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  • 30.10.01: Water Pollution By Nitrates: Commission Takes Legal Action Against The United Kingdom For Non-Compliance With Court Judgement
  • 30.10.01: Joint International Conference On Hydrologic Assistance Programs And The NWSRFS Users Association Meeting
  • 30.10.01: Dam-Affected People Occupy Headquarters of Belgian Multinational Tractebel in Rio de Janeiro
  • 30.10.01: New Dam on Paraguay/Argentine Border Could Halt Free Flow of Water on Paraná
  • 30.10.01: Blair in drive for Turkish dam deal
  • 30.10.01: "ENTERRONS L'OMC AVANT QU'ELLE NOUS ENTERRE !" - Alès - 3 novembre 2001
  • 29.10.01: One of the world´s largest registers of research projects on the environment available online
  • 29.10.01: Danube: Gabcikovo dam conflict
  • 26.10.01: Preparations for World Wetlands Day 2002 may now begin in earnest.
  • 26.10.01: UK: Flood-risk towns to receive revolutionary new barrier
  • 26.10.01: Eutrophication decreases in European coastal waters
  • 24.10.01: Cyanide spill Ghana's worst environmental disaster
  • 23.10.01: First pan-European guidance for Water Framework Directive implementation
  • 18.10.01: East African Water Clash slams Nile Treaty

    Older news

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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 (Case C-1999/069).
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 concerned.
Source: European Water Management News

30.10.01: 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 Systems,
ALERT System Early Warning Capabilities,
How to Establish Real Time Data Networks and Systems,
How River Forecasting Can Reduce Flood Losses and Significantly Improve Water Management
Agenda and Other Details:
telephone 1-301-713-1784x192

30.10.01: Dam-Affected People Occupy Headquarters of Belgian Multinational Tractebel in Rio de Janeiro

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, central-western region.
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 +

30.10.01: New Dam on Paraguay/Argentine Border Could Halt Free Flow of Water on Paraná

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 be displaced.
"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 alternative."
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 union.
"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 The commission also can be contacted by e-mail at
Additional information is available from Sobrevivencia by calling (595-21) 480-182 or by e-mail at
By Mike Ceaser
Copyright © 2001 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.
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 firm


30.10.01: "ENTERRONS L'OMC AVANT QU'ELLE NOUS ENTERRE !" - Alès - 3 novembre 2001

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), etc....
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 17h00.
Contacts : Valérie : / Jean-Philippe :

*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 online

One of the world´s largest registers of research projects on the environment is available at
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

26.10.01: 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.
At is the suite of materials on offer.
Source: and European Water Management

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.
Source: Edie news

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.
Eutrophication 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 news

24.10.01: Cyanide 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 Ltd.
For full text and graphics visit:

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 Directive (WFD).
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 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:


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