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29.08.05 : Residents Return as Europe's Flood Waters Recede

August 29, 2005
BERNE - Thousands of volunteers toiled alongside rescue workers on Saturday to clear walls of debris left by the downpours from Berne to Bucharest, which have caused more than $1.0 billion of damage in Switzerland alone.
Hundreds of people returned to their flood damaged homes in Switzerland and other parts of central Europe and the Balkans where the torrential rain has killed more than 40 people in the past week.
In the Swiss capital, Berne, police said most of the 1,100 residents of the old quarter, evacuated for fear the centuries-old buildings could collapse, were being allowed back, although water and electricity supplies had not been restored.
"The flood risk has receded, but there is an awful lot of clearing up to do," said Berne police spokesman Franz Maerki.
In southern Germany, hastily constructed dams on the river Danube prevented serious flood damage in the city of Regensburg, but parts of the old centre of Passau were still under water.
Some 30,000 people were involved in cleaning up and working to prevent further flooding, with around 1.5 million sand bags still in place across the region.
Heavy rain overnight in the southern Austrian provinces of Styria and Carinthia caused more landslides and flooding, though there were no reports of casualties.
Roads to popular mountain resorts in the western province of Tyrol reopened, though many routes remained closed to trucks and other heavy vehicles. The Austrian government estimates the damage at hundreds of million of euros.
Power and telephone connections were expected to be restored in all of the mountainous province by Saturday night, Austrian news agency APA reported.
In Switzerland, the main route through the Alps, the Gotthard tunnel, reopened to road traffic after being closed for five days. But some Alpine villages remained cut off.
Pensioners in the village of Klosters, a ski village frequented by Britain's Prince Charles, were still holed up in a hotel after their care home was flooded and hundreds of tourists in the mountain resort of Engelberg spent a sixth day cut off from the rest of Switzerland.
More rain was forecast for Switzerland, but without the intensity of earlier in the week. It would fall mainly south of the Alps in the Italian-speaking Ticino region which was spared the earlier deluge.

More than 30 people have died in Romania, while 10 have died in Switzerland and Austria. One young man drowned in Germany on Wednesday when out with two friends in a dinghy.

Story by Ruben Sprich REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

26.08.05 : Floods and fires ­ natural disasters linked to the power sector

Brussels, Belgium ­ Floods and mudslides in the
Alps and Danube basin, fires in the Iberian
Peninsula, drought destroying crops in France,
Spain and Portugal ­ these are signals of a world
suffering from climate change.

"To reduce the likelihood of these horrible
weather events happening more often, carbon
dioxide (CO2) emissions must be reduced," said
Jennifer Morgan Director of the WWF Climate Change Programme.

According to a new WWF paper, it is in the power
sector, the largest emitter of CO2, where Europe
must address the increase and severity of recent
extreme weather events and their disastrous consequences.

The paper, Climate change and extreme weather
events in Europe, provides the latest scientific
findings on this issue, addressing such direct
factors as land use and water management.

Direct emergency help for the people concerned
must be the main immediate focus, but in order to
reduce the frequency and intensity of such events
in the future, political and business leaders
must decide to rapidly reduce CO2 emissions. To
cut CO2 emissions, Europe should start with the
biggest emitters, the electricity producers.

The power sector is responsible for 37 per cent
of global and 39 per cent of European CO2
emissions (CO2 is emitted when fossil fuels such
as coal, oil, and natural gas are being burnt).
The German power producer RWE, for instance, is
expected to decide this autumn on building a new
coal-fired power station, the worst option for the climate

"The largest European climate polluter, RWE,
continues to plan for new coal power stations,
which drive up global warming," added Morgan.
"European governments can and must stop this."

The obvious way for European governments to
enforce strict pollution limits is under the
European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Since
January 2005, the ETS has placed CO2 limits on
big companies. Unfortunately, EU governments have
so far agreed only to weak limits.
Tough pollution limits, combined with a powerful
financial incentive to invest in cleaner, more
efficient technologies, would transform the power
sector and reduce CO2 emissions. With the ETS
being reviewed this year, WWF sees this as a
vital opportunity to get it right.

"Climate change has started to exacerbate the
frequency and intensity of these weather
catastrophes," said Oliver Rapf, Head of Climate
change unit at WWF's European Policy Office.

"European politicians need to cut down emissions from the power sector

For further information:
Martin Hiller, Communications Manager
WWF Climate Change Programme
Tel: +41 22 364 9226

Oliver Rapf, acting Head, Climate Change Unit
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 7438808

26.08.05 : Flood Fears Focus on Swiss Lakes and Romanian Toll Up

BERNE/Switzerland - Helicopters ferried food to isolated Alpine villages on Thursday as residents and rescue workers feared swollen lakes may overflow and bring more havoc to flood-ravaged Switzerland.

In Romania, one of the countries worst hit by the downpours that lashed central Europe earlier this week, the death toll from flooding rose by six to 31, with another three people missing, including a 4-year-old girl.

Lakes and rivers burst their banks from Berne to Bucharest, cutting roads, power and communications to hundreds of communities and causing damage estimated at well over $1 billion in Switzerland alone.

In the Swiss capital, police finished evacuating over 1,000 residents from the oldest part of town, fearing centuries-old buildings could be swept away by a fresh surge in the river Aare once barrages from the upstream lake Thun were cleared of wood.

"We can cope with lots of water coming from Thun. But if it is aggravated by rain, which is in the forecast on Friday, we will have problems," said Franz Maerki, Berne police spokesman.

Firefighters pumped streets and cellars, but water remained 1.5 metre (5 ft) deep in one area, he added.

"Police will not let people return to the quarter because they fear the water may rise again," said John Hopper, a British restaurant owner in the city. "They are saying we will not be allowed back for a week."

In the central city of Lucerne, sandbags protected shops and homes and residents watched anxiously as the river Reuss rushed perilously close beneath the city's covered 14th-century wooden bridge -- a national landmark.

"Right now the water level is falling, but we just do not know what is going to happen next," civil protection official Rene Bieri told Reuters.

Eight people have died and thousands were evacuated from their homes in Switzerland and Austria, where the toll rose to four on Thursday when searchers found the body of an 81-year-old man missing since his car tumbled into a swollen river.


The Swiss army was using Puma helicopters to supply several villages, including the scenic mountain resort of Engelberg, which has been cut off since Monday by rain which also sent part of the railway line plunging down a ravine.

One of some 1,200 tourists evacuated since Monday by air from the village told Swiss television they had been without hot food, clean water and electricity.

Not all tourists were unhappy. "It was like a carnival here last night, with everybody crowding the streets," said Australian Ray Condon as he squeezed along a wooden walkway in Lucerne. "Everybody was out taking pictures."

But the Swiss authorities have warned sightseers to stay away from the waters, worried about a sudden rise in river levels or more flash floods.

In southern Germany, a 28-year-old man drowned when he ventured out with two friends in a dinghy which capsized on the River Mangfall near the town of Feldkirchen-Westerham.
He was Germany's first victim of the floods, which have turned regions of Bavaria into disaster zones.
At the Benedictine abbey of Weltenburg, Bavaria's oldest monastery, monks were forced to take safety in upper floors.
"It's a war of nerves," one monk, Brother Benedikt, told Reuters Television.
In Romania, the latest deaths were from the Transylvanian region of Harghita. "I lost everything," a young villager told Realitatea TV station. "I saw floodwaters carry away a big bus parked near my home."

Floods across the country have killed 67 so far this year. The government estimates the damage at 1.5 billion euros.
(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Mark Trevelyan in Berlin, Markus Kabel in Vienna and Marius Zaharia in Bucharest)
Story by Pilar Wolfsteller REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

24.08.05 : Iraq's Devastated Marshlands Recovering Fast - UN

KENYA: August 24, 2005; NAIROBI - The ancient Iraqi marshlands drained by Saddam Hussein as punishment against their occupants are back to almost 40 percent of their former level, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Wednesday.

In a rare good news story for Iraq, Nairobi-based UNEP said latest satellite imagery showed a "phenomenal" recovery rate for the southern marshlands, back to almost 3,500 square km after dwindling to just 760 in 2002.

Some scholars view the marshlands, at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates river, as the site of the original "Garden of Eden" in the Bible.

Saddam began moving against the Marsh Arabs in the early 1990s, accusing them of supporting a Shi'ite Muslim uprising after the first Gulf War and harbouring criminals.

A combination of dams and canals blocked water from the marshes, turning what was once a pristine, wetland ecosystem into semi-desert and forcing all but 40,000 of the area's 450,000 inhabitants to flee.

But after the March 2003 war to topple Saddam, residents began returning and breaking the barriers, letting water again flow freely in a region where people had lived on small islands and moved on small wooden boats for thousands of years.


"The near total destruction of the Iraqi marshlands under the regime of Saddam Hussein was a major ecological and human disaster, robbing the Marsh Arabs of a centuries-old culture and way of life as well as food in the form of fish and that most crucial of natural resources, drinking water," said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director.

"The evidence of their rapid revival is a positive signal, not only for the environment and the local communities who live there, but must be seen as a contribution to wider peace and security for the Iraqi people and the region as a whole."

UNEP said the marshlands totalled almost 9,000 square kilometres in the 1970s -- one of the world's largest wetlands with rare species like the Sacred Ibis bird.

While satellite images showed wetland cover back to nearly 40 percent of that in August, the figure was closer to 50 percent back in the Spring thanks to winter rains and snow melt in the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates, UNEP said.

"The new satellite imagery shows a rapid increase in water and vegetation cover over the last two years," it added in a statement. "While more detailed field analysis of soil and water quality is needed to gauge the exact state of rehabilitation, UNEP scientists believe the findings are a positive signal that the Iraqi marshlands are well on the road to recovery."

Toepfer, however, warned that full reflooding would still take "many years" and must be carefully nurtured.

With funds from Japan, UNEP is running drinking water, sanitation and wetland management projects in the area where locals live an austere and deeply impoverished existence.

While the reflooding is positive for the environment, the region remains Iraq's poorest, with more than half the population unemployed, barely any primary schools and electricity reaching the area for just one hour a day.

Story by Andrew Cawthorne, REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

11.08.05 : Water Framework Directive - Summary of River Basin District Analysis
2004 in Germany

This BMU/UBA booklet summarises the River Basin Analysis conducted by the
Federal States in 10 German River Basin Units.
the report...
Source: Umweltbundesamt

11.08.05 : Disaster Charter brings satellites to bear on Romanian flooding

Teams responding to the flooding in Romania last month received assistance
from orbit, with satellite images and maps of affected areas provided in
near-real time following activation of the International Charter on Space
and Major Disasters.

The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters represents a joint
effort by global space agencies to put resources at the service of rescue
authorities responding to major natural or man-made disasters.

Source: EurekAlert

Read more..

06.08.05 : GWP CEE launches new IWRM web site

GWP CEE has launched a new website that represents an important step in GWP
CEE efforts to promote IWRM principles in CEE (Central and Eastern Europe)
The site is designed as a resource for governments, civil society, the
media and the public, who wish to gain knowledge about sustainable
management of water resources in CEE.
The website provides links to other important global and regional
information resources and holds an extensive collection of GWP regional and
global publications.

The website can be accessed at

05.08.05 : Poland - Vistula River Basin programme

A new programme will test public participation techniques in upper Vistula
pilot catchment area in southeastern Poland. The programme has been
launched by the Polish institute of Meteorology and Water management
together with the Regional Water Management board in Krakow and is part of
the EU WFD requirements for public participation and transparency.

In June 2005, the programme started with a public opinion survey targeting
three main stakeholder groups - local government officials, citizens and
school children.
Along with the survey, a series of workshops will be organised to present
and discuss identified water management problems and their solution.
The draft report concerning major water management problems in the Upper
Vistula pilot catchment area will be available for comments during local
stakeholders meetings, on Regional Water Management Board web page and in
public places in the pilot area.

The experiences from the testing exercise will be used to prepare
guidelines for effective public participation methods at different planning
levels, in particular regional and local.

Read more..

source EWMN News

29.07.05 : WWF - European drought: all dammed up but no water flows

As Europe swelters in its latest summer heat wave, WWF warns that building
more reservoirs and water storage dams will not solve the continent's
water shortage. ''Europe is not suffering from a shortage of dams or
reservoirs, it's suffering from a waste of water,'' says WWF.

Persistent hot weather following months of low rainfall has raised the
spectre of serious drought in many parts of Europe. WWF is concerned that
even though reservoirs are known to lose substantial amounts of water
through surface evaporation, authorities are already suggesting building
more reservoirs and water storage dams to supplement water supplies during
future periods of drought. ''Authorities need to convert plans for dams
and reservoirs into plans for improving water efficiency and restoring
wetlands and fragmented rivers,'' says WWF.

27.07.05 : UK - New direction in flood risk management

Work has begun at Alkborough in the Humber Estuary on 22 July 2005, where
some 440 hectares of land will be used to harness the natural properties of
wetlands to lessen the threat from tidal flooding. The Environment Agency
and English Nature began buying up the land from its 11 different owners in
2000. Several of the previous landowners are now involved in developing the
project; the largest flood storage and habitat creation scheme in Europe.

The UK government's flood and coastal erosion risk strategy, 'Making Space
for Water', sets the direction of travel for flood and erosion risk
management for the future. The Alkborough Flats scheme is one of the
flagships within this strategy and is designed to reduce the risk of
flooding in the area by returning previously arable land to the estuary. An
additional benefit of the scheme will be the creation and improvement of
habitats for local wildlife.

Sources: Defra; Edie News Centre

27.07.05 : Germany - Successful flood protection requires compulsory insurance

The damage done by flooding in Germany amounted to considerable sums in
recent years. The Elbe River flood of August 2002 alone caused some EUR 10
billion damage. Compulsory insurance for damages done by forces of nature
could help to bring down the total damages. 30 experts from science and
public administrations discussed the issue during talks on 10 May held at
the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA). They emphasized the necessity of
implementing economic instruments and incentives of precautionary flood
Read more :
Source: Umweltbundesamt

27.07.05 : European Commission - Public consultation on EU flood protection

The European Commission is seeking the views of citizens and organisations
in Europe on forthcoming EU action to reduce the risk of floods to people,
property and the environment. The consultation has started on 20 July and
will run for eight weeks. The results will feed into a proposal for a
Floods Directive, which is one of the components of an action programme on
flood risk management that the Commission is preparing. It is foreseen that
the action programme will also comprise actions to improve the exchange of
information and knowledge, and targeted use of EU funding.

Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas said the recent floods in
Romania, Bulgaria, Austria and the West Flanders region of Belgium had
shown once again how catastrophic flooding can cause human tragedy, disrupt
economic life and undermine Europe's progress towards sustainable development.

The internet consultation will run until 14 September 2005. The
questionnaire is available at

Source: Rapid

27.07.05 : European Commission – New: Water Information System for Europe

The Water and Marine Unit of the EU DG Environment has launched the first
edition of WISE: the Water Information System for Europe. WISE will provide
key information related to water policies on a regular basis. It brings you
up to date with developments of activities under the Water Framework
Directive Common Implementation Strategy and other EU water policies. The
first edition of WISE is now available at

01.07.05 : Marshland restoration in Spain’s Doñana National Park

1 Jul 2005
Doñana National Park, Spain – Hundreds of
hectares of agricultural land will be restored to
original marshlands in Spain’s celebrated Doñana
national park following a recent decision by the park's scientific board.

The Doñana 2005 Restoration Project's Scientific
Board approved the restoration of 1,600ha of
marshes, which were transformed in the 1970s into
low-quality agricultural land, as well as the
removal of 40kms of clay walls constructed in the
1980s around the park to initially prevent
overflooding from the nearby Brazo de la Torre
riverbed, an arm of the Guadalquivir River.

Having helped set up the scientific board in
1999, WWF has long called for the removal of these surrounding walls.

“Connecting the Doñana marshes naturally with the
river is an important step to returning the
ecosystem back to its original state, as well as
towards wetland management that respects natural
variability,” said Guido Schmidt, Head of WWF-Spain’s freshwater programme.

“We are also expecting that the local authorities
will work to improve a water treatment upstream,
rehabilitate a nearby mining site, and review a
proposed dredging project on the Guadalquivir River.”

Doñana National Park in Andalusia occupies the
right bank of the Guadalquivir River at its
estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. It is notable for
the great diversity of ecosystems, including
lagoons and marshlands, as well as fixed and
mobile dunes, and scrub woodlands.

It is home to five threatened bird species, such
as the imperial eagle and the marbled teal, and
is the wintering site for more than 500,000
waterfowl and stopover point for six million
migratory birds each year. It is also home to of
one of the two last remaining populations of wild Iberian lynx.

According to the most recent comprehensive survey
conducted in 2004 by the Spanish government, only
two isolated breeding populations of Iberian lynx
(Lynx pardinus) remain in southern Spain,
totaling about 100 animals, with only 25 breeding
females. As recently as two years ago, there were
believed to have been at least 160 lynx.

For further information:
Eva Hernandez, Doñana Project Coordinator

01.07.05 : Researchers from the Middle East and Europe work together to halt Dead Sea

The shrinking of the Dead Sea has brought researchers from Jordan, Israel
and Palestine together, along with two EU partners, in order to establish
how water management in the region could be improved. The five research
teams are working towards the drafting of different scenarios - how
different forms of interaction with the Dead Sea will affect natural
resources - and hope to present these scenarios to stakeholders, including
politicians. The project is funded under the International Cooperation
(INCO) strand of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).
Source: CORDIS

01.07.05 : Europe backtracks on water protection (Edie News)

Disappointed lobbyists have claimed the EU's new Groundwater Protection Directive lacks teeth and dismissed it as a watered down version of existing legislation.
The directive was agreed by Europe's Environment Ministers on Friday, June 24 to replace the Water Framework Directive of 2000, which was itself designed as a stop-gap between the previous version brought in in 1980 and this latest model.

But according to the European Environmental Bureau, a coalition of campaign groups from across the continent, the tough measures that had been hoped for are largely absent, leaving water supplies vulnerable to a broad spectrum of pollutants.
"Clearly, citizens are worried about chemical contamination of their drinking water," said Stefan Scheuer, EEB policy director."But the response from EU governments is to allow even further contamination of groundwater - our main source of drinking water.
"Almost every government that asked for it got its specific exemption, leaving the law with more loopholes than actual obligations.
"This is the EU à la carte."

The French government, for example, asked for pollutants from diffuse sources to be exempt from the directive, meaning contamination from agricultural chemicals, thought to be the largest single contributor to groundwater contamination, will not be covered.
The Netherlands' request to exclude contaminated sediment from river maintenance was also accepted.

The EEB argues that the key to effective protection is prevention rather than cure, as once contamination has occurred it can take a long time for pollutants to disappear.
In the worst case scenario, recovery times can stretch into the hundreds of years.
It also points out that a number of hazardous chemicals, such as endocrine disrupters, have irreversible effects and should be prevented from reaching the water supply at all costs.

Mr Scheuer said implementing the new directive was a backwards step and it offered no real protection.
"It would be better if this law were to be abandoned altogether and the old 1980 Groundwater Directive kept", he said.
"But we have still hopes with the European Parliament."It must defend its position on a clear approach to prevent hazardous chemical reaching groundwater."

By Sam Bond
Source: edie newsroom


26.06.05 : Save Chara River Campaign

The Chara River in Bangladesh has been leased out to a private group. As a
result, local people are not alloowed to use the river in any way, not
even for taking a bath. The owner of the Chara river is practicing fish
monoculture in the 11 km length of the river. As a result, both the river
and the mud-flats on its banks have already lost their bio-diversity.
Chara river is located adjecent of the Sundarbans mangrove forest.
Moreover, the people inhabiting both banks of the river have lost their
rights to access the resources that they had been enjoying for generations
as Common Property Resource. About 7500 households have been affected
adversely by this leasing process.

"Save Chara River Campaign” organized a discussion meeting on the occasion
of World Environment Day ­ 2005. The meeting was held at the Laudob Union
Parishad with active cooperation from AOSED a local NGO.

The meeting was presided over by Mr. Kumaresh Mandal, professor of Dacope
Women’s College. The participants included Shaikh Juboraj, Chairman of
Laudob Union Parishad, Benoy Kumar Roy, Chairman of Dacope Union Parishad,
Deba Prasad Gain, Chairman of Bajua Union Parishad, Manas Kumar Roy,
Convenor of the Save Chara River Campaign and Amiya Kumar Mandal,
Headmaster, Laudob-Badamtala High School.

People following different occupations and inhabiting both banks of the
Chara River, both men and women, participated in the meeting. The main
theme of the discussion was “Chara River, Conservation of Biodiversity and
Livelihoods Struggle of the of the Local Communities” The main discussion
paper was presented by Shamim Arfeen, Executive Director of AOSED.

The meeting unanimously agreed on the following decisions :

1. The Movement to Save the Chara River must be widely publicized and
more people must be involved in it.
2. Necessary initiatives, including a mass movement and litigation
may be resorted to, for canceling the lease and declaring leasing the
river as illegal.
3. The Bangladesh Water Development Board may be approached to ensure
smooth water flow through the sluice gates at the intake and outlet mouths
of the Chara River.
4. The Traditional Rights of the people, of free access to the Chara
River and its Resources, which they had been enjoying for generations
prior to the lease, must be restored to them.
5. To start a community led intiative for the regeneration of
mangrove vegitation on both of the bank of the river.



Portugal has accused Spain of stealing its water as the two Iberian
countries battle one of the worst droughts on record. One that has
seriously reduced levels in rivers flowing across their border.

Portugal has demanded EUR 6 million in compensation from Spain after levels
of water in the Douro river have fallen below limits established in a
bilateral agreement. The source of many of Portugal's big rivers start in

Read more...<,3604,1500806,00.html>

Source: The Guardian



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