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  • 25.10.00 : Water Framework Directive study programme : november 7th-9th 2000
  • 20.10.00 : GEF slashes $110 million funding for Danube, Black Sea and Baltic Sea
  • 19.10.00 : Narmada : Supreme Court judgment is anti-people
  • 14.10.00 : Water-Reservoirs and greenhouse emissions (The Independent, Articel by Fred Pearce)
  • 13.10.00 : WWF: Biosphaerenreservat Donaudelta feiert zehnjaehriges Bestehen / Wieder 4.000 Pelikanpaare
  • 11.10.00 : French dam decommissions echoe throughout the world.
  • 09.10.00 : Australia's legendary Snowy River to flow again
  • 07.10.00 : Spain : Friends of the Earth demand refrom to the national hydrological plan (PHN)
  • 06.10.00 : A Milestone in the History of Dams and Development : Commission finalises Global Report
  • 03.10.00 : "Hydro 2000": Swiss NGOs protest against large dams
  • 22.09.00 : UN agency blames Mekong floods on deforestation
  • older news

Text :

25.10.00 : Water Framework Directive study programme : november 7th-9th 2000

A European Centre for Public Affairs (ECPA) study programme on Public Affairs & The Environment: Process in the European Union, will take place on 7-9 November 2000. The case study to be used in the November programme will be the EU's Water Framework Directive (WFD) as special interest to several NGOs. The legislative process to be examined also applies to other Environmental matters, as well, of course.

This is one in a series of such programmes by ECPA but one which involves an unique role playing methodology involving participants from government (e.g. the UK Environment Agency and the Department of Trade & Industry and the German Federal Ministry of Environment), business (e.g. Hydro, Ericssson, and General Motors and Ford) and NGOs. Others addressing the meeting include the Deputy Director General of DG Environment and Alexander De Roo, MEP.

NGOs (or individuals) who would like to participate can contact :
Tel: +44 (0) 870 444 2760
Fax: +44 (0) 870 444 2770

20.10.00 : GEF slashes $110 million funding for Danube, Black Sea and Baltic Sea

The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) decided this week to cut its entire $110 million budget for the implementation of three major International Water projects in the Danube, Black Sea and Baltic Sea and to remove these projects from its workplan for the coming years. This decision was made by Mr. Mohamed T. El-Ashry, CEO and Chairman of the Global Environmental Facility, apparently due to a budget shortfall caused by delayed payments from the US Government. (Extract of a WWF press release)

For further information:

Global and European implications
Richard Holland, Director of WWF's Living Waters Campaign,
Tel. +31 30 693 7819 - Mobile +31 62 154 8655
Jane Madgwick, Head of WWF's European Freshwater Programme
Tel. +45 3524 7843

Danube and Black Sea implications
Philip Weller, Director of WWF's Danube-Carpathian Programme Office
Tel. +43 1 488 17 257 - Mobile Tel. +43 676 444 6601

Baltic Sea implications
Lennart Gladh, WWF-Sweden
Tel. +46 21 351 050 Mobile Tel. +46 70 221 0367

19.10.00 : Narmada : Supreme Court judgment is anti-people

The Supreme Court of India verdict on the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is entirely against the interests and fundamental rights of the people in the Narmada valley. It has virtually overturned all the achievements of the herioc, non-violent struggle of the people in the valley spearheaded by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA or Save the Narmada Movement).

Over the course of 15 years, the NBA has unearthed evidence that has laid bare the inherently unjust design and planning process of SSP, conceived and implemented without an iota of people's participation. It has exposed the hollowness of the claims by the dam's proponents that SSP would quench the thirst of drought-prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra, by showing that only 1.6% of Kutch and 9.24% of Saurashtra lie in the command area of SSP and no water is expected to reach there till the year 2020. It has also brought to light the colossal human and environmental costs of the project evidenced by the displacement of nearly 320,000 people and the loss of prime agricultural and forest land.

The World Bank which first gave the project credibility by advancing a $450 million loan, was forced by the NBA's massive campaign to institute an unprecedented independent review commission, the Morse Commission. The Morse Commission severely indicted the World Bank, vindicated all the major concerns of the NBA and recommended that the Bank withdraw from the project. Faced with growing international pressure, the World Bank was forced to withdraw from the project.

Throughout the struggle, the different state governments and the Union of India have displayed a singular lack of concern towards the welfare of the poor and underprivileged people whose lives would be devastated by this project. NBA's journey till date has been marked by grave and repeated atrocities committed by the police and oppressive governments on marginalized communities such as the adivasis (indigenous communities), poor peasants and landless toilers, including their right to peaceably assemble and protest. That the Supreme Court has chosen to ignore all this evidence of duplicity and deviousness by the state, is a travesty of justice and egalitarianism in a democratic society.

The judgement delivered on October 18, 2000, is remarkable for its naiveté and sinister overtones. It expects the governments and the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to deliver a land acquisition and rehabilitation plan in four weeks when they have not accomplished it in over 15 years! It expects the state governments to properly address the grievances of the people when the very same governments continue to oppress the people from often even peacefully assembling! Further, the judgement while outlining how further construction would occur, places the arbitration first directly or indirectly in the hands of the project implementers namely the state government, the NCA and finally the Prime Minister, instead of an independent and unbiased entity; and in this way the court also appears to wash off any further responsibility from itself.

NBA started its journey with a right to information campaign in the Narmada valley, demanding details of the World Bank funded project, plans for the affected people, etc. With no information forthcoming from the Governments, NBA declared its opposition to the entire project taking into account the scale of adverse impacts. Displaying a rare degree of spirit, tenacity and courage the Andolan has led the people of the Narmada valley for over 15 years through various non-violent civil actions, sit-in's and hunger strikes. They have faced the challenge thrown up by an insensitive and oppressive government, thrown out the formidable World Bank, challenged the abomination that the Sardar Sarovar dam is, braved the rising waters that submerge the land, forests and livelihood of the people every year, and have been a model and a source of inspiration for people's struggles throughout the world. The Friend of River Narmada believe that this spirit will also enable the Andolan to tide over this unfortunate judgement as well.

The Friends of River Narmada salutes the spirit of the people of the Narmada valley and Narmada Bachao Andolan and stand in solidarity with them.

14.10.00 : Water-Reservoirs and greenhouse emissions

The Independent, Articel by Fred Pearce


13.10.00 : WWF: Biosphaerenreservat Donaudelta feiert zehnjaehriges Bestehen / Wieder 4.000 Pelikanpaare

Das Biosphaerenreservat Donaudelta in Rumaenien, eines der beruehmtesten Vogelparadiese der Welt, feiert morgen sein zehnjaehriges Bestehen. Dies nimmt das WWF-Auen-Institut in Rastatt zum Anlass fuer einen Rueckblick. Denn in zehnjaehriger Zusammenarbeit konten ueber 7.000 Hektar einst trockengelegter Feuchtgebiete der Natur wieder zurueckgegeben werden. Selten gewordene Tiere wie der Rosa-Pelikan sind heute wieder haeufig. Weiter Informationen:

11.10.00 : French dam decommissions echoe throughout the world

Après avoir reçu le mois dernier une equipe de télévision coréenne et une délégation d'une association japonaise, SOS Loire Vivante et ERN ont accueilli le 11 octobre un groupe de journalistes japonais qui désiraient se rendre sur le site de St-Etienne du Vigan, un des trois barrages français à avoir été démantelé. Le Japon, pays où l'industrialisation irraisonnée a fait des ravages, cherche aujourd'hui dans d'autres pays des solutions pour gérer plus écologiquement leur environnement.
Un rapport de leur visite (une petite partie seulement est en anglais ... le reste en japonais !) peut être vu sur :

09.10.00 : Australia's legendary Snowy River to flow again

Australia's legendary Snowy River, reduced to a weed-infested trickle due to damming and irrigation, will flow again, at least enough to ride a small boat downstream.

A A$300 million (US$160 million) rescue project announced on Friday by the New South Wales and Victorian states will see the Snowy return to 28 percent of its natural flow in around 15 years.
"The Snowy River is bound up in Australian history," Jeff Angel, director of the Total Environment Centre, told reporters in welcoming the rescue project.
An extra 330 billion litres of alpine water will flow downstream each year, but the Snowy will still be a far cry from the mighty river immortalised in Australian writer and poet Andrew "Banjo" Paterson's "The Man From Snowy River".
By comparison, Sydney Harbour contains 500 billion litres.
The increased water flow will come from the more efficient use of the river's water by farmers using conservation methods such as covers over irrigation channels to reduce evaporation.
Some 99 percent of the Snowy's flow has been redirected westward for irrigation and in 1997, police received a bomb threat against the Snowy's main dam.
The Snowy rescue project comes after a decade of fighting by environmentalists and downstream farmers.
"The Snowy River was on its death bed for the last 30 or 40 years," Angel said. "It has only had one percent of its flow and no river, particularly a vibrant alpine river, can survive such a starvation of water."
Angel said he hoped the increased water would mimic natural flows, with more water released when the snow melts in Australia's Mount Kosciuszko range and less during winter, thus rebuilding the river's biodiversity.
Environmentalists said more efficient water use in one of the country's major food belts would also reduce salinity, a growing problem which is now encroaching on Australian farmlands.
"One of the big reasons for salinity is the water-logging of the soil and the salt rising to the surface. This saving of the Snowy River is also about the saving of the environment of the irrigation districts," Angel said.
Farmers said they welcomed the Snowy rescue project, as long as the extra water came from water saving schemes and not a reduction in their allocation.

Story by Michael Perry

07.10.00 : Spain : Friends of the Earth demand refrom to the national hydrological plan (PHN)

Friends of the Earth Spain, member of Friends of the Earth International an environmental group spanning 62 countries, criticised a National Hydrological Plan (PHN) proposing the construction of new dams and a possible diversion of the Ebro, requesting instead that government produce a new policy based on water economy and demand management.

On July 14, 2000, the Council of Ministers approved a draft PHN planning investment of three billion pesetas from 2001-2008, 50% of which would come from public funds (State and EU), 40% from private investment and 10% from local government. Most of the investment would go to Andalusia (682,455 million pesetas), Aragon (401.247 million), Castille and León (232,385) and the Valencian Community (212,385). The PHN will go before the National Water Council on September 5, for their mandatory report, reaching Congress in 2001. The plan earmarks 958,594 million for modernising irrigation systems, 408,645 million for urban supplies, 427,996 million for sewerage and waste water treatment, 286,717 million for reforestation and 227,559 million for flood prevention.

The Plan presented by Environment Minister Jaume Matas mentioned the possible diversion of 100,000 cubic metres per year to Catalonia (20,000 m3), the Valencian Community (30,000 m3), Murcia (40,000 m3) and Almeria (10,000 m3), at a cost of 700,000 million pesetas. This diversion is proposed on the underlying principle that unused water is lost into the sea. However, as this water travels overland, it picks up elements which are vital to the coastal ecosystems. The planned dams and diversions will impede outflow to the sea, bringing catastrophic consequences for the Ebro delta: one of the most valuable ecosystems on the Spanish mainland. Reports indicate sedimentation in the Ebro has already reduced by 95%, a situation further aggravated by the rising sea level.

The Ebro delta is sinking. Similarly the loss of flow in the Ebro river mouth could impede the refilling of aquifers. This leaves an opening for salt water to take its place in a phenomenon known as sea water intrusion, something which signifies the permanent loss of these water reserves. Sea water intrusion already affects the Canary and Balearic islands, as well as many areas of the coast like Almería.

The PHN allots 16% of planned investment to 10 new dams: Breña II, Alcolea, Pedro Arco-La Cerrada and Corunjoso in Andalusia, Yesa, Biscarrués, Santaliestra and Mularroya in Aragon, La Viña in the Canaries and Caleao in Asturias. Breña II in Andalusia, and Yesa and Santaliestra in Aragon will have a hefty environmental impact. Today Spain already has more than 1,200 dams and a reservoir surface area of 3,000 km2 (six times greater than that of France). The PHN, despite the rhetoric within the document, is far from being a demand management plan with policies prioritising efficiency and thrift.

The new dams, the possible diversions and planned desalination plants demonstrate that the priority is still to increase supply regardless of environmental and social impacts, and possibilities of reducing water consumption with demand management policies, which reduce losses in the distribution network, increase irrigation efficiency and reuse waste water after adequate cleaning. The PHN does not deal with underground water supplies in a satisfactory manner either, nor does it include any real measures to deal with the over-exploitation of aquifers in many zones, like Castille-La Mancha (suffice to see the Daimiel Wetlands), the Canaries or Andalusia, or the spread of nitrate or pesticide contamination.

The promise of plentiful water for all purposes is false and can never be fulfilled. Experts have predicted Spain will see the impact of climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in lower (10% less) and more concentrated rainfall. This which would mean longer periods of drought and more intense rains within the near future.

According to data from the Environment Ministry, current water demand in Spain is as follows: irrigation, 2,420,000 m3/year (80%), urban supplies, 430,000 /year (14%) and industry, 190,000 m3/year (6%). Total consumption is 3,050,000 m3/year (100%). Per capita water consumption in Spain is almost double the world average, and far higher than comparable European averages.

There are 3.4 million hectares of irrigated land in Spain, and 59% of these are watered using the gravity flow method - a method both wasteful and obsolete, and even more so in an arid country. Conventional technologies, like localised irrigation, allow for savings of 50% on irrigation using gravity flow. The key question is why the State is proposing enormous investment into diversions like that of the Ebro, when this investment would be more effective if channelled into improving the distribution networks and irrigation systems, after prior study of which irrigation systems are worth maintaining. The most interesting techniques include micro-irrigation systems, including surface and sub-surface drip and micro-sprinklers. According to data from the Worldwatch Institute, Israel waters almost 50% of its irrigated surface area using these techniques, whereas in Spain the figure is barely 5%.

Along with reducing consumption, contamination reduction is another way of increasing available resources. Most of Spain's rivers are in a pitiful environmental state because of contamination, dams, water extraction for irrigation, the take-over of the public domain on water and the destruction of riverside woodlands.

Friends of the Earth Spain opposes the draft National Hydrological Plan, and requests that the government adopt a new plan based on demand management, leakage reduction in the distribution networks (20% of distributed water), the elimination of wastage, a progressive increase in the price of water and the modernisation of irrigation systems, adopting more efficient technologies. Were a reliable policy adopted based on economy and demand management, the new dams and diversions would be completely unnecessary. Friends of the Earth consider that within five years, more than 600,000 m3 per year could be saved on present consumption, offering the same services with greater efficiency - six times the amount expected from the Ebro Diversion.

For more information:
José Santamarta. Tel: 914 29 37 74. E mail:
Daniel Sánchez 91 306 99 00/649 81 78 92. E mail:

Avda. Ajalvir a Vicálvaro, 82 - 4º 28022 - MADRID Tel.: (34) 91-306-99-00/21 Fax: (34) 91-313-48-93 E-mail:

translated by Sarah Mason

06.10.00 : A Milestone in the History of Dams and Development : Commission finalises Global Report, to be released by Nelson Mandela in London

After an intense and at times dramatic process of reviewing the world's experience with large dams, the WCD announced at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Amman, Jordan, that all 12 members of the Commission, representing public, private and civil society perspectives have signed a unanimous report. The report due to be released on November 16th will propose a new framework for decision making in water and energy resources management.

The announcement concludes two years of worldwide research and consultation, making the WCD the most comprehensive global and independent assessment of dams ever undertaken. More than 45,000 large dams have been built to date which include some of the largest infrastructure investments ever undertaken in a country. Through case studies, peer reviews, impartial outreach, and rigorous independent analysis the Commission has assessed their technical, financial, environmental and social performance. Its work programme involved thousands of people and hundreds of dams across the world, to learn the lessons of the past and develop guidelines for future decision making.

In announcing the completion of its work the WCD has succeeded in fulfilling a difficult mandate with a unanimous report on time, and under budget.

The final moment of the WCD comes when it launches the published Final Report with Nelson Mandela as patron and guest of honour in London.

Complete pressrelease at :

03.10.00 : "Hydro 2000": Swiss NGOs protest against large dams

At the occasion of the international "Hydro 2000" conference in Berne, Swiss NGOs protest against the impacts of large dams. The Berne Declaration and Kurdish organizations demand that the problems of existing dams be resolved before new projects are built.

On 2-4 October "Hydro 2000", a major conference of the international dams industry, takes place in Berne. At the occasion of the conference, about 150 people protested against the impacts of large dams in Berne. The demonstration was organized on Monday evening by the Swiss advocacy group, the Berne Declaration, and by FEKAR, the federation of Kurdish organizations in Switzerland.

At the demonstration, Peter Bosshard of the Berne Declaration pointed out that large dams have flooded some of the most fertile and biologically diverse lands on earth, and have forced at least 30-60 million people from their homes. Bosshard said: "Many large dams are monuments of mismanagement, vested interests and corruption. Representatives of the dam industry claim to have learnt lessons from past mistakes. Yet with ongoing projects such as Three Gorges in China or the dams in India's Narmada valley, actual practice tells a different story."

The Swiss MP Ruth-Gaby Vermot pointed out that "the Ilisu dam in Turkey is a telling example for the destructive impacts of large dams". Vermot is a vice-president of the Swiss Social Democratic Party, and a rapporteur to the European Council on the human rights situation of Kurdish refugees in Turkey. At the demonstration, she explained that up to 78'000 people will lose their homes or lands due to the Ilisu reservoir. The new dam will flood the historically important town of Hasankeyf, and will spread malaria in the region. It is not cost-effective, and will heighten political tensions with Iraq and Syria, the downstream countries on the Tigris.

The participants of the demonstration presented the following demands to the "Hydro 2000" conference:

. Destructive dams such as Ilisu (Turkey), Three Gorges (China), Sardar Sarovar and Maheshwar (India), Ralco (Chile), San Roque (Philippines) and Bujagali Falls (Uganda) should be stopped. Official export credit agencies should not provide any funding for such projects. . The problems of existing dams must be resolved before any new dams are planned in the same country or basin, e.g. by providing reparations to the people who lost their livelihoods to previous dams. . No dam projects should go ahead without the prior, free and informed consent of the affected communities.

About 500 delegates of the dam industry from 45 countries are presently convening for the "Hydro 2000" conference in Berne. No representatives of human rights, environment or development organizations have been invited to join the more than 100 speakers who address the conference. During the demonstration, the organizers invited one representative of the Berne Declaration to attend the conference as an observer. The BD suggested that instead, representatives of dam-affected people should be invited, and as speakers. "Frankly, we believe it is industry's turn now to listen and observe", Peter Bosshard said. For more information: Peter Bosshard, Berne Declaration,,, +41 1 277 70 07

For more information on "Hydro 2000":

22.09.00 : UN agency blames Mekong floods on deforestation

BANGKOK, Sept 22 (Reuters) - A United Nations agency said on Friday deforestation was a major cause of the floods that have devastated Indochina and the Mekong delta in the last month
The UN's Economic & Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said in a statement forests in most Asian countries had been reduced to about 25 percent of land area in 1995 from 70 percent in 1945
Other causes of the floods were a reduction in river channels and drainage, reclamation of flood plains and wetlands and a rapid expansion of urban and residential areas, ESCAP said
Heavy rain in the past month across Indochina and the Mekong delta have killed hundreds of people and forced more than a million others from their homes in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand
Water levels in Vietnam's Mekong Delta appeared to be stabilising on Friday but the toll in the region's worst floods in decades rose to at least 66, mostly children
The Laotian Ministry of Agriculture said the flooding, the worst in the country since 1978, had affected 18,423 families and damaged 48,724 hectares (120,395 acres) of farmland nationwide
Flood waters that have caused misery in northern and northeastern Thailand have begun to spill into the country's central plains, reaching Ayutthaya, just 76 km (47 miles) north of Bangkok, officials said on Friday
Concerns have been raised over the safety of the Ayutthaya World Heritage site, comprising ancient palaces, ruins and temples, some of which were damaged by floods in 1995
A two-metre (6.6 feet) concrete flood wall was being built on the banks of the Chao Phrya river to protect the historic city from floods
ESCAP said the intensity of flood disasters had increased in the region during the past few years, causing increasingly serious social and economic impact on the developing nations
An ESCAP regional survey showed the floods in 1998 caused nearly 7,000 deaths, damaged more than six million houses, and destroyed nearly 25 million hectares (61.8 million acres) of crops in Bangladesh, China, India and Vietnam.

Copyright 2000 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.


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