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  • 13.09.01: Symposium on Wetlands in the Tropical Urban Environment, 28, 29, 30 November 2001, Luang Prabang (Lao Pdr)
  • 12.09.01: ICOLD 69th Annual Meeting, Thursday, 13 September 2001, Dresden
  • 11.09.01: The Blue Marche brings its claims to the European Union in Brussels.
    11.09.01: La Marche Bleue pour une nouvelle Culture de l'Eau porte ses revendications à l'Union Européenne

  • 06.09.01: Japan power firm cancels hydro power plant plan
  • 05.09.01: Portugal/Alqueva: Biggest Europe reservoir to start filling year end
  • 03.09.01: USA: Missouri River plan criticized by green groups

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13.09.01: Symposium on Wetlands in the Tropical Urban Environment, 28, 29, 30 November 2001, Luang Prabang (Lao Pdr)

Wetlands are the richest and most diverse ecosystems found on our planet. Homes to great biodiversity, the productivity of these areas also provides a living to numerous groups of people across the world. Asian countries, which traditionally look to aquatic environments to provide a major part of the population's diet, are more dependent than others on the maintenance and survival of these ecosystems. Unfortunately, the constant growth of demographic pressure, urbanisation and industrialisation are endangering the quality of wetlands to the point where their existence is in doubt. Canalised and polluted by numerous and various sources of urban and industrial wastewater, wetlands are becoming sanitation hazards and breeding grounds for infectious diseases, causing administrators to seek their extinction. The approach taken in the city of Luang Prabang is different. Situated in the north of Laos, this city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site not only on account of its urban architectural properties, but also for natural qualities that include:
* the remarkable landscape at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers,
* the various wetland zones which form a network of streams and ponds throughout the heart of the urban network.
* The decision to conserve these wetland zones was taken after various studies (e.g. inventory, physical and biological characteristics, practical use). These have shown that urban pressure, and levels of pollution much higher than the natural self-cleaning capacity of the ecosystems, were causing some landowners to fill in ponds. The threatened disappearance of the wetland zones no longer allowed the possibility to envisage a more acceptable sanitary situation in a city, where public water and waste control works could only be foreseen on a long-term basis. This is the purpose of the programme supported by the European Commission over a three-year period. The programme has made it possible to approach preservation and recognition of the wetland zones by : * establishing a regulatory framework to assure their protection
* installing individual water-treatment apparatus in the absence of a quality public treatment works
* integration of the zones in the city's tourist development plan (e.g. ecomuseum, discovery trails)
* training of Lao technicians and public awareness activities among residents. Included and protected under the same town planning regulations as the built heritage (the PSMV, or heritage masterplan), these places now hold significance both for the local population, who continue to use the sites in several ways, and for tourists, who find in them an authentic image of Lao cultural identity. The objective of this symposium is to demonstrate that the preservation and recognition of wetland zones in the urban environment can be a contributing factor in harmonious development, and can also generate new resources for a riverside population.

12.09.01: ICOLD 69th Annual Meeting, Thursday, 13 September 2001, Dresden

Symposium on "Benefits and Concerns about Dams"
The glamorous days of unlimited dam construction are definitely gone.
Initiated by the industrial countries but nowadays spread world-wide, dam builders are increasingly facing opposition from many sources. The bandwidth extends from the well-meaning selfless environmentalist who tries to protect a certain region, to the powerful international organisations which support their goals with such ideology. The supporters have watched this situation in silence for too long, assuming that the constructions and the resulting benefits would speak for themselves. The ensuing confrontation easily ends up in complete deadlock, which benefits no one.
As a promoter and agent of dam construction, ICOLD can no longer ignore the situation and must face up to it - which it is doing. This cannot, however, merely be limited to the presentation of the advantages but must also include knowledge and examination of the objections. We know insufficient about the counter-arguments, especially when they are of a non-technical nature.
The presentation of the final report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) in autumn 2000 is an excellent opportunity to let members of the WCD and representatives of the anti-dam movement speak in a symposium in order to help others understand their position and discuss it in an open, factual and objective manner. All sides can learn from each other and thus master this difficult situation.
In three sessions, the WCD's point of view and the pros and cons of dam construction will be presented by guest speakers and then discussed.

11.09.01: La Marche Bleue pour une nouvelle Culture de l'Eau porte ses revendications à l'Union Européenne

BRUXELLES - ERN -La manifestation a eu le succès attendu, les 10 000 espagnols étaient au rendez-vous ! Du jamais vu à Bruxelles : tant de gens venus manifester de si loin … Le défilé s'est fait sous une pluie battante et beaucoup y ont vu un signe : l'eau était avec eux ! …

Lundi une délégation composée de Pedro Arrojo du Coagret, de Manel Tomas de la Plateforme de Défense de l'Ebre et de Roberto Epple de ERN ont été reçus par le Chef de Cabinet de Mme Wallström (Commissaire Européenne à l'Environnement ) ainsi que par des membres du Cabinet du Commissaire aux Affaires Régionales Européennes (Cabinet Barnier). Des dizaines de milliers de pétitions ont également été remises au Commissaire des pétitions du Parlement.

Il est clair que le cri d'alerte a été compris. La Commission à l'Environnement a déjà demandé à l'Espagne des études supplémentaires qui ne sont pas encore arrivées et il a été affirmé à la délégation que la compatibilité du Plan Hydrologique National espagnol avec la Directive Cadre sur l'Eau ainsi qu'avec les règlements de Natura 2000 va être très sérieusement étudiée. La délégation a aussi demandé que soit appliquées les recommandations du rapport de la World Commission on Dams.
La délégation a senti une position critique à l'égard du projet.

Par ailleurs, la Gauche Unie européenne (rassemblant les députés européens des partis socialistes, communistes et Verts) a organisé lundi une conférence de presse au Parlement où elle s'est clairement positionnée contre le PHN. Parmi ces parlementaires se trouvait Alexander de Roo, vice-Président de la Commission Environnement au Parlement.

Le vote du projet devrait avoir lieu en octobre et il suffirait de convaincre quelques députés de droite pour que le financement du projet soit rejeté …

La même délégation continue ses rencontres à Bruxelles et va jeudi à Dresde pour porter ses revendications au sommet de l'ICOLD (Commission Internationale sur les Grands Barrages).


11.09.01: The Blue Marche brings its claims to the European Union in Brussels.

The demonstration was as successful as expected : the 10 000 Spanish people were here! No one had ever seen such an event in Brussels : so many people coming from so far away ! The demonstration took place under a pouring rain : water was on their side !

On Monday a delegation composed of Pedro Arrojo from Coagret, Manel Tomas from the Plataforma per a la defensa del Ebro and Roberto Epple from European Rivers Network meet the Chief of Ms Wallström Cabinet (European Environmental Commissioner) as well as members of the Cabinet of the Commissioner to European Regional Affairs. Thousands petitions have also been presented to the Parliament Commissioner of petitions.

The message of the Blue Marche seems to have been understood. The Environment Commission had already asked for further studies that have not been presented yet and it was declared that the compatibility of the project with the Water Framework Directive as well as with Natura 2000 regulations will be seriously studied. The delegation also demanded an enforcement of the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams.
The delegation felt that the Commission was critical of the project.

The United European Left (gathering left-wing and green MEPs) organized on Monday a press conference during which it officially declared its opposition to the NHP. Among these members of Parliament Alexander de Roo, vice-president of the Environment Commission to Parliament, was present.

The vote should take in October and if a few right-wing MEP can be convinced till then, the funding of the project could be rejected …

The same delegation goes on with meeting in Brussels and on Thursday it will bring its claims to the annual meeting of ICOLD (International Commission on Large Dams) in Dresden.



La Marche continue de rencontrer un vif succès partout où elle passe !
Après Lyon, où elle a été reçue officiellement à la Mairie, la Marche Bleue s'est ensuite rendue à Paris où le Conseil Général du Val de Marne l'a accueillie.
Une importante conférence de presse a eu lieu à l'Assemblée Nationale où des représentants de nombreuses organisations sont venus soutenir le mouvement : associations environnementales : WWF France et WWF Europe, France Nature Environnement, ERN, Eau et Rivières de Bretagne, Loire Vivante, etc. mais aussi organisations et partis politiques : Les Verts, le Parti Socialiste, le Parti Communiste, ATTAC national, Confédération Paysanne, etc. !

La Marche Bleue arrive ce samedi 8 à Bruxelles, à 15h30, devant la mairie (derrière la grande place).
La Marche sera reçue par la mairie puis une fête devrait suivre …
Le lendemain dimanche sera le jour de la grande manifestation internationale.
Le rassemblement aura lieu à la gare du Nord à 13h. Le départ est prévu pour 14h, direction gare du Midi. Une tribune sera mise en place et diverses prises de parole auront lieu.
Puis à 16h, conférence de presse à la Casa de Astourias (Bd du Midi n°100).

Plus de 10 000 espagnols sont déjà attendus …



The Blue Marche has been a success everywhere in France !
After Lyon, where an official reception was organized in the town hall, the Marche head for Paris, where the Conseil Général du Val de Marne accomodated the participants.

An important press conference took place in Parliament (Assemblée Nationale) where representatives of numerous organizations had come to support the movement : environmental associations : WWF France, WWF Europe, France Nature Environnement, ERN, Eau et Rivières de Bretagne, Loire Vivante, etc. but also political organizations and parties : the Green party, the Socialist party, the Communist party, ATTAC, la Confédération Paysanne, etc.

The Blue Marche arrives in Brussels tomorrow (saturday) at 3 PM, in front of the Town Hall (behind the big square). Then the Marche will be officially welcomed in the Town Hall.

The day after (sunday) will be the day of the big international demonstration.
The gathering will took place at 1 PM in front of the Gare du Nord. The demonstration will depart at 2 PM towards the Gare du Midi. There, several speeches will be organized.
A press conference will took place in la Casa de Astourias (Bd du Midi n°100) at 4 PM.


06.09.01: Japan power firm cancels hydro power plant plan

TOKYO - Japan's semi-governmental Electric Power Development Co Ltd said yesterday it had decided to cancel a plan to build a hydro power plant due to weak electricity demand amid the nation's prolonged economic woes.The power wholesaler had planned to build the hydro plant at a site about 300 km (186 miles) north of Tokyo in Niigata Prefecture, with total capacity of 1.8 million kilowatts.
The plant was expected to start operations in the 2011 business year, and to supply electricity to Japan's largest power utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (TEPCO), and Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc, the fifth-largest utility.
The firm also said it would withdraw from a dam project in Niigata Prefecture, jointly developed with the local government.
Electric Power Development needed to curb capital spending and strengthen its balance sheet ahead of planned privatisation in 2003, company officials told a news conference.
"Peak power demand has been sluggish in recent years. The two electric power firms asked us to significantly delay the (plant) plan," said Executive Managing Director Hisao Nakagami.
"But we eventually decided to cancel the plan, ahead of privatisation."
The total cost of the dam project was estimated at 360 billion yen ($3 billion), with Electric Power Development so far investing about 14 billion yen for environmental and geological surveys.
Japan's peak power demand between 1986 and 1990, before the bursting of the bubble economy, grew an average six percent per year. But demand is expected to grow by only one percent per year over the next 10 years due to energy conservation measures and prolonged weakness in the economy, Nakagami said.
News of the pullout followed the announcement in March that Electric Power Development and Hokuriku Electric Power Co would freeze a plan to build a hydro power plant in Fukui Prefecture.
TEPCO's shares ended down 0.94 percent at 3,150 yen, while Tohoku Electric gained 3.08 percent to 2,175 yen.


05.09.01: Portugal/Alqueva: Biggest Europe reservoir to start filling year end

ALQUEVA, Portugal - Europe's biggest reservoir - the subject of bitter criticism by environmental groups - will start to fill as planned at the end of 2001, Portuguese Planning Minister Elisa Ferreira said this week.

Along with environmental concerns and worries that the reservoir would flood ancient cave drawings, newspaper reports have said the two billion euro ($1.82 billion) Alqueva dam on the Guadiana River is behind schedule and over budget.
But Ferreira said construction of the reservoir, aimed at providing water for Portugal's semi-arid Alentejo region, was following its timetable. When completed, the project will cover 250 square km (97 square miles) and eventually irrigate 110,000 hectares (272,000 acres) of farmland.
"Right now, the work is in fact steaming ahead and is even making up for lost time," she told reporters at the dam site.
Ferreira said operations to start filling the reservoir were scheduled for December 31 during winter rains.
Ferreira was at Alqueva, about 180 km (110 miles) southeast of Lisbon, for a special cabinet meeting that set an initial price of 11 escudos (0.055 euro) per cubic metre of water from the reservoir for agricultural use.
The cabinet of Prime Minister Antonio Guterres also approved a measure that set up a land bank in the Alentejo to sell or rent land to young farmers.
Construction of the dam involved felling a million trees, many of them cork oaks. Environmental groups protested that the project would destroy habitat for animals that include eagles, kites, wild boars and some of the few remaining Iberian lynxes.
Guterres vowed in April to go ahead with the project despite opposition criticism that cave drawings in the Guadiana valley would end up under water.
The dam also will force residents of the village of Luz to move into a newly built replica of the town on what will be the banks of the artificial lake.
The project has cost about 450 million euros since 1995, Ferreira said. By its conclusion in 2025, it is estimated to cost two billion euros.
O Independente newspaper reported last month that the dam would only begin to operate in October 2002, leading to a cost overrun of 30 million euros.

Story by Daniel Silva


03.09.01: USA: Missouri River plan criticized by green groups

WASHINGTON - The US Army Corps of Engineers unveiled a plan last week to save endangered animals along the Missouri River, drawing immediate criticism from environmental groups who said it failed to go far enough.

Instead of proposing a single approach, the Corps said it was considering six options to improve the Missouri River, the nation's longest river that was once explored by Lewis and Clark.
The options range from staying with the present situation to increasing water levels in the spring and lowering them in the summer to save three endangered species - the pallid sturgeon, piping plovers and least terns.
The 2,340-mile (3,765 km) Missouri River flows from Montana to St. Louis, where it joins the Mississippi River. Over the years, the Corps' construction of dams, levees and reservoirs to help barge traffic and reduce farmland flooding has changed the river's ecosystem and hurt many fish and bird species.
Environmental groups said the Corps buckled to political pressure from local businesses and farms, and backed down from an earlier proposal supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to alter the plan.
"The Corps is running for cover and hoping that the six months of public meetings might galvanize one particular option over another effecting the Corps' presentation."
The Fish and Wildlife Service has urged the Corps to increase water flow during the spring and lower levels in the summer to mimic the river's natural flow that has been stunted by flood control, navigation and nearby development.
But farmers fear the rushto make changes by 2003 to how it manages the river so that it no longer violates the Endangered Species Act.
The future of the Missouri River has been hotly debated in Washington.
Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican who opposes the spring rise, has sparred with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota, who has pushed for reform within the Corps.
"By failing to (choose a preferred alternative for the Missouri River), the Corps has made what I feel is only the latest in a series of bad decisions," Daschle said in a statement.
"The only way to ensure that the Corps does its job is to pass legislation to reform the agency as a whole," he said.
President George W. Bush said during a campaign stop in Missouri last year that he would oppose any plan to increase water levels during the spring.
"Any observer can tell you that politics and the river have been intertwined, but is is the responsibility of the Corps to make decisions based on science," said Col. David Fastabend, commander of the Corps' northwestern operations.
Fastabend said four of the six plans meet the recommendations of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Environmental groups say that while the Corps' plan failed to offer one specific recommendation, it showed that previous estimates of damage to area levies and farmland was exaggerated by agriculture groups.
"It doesn't do any good to gnash our teeth and wring our hands about the lack of a preferred alternative," said Chad Smith, a director for American Rivers in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"What's important is they have presented a lot of information that can calm people's fears," he said.
The public has until February to comment on the proposals before the Corps decides which one to implement the following year.

Story by Christopher Doering


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