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    "Newer" news

  • 27.06.01: Chongqing launches campaign to prevent a Three Gorges cesspool
  • 27.06.01 : 2001 Riversymposium River Business Turning Community Vision into Reality, 29 to 31 August 2001, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • 25.06.01 : Growing problems of eutrophication in Ireland
  • 22.06.01: France : Seine estuary : towards a better protection.
    22.06.01 : Estuaire de la Seine: une meilleure protection !
  • 21.06.01: Spanish parliament passes controversial water law
  • 21.06.01: Dams accused of role in flooding
  • 21.01.06: Indian rivers "dying a slow death"
  • 20.06.01: Scottish Executive launches £180 million water improvement programme
  • 19.06.01: Finnish Court Blocks Hydropower Dam In Eastern Lapland
  • 03.06.01: Mountain glaciers around the world are shrinking

    Older news

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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 a cesspool.
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 its waste.
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 water.
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 reports.
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 after 2003.
"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 water.
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 Lei reports.
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: Lisa Peryman
Three Gorges Probe is also available in CHINESE at

27.06.01 : 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

Program Online
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 management.
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.

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 the shortlist.

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 form.

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
If you need a hard copy of the registration form, email your request to, 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 and

25.06.01 : 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.
More information

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 la Cour
européenne de Justice, considérant que les limites de la réserve fixées par un premier décret étaient insuffisantes.
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 "

21.06.01: 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.
Full text and graphics

21.06.01: Dams accused of role in flooding

WWF International
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 dam projects.
"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 come."
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: lhadeed@wwfint.orgKyla Evans: tel: +41 22 364 9550, email:
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?

For further information

20.06.01: Scottish 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 Finnie.
Full article

19.06.01: Finnish 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.
Full 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 Survey (USGS).
For further information:

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For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.