27.06.01: Chongqing launches
campaign to prevent a Three Gorges cesspool
Three Gorges Probe
With only two years left before the water level is scheduled to rise
behind the massive Three Gorges dam, Chongqing municipality has pledged
to spend more than one billion dollars cleaning up the heavily polluted
Yangtze River to prevent the dam's 600-kilometre reservoir from becoming
In May, Chongqing Municipality -- the super-municipality which is
responsible for 75 percent of the Three Gorges reservoir area and
30 million of its residents -- announced a special budget of US$500
million to treat and remove the hundreds of open garbage dumps piled
along the Yangtze's riverbanks.
For thousands of years Chongqing residents have been dumping their
garbage along the Yangtze's riverbanks, which the Yangtze would wash
downstream during flood season.
But now that the Three Gorges reservoir is about to back up and permanently
slow down the Yangtze's flow, concentrating pollutants and garbage
in the new reservoir, Chongqing has finally been forced to confront
The People's Daily reported in June that officials at Chongqing's
Environmental Protection Bureau consider building new drainage works
and treatment plants a "pressing matter" since most of the
city's wastewater and sewage discharges directly into the Yangtze
and Jialin rivers untreated, contributing to 60 percent of pollution
in the Three Gorges area.
Citing a survey by the bureau, Chongqing's leading newspaper, Chongqing
Chengbao, revealed in May that eight of the city's main sewer pipes
are discharging untreated sewage and industrial wastewater directly
into the Yangtze and Jialin rivers, the city's main source of drinking
The paper also reported that city officials expect water quality to
improve by 2004 when three new treatment plants, partly financed by
the World Bank, are to be completed. An additional three treatment
plants are expected to be completed by 2010 for a total cost of US$700
million, with financing from domestic banks, national bonds, and user
fees collected from local industries.
Chongqing's widely-publicized efforts to clean up the Yangtze River
follow reports that many local residents fear the Three Gorges reservoir
will make pollution worse. Residents of Fengjie County -- 400 kilometres
downstream of urban Chongqing -- already refuse to drink water from
the Yangtze for fear of upstream contamination. Instead, local residents
have pooled funds to build their own reservoir, Chongqing Chengbao
Meanwhile, Chinese environmental experts insist that pollution belts
visible near every city along the Three Gorges reservoir will worsen
and spread into stagnant bays off the main reservoir because the Yangtze
will no longer be able to dilute and flush pollutants downstream,
and because garbage will continue to accumulate along the riverbanks
"Everybody knows the Yangtze will become undrinkable on completion
of the big dam," writes Professor Lei, an environmental protection
expert and retired Chongqing university professor who has recently
visited the Three Gorges area. According to Professor Lei, every single
county along the reservoir has plans to build their own reservoirs
for drinking water because they don't expect the Yangtze will be fit
for consumption after 2003.
Professor Lei believes the scale of the environmental clean-up needed
along the Yangtze is far greater than Chongqing has bargained for
and that clean-up, once the reservoir is completed, will be virtually
impossible "even if a mountain of gold is spent on it."
Professor Lei argues that the government could have taken steps to
avoid a pollution crisis much earlier but instead officials at all
levels -- including the State Council's Three Gorges Project Construction
Committee -- were too busy trying to cover up the truth about Three
Gorges' growing environmental threat, fearing that exposing the problem
would strengthen opposition to the dam.
Last year, Qinghua University professor Zhang Guangduo, another prominent
environmental expert, advised Three Gorges officials that US$37 billion
should have been set aside for cleaning up the Yangtze while the project
is under construction.
An estimated 40 million people depend on the Yangtze for their drinking
China's limited experience with wastewater treatment does not bode
well for the Yangtze, Professor Lei argues.
The state's three-year campaign to clean up central China's Huai River
-- the source of drinking water for 150 million -- has failed to produce
results even though local authorities forced some polluting enterprises
to shut down.
In Yunnan province, the government has already spent US$500 million
trying to improve water quality in polluted Lake Dian and it may take
at least another billion dollars before the lake is clean, Professor
All Chinese stories that are translated and published by Three Gorges
Probe are as true to the original Chinese text as possible. Editing
for English grammar and style is kept to a minimum in instances where
misinterpretation may occur.
Three Gorges Probe is dedicated to covering the scientific, technical,
economic, social, and environmental ramifications of completing the
Three Gorges Project, as well as the alternatives to the dam. Three
Gorges Probe welcomes submissions. As part of our service, we also
reprint articles about the Three Gorges Project we feel will be of
interest to our readers.
Publisher: Patricia Adams Executive Editor: Mu Lan Assistant Editor:
Three Gorges Probe is also available in CHINESE at http://www.probeinternational.org/probeint/ThreeGorges/tgp/chgifhz.html
2001 Riversymposium River Business Turning Community Vision into Reality,
29 to 31 August 2001, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
2001 Riversymposium River Business Turning Community
Vision into Reality
Brisbane Hilton, 29 to 31 August 2001
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
The program for the 2001 Riversymposium is now available online at
. Simply click on Riversymposium and go to 2001 program from the menu.
River management experts from the United States, Canada,
Africa, Asia, the United Kingdom, South America and Australia will
present their work at Brisbane s Riversymposium.Sandra Postel, Director
of the Global Water Policy Project in Massachusetts, USA will give
the opening address. Sandra is a Pew Fellow in conservation and environment
and a Senior Fellow of the World Watch Institute.
Beth Benson of the Waterfront Trust in Toronto will be the keynote
speaker for Rivers As Urban Landscapes: the Renaissance of the Waterfront.
Topics covered in this theme include waterfront landscapes as community
places, economic rejuvenation and appropriate planning and design.
Professor John Pigram of Australia s University of New England will
discuss Investment in River Management which examines the private
sector s role in environmental management, including the incorporation
of ecosystem services values in accounts, choice modeling, costing
of services and perspectives from industry on funding public projects.
Some program highlights for 2001 include:
The Management of Asian Rivers by Professor David Dudgeon, University
of Hong Kong. National programs throughout Asia are building greater
institutional capacities to plan and manage sustainable water and
river management amid growth and development pressures.
The World Commission on Dams This session will examine the implications
of the recently released and controversial report from the World Commission
on Dams. Speakers will discuss the relevance and implications of this
report for their communities. This session will include commissioners
from the World Commission on Dams.
Life After Australia s National Audit of Land and Water Resources
How will the audit affect the ongoing management of our rivers and
waterways? What will be done with all that information and what difference
will it make? A hypothetical session led by science communicator Robyn
Williams will tackle these questions with a diverse panel of river
scientists, politicians, journalists and irrigators.
Source to Sea: Pressures and Predictions Five Australian Water Forum
CRCs are joining forces to examine the pressures and predictions for
future ecosystem health from source to sea. This interactive session
will concentrate on two main themes- contaminants and water cycle
Progress Reports will be presented on the Brisbane River and waterways
of Moreton Bay and catchment, the Murray-Darling Basin and England
s Mersey River, winner of the inaugural Thiess Services International
Riverprize Finalists Announced Soon
Finalists for the Thiess Services AU$100,000 International and AU$25,000
National Riverprizes will be announced on 3 July. Entries for the
international Riverprize have been received from Israel, the Middle
East, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Catchment groups from all
over mainland Australia have entered the national Riverprize. Watch
out for a special email bulletin for more details on those who made
Early Bird Discounts Until 30 June
If you haven t already registered for the Riversymposium, be quick!
Earlybird discounts are only available until 30 June. If you would
like to be invoiced after 30 June, please mention this on your registration
Online Registration Gets the Thumbs Up
Many delegates are taking advantage of online registration for the
Riversymposium and the associated Australian Stream Management Conference.
Online registration is available at http://www.riverfestival.com.au/2001/content/register_nocc.html
If you need a hard copy of the registration form, email your request
phone +61 7 3846 7444 or fax + 61 7 3846 7660.
Psst! Pass It On!
If you know someone who would be interested in the Riversymposium
and Riverprize, please pass this bulletin on. If you have received
this bulletin from someone else, please let us know your email address
so we can send it directly to you next time.
Fun and Games in Brisbane
Brisbane is the place to be in August and September with the city
s annual Riverfestival coinciding with the 2001 Goodwill Games. Why
not extend your Riversymposium visit to take in some of these exciting
events. Details are available at http://www.riverfestival.com.au/www.riverfestival.com.au
Growing problems of eutrophication in Ireland
Ireland, formerly a European backwater, near the bottom
of the European Union in terms of per capita wealth, has grown in
the last few years at Asian tiger levels of 8% annually. From 1990
to the end of the decade, the country's total primary energy requirement
had increased by more than one-third, and the volume of industrial
production had more than doubled.
Environment is therefore being placed under an increasing pressure
and water is suffering, with the quality of rivers continuing to deteriorate
and a third now affected by eutrophication. It is the most significant
environmental pollution problem in that it is widespread. Also it
threatens the vital resources of fisheries, as all rivers have salmon
and trout stocks, and these are vulnerable to minor levels of pollution.
22.06.01 : Estuaire de la
Seine: une meilleure protection !
L'Etat français a annoncé le doublement
de la surface de la réserve naturelle de l'estuaire de la Seine,
passant ainsi de 3 800 à 8 500 hectares dès l'automne
2002. Il met fin ainsi au conflit qui l'opposait aux écologistes
et à la Commission européenne qui avait saisi en 1997
européenne de Justice, considérant que les limites de
la réserve fixées par un premier décret étaient
Source : Lettre de Sea River
22.06.01: France : Seine estuary
: towards a better protection.
The French government has just announced that the
surface area of the Seine estuary Natural Reserve will be doubled:
as soon as fall 2002, it will go from 3 800 to 8 500 hectares. This
will put an end to the conflict opposing the government to the ecologists
and the European Commission that had seized the European Court of
Justice in 1997.
Source : "Lettre de Sea River "
Spanish parliament passes controversial water law
ENS - The Spanish government last night defeated opposition
amendments to its contentious National Hydrological Plan in the Senate
to successfully complete a fast-track passage through Parliament.
text and graphics
21.06.01: Dams accused
of role in flooding
Gland, Switzerland - New research commissioned by WWF, the conservation
organization, has warned that dams built with the promise of reducing
flooding can often exacerbate the problem with catastrophic consequences,
as some recent floods have shown.
The research paper called "Dams and Floods" shows that dams
are often designed with a very poor knowledge of the potential for
extreme flood events. Where data does exist it may fail to consider
current risks such as increased rainfall due to climate change or
increased run-off of water from land due to deforestation or the drainage
of wetlands. The loss of these natural sponges for floodwaters within
the river basin increases the risk of extreme floods. WWF argues that
many of these problems could be avoided if the recommendations of
the first ever World Commission on Dams (WCD) were applied to future
"Dams carve up landscape like a jigsaw puzzle in the name of
providing benefits to people," said Biksham Gujja, Head of WWF's
Freshwater Programme. "But the pieces often never fit again and
fragmented nature can result in greater losses for generations to
According to the paper by scientific writer Fred Pearce, lack of adequate
information means that dams are often built without adequate spillways
to cope with extreme floods. In a 1995 study of 25 Indian dams, World
Bank engineers calculated the amount of water that the dams should
have been able to release at the height of a flood. In each case,
they found the expected floods were greater than those that the dams
had been built to discharge over their spillways - two could only
cope with one seventh of the expected peak discharge. Furthermore,
dam managers often leave it too late to make emergency releases of
water at times of very high rainfall and exceptional river flows.
This is because their primary purpose is to generate hydroelectricity
and provide water for cities, as well as preventing flooding down
stream. However as the reservoir overfills they are forced to make
releases of water that are far greater and more sudden than flows
that would have occurred during the natural river flooding.
WWF recommends that where dams must be built, the storage and release
of water must be in tune with the natural river system and the needs
of the people who rely on the river down stream such as fishing communities
and floodplain farmers.
"With all that we know now, governments and dam contractors should
think twice about starting some of their projects. Our efforts should
be spent on technologies that provide water and energy to people without
destroying their natural environment. This is also in keeping with
findings of the WCD," Biksham Gujja added.
For further information: Lisa Hadeed: tel: +41 22 364 9030, email:
tel: +41 22 364 9550, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Editors
In November 2000 the World Commission on Dams reported back on its
2 1/2 year study into dams and development. This was the first ever
independent global study of performance of the world's large dams.
The research paper includes case studies which focus on the role of
dams in flooding in Nigeria, West Bengal in India, Honduras, Southern
Africa and the Mekong in Southeast Asia
21.06.01: Indian rivers "dying
a slow death"
Environmentalists have said that most of India's rivers, the main
source of water and sacred for the majority of the population, are
already dead, because millions of tons of industrial effluents and
domestic wastes flow into them daily. According to leading environmentalist,
M C Mehta, among the nation's 18 principal waterways, most "are
already dead," due to the dumping of untreated waste. "Pictures
of government officials picking up polythene bags from banks of Yamuna
are gimmicks," Malik said. "Why is the government starting
activism instead of setting up sewage treatment plants and making
sure that industrial units don't come up near the river?
Executive launches £180 million water improvement programme
Scottish water consumers are to be provided with a more modern and
efficient water industry with the launch of the North of Scotland
Water Authority's £180 million Water Quality Improvements Programme,
which will provide a better service, cleaner environment and a better
quality of life for all, says the Scottish Environment Minister Ross
Court Blocks Hydropower Dam In Eastern Lapland
ENS - To the delight of environmental groups, Finland's
administrative courts have overturned an earlier court decision permitting
power firm Kemijoki Oy to construct a large
hydroelectric dam at Vuotos in eastern Lapland.
text and graphics
03.06.01: Mountain glaciers
around the world are shrinking
Mountain glaciers, which are more sensitive to changes
in climate than polar ice, have been found to have been receding over
the past decade, following research by the United States Geological
For further information: