water transfer from the Ebro River, impacting the Pyrenees, Lower
Ebro basin and Ebro Delta. The water would be transferred to the
drier region around Alicante and Benidorm, for use in both the
agribusiness and tourist sector.
Secondly, a huge investment programme to build more than 100 dams
and associated reservoirs and canal networks throughout the rest
of the country, re-routing not just the river Ebro, but another
35 rivers and tributaries including the Douro, Tajo, Segura, Guadiana
It has caused huge controversy in Spain, with an estimated one
million people taking to the streets in protest. It has an estimated
cost of €18 billion, with a third of that expected to come
Environmental groups have expressed delight with the delay over
the Ebro transfer section of the plan. In a joint statement, WWF,
the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Birdlife International,
said: "The Commission is not falling under the Spanish Government's
political pressure and will take the time to properly analyse
the Ebro transfer, the major element of the SNHP."
They added that the Commission needed to, "consider climate
change forecasts and determine the environmental flows from the
However, a European Policy spokesperson for WWF told edie that
they were still angry over EC approval on another section of the
plan, the Jucar Vinalopo project. This has been treated as a separate
project by the EC, but relies entirely on the water from the Ebro
Transfer project in order to work, the spokesperson said. In this
regard, the two projects should be treated as one, edie was told.
The groups have claimed that the SNHP contravenes many European
rulings including the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, which
expresses concern about, "unsustainable water management
schemes across Europe", and the European Water Framework
Directive, which contains a "no-deterioration in water status"
The groups also claim that no environmental impact assessment
was carried out on the SNHP before it was implemented in the Spanish
The Commissioner is expected to review the decision on funding
for the project early in 2004.
(Source Edie News)
more information on PHN on ERNs
RiverNet Pages ( in french, spanish and english)
: Nile: Work to start on Sudan dam
KHARTOUM, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Work on a Sudanese
dam expected to
triple electricity capacity in the northern African nation will
on Monday, and the first turbine will come online in 2007, an
official with the project said on Sunday.
The $1.73 billion dam, located at Merowe on the Nile 400 km (250
miles) north of the capital Khartoum, will have ten turbines that
will have a capacity of 1,250 megawatts (MW) when completed, three
times Sudan's current capacity.
"Work will start on it tomorrow (Monday)," said Mutaz
Salim, finance director for the dam project.
"The first unit is supposed to come on stream in June 2007,
the 10 turbines are expected to be fully operational by July 31,
2008," he said.
France's Alstom <ALSO.PA> said in November it had a 250
($306 million) contract to supply a hydroelectric unit.
Sudanese industry currently operates well below capacity because
electricity restrictions, while offices are often empty in Khartoum
and other cities due to frequent power cuts, some of them lasting
12 hours a day.
Salim said all 9,500 families in the area of the dam had agreed
relocate and would receive compensation. He said 600 families
already moved to newly built homes with water, electricity and
agricultural land. ($1=.8164 Euro)
Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service
: Twelve reasons why large hydro should be excluded from global
efforts to promote renewable energy
A new report
co-published by 13 organizations* working on climate change, development,
sustainable energy and water management gives a dozen reasons
why large hydro should be excluded from global efforts to promote
cites the negative impacts of large hydro** on people, ecosystems,
energy security, and efforts to adjust to climate change. These
provide compelling evidence that a major expansion of large hydro
would hinder efforts to eradicate poverty and reduce the environmental
impacts of energy production.
hydro does not have the poverty reduction benefits of decentralized
new renewables, like wind, solar and biogas, and it will increase
our vulnerability to climate change. It must be stopped from capturing
subsidies aimed at promoting environmentally friendly and socially
appropriate technologies," says Patrick McCully, Campaigns
Director of the California-based International Rivers Network,
coordinator of the report.
of large dam construction has fallen sharply in recent decades,
due in particular to the technology's poor economic viability,
and public opposition. The dam industry now sees the Kyoto Protocol's
Clean Development Mechanism and new government initiatives to
promote renewables as a solution to their problems.
World Bank and the dam industry are calling for large hydro to
get a carte blanche to benefit from renewables funds. If they
succeed, new renewable technologies would get little more than
crumbs from these initiatives," says Antonio Tricarico of
Reform the World Bank Campaign, Italy.
was presented at an NGO press conference at the 9th Conference
of Parties to the UN Climate Convention in Milan, in the Lecce
Room, 11am, 10 December 2003.
* The report,
Twelve Reasons to Exclude Large Hydro from Renewables Initiatives,
is co-published by International Rivers Network; Friends of the
Earth International; CDM Watch; CEE Bankwatch Network; Intermediate
Technology Development Group; Campaign to Reform the World Bank
(Italy); Oxfam America; European Rivers Network; Rivers Watch
East & SE Asia; South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People;
Network for Advocacy on Water Issues in Southern Africa; Energy
Working Group of the Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements
for the Environment and Development. The report is available at
hydro is defined as hydro with an installed capacity greater than
10 MW. The report recognizes the potential benefits of small hydro
schemes, conditional upon them meeting the recommendations of
the World Commission on Dams (WCD).
United for Renewable Energy and Sustainability (CURES) states
that: "New renewable sources include modern biomass, WCD-compliant
small (up to 10 MW) hydro (mechanical as well as electric), geothermal,
wind, all solar, tidal, wave and other marine energy." (see
report is available as pdf file on ERNs Website
Patrick McCully, International Rivers Network +1 510 2133 1441
(mobile in Milan)
Tricarico, Campaign to Reform the World Bank +39 328 8485448 (mobile
Roberto Epple, European Rivers Network (ERN) +33 4 71 02 08 14