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(all in original language, en langue originale, in Originalsprache):


    News July 1999

    01.07.99 : USA: Edwards Dam removed on Maine's Kennebec River 
    30.06.99 : Namibia: Epupa-Dam decision damned
    28.06.99 : China: Report on Three Gorges Visite
    28.06.99 : South Africa :  STOP THE DAMS 
    24.06.99 : European Meeting of the Youth for Water July 12-18 in France
    21.06.99 : India: Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Valley Movment) announce his own website in english !

Text :

01.07.99 :

© Environment News Service (ENS) 1999. All Rights Reserved.  

Fish restoration efforts on Maine's Kennebec River took a historic step forward today as the Edwards Dam was breached and the river ran free for the first time in 162 years. The Kennebec is the largest river in the United States to benefit from a dam removal and Edwards Dam is among the largest dams ever removed in the nation. Today's action came as the result of a precedent setting 1997 decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the environmental and economic benefits of a free flowing Kennebec are greater than the economic benefits of continued operation of the Edwards Dam hydroelectric project. FERC denied the relicensing request in 1997 and ordered the dam removed. "With removal of the Edwards Dam, the Kennebec River has been given a new lease on life," said Steve Brooke, coordinator of the Kennebec Coalition, which includes American Rivers, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Trout Unlimited and its Kennebec Valley Chapter. The Kennebec Coalition was formed in 1989 with the goal of removing the Edwards Dam and restoring the Kennebec River. The Edwards Dam harmed fish by flooding critical habitat and preventing fish that migrate from the ocean from reaching prime upstream spawning grounds. Removal of Edwards Dam opens up 17 miles of spawning and nursery habitat. Populations of 10 species of migratory fish are expected to benefit including: American shad, Atlantic salmon, striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, short-nosed sturgeon, blueback herring, and alewives. Populations will not rebound overnight, but are expected to gain steadily over the next 20 years.

30.06.99: Namibia: Epupa-Dam decision damned

From the June 30 edition of SA's Mail and Guardian:

A FINAL decision on where to construct the Epupa hydropower project is being
delayed by the ongoing war in Angola which has prevented officials from
Luanda attending a key meeting in Windhoek. Namibia and Angola are already
at loggerheads over which site on the Kunene river to choose with the
Angolans favouring a smaller dam in the Baynes Mountains, while Namibia
wants a dam in the area of the Epupa Falls. Mines and Energy Minister Jesaya
Nyamu has said that Angolan government officials have been too preoccupied
with the war against Unita to be able to attend scheduled meetings of the
Permanent Joint Technical Commission (PJTC) on Epupa. Namibia is adamant
that the plant should be built at Epupa Falls, arguing that Baynes is too
small, prone to drought and too dependent on Gove. The feasibility report on
the scheme said the Baynes site is environmentally and socially more
acceptable, and would have less impact on the nomadic Himba communities in
the Kunene region.


URGENT! Please distribute as widely as possible!
The power company Jaemtkraft in the province of Jaemtland in the middle
part of Sweden wants to exploit the stream Roennoeforsen in the Laangan
river in the north-west part of the province for hydropower. 

Roennoeforsen has very high nature conservation values: 19 species of
lichens, which are on the list of redlisted in Sweden, have been found in
the forest and on rocks in an area less than one hectare, close to the
stream. One of the species is endangered (threat category 1) and as many
as six are vulnerable ( threat category 2), one of these six is extremely
rare in Sweden. The cause of the exceptionally high concentration of
redlisted and rare lichens around Roennoeforsen is the presence of stream
fog generated by the stream, which creates a very moist microclimate in
the area close to the stream. 

If the stream is regulated this moist habitat will disappear and the
lichens will be threatened by desiccation. In order to try to preserve the
moisture Jaemtkraft wants to install a device which will produce fog.
Since such an experiment has never been done before and hence little is
known about how such a device works in nature, this means an unacceptably
large threat to this unique lichen locality.  The advise of researchers in
ecological botany is to do this experiment somewhere else in the stream or
in another stream in order not to jeopardise the lichens. These requests
have been completely neglected by Jaemtkraft. Further, nothing had been
said about how much the device is allowed to cost and how much energy it
is allowed to consume, for how long it will work and so on.

Unfortunately, the project is already initiated, but the stream is still
not affected. We hope that the project still can be stopped by boycott of
the company. Except for the nature values, the cultural values of
Roennoeforsen are of national interest and include an old iron mill with
blast furnace, museum, exhibition localities, cafeteria and bakery etc.
All this has to be closed if the stream is exploited and people will lose
their jobs in a rural part of Sweden which already suffers from

Almost all larger waterfalls and rivers in Sweden have been exploited for
hydropower during the last 100 years. Large nature values have disappeared
and now the power companies want our last free flowing streams / rivers. 

How can the Swedish government and authorities permit this? Sweden has
signed the convention of Conservation of biological diversity in Rio and
still permission can be given to such projects. How is it possible? We
require that the prime minister Goeran Persson, environment minister Kjell
Larsson and the rest of the Swedish government take their responsibility
for the biological diversity by immediately stopping the exploitation of

The Nature Conservation Society of Krokom
The Nature Conservation Society of Oestersund
The Nature Conservation Society of Jaemtland- Haerjedalen
Umeaa Faeltbiologer

For more information contact: Annchristine Holmberg

Please help us by sending letters of protest to the power company
Jaemtkraft and the Swedish government! Thanks in advance.

Draft letters:
To Henrik grill, executive director, Jaemtkraft
Dear sir,
It has come to my attention that your company has started the
exploitation of the Roennoeforsen rapid in the province of Jaemtland,
I have been informed of the extreme high nature values of the area and
find it unacceptable that Jaemtkraft is exploiting one of the last and
most valuable streams in your country.
I urge you to stop this project  immediately!

Send letter to <>

To Mr Kjell Larsson, minister of environment
And Mr Goeran Persson, prime minister

Dear sirs,
It has come to my attention that the Swedish powercompany Jaemtkraft has
started the exploitation of the Roennoeforsen rapid in the province of
Jaemtland, Sweden.
Í find it unacceptable that a rich and progressive country like Sweden
is exploiting one of its last and most valuable  streams.
I have been told that the exploitation area hosts  a unique lichen
locality with 19 redlisted species. nature values which are most
likely going to be destroyed by the exploitation.
How can the Swedish government and authorities permit this? Sweden has
signed the convention of conservation of biological diversity in Rio and
still permission can be given to such projects. How is it possible? We
require that the Swedish government takes their responsibility for the
biological diversity by immediately stopping the exploitation of

Send the letter to: <>


28.06.99 : China: Report on Three Gorges Visite

When China's Three Gorges Dam is completed in the year 2010, it will be the
most powerful hydroelectric dam in the world.  It costs an estimated $70
billion USD.  There have been ongoing concerns about the environmental and
social costs of the project, but in recent weeks, China's state-controlled
media have been unusually outspoken about whether it's such a good idea
after all.  As other infrastructure projects fail around the country, many
now worry that the dam may not hold. 

 NPR's Mary Kay Magistad visited the
Three Gorges Dam site and sent this report.
SHOW:  Weekend Edition, Sunday
Subject: May 30, 1999 NPR Weekend Edition


With three and a half years to go until the Yangtze Valley is flooded,
construction on the vast Three Gorges Dam continues full speed ahead. 
Thousands of workers are busy pouring concrete, moving earth, leveling
surfaces.  Busloads of tourists come to watch the spectacle, even on a gray,
rainy morning.  They huddle on a lookout platform, their umbrellas a splash of
red and yellow against a gloomy sky.  The director of the Three Gorges Dam
project, Lu Youmei, says this work may be fun to watch, but it's far from
easy to do.

Mr. Lu Youmei: (Through Translator) For project construction, we are going to
encounter many challenges that have not been encountered before in the history
of human beings.

MAGISTAD: Everything about the dam is on a massive scale.  It is to create a
reservoir 400 miles long and 600 feet deep, displacing some one and a half
million people.  Lu is more concerned about the technical issues, such as the
temporary shiplock that failed during last year's massive floods.  That stopped
traffic on the Yangtze River for more than two days.  Foreign engineers who
have visited the dam also caution that the bedrock is weaker than originally
thought.  They worry that this could lead to high rates of seepage and a weak
foundation.  There are also reports of cavities in the dam wall.  Patricia
Adams heads the Toronto-based environmental group Probe International.

Ms.  PATRICIA ADAMS (Probe International): Large cavities, I believe about 90
square feet, and they are large enough that they're causing concern.  I believe
that in one section of the dam, the engineers considered blowing it up so that
they could recast it and then decided against that because they felt that it
might destabilize the rest of the dam that's been built.  And I believe there
are other problems, all to do with casting the concrete with the quality of the
concrete and I guess the way that it has actually formed, that it may not be
strong enough and it is not up to standard.

MAGISTAD: China's state council actually voted against the Three Gorges
project 10 years ago, but then, in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square
crackdown, the man who had called in the troops, then-Premier Li Peng,
pushed through the plan as a monument to Chinese pride.  Environmentalists
and human rights activists around the world have been lobbying ever since
to stop the project or at least scale it back.

Besides their concerns about the dam's structural integrity, the critics are
also alarmed by the shoddy construction of many roads, bridges and new towns
being built to replace those that will be submerged.

(Soundbite of crowd)

MAGISTAD: Fengjie is one such place, a river town with steep slopes leading
down to its busy docks.  It's to be relocated to a site higher up a hill on the
other side of the river.  Two years ago, as workers were laying foundations
there for new buildings, there was a landslide.  Luckily, no one was hurt or
killed.  Locals like 60-year-old Jao Gien Wan(ph) are suspicious about why it

Ms.  Jiao Jianwan: (Through Translator) Some people called it a landslide,
but we don't think it was.  We think it was caused by corruption because
the local officials didn't put enough money into building a strong
foundation to support the buildings.

MAGISTAD: All along the Yangtze, there is evidence that a sudden surge of
money into poor counties has been too much for local officials to resist.
New roads have broken apart, bridges have collapsed, killing dozens.  In
many cases, investigators have found that contractors were forced to use
inferior materials because they had to pay such large bribes to local
officials.  This has made Premier Zhu Rongji furious.  He calls such
projects tofu construction because they hold up about as well as tofu.

The implications for the Three Gorges Dam are obvious and sobering, but project
director Lu Youmei insists that people need not worry.

Mr. Mr. Lu Youmei: (Through Translator) For those projects with severe
quality problems, the main reason for failure is that the construction of
those projects did not comply with normal procedures that should be
followed.  With the Three Gorges Dam, that's simply not the case.

MAGISTAD: Premier Zhu is still worried.  He has called on the Three Gorges
Dam project to start using foreign inspectors, since local Chinese
inspectors are more susceptible to being bought off.  `Make no mistake,'
Zhu has told those in charge of the dam, `the weight of responsibility on
your shoulders is like the weight of a mountain, and if anything goes
wrong, the cost in lives and in China's prestige will be beyond imagination.' 

-Mary Kay Magistad, NPR News, Yichang, China. 
c 1999 National Public Radio  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

transmitted by:

Three Gorges Campaign
International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94707
e-mail:     web:
Tel: 510.848.1155 ext. 317      Fax: 510.848.1008

28.06.99 : South Africa: STOP THE DAMS 

This is the editorial comment in the latest SARA RiverNews.
(Southern Africa Rivers Association (SARA) is an association of river
tourism interests):

Big dams are a feature of the South African landscape. They have been there
since at least the decade of the First World War, built by successive
governments to provide irrigation for farms, water and power for factories,
and sewage for cities. Dams are so common they seem "natural". The average
South African, standing next to a river, will cry out that "all this water
is running away to the sea and being wasted". The fact that rivers have
flowed for all time, supporting the surrounding ecology, seems to make
little difference to this mindset.

SARA has for a long time questioned the wisdom of damming the remaining
wild and free rivers in Southern Africa. New dams are planned or mooted for
the Orange, Tugela and Bushmans, Mkomazi, Mzimvubu, Doring, Cunene,
Kavango, Zambezi and other major rivers. Most of these rivers are already
penned-in by mighty concrete walls. The new dams add insult to injury.

But SARA faces a dilemma over its opposition to dams. Water transfer
schemes like those on the Katse, which sends water north to the Vaal, and
the Gariep, which sends water to the Great Fish River basin, are likely to
provide a constant flow for river tour operators. Reliable water flows
equal good business, and business is partly what SARA is about. We
constituted ourselves as an association to improve the image and
competitive position of river tourism. Dams do that, don't they?

Well, yes, and no. Once dams are built, the best we can hope for is that
their impacts will be mitigated - in other words, we have to make the best
of a bad job. One example of this is utilising the outflow for whitewater
sport and commercial operations, as is already happening on the Great Fish
and is suggested for the Ash River outfall at Clarens. SARA strongly
supports any move to make use of the water transfers in this way.

But face it, big dams do big damage to the environment and often to the
social fabric and heritage of the areas where they are built. The fact that
they may promote limited forms of ecotourism should not blind us to their
serious negative impacts.

Popular governments who have the interests of the mass of the people at
heart are constructing walls across valleys because this is the easiest -
and the most short-sighted - way to capture water. The Lesotho Highlands
Water Project (LHWP) will cost the SA taxpayer about R10billion, and the
planned new Thukela dam system R5-R6bn more. The costs will have to be met
by taxpayers and water users, mainly in Gauteng. Ironically, these RDP dams
will hit the poor hardest.

Despite the costs it is claimed that dams are good for development because
they bring roads, irrigation schemes, industries, ecotourism, and many
other benefits. In the world at large experience has proved otherwise. On
America's Colorado river ways are now being sought to decommission major
dams that were supposed to stand for all time and bring development to the
arid southwest.

By flooding river valleys we destroy precious riverine forests and biotic
communities. We drive people off the land, we drown their cultural
heritage. When riverbeds dry up due to damming, the dried-out mudbanks
collapse, causing serious siltation. And there are better ways to generate
electricity, using solar and wind power.

SARA's mission is to protect rivers, as the basis of our businesses, and
help create sustainable conditions for ecotourism. Big dams do neither.
They are literally costing us the earth and all our rivers. Only certain
groups benefit while the rest pay, and even those (like river operators)
who can make money from dam-controlled rivers are not assured that the
resource will remain reliable, because the water might be piped away to
save evaporation.

South Africa needs a Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, designating certain rivers
as inviolate, not to be dammed or opened to major constructions such as
roads and resorts. River guides and operators can promote this through
daily contact with corporate leaders and members of the public and media
who go on river trips.

By investing now in research and development into low-cost, low-impact
water-purifying technologies, South Africans could lead the way towards a
new water dispensation for the entire globe. Wars will be avoided, rural
peoples get their land back, producers have enough water for their needs,
and recreationists may continue to run rivers knowing that we have saved a
precious natural heritage from destruction.

Southern Africa Rivers Association (SARA) 
P.O. Box 645
Irene 0062, South Africa
Head Office: Ph/Fax: +27.12.667.1838

24.06.99 : European Meeting of the Youth for Water July 12-18 in France

The European Meeting of the Youth for water is an interactive and intergenerational process aiming at the recognition and valorization of the role of the European Youth in the actions related with the environment and water in particular.  This process will develop over a twelve month period (July 99 - June 2000)  and be the statement of a devoted citizenship.

Set up by the Solidarity Water Europe whose main role is the mobilization and everyone's involvement in the collective management of his environment, the European Meeting of the Youth for water was made  possible thanks to local, national and international partners. 

From July 12 to 18, European youngsters between the age of 11 to 15 years of age will participate in the two first steps of the European Meeting of the Youth for water which will start up in Espalion (Aveyron - France).  This step achieved in cooperation with the H²O French Central Massif Festival will get together about one hundred youngsters with their teachers from around twenty European and Mediterranean countries..  These youngsters come from schools, associations and communities, and are already involved in local actions regarding water  management.

They will present their achievements and various forms of involvement they used in their actions in the water management sector. 

In Espalion, within the H²O Water Festival in French Central Massif, they will participate in the debates leading to the preparation of an official document, the Espalion Declaration, on one hand, and on the other,  the development of tools to sensitise the public at large conveying a message of a European solidarity for an integrated management of water.  Furthermore, they will plan their future actions in the same line as those already achieved.

On Saturday July 17, the Espalion Declaration will be presented to the Water Parliament composed of these youngsters, local and European agents. water professionals, scientific searchers and citizens.

Later on, the Espalion Declaration  with its plan of action will be issued throughout Europe with the help of the participants in the first step of the process in Fall 1999 and Spring 2000 in the course of public manifestations.

Finally , the Espalion Declaration and the attached documents will be handed out to the MPs of the Environment, Territory Development and local Authorities Commission of the Water Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council in Strasbourg in May 2000 by a delegation of youngsters.

2. Context

The "Solidarity Water Europe" network promotes local initiatives favouring a protection of the natural ecosystems and water savings in the Europe of the 40.  This promotion is done in co-operation with the local agents and the youngsters , and aims at sensitising the decision makers, the teachers and the public at large in order to develop, teach, issue and implement sound water management.  To do so, the Youth is a lobbying group not to be neglected that can influence the social, economic and local environmental situation.  Moreover, it is of prime importance to capitalise the experiences of the Youth, which is tomorrow's society.

The "Solidarity Water Europe" network, the "Environment, Territory Development and local Authorities Commission of the Water Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council", GREEN, the "River College", the city of Espalion in co-operation with other local, national and international partners, propose an awareness and public information campaign to the local authorities and European MPs on the role to be played by the Youth in the water management matters throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.

3. Objectives

The general objective of this action is to get together the European Youth from various countries and regions within the Europe of the 40 and the Mediterranean shore for a better mutual understanding and for the promotion of the vision of civil and democratic Europe united by its waters.  Simultaneously, the various actions will demonstrate the importance and the value of water for Europe.

The youngsters will discuss their experiences related to water management in Europe.  They will present their achievements and the various forms of involvement in local actions regarding water management.  They will sensitise the European public and the local, national and international representatives to the idea of conserving the natural resource called water and will issue their vision as decision makers of tomorrow's Europe.

4.. Process, steps and forecasted activities

The "Solidarity Water Europe" network and its partners will organise, through this action of a European Meeting of the Youth for Water, a process divided into three steps.

21.06.99 : India: Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Valley Movment) announce his own website in english !

Dear friends,

As you are well aware, the controversy over large dams on the Narmada has
become one of the most important social issues in India today. In an
effort to disseminate information and present the perspective of people's
struggles on this issue, we have created a new site, Through this site, we will endeavour to keep you
informed of the activities in the valley, the developing issues and
provide an informed perspective on the debate. I would request each one of
you to take a look and to visit this site periodically. Please do also
forward this message to your friends who would be interested in this

With the arrival of monsoon in India, the Andolan faces perhaps the
greatest challenge till date. This monsoon as many as 2000 tribals
families may lose their homes and lands. Satyagraha has already begun in
the Narmada Valley and people are firmly resolved to stay and assert their
right over their lands and their homes. At this juncture, it is important
that we come together in solidarity with the Andolan and help in
mobilising public opinion on this matter. If you are interested in lending
a hand, organising an event or in visiting the valley to express your
support, please send me ( a note. In the weeks to come,
your help will be critical.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Venu Govindu
Narmada Bachao Andolan 
B-13, Shivam Flats 
Ellora Park Road 
Baroda, 390 007 

Phone/Fax : (91) 265 382 232 
Email : 

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Phone/Fax : (91) 265 382 232 
Email : 
back to the Homepage

These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.