: Flood Fears Focus on Swiss Lakes and Romanian Toll Up
- 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.
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
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.
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.
pumped streets and cellars, but water remained 1.5 metre (5 ft)
deep in one area, he added.
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.
now the water level is falling, but we just do not know what is
going to happen next," civil protection official Rene Bieri
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.
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
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.
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.
Germany's first victim of the floods, which have turned regions
of Bavaria into disaster zones.
Benedictine abbey of Weltenburg, Bavaria's oldest monastery, monks
were forced to take safety in upper floors.
a war of nerves," one monk, Brother Benedikt, told Reuters
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."
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
: Iraq's Devastated Marshlands Recovering Fast - UN
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.
view the marshlands, at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates
river, as the site of the original "Garden of Eden"
in the Bible.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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."
warned that full reflooding would still take "many years"
and must be carefully nurtured.
from Japan, UNEP is running drinking water, sanitation and wetland
management projects in the area where locals live an austere and
deeply impoverished existence.
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
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
Federal States in 10 German River Basin Units.
: Disaster Charter brings satellites to bear on Romanian flooding
Teams responding to the flooding in Romania last month received
from orbit, with satellite images and maps of affected areas provided
near-real time following activation of the International Charter
and Major Disasters.
Charter on Space and Major Disasters represents a joint
effort by global space agencies to put resources at the service
authorities responding to major natural or man-made disasters.
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
The site is designed as a resource for governments, civil society,
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
can be accessed at http://www.gwpceeforum.org/
05.08.05 : Poland - Vistula
River Basin programme
A new programme will test public participation techniques in upper
pilot catchment area in southeastern Poland. The programme has
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
Along with the survey, a series of workshops will be organised
and discuss identified water management problems and their solution.
The draft report concerning major water management problems in
Vistula pilot catchment area will be available for comments during
stakeholders meetings, on Regional Water Management Board web
page and in
public places in the pilot area.
from the testing exercise will be used to prepare
guidelines for effective public participation methods at different
levels, in particular regional and local.
29.07.05 : WWF - European
drought: all dammed up but no water flows
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
reservoirs, it's suffering from a waste of water,'' says WWF.
Persistent hot weather following months of low rainfall has raised
spectre of serious drought in many parts of Europe. WWF is concerned
even though reservoirs are known to lose substantial amounts of
through surface evaporation, authorities are already suggesting
more reservoirs and water storage dams to supplement water supplies
future periods of drought. ''Authorities need to convert plans
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
wetlands to lessen the threat from tidal flooding. The Environment
and English Nature began buying up the land from its 11 different
2000. Several of the previous landowners are now involved in developing
project; the largest flood storage and habitat creation scheme
The UK government's
flood and coastal erosion risk strategy, 'Making Space
for Water', sets the direction of travel for flood and erosion
management for the future. The Alkborough Flats scheme is one
flagships within this strategy and is designed to reduce the risk
flooding in the area by returning previously arable land to the
additional benefit of the scheme will be the creation and improvement
habitats for local wildlife.
Defra; Edie News Centre
27.07.05 : Germany -
Successful flood protection requires compulsory insurance
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
could help to bring down the total damages. 30 experts from science
public administrations discussed the issue during talks on 10
May held at
the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA). They emphasized the necessity
implementing economic instruments and incentives of precautionary
Read more : http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/uba-info-presse-e/2005/pe05-028.htm
27.07.05 : European Commission
- Public consultation on EU flood protection
Commission is seeking the views of citizens and organisations
in Europe on forthcoming EU action to reduce the risk of floods
property and the environment. The consultation has started on
20 July and
will run for eight weeks. The results will feed into a proposal
Floods Directive, which is one of the components of an action
flood risk management that the Commission is preparing. It is
the action programme will also comprise actions to improve the
information and knowledge, and targeted use of EU funding.
for the Environment Stavros Dimas said the recent floods in
Romania, Bulgaria, Austria and the West Flanders region of Belgium
shown once again how catastrophic flooding can cause human tragedy,
economic life and undermine Europe's progress towards sustainable
consultation will run until 14 September 2005. The
questionnaire is available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/water/flood_risk/consult.htm
27.07.05 : European Commission
New: Water Information System for Europe
Water and Marine Unit of the EU DG Environment has launched the
edition of WISE: the Water Information System for Europe. WISE
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.
first edition of WISE is now available at www.europa.eu.int
restoration in Spains Doñana National Park
1 Jul 2005
Doñana National Park, Spain Hundreds of
hectares of agricultural land will be restored to
original marshlands in Spains celebrated Doñana
national park following a recent decision by the park's scientific
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.
set up the scientific board in
1999, WWF has long called for the removal of these surrounding
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-Spains
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.
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.
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.
Eva Hernandez, Doñana Project Coordinator
01.07.05 : Researchers from the Middle East
and Europe work together to halt Dead Sea
of the Dead Sea has brought researchers from Jordan, Israel
and Palestine together, along with two EU partners, in order to
how water management in the region could be improved. The five
teams are working towards the drafting of different scenarios
different forms of interaction with the Dead Sea will affect natural
resources - and hope to present these scenarios to stakeholders,
politicians. The project is funded under the International Cooperation
(INCO) strand of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).
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
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
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
even for taking a bath. The owner of the Chara river is practicing
monoculture in the 11 km length of the river. As a result, both
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
rights to access the resources that they had been enjoying for
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
Parishad with active cooperation from AOSED a local NGO.
The meeting was presided over by Mr. Kumaresh Mandal, professor
Womens College. The participants included Shaikh Juboraj,
Laudob Union Parishad, Benoy Kumar Roy, Chairman of Dacope Union
Deba Prasad Gain, Chairman of Bajua Union Parishad, Manas Kumar
Convenor of the Save Chara River Campaign and Amiya Kumar Mandal,
Headmaster, Laudob-Badamtala High School.
People following different occupations and inhabiting both banks
Chara River, both men and women, participated in the meeting.
theme of the discussion was Chara River, Conservation of
Livelihoods Struggle of the of the Local Communities The
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
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
river as illegal.
3. The Bangladesh Water Development Board may be approached to
smooth water flow through the sluice gates at the intake and outlet
of the Chara River.
4. The Traditional Rights of the people, of free access to the
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.
06. 06 .05 : SPAIN AND
PORTUGAL IN WATER FIGHT
Portugal has accused Spain of stealing its water as the two Iberian
countries battle one of the worst droughts on record. One that
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
bilateral agreement. The source of many of Portugal's big rivers
Source: The Guardian