30.10.01: Water Pollution
By Nitrates: Commission Takes Legal Action Against The United Kingdom
For Non-Compliance With Court Judgement
The European Commission has decided to send the United
Kingdom a so-called "letter of formal notice", a first written
warning under the infringement procedure used to ensure that all EU
Member States take necessary measures to comply with judgements of
the Court of Justice, for failure to comply with a judgement of the
European Court of Justice regarding the Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC).
The Court judgement of December 2000 concerned the United Kingdom's
failure properly and comprehensively to identify ground waters and
surface freshwaters affected by nitrate pollution, as required under
that Directive. The Commission has taken similar legal action against
several Member States, either for inadequate water monitoring provisions,
for insufficient designation of "vulnerable zones", or for
deficiencies in their action programmes. Commenting on the decision,
the Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallström, said: "The
Commission's action reflects its strong determination to reduce water
pollution caused by nitrates produced from agricultural sources. The
United Kingdom is making welcome progress, but it still needs to do
more to comply with the Court's judgement."
The Nitrates Directive 91/676/EEC aims to curb the presence of excessive
levels of nitrates in surface waters and ground waters that originate
from agricultural fertilisers and waste. Excessive nitrate levels
cause undesirable ecological changes in water and are a factor behind
the proliferation of harmful algal blooms. They can also have an adverse
impact on public health. Water pollution by nitrates has been worsened
by the introduction of intensive farming methods, with increased use
of chemical fertilisers and higher concentrations of animals in smaller
areas. The Directive requires Member States to monitor surface waters
and ground waters in order to identify nitrate-pollution, applying
standardised reference methods to measure the nitrogen compound content.
The Member States must establish codes of good agricultural practice
to be implemented by farmers on a voluntary basis. They were also
required to designate "vulnerable zones" (i.e. zones which
contribute to pollution) by December 1993 and to establish action
programmes for these zones by December 1995 in order to control nitrate
pollution. These programmes must include the measures prescribed in
the codes of good agricultural practice and measures to limit the
spreading on land of any fertiliser containing nitrogen and to set
limits for the spreading of livestock effluent. Member States have
the option of applying these action programmes on a nation-wide basis
instead of designating specific vulnerable zones.
On 7 December 2000, the European Court of Justice criticised the United
Kingdom for failing to identify its nitrate-polluted waters and to
designate nitrate vulnerable zones in accordance with the Directive
The United Kingdom had chosen to omit nitrate-polluted ground waters
and surface freshwaters that are not used for the abstraction of drinking
water. The areas identified by the United Kingdom for clean-up operations
under the Directive were, therefore, unacceptably limited.
Since the judgement, the United Kingdom has confirmed that additional
areas have been identified in England and are in the process of being
designated as nitrate vulnerable zones. This could lead to about 80%
of England being designated. The identification of additional areas
is also underway in Wales and Scotland, but the process is less advanced
than it is in England. Some questions also remain about the identification
and designation of nitrate vulnerable zones in Northern Ireland.
The Letter of Formal Notice will remind the United Kingdom of its
obligation to complete the identification of all its nitrate-polluted
waters. Legal Process
Article 228 of the Treaty gives the Commission power to act against
a Member State that does not comply with a previous judgement of the
European Court of Justice. The article also allows the Commission
to ask the Court to impose a financial penalty on the Member State
Source: European Water Management News
Joint International Conference On Hydrologic Assistance Programs And
The NWSRFS Users Association Meeting
Where: Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
When: December 11 - 14, 2001
TOPICS: NWS Flash Flood Forecasting Technology, National Weather Service
River Forecast System,
Countries Applying Flood Mitigation Approaches Using Flood Forecasting
ALERT System Early Warning Capabilities,
How to Establish Real Time Data Networks and Systems,
How River Forecasting Can Reduce Flood Losses and Significantly Improve
Agenda and Other Details:
People Occupy Headquarters of Belgian Multinational Tractebel in Rio
About 350 men, women, and children from various regions of Brazil,
have taken over the headquarters of the Belgian transnational Tractebel
in Rio de Janeiro. Tractebel is the owner of the utility Gerasul,
and is constructing various dams in Brazil, including Ita (Rio Grande
do Sul/Santa Catarina states) and Cana Brava, on the Tocantins River,
The takeover is part of a National Mobilization by the Brazilian Movement
of Dam-Affected People (MAB), with various dams occupied and public
demonstrations taking place in different regions. MAB charges that
Tractebel has failed to address outstanding resettlement and compensation
issues at Ita (200 affected families still with problems unresolved),
despite the fact that the dam is now fully operational.
At Cana Brava, a dam financed by the Inter-American Development Bank,
the situation is even more serious, with hundreds of families still
not receiving compensation, and most of the compensation already proscribed
being of extremely low values which will not permit the rehabilitation
of displaced families. In addition, most of the sharecroppers, renters,
fishermen, and artisanal gold miners who worked along the river are
being ignored by the company, as well as many families who will be
isolated by the formation of the reservoir. According to national
coordinator Helio Mecca of MAB, "Tractebel has refused to consider
the needs of populations who will lose everything when the floodgates
on Cana Brava are closed".
The dam-affected are hoping to convince Tractebel to open negotiations.
Tomorrow, communities affected by the Corumba IV dam (Goias state)
will be in Brasilia to deliver their complaints to the federal government.
Protests took place yesterday at Manso dam (Mato Grosso) and Fumaca
dam (Minas Gerais), among others. The dam-affected suspended their
occupation of the headquarters of state electric company Furnas, following
the company's agreeing to review resettlement and compensation measures
at Manso and at Serra da Mesa dam.
MAB is working to raise a discussion regarding the construction of
a different energy model for the country, the product of a participatory
debate, which will prioritize energy alternatives and halt the construction
of large dams, which cause incalculable environmental and social damages.
For more information:
MAB National Secretariat +126.96.36.1998
New Dam on Paraguay/Argentine Border Could Halt Free Flow of Water
ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay--A binational commission
is proceeding with preparations for an environmental impact study
on a new hydroelectric dam being considered for the Paraná
River along the Paraguay-Argentinian border. However, environmentalists
say the dam would cause unreasonable environmental and social impacts.
Corpus Cristi Dam would be built above the city of Encarnacion, Paraguay,
between two existing dams: Itaipu, which is upstream on the Paraguay/Brazil
border, and Yacyretá, downstream on the Paraguay/Argentine
border. The new dam's energy would primarily supply the Brazilian
market, say planners.
On Sept. 19, the Mixed Paraguay/Argentinian Binational Commission
for the Paraná River (la Comisión Mixta Argentino-Paraguaya
del Río Paraná, COMIP) short-listed six companies to
do an environmental and social impact study on the new dam.
The companies must submit their proposals by Oct. 22, and the winner
will be selected about one month later, according to the commission.
The impact study is expected to take about one year to complete, Leopoldo
Lamas, Paraguay's delegate to the Binational Commission told BNA Oct.
1, and dam construction about another eight years, although electricity
generation could begin before completion.
New Dam to End River's Free Flow
The Corpus Cristi Dam would include a 22-meter drop for the Paraná
River's flow and generate about 20 billion kilowatt hours of energy
annually, Lamas said. He estimated the project's cost at $3.1 billion.
Lamas said Corpus Cristi would be built by a private construction
firm in return for a portion of the dam's income. Paraguay and Argentina
might receive 12-15 percent of the dam's income for the first years,
increasing until the dam was transferred to public ownership after
perhaps 20 years, he said.
Because of its location between two existing dams, Corpus Cristi would
turn the upper section of the Paraná River into a "staircase"
of dams without free-flowing sections.
"This is the last part of the upper Paraná which is still
alive, and with [Corpus Cristi] they will kill it completely,"
Elías Díaz Peña, environmental coordinator for
Sobreviviencia, which advocates for environmental and social causes,
told BNA Sept. 17.
Díaz Peña also said thousands of peasant farmers who
have populated the area around the river during recent decades would
"In recent years [the area above the dam sites] has been filling
up with people," he said.
Opponents say that organizing and motivating public opinion against
the dam is their most promising means of halting the project.
Lamas said that, in terms of land area inundated in proportion to
energy generated, Corpus Cristi's impact would be relatively light.
The river's canyon narrows considerably above the Yacyretá
dam site. He said that, depending on the location selected, Corpus
Cristi would inundate either 16,500 or 29,500 hectares of land. In
contrast, Yacyretá dam flooded 92,000 hectares and Itaipu 120,000.
Corpus Cristi would generate close to double Yacyretá's electrical
output and about one-quarter of Itaipu's. Lamas said that, at 683
megawatts of electricity per hectare inundated, Corpus Cristi's energy
generation would be high by international standards.
Yacyretá Sets Troubling Precedent
The dam advocates' case has been made more difficult by the experience
of the Yacyretá dam, which was completed in 1994 with World
Bank funding. A November 1996 World Bank inspection panel report on
Yacyretá criticized failings in environmental planning, as
well as mitigation of and compensation for environmental and social
impacts. "The Yacyretá project has incurred important
environmental and social liabilities that are causing increasing friction
with affected populations which could have been foreseen and avoided,"
the panel wrote.
Both of the existing, neighboring dams were also plagued by delays,
cost overruns, and accusations of corruption.
Lamas said the participation of private companies in Corpus Cristi
would promote efficiency and honesty and create contractual assurances
that commitments to residents and the environment would be fulfilled.
"This mechanism assures that [corruption] will not take place,
because the governments will not handle the resources," he said.
"Those [other dams] were negative experiences which we want to
transform into positive ones."
Lamas said the project's future hinges primarily on the attitude of
area residents and that their opinion would be respected.
But Sobrevivencia's Díaz Peña said most riverside residents
oppose Corpus Cristi because of the experience with Yacyretá.
He said a 1998 survey of residents in Missiones, Argentina, which
would be partially flooded by Corpus Cristi, found that 80 percent
opposed the dam.
A Question of Economics
Ricardo Canese, who was vice minister of mining and energy from 1999
to 2000 and is now a consultant on energy issues, predicted that,
because of pressure for more electricity and income, the impact study
will be predetermined to support construction. "The consulting
company will receive instructions from the governments," Canese
said. "In the end, construction will be [selected as] the best
Also, the Union of Electrical Engineers of Asunción recently
questioned Corpus Cristi's economic worthiness. Because the top of
Corpus Cristi's reservoir would be about five meters higher than Itaipu's
spillway, the new dam would reduce the older dam's generating power
by about the same amount that the new dam would earn, according to
"The income from Corpus Cristi would barely cover the decrease
it would cause in the income from Itaipu," the union wrote in
a Sept. 9 newspaper ad.
However, Lamas said Corpus Cristi had been designed with Itaipu in
mind and that the older dam's efficiency would be increased. Corpus
Cristi's height was determined through political negotiations between
the three nations involved, he said.
Further information on the Corpus Cristi Dam is available in Spanish
from the Mixed Paraguay/Argentinian Binational Commission by calling
(595-21) 212-274 or at http://www.comip.org.ar/.
The commission also can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information is available from Sobrevivencia by calling
(595-21) 480-182 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
By Mike Ceaser
Copyright © 2001 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington
Source : International Environment Reporter Volume 24 Number 21 Wednesday,
October 10, 2001 Page 888
30.10.01: Blair in drive
for Turkish dam deal
Jonathon Carr-Brown TONY BLAIR is pushing his ministers
to find reasons to approve export credit guarantees for a controversial
multi-million-pound dam in Turkey. Whitehall sources claim Downing
Street is putting pressure on Patricia Hewitt, the trade and industry
secretary, to find economic and social reasons to grant the guarantees
to build the dam.
Blair is understood to see the building of the £1.25 billion
Ilisu dam as vital for good relations between Turkey and Britain and
is dismayed at the way environmental campaigners have dominated the
debate about the project. Critics warn that the project will involve
300 sq km being flooded and more than 30,000 people being displaced.
Insiders say the prime minister's view has sharpened in recent weeks
because of the need to secure Turkey's support for the war against
the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Turkey's airbases could become vital if the war against terrorism
is expanded to include Iraq, and Blair believes that any future UN
peacekeeping force in Afghanistan would be greatly strengthened by
Muslim Turkish troops.
Trade ministers have been told to push the "positive impact"
of the dam to counter environmental studies which estimate that it
could make between 30,000 and 70,000 Turkish Kurds homeless.
A Whitehall source said: "Hewitt has been told to push figures
that show only one in five Turks in this area has electricity and
only 5% have piped water."
The Foreign Office and international development department are firmly
against the project, but Blair has overruled them in the past. For
the project to go ahead, Labour would have to provide £200m
in export credit guarantees to Balfour Beatty, the British construction
Source: ILISU UND MUNZUR NEWS, MEDICO INTERNATIONAL,
L'OMC AVANT QU'ELLE NOUS ENTERRE !" - Alès - 3 novembre
Le nouveau sommet de l'OMC** a lieu du 9 au 13 novembre
à Doha (Quatar) et pour répondre à cette rencontre,
retranchée du reste du monde, des évènements,
des manifestations, des journées d'information et d'action
sont organisés tout autour de la planète, avec des temps
forts ciblés notamment sur le 10 novembre (entre autres, manifestation
Attac à Lyon 14h00 Place Bellecour).
La Coordination contre l'OMC (CCOMC) invite à
participer à la journée d'action du 3 novembre, à
Alès (Gard), dont le thème n'est ni plus ni moins que
l'enterrement symbolique de l'OMC, à l'issue d'une parade festive
à travers la ville.
Le Comité contre la Mondialisation veut alerter et informer
le public sur la menace que l'AGCS (Accord Général sur
le Commerce des Services) fait peser sur 160 domaines d'activités
économiques, tels que l'éducation, la santé,
l'environnement, l'eau, l'air, la culture (bibliothèques, musées),
Si cet accord, en renégociation quasi-secrète tous les
5 ans, est finalisé par l'OMC, ces activités, dont la
majorité est gérée par les Services Publics,
seront livrées aux règles du Libre-Echange et du libre
investissement international. Toute subvention au Service Public,
toute disposition d'ordre social ou environnemental, même légiférées
au niveau d'un pays, pourront être jugées illégales
par des tribunaux de commerce internationaux si elles "font obstacle
au commerce" et/ou à l'investissement.
Ce genre de procès, où des états souverains sont
traînés devant des tribunaux par des sociétés
transnationales sûres de leurs droits et protégées
par ce type de traités économiques est déjà
une pratique courante dans les pays où la doctrine "libérale"
fait loi. Par exemple, Sun Belt, une société californienne,
intente un procès au gouvernement du Canada, dans le cadre
de l'ALENA*, parce que la province de Colombie Britannique a interdit
les exportations d'eau il y a quelques années. L'entreprise
privée argumente que la province canadienne a violé
plusieurs règles fondamentales de l'ALENA sur les droits des
investisseurs et réclame 10 milliards de $ en compensation
du contrat perdu. (cf. "L'Or Bleu" de Maude Barlow).
A terme, c'est le démantelement des Services Publics, mais
aussi l'instauration d'une " gouvernance " économique,
qui prendrait le pas sur les démocraties politiques, qui sont
visés comme objectifs.
A Alès, des ateliers thématiques (eau,
déchets, éducation, anti-répression) de discussions
et d'information sont proposés par les associations participantes.
E.R.N. présente pour sa part la question du " Plan Hydrologique
National " espagnol et la Marche Bleue. Un "atelier d'expression",
situé à la Bourse du Travail (lieu de rassemblement),
permet à chacun de composer pancartes, costumes... avec des
matériaux de récupération et de participer à
la Parade, ou "Enterrement", qui démarre à
Contacts : Valérie : 06.98.04.86.91. / Jean-Philippe : 06.84.76.06.08.
*ALENA : Accord de Libre-Echange Nord Américain
** OMC : Organisation Mondiale du Commerce
29.10.01: One of the world´s
largest registers of research projects on the environment available
One of the world´s largest registers of research
projects on the environment is available at http://www.mcbup.com/research_registers/emh/sponsors.asp
Along with the senior researchers which have taken advantage of the
register so far, Masters and Doctoral students who are undertaking
environmentally-related research are also invited to submit details
on their work, which can be done free of charges at the above web
site. Promote your research and make a claim on your area of studies!
Walter Leal Filho, Editor
Preparations for World Wetlands Day 2002 May now begin in earnest.
The Ramsar Bureau, in its beneficence, has mailed
out to all 5000 subscribers to the Ramsar Newsletter a sizable quantity
of new World Wetlands Day materials to assist the efforts of government
authorities, NGOs, and concerned citizens to raise the awareness of
wetland values and the Ramsar Convention amongst their compatriots.
The suggested theme of this 2 February 2002 World Wetlands Day, echoing
the theme of the 8th meeting of the upcoming Conference of the Contracting
Parties to the Convention, Valencia, Spain, November 2002, is "Wetlands:
water, life, and culture", and the materials on offer to embellish
and enliven World Wetlands Day hover all over the topic of The Cultural
Heritage of Wetlands -- including an information pack, posters, calendars,
stickers, e-cards, screensavers -- and you can obtain this stuff just
by promising to promote the sustainable use of wetlands in all your
goings and comings wherever you may be. What a deal! View the Bureau's
contributions to your still-evolving plans for World Wetlands Day,
write off to Valerie Higgins for whatever you may require, and then
get back to the earnest and sometimes thankless business of informing
your fellow citizens of the essential values and functions of wetlands
all over the world.
is the suite of materials on offer.
Source: www.ramsar.org and European
26.10.01: UK: Flood-risk
towns to receive revolutionary new barrier
As part of a newly-announced £106 million package of flood spending,
Shrewsbury and Bewdley, two of the towns most vulnerable to flooding
in the UK, are to receive collapsible flood barriers. The announcement
made by Flood and Coastal Defence Minister Elliot Morley will benefit
the two towns situated on the River Severn, which were both the scenes
of some of the country's worst floods last autumn and have a 30% chance
of serious flooding annually. The collapsible steel barriers that
can be put up within hours and taken down again once the danger has
passed, are the first to be in use in the UK.
This new flood fighting technology had been unveiled last year by
the UK company Hydroscience. More information about it here.
26.10.01: Eutrophication decreases
in European coastal waters
The level of eutrophication in European waters is on the decrease,
although the Mediterranean and Baltic still experience some severe
problems, according to a new report.
in Europe's coastal waters, compiled by the European Environment
Agency (EEA) evaluates the causes, state and development of eutrophication
in the Arctic, Baltic, North, Celtic and Mediterranean seas, and in
the Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast. The report also identifies areas
where more monitoring data are needed to improve the assessment, with
all countries urged to help reduce serious data gaps on eutrophication
by reporting more thoroughly on the status of their coastal waters.
Since the middle of the 1980's, the phosphorous load entering European
seas, in some northern areas by up to 50%, due to improved sewage
treatment and phosphate-free detergents, however nitrogen concentrations
have remained constant or only slightly decreased, with diffuse pollution
from agriculture singled out as a major barrier to reductions.
Source : Edie
spill Ghana's worst environmental disaster
By Mike Anane, ACCRA, Ghana, October 24, 2001 (ENS)
Villages in the Wassa West District of Ghana's western region have
been hit by the spillage of thousands of cubic metres of mine wastewater
contaminated with cyanide and heavy metals.The cyanide-laced waste
contaminated the River Asuman on October 16 when a tailings dam ruptured
at a mine operation owned by the South African company, Goldfields
For full text and graphics visit: http://ens-news.com/ens/oct2001/2001L-10-23-07.html
23.10.01 First pan-European
guidance for Water Framework Directive implementation
"Elements of Good Practice in Integrated
River Basin Management - A Practical Resource for implementing the
EU Water Framework Directive" This Practical Resource document
is the result of three open, transparent and participatory seminars
- comprising the 'Water Seminar Series' - which brought together hundreds
of 'water stakeholders', over 2000-2001, to discuss existing approaches
and tools for implementation of the European Union Water Framework
This document presents the principal outputs of the 'Water Seminar
Series' - with a focus on integrated river basin management, the central
requirement of the WFD. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide
to all aspects of WFD implementation, but rather to provide clear,
concise and practical information on the issues covered by the seminars
(Water and agriculture, The role of wetlands in river basin management,
and Good practice in river basin planning). This information has been
developed with a range of potential users in mind, but especially:
* Those involved with water planning and management at regional and
local levels, treatment companies, and regional/local authorities
* 'Stakeholder' groups and individuals with an interest in how a given
river basin is managed, for example: Community associations, farmers'
groups, and environmental organisations The core of this Practical
Resource document focuses on the main 'Water Seminar Series' outputs.
These reflect the "real life" contributions of over 300
'water stakeholders' from all parts of Europe - who participated in
the three meetings - and were discussed and validated by consensus
as follows: * There are five horizontal issues or 'cross-cutting principles':
Integration, scale, timing, participation and capacity, which need
to be considered systematically at every stage of WFD implementation,
in order to ensure effective Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM).
* Lessons learned and examples of 'good practice' for fulfilling specific
WFD requirements, in relation to reconciling agricultural practices
and sustainable water use, recognising and enhancing the role of wetlands
in IRBM, and what is "good practice" in IRBM planning. A
draft of this Practical Resource document, was discussed at an expert
'validation workshop' held near Brussels in August 2001. The final
document incorporates extensive comments on a revised draft that was
circulated to participants after the workshop. For a full list of
contributors, see Appendix IV of the document. WWF European Freshwater
Programme, with support from DG Environment of the European Commission
and TAIEX, has facilitated the 'Water seminar series' process leading
to the publication of this document. It is hoped that this Practical
Resource document will help stimulate and guide practical action towards
early and effective WFD implementation.
Copies of the document in English, French, Spanish and German can
be downloaded from http://www.panda.org/europe/freshwater
Eva Royo Gelabert WWF European Water Policy Officer
18.10.01:East African Water
Clash slams Nile Treaty
By Jennifer Wanjiru, NAIROBI, Kenya, October 18, 2001 (ENS) -
In a debate that may lead to confrontation between Egypt and eastern
Africa nations over the River Nile, Kenya's members of parliament
have voiced concern over the legality of an international treaty that
bars the three countries from using water from Lake Victoria for irrigation.
For full text and graphics visit: http://ens-news.com/ens/oct2001/2001L-10-19-01.html