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  • 27.12.01: Outcomes of the International Conference on Freshwater
  • 26.12.01: Poland: WWF proposes a sustainable solution to the Wloclawek dam problem
  • 20.12.01: Iceland's Environment Minister Gives Green Light to Hydro Power Project - serious setback for conservation
  • 19.12.01: Global Peatland Initiative Web Site
  • 16.12.01 : Thailand: The Pak Mun gates will remain open for one year
  • 12.12.01: UNESCO And Green Cross International Join Forces To Avert Water Conflicts
  • 10.12.01: Nile Basin States launch environment project
  • 10.12.01: New flood warning website will keep English and Welsh residents in the know
  • 08.12.01: NGO Statement at the Bonn Conference on Freshwater
  • 04.12.01: World's Water Storage Capacity Shrinking as Dams Silt Up
  • 28.11.01: WWF Launches Five-Point Plan To Save The World's Water
  • 27.11.01: International coalition urges aluminum companies to scrap plans for Amazon dams
  • 17.11.01: More than half of the world's lakes and reservoirs face massive ecological threats
  • 15.11.01: European Parliament passes an important amendment against the Spanish Hydrological Plan.
  • 15.11.01: Several articles concerning Balfour Beatty's withdrawal from Ilisu dam project
  • 14.11.01: Campaigners Celebrate Ilisu Dam Campaign Victory
  • 13.11.01: Balfour Beatty Withdraws From Ilisu Dam Project
  • 13.11.01: Small, Mountain Rivers Play Big Role In Ocean Sediment
  • 13.11.01: River Indus: Flow has receded, resulting in acute shortage of water
  • 12.11.01: Budapest Memorandum on the Danube River Basin

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27.12.01: Outcomes of the International Conference on Freshwater

The Recommendations for Action and other outcomes from the International Conference on Freshwater in Bonn, 3-7 December, 2001 are available in .pdf form at:

26.12.01: Poland: WWF proposes a sustainable solution to the Wloclawek dam problem

Warsaw, Poland As the result of a one year study, WWF, the conservation organization, has compiled a report that shows how best to solve the series of problems caused by the Wloclawek dam on the Vistula river.
WWF's assessment, based on economic, social and environmental criteria showed that building a new Nieszawa dam down the stream would not solve most of the problems, and could even worsen some of the existing ones. However the report says that two other options have to be treated seriously these are either decommissioning of the old dam or its complex modernisation.
The multi-criteria study identifies the option of dam decommissioning or modernisation as much better that construction of a new dam to ensure safety of the eroded Wloclawek dam. The decommissioning option got the highest score, not just due to environmental criteria, but also social and economic ones. This option is seven times cheaper than the option of constructing a new dam. The latter would have to be co-financed in at least 30% by the state to become feasible for commercial investors.
"Experts hired by WWF conclude the there are the option which allow for significant state budget savings. At the same time these solutions guarantee people's safety and let avoid loss of natural river values," said Jacek Engel, "Vistula" project leader. "The comparative analysis shows that decommissioning or full modernisation of the Wloclawek dam are better and more sustainable solutions that supporting one dam by another."
The team of experts on hydro-technical constructions, hydrology, economy, regional development, power industry, and ecology, assessed economic, social and environmental consequences of all probable options. This was the first time that such a study was based on recommendations of the World Commission on Dams which were issued in November 2000.
In July 2000 a governmental group of experts gave a positive opinion on a new Nieszawa dam project. Though the expert group also recommended that alternatives be examined, it was WWF and not the former Minister of the Environment who took on this task. WWF was aware that the new dam could increase problems caused by the existing Wloclawek dam, and therefore last year started "The study of complex solution for the Wloclawek dam and reservoir problems: Prognosis of environmental consequences". Because of Polish and EU legal requirements inherent in environmental impact assessments, the fundamental assumption for the study was that none of the alternatives should be rejected before a full analysis was complete. "The Wloclawek dam and reservoir will be still a source of problems and threats as well as a burden for the state budget, no matter if new dams on the Vistula river are going to be constructed or not," said Ireneusz Chojnacki, WWF Poland's Programme Director. "The WWF study should support the Polish government in making rational decision, which would be favourable for tax payers and take into account a role of the Vistula river in modern, sustainable development of Poland and the whole of Europe." For more information:
Jacek Engel "Vistula"project leader, e-mail:
Marta Kaczyñska - Communications Coordinator, e-mail:

20.12.01: Iceland's Environment Minister Gives Green Light to Hydro Power Project - serious setback for conservation

Oslo, Norway - The ruling of Iceland's environment minister, Ms. Siv Fridleifsdottir, in favour of the controversial Karahnukar Hydro Power Project, is a serious set-back for conservation in Iceland, WWF said today.
The 700 megawatt Karahnukar Hydro power plant will be the largest ever built in Iceland, and indeed the largest hydro power facility that it is possible to build in Iceland. It will also be one of the biggest in Europe, damming 11 rivers and tributaries and redirecting their courses through 100km of underground tunnels. The largest of these will be 57 sq. km. with up to 75 meter water level fluctuation.
The plant will provide energy to a huge aluminium smelter (420 thousand tonnes per year) in East Iceland, to be partly owned and operated by the Norwegian multinational Norsk Hydro. The environmental damage will be far greater than that of any previous comparable project planned in Iceland.
"WWF demands that Norsk Hydro withdraw from this damaging project," says Rasmus Hansson, CEO of WWF Norway. "If Norsk Hydro wants to promote itself as an environmentally aware company, that's fine - but then it shouldn't participate in a project like this, which will have devastating consequences for the Icelandic environment."
The ruling comes some three months after the Icelandic National Power Company, another partner in the project, appealed a decision by the Icelandic Planning Agency, which ruled against the project as it would have serious consequences for the environment.
"Ms. Fridleifsdottir's ruling has little to do with the environment, or the governing law - and a lot to do with the politics of her government. The decision she overturned was sound, and we're going to see whether we can fight it in court," says Arni Finnsson of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association. All Icelandic environmental organizations have protested the ruling by the minister.
The Karahnukar Hydro Power Project will significantly impact the largest remaining wilderness area in Western Europe due to construction of a number of dams, ditches/channels, diversions, reservoirs and roads. The direct impact area covers some 1000 sq. km. in the highlands north of the Vatnajoekull Glacier. The project will destroy and affect rare oasis of highland vegetation, characterized by dense and diverse plant species.
For more information: Arni Finnsson, Iceland Nature Conservation Association
Samantha Smith, WWF International Arctic Programme

19.12.01: Global Peatland Initiative Web Site

A new web-page has been created on the the Global Peatland Initiative, which is a partnership between nature conservation NGOs, science agencies and the private sector. It has been launched by the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG), International Peat Society (IPS), Wetlands International, IUCN-Netherlands Committee and Alterra. It is a platform programme, which promotes the identification and development of projects for the wise use and conservation of peatlands and facilitates the funding of them. It channels the results of these to international policies and conventions.
Please see
Marcel J. Silvius Wetlands International Droevendaalsesteeg 3A PO Box 7002 6700 CA Wageningen The Netherlands Tel: +31 317 478861 Fax: +31 317 478885 Email:

16.12.01 The Pak Mun gates (Thailand) will remain open for one year

The Pak Mun gates will remain open for one year, from June 2001-June 2002. This was according to a cabinet resolution on Decmeber 11. The following update comes from Southeast Asia Rivers Network. An article from the Nation follows this update.
"The reason is the Government wanted the gates to be open for one full year to complete the data collection. It is also as a result of the pressure from the villagers who held the long march, the Ubon study team and the committee for social reparations.
The villagers at Pak Mun are very happy with this resolution. However, they still demand that the gates be opened permanently. After the Government made the resolution, the villagers changed their route by not going to BKK but walking within Isaan (NE Thailand) through the Mun-Chi-Songkam river basins and will walk along the right bank of the Mekong river. It will take about 8-12 months and 2,000 kms long.
At Pak Mun, the water is going down, the rapids are recovering and fish are migrating back to the Mekong. We found 130 fish species and hope will have more. We are very busy with the data collection and we found that the livelihood of the villagers is recovering. Most of them are able to catch the fish for their food and income. Many of them return to their land along the river, which once was submerged, for growing vegetable. In January-February, the river bank will be covered with riverine vegetables. The gates of Bang Pakong dam have also been opened. The Bang Pakong dam is located in East Thailand. After it was completed, it created many environmental problems particularly the water pollution and riverbank erosion. The villagers living downstream are campaigning for the dam to be decommissioned. The dam was built by RID and the FS conducted by JICA.
For Pak Mool villagers, the decision to leave open the sluice gates of Pak Mool dam for one year was not an act of mercy by the government, but rather the fruit of their prolonged 70-day street protest.
About 130 villagers effected by the Pak Mool and Rasi Salai dams were walking along a small street in Nakhon Ratchasima on Tuesday when the Cabinet announced that it had agreed with a proposal by the Prime Minister's Office to keep the dams' gates open for one year. The villagers were on the 64th day of their long march from the Pak Mool dam site in Ubon Ratchathani to Government House in Bangkok to demand the gates of both Pak Mool and Rasi Salai dams be kept open permanently.
Although, the Cabinet decision only concerned Pak Mool and not Rasi Salai dam as the villagers had demanded, they nevertheless were satisfied with the resolution and changed the destination of the march to the Northeast region instead of heading to the capital.
On October 9, the villagers left the dam site which they had occupied and turned into a protest site some months before. They believed this would force politicians in the House, 730 km away from the dam site, to listen to them after many months of voicing their demands.
Over the past eight years since the Pak Mool dam was built in 1993, the villagers could not make a living from the Mool River since fish could not swim up through the dam from the Mekong River to lay eggs. The "river of life" for these Northeasterners became completely useless to them after the Rasi Salai dam was finished in 1995.
The villagers have turned themselves from fresh water fishermen into road warriors armed with banners. Through the streets they roamed on their odyssey to Bangkok, staying overnight at temples along the way. At the moment they are camping in a small temple in Nakhon Ratchasima.
In 69 days from Ubon Ratchathani they have passed through Yasothon, Si Sa Ket, Roi-et, Surin, Buri Ram and now Nakhon Ratchasima, the villagers' schedule is repeated day by day.
Getting up at about 4 am, they refresh themselves and rush into the street, forming two lines as they prepare to start the day's journey.
Before the first light of day the march begins. With banners and flags demanding the permanent opening of all sluice gates of Pak Mool and Rasi Salai dams in their hands and plastic bottles of water hanging around their waists, the villagers walk slowly in silence.
A cassette of a monk chanting is played through an old speaker mounted on a pick-up truck loaded up with essentials which accompanies them. "This is to show the public that our protest is not a violent action. Dhamma is always in our minds," said Boonmee Khamruang , a Pak Mool villager who is leading the rally. Normally, the parade continues for three to four hours every day. The responsibility for searching for a temple in which to stay overnight belongs to a group of leaders. They always look for a destination that is not more than 15km away, otherwise it would beyond the ability of the villagers to walk to it.
Breakfast is cooked when the rally reaches that day's destination. To urban folk, the villagers might seem to be crazy people who are torturing themselves just to lure public and government interest, but to rural residents who have suffered a similar problem, the peaceful rally is the best way.
Through about 500 km from Ubon Ratchathani to Nakhon Ratchasima, the rally has received moral support from many people. Some give them small packets of sticky rice, some provide dried fish, and some help them to distribute leaflets to inform others of the objective of the rally.
Significantly, the protesters have received moral support from a friend in India. Medha Patkar, one of the leaders of Indian protests against a series of dams in the Narmada River, one of the country's holy rivers, visit them when they were in Buri Ram.
After more than 16 years of fighting against the dams, Medha's Save Narmada Movement was successful in halting the Sardar Sarovar dam, the largest of 165 dams designated to block the Narmada River. The dam was designed to be 139 metres high and would have required the relocation of about 300,000 villagers. Construction of the dam eventually stopped at about 90 metres. "We [the movement] are here with you. Don't give up," she encouraged the villagers.
Although the dam gates are now open and the rally's destination has changed, the desire of the villagers remains.
"Take the dam out, return our river," one villager demanded. So, the rally goes on around the Northeast. For how long, none of the protesters could say, but they are determined that they will not give up until the dams are completely knocked down.
Pennapa Hongthong

12.12.01: UNESCO And Green Cross International Join Forces To Avert Water Conflicts

Paris, December 12 - UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the non-governmental environmental organisation Green Cross International (GCI), today signed a two-year agreement at UNESCO Headquarters aimed at joining forces to help to avert potential conflicts over the world's water resources.
Some 261 river basins worldwide extend over more than one country and, as demand for water continues to rise and water becomes increasingly scarce, the potential for disputes over this shared resource remains a threat to peace.
The agreement will mean pooling the results of two complementary approaches to world water security. While UNESCO will continue to develop educational tools aimed at decision-makers and governments through its programme "From Potential Conflict to Co-operation Potential (PC => CP)", GCI will raise awareness at grassroots level, with its "Water for Peace" project. "We have the same objectives and aims," said Mr Matsuura, "but we can reach different audiences."
More information at:

10.12.01: Nile Basin States launch environment project

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - Water ministers from the 10 Nile Basinstates decided to launch an environment project sponsored by the World Bankand other international donors, a Sudanese ecologist said in KhartoumMonday.According to the general secretary of the Sudanese higher councilfor the environment, Nadir Mohammed Awad, the 39-million-US dollar project,will be based in Khartoum.He said that the project, agreed upon during arecent meeting in Geneva, would lay down a strategic environmentalframework for the sustainable development of initiatives by memberstates.All the Nile Basin's member states -- Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia,Eritrea , Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo,Rwanda, Burundiand Tanzania, will be covered by the project. Awad said part of theproject's endeavour would be to build the Nile Basin's institutional andhuman capabilities. It will also promote co-operation in environmentalmanagement, administrative know-how, communication and macro-environmentalplanning.He said the project would also involve local civil societyorganisations in water conservation and the prevention of soil erosion. Itwill undertake environment awareness and educational programmes among thesegroups.The project will provide for co-operation among member states forthe protection of the region's wetland zones and its bio-diversity.Khartoum - 10/12/2001

10.12.01: New flood warning website will keep English and Welsh residents in the know

Residents and businesses in England and Wales are now able, for the first time, to access flood warning information online 24 hours a day, which is updated every 15 minutes, with a new website launched by the Environment Agency.
The new online information service lists the numbers and levels of flood warnings in 1,300 locations in England and Wales, providing information to 1.17 homes and businesses, and has a searchable database of flood information that can be searched by river, postal code, or town name. Special features also include a flood warning history for each area, maps of flood warning areas, and supporting information such as TV and radio stations that broadcast flooding information. The website also offers guidance on how to use and obtain sandbags.
Read full article

08.12.01: NGO Statement at the Bonn Conference on Freshwater

Delegates and observers representing Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the Bonn Conference on Freshwater, 3-7 December 2001, state the following:
We welcome the initiative to invite NGOs and other Major Groups to participate in Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues and in Working Group and Plenary discussions. This procedure should be adopted in discussions on water management on all levels.
We also welcome the statement by Minister Wieczorek-Zeul that the German government is prepared to support a multi-stakeholder review of private sector participation in the water sector.
We are pleased to note that some of our concerns are reflected in the main outcome documents of the conference; the Bonn Ministerial Declaration, and the Recommendations for Action. In particular we welcome the inclusion of a statement in the Recommendations that private sector participation in water supply should not be imposed on developing countries as a conditionality for funding.
However, we find that several important points, although brought forward by the NGO community several times during the conference, are absent in the outcome documents:
Water is a human right! Governments should ensure that everyone has a lifeline supply of 50 litres per day of safe water. We note that relevant UN Conventions, particularly regarding the Rights of the Child, specifically refers to the right (of the child) to water. This principle should be applied throughout the UN system and to all humans.
Water is a common good! The character of water as a vital resource requires that it be managed as a common good carrying social, cultural, spiritual, as well as economic values. The problem of overconsumption should be adequately addressed, and such non-sustainable patterns of water use strongly discouraged, by bodies discussing or making decisions on water management.
WCD recommendations should be adopted! Governments and international agencies should adopt and implement the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams.
Water is not a tradable good! With all its associated values, water resources and water service delivery should be kept out of international agreements on trade. Access to adequate water, notably for those living in poverty, cannot be jeopardised.
We strongly urge the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to take place in Johannesburg, 2002, to take up all the issues mentioned above, and include them in its recommendations to the world's nations on actions for sustainable and equitable development.
Bonn, 7 December 2001

04.12.01: World's Water Storage Capacity Shrinking as Dams Silt Up

BONN, Germany, December 4, 2001 (ENS) - The reservoirs of the world are losing their capacity to hold water as erosion brings silt down to settle in behind dams, the chief of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned today.
Speaking to the Bonn International Conference on Freshwater, UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said that siltation is reducing the capacity of the world's reservoirs to hold water, a result that is hastened by the clearcutting of forests.
"The issue of dams can arouse strong passions on both sides," Toepfer told the delegates. "Some people are very much in favor of building dams and others are vehemently against. However, what we are talking about here is the state and fate of the existing stock of dams and reservoirs on whose waters billions of people depend for not only irrigation and drinking water, but also for industry and the production of hydroelectricity."
Toepfer, a former German environment minister, counselled careful management of the world's stocks of fresh, drinkable water. "It would seem prudent and sensible for us to manage the existing stock in the most sustainable way possible. Otherwise we face increasing pressure on natural areas with water, such as wetlands and underground aquifers, with potentially devastating environmental consequences to wildlife and habitats," he said.
In response, UNEP has launched a new Dams and Development Project (DDP), to address siltation and other serious environmental effects of dam development.
Based in South Africa, the Dams and Development Project, known as the DDP Unit, is a follow up to the work of the World Commission on Dams, publisher of an in-depth report on the environmental impact of large dams in November 2000.
The new DDP Unit has secured funding and pledges of over $2.5 million from the governments of Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Sustainable management of reservoirs will take a central role in its work.
None too soon for Rodney White, author of "Evacuation of Sediments from Reservoirs" and a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. White is warning the world's leaders to pay more attention to the capacity of the world's dams to hold water.
"The loss of capacity of the world's dams should be of highest concern for governments across the globe, and at the moment I do not believe this issue is commanding the attention it deserves," White said.
"The demand for water is rising, not falling, as the population of the planet climbs from six billion today to an estimated 10 billion by 2050. I am extremely concerned," said White, "that water shortages in some of the poorer parts of the world will intensify unless we act to reduce reservoir sedimentation and conserve storage in existing dams using sound management techniques. Sediment removal should be a fundamental feature in the design of dams and their associated infrastructure."
In view of the "threat of global warming," Toepfer urged the planting of forests across the globe. "We must act to reduce the loss of forests and to re-afforest cleared areas as part of a comprehensive strategy of watershed management of the world's river systems," he said.
"There will always be natural levels of erosion that will contribute to a loss of water storage capability," Toepfer acknowleged, and called on engineers to provide "technical solutions that offer environmentally friendly ways of extending the lives of the world's reservoirs."
Jeremy Bird, interim coordinator of the DDP Unit, said next week, a meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, they would be looking at how to improve the performance of reservoirs and dams across a wide range of functions from agriculture to power generation.

28.11.01: WWF Launches Five-Point Plan To Save The World's Water

Gland, Switzerland - As governments prepare for the International Conference on Freshwater that will be held in Bonn, Germany next week, WWF, the conservation organization, is proposing a five point plan of concerted global action to ensure that the world can avoid a global freshwater catastrophe and provide a water-secure future for all.
Human activities are causing the rapid dwindling of the world's freshwater resources, and more than 3 billion people already face water shortages. WWF's five point plan addresses how governments can better manage rivers, lakes and wetlands, and points to the need to review some destructive development schemes such as dams. WWF warns that unless the Bonn conference provides concrete recommendations, which are adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2002, many more people will face the consequences of our failure to manage freshwater resources.
"Freshwater biodiversity is in a far worse condition than forest, grassland, and coastal ecosystems," said Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF's Living Waters Programme. "Unprecedented action at all scales - global, national, regional and local - is needed now if we are to avert a global catastrophe in terms of loss of essential natural services and consequent human suffering. WWF's five point plan points the way to ensuring that we can provide a water-secure future for people and our planet."
Arguing for better protection of nature as the source of water, WWF's five-point plan addresses in particular the need for better management of mountain wetlands. It also entails taking a fresh look at some development schemes, many of whose destructive impacts are still costing billion of dollars to undo. In particular, WWF believes that governments should consider decommissioning those dams that are not functioning properly from an economic, social or ecological standpoint and to consider ways of meeting water and energy needs, other than dams and infrastructure. At the same time, international development agencies such as the World Bank must show responsibility in projects it funds which could do more long-term harm than short-term good.
WWF believes that governments must urgently address the unsustainable and unregulated abstraction of water from international or transboundary rivers. Setting up programmes of Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) for all the world's major transboundary rivers will help to defuse potential interstate and international disputes. At the same time, it would ensure that access to water from rivers is given primarily for basic human needs and ecosystem functions, and only then for other uses such as agriculture or industry.
WWF is also calling on the Bonn conference to make specific recommendations about best practices for water privatisation. While privatisation of national water utilities can bring a range of benefits, WWF believes that the development of best practice guidelines covering water laws, water rights, metering and pricing regimes is vital to ensure access for the poor and better management of our sources of water such as rivers and wetlands. "Governments have a first chance at this meeting to show that they are really serious about addressing the world's freshwater crisis. If they fall at this hurdle, our freshwater resources will go on decreasing, and the obvious result will be more human misery," Jamie Pittock added.

27.11.01: International coalition urges aluminum companies to scrap plans for Amazon dams

Released by IRN International Rivers Network
(São Paulo) A coalition of organizations from Brazil, Europe, and the United States has written an open letter to the heads of the Alcoa (US), BHP Billiton (UK/Australia), and Cia. Vale do Rio Doce (Brazil) aluminum companies urging them to pull out of Friday's auction in Rio de Janeiro for the concession for Santa Isabel, the first dam planned for construction on the Araguaia River in the Brazilian Amazon. Santa Isabel dam would flood an ecological reserve and destroy the culture of the Suruí-Aiwekar indigenous people, in addition to displacing 7,000 people.
The social and environmental organizations note in their letter that Alcoa, Billiton, and CVRD already share responsibility for the impacts caused by Tucurui dam, also in the Brazilian Amazon, which displaced 35,000 people, including indigenous communities, and flooded 2,820 sq. km. of tropical rainforests when its floodgates were closed in 1984. According to Birgit Zimmerle of the German Carajás Forum, "All existing social and environmental problems with Tucurui must be resolved before these companies get involved in new dam projects." More than half of Tucurui's electricity is consumed by the Alcoa-Billiton plant at São Luis, and the CVRD-Nippon Steel plant at Barcarena; both companies enjoy extremely low tariffs, which are heavily subsidized by Brazilian taxpayers.
Brazil's current energy crisis has led aluminum companies, the largest consumers of electricity in the country, to seek to build new dams to guarantee the enormous quantity of energy required for their plants to operate. According to Hélio Meca of the Movement of Dam-Affected People, "We know there are feasible energy alternatives to a new network of large dams in the Amazon. By investing in energy efficiency and conservation, and alternatives such as biomass and wind energy, the expulsion of families from their homes for Santa Isabel can be avoided."
Marluze Santos of the Carajás Forum in São Luis says, "As huge consumers of electricity, these aluminum companies should be leading the way in implementing clean, sustainable technologies for their electrical energy, rather than building more large, destructive dams. This project will affect the livelihoods of riverine populations of babaçu nut gatherers, fisherfolk and ceramic makers who depend on the Araguaia for their income."
"The Araguaia should be kept dam-free", says Glenn Switkes of International Rivers Network. "The Araguaia is an ecological jewel which supports world-class wetlands, rare pink dolphins, and Amazon turtles."
The groups also question whether building large dams to fuel the aluminum industry promotes regional development, as the industry claims. They cite studies showing that the food and beverage and textile industries produce 18-25 times more jobs than the aluminum industry for the same amount of electrical energy consumed.
They also cite the results of new studies showing that rotting vegetation in the reservoirs of dams in tropical forests produce large quantities of greenhouse gases, worsening global warming. The coalition expects that hundreds of organizations world-wide will sign on to the letter, keeping pressure on the aluminum companies to abandon their dam plans.

17.11.01: More than half of the world's lakes and reservoirs face massive ecological threats

Water experts have warned that one billion people are at risk from over-use, water withdrawals and pollution of the world's lakes and reservoirs, which hold nearly 90% of all surface liquid fresh water.
The panel of experts for the forthcoming 3rd World Water Forum told delegates at the 9th International Conference on the Conservation and Management of Lakes held in Shiga, Japan, from 11-16 November, said that many of the hazards to the world's five million lakes derive from a growing global demand for water, which will be increased as the world population rises by nearly two billion people by the year 2025.
Full article:
Source: Edie news

15.11.01: European Parliament passes an important amendment against the Spanish Hydrological Plan.

On November 15th, European Parliament voted in plenary a clause that expressed the Parliament's grave worries about the development of unsustainable water management schemes and infrastructures by the Spanish Government by 224 in favour, to 161 against and 30 abstentions.

Paragraph 28 which received the support of the majority stated that the European parliament:

"Is deeply worried about the precedent set by proposals for the development of unsustainable water management schemes across Europe, such as the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (NHP), adopted by the Spanish Senate on 20 June 2001 and which includes proposals to build up to 118 new dams and widespread irrigation infrastructure, as they do not address the issue of sustainable water use through pricing mechanisms and other water conservation measures;"

Read the Green/European Free Alliance Press Release (PDF file, 16Kb)
More information about the Spanish National Hydrological Plan

14.11.01: Campaigners Celebrate Ilisu Dam Campaign Victory

Campaigners responded with delight today to the news that Balfour Beatty have pulled out of involvement in the environmentally, politically and socially disastrous Ilisu Dam.
The Dam was planned for the Kurdish region of Turkey. It would make more than 30,000 local people homeless, often without proper compensation. It would drown dozens of towns and villages including the world historic site of Hasankeyf. And it would help control water flows on the Tigris river, threatening water conflicts with downstream states Syria and Iraq. The League of Arab States has condemned the project. The Dam was to be built by an international Swiss-led consortium. Balfour Beatty were seeking $200 million in export credit guarantees from the British Government. Italian builder Impregilo has also withdrawn from the consortium.
Commenting, FOE Director Charles Secrett said:
"This is a tremendous win for campaigners against a disastrous dam project. Balfour Beatty's very welcome decision to drop out of the project shows the power of shareholder pressure and publicity campaigns by groups like Friends of the Earth and the Ilisu Dam Campaign.
However, the Government has managed to avoid ever taking a clear decision on this scheme. That means that companies seeking future export credits can argue that no clear ethical precedent has been set. Balfour Beatty have helped Mr Blair slip off the hook.
The story of the Ilisu Dam project shows the need for laws which require British companies to adopt clear ethical and environmental standards in their work abroad as well as at home. Certainly, backing such as export credits should never even be considered in cases which involve such obvious environmental destruction and abuse of human rights."
-- Craig Bennett Corporates Campaigner
Direct Line: +44 (0) 20 7566 1667 Pager: +44 (0) 7654 588 862 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7490 0881 Email:
Friends of the Earth 26-28 Underwood Street London N1 7JQ United Kingdom
Switchboard: 020 7490 1555 Web site:

More articles about this event

More information about Ilisu dam project

13.11.01: Balfour Beatty Withdraws From Ilisu Dam Project

No clear prospect of resolution of environmental, commercial and social complexities

Balfour Beatty, the international engineering, construction and services group, announces today that it has decided not to pursue its interest in the Ilisu Dam project in Turkey. The decision follows a thorough and extensive evaluation of the commercial, environmental and social issues inherent in the project. With appropriate solutions to these issues still unsecured and no early resolution likely, Balfour Beatty believes that it is not in the best interests of its stakeholders to pursue the project further.
Commenting on the decision, Balfour Beatty Chief Executive Mike Welton said:

"Our determination to consider this project in a thorough and professional manner has remained consistent since we were first invited to become involved. We have followed all the appropriate steps to evaluate its viability and have not been deflected from proper, professional processes.
The urgent need for increasing generating capacity to meet Turkey's development needs and for social and economic development in the region remains. We have, however, clearly reached a point where no further action nor any further expenditure by Balfour Beatty on this project is likely to resolve the outstanding issues in a reasonable timescale".
The complex environmental and social issues which the project involves have been the subject of intensive study. A comprehensive environmental impact report, funded by the contractors and involving many months of intensive investigative work, was completed and published earlier this year. This study was carried out by a team of international experts to the best available international standards as defined by the US Ex-Im Bank and the OECD.
The report details the principal social and environmental issues associated with the dam's development and construction and offers recommendations to the dam's proponents, the Turkish General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI). Its recommendations set clear benchmarks which require substantial actions on the part of the customer and other Turkish government departments and agencies.
Commercial discussions between the DSI and the consortium of which Balfour Beatty is a part have also been under way for a considerable period. The parties have, however, been unable to agree in some areas and a number of commercial issues remain unresolved.
Given the substantial difficulties which remain to be addressed, including meeting the four conditions set by the Export Credit Agencies, Balfour Beatty believes the project could only proceed with substantial extra work and expense and with considerable further delay. Accordingly, in concert with its international partner in the civil engineering joint venture, Impregilo of Italy, it has decided to withdraw from the project.

Enquiries to: Tim Sharp Tel: +44 (0)20 7216 6884

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13.11.01: Small, Mountain Rivers Play Big Role In Ocean Sediment

Shallow streams that wind through the mountains of New Zealand and Taiwan carry more sediment into the ocean than giant rivers like the Amazon or the Nile, according to Ohio State University geologists.
The finding means that even small, mountainous islands may have a big impact on the environmental condition of the world's oceans, said Anne Carey, assistant professor of geological sciences.
Carey and Carmen Nezat, a former research scientist at Ohio State, presented these results November 7 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Boston.
The geologists found that rivers in Taiwan yield up to 75 times more sediment than the average river worldwide, and rivers in New Zealand yield up to 175 times more.
Scientists study the chemical content of water entering the oceans to gauge the overall health of the environment, Carey explained. Carbon is one important element that washes away from island soils and enters the planet's oceans, where it could play a role in global climate change, she said.
"People who study sediments originally overlooked these small islands, because the volume of water they release into the oceans is correspondingly small," Carey said. "But the role of these islands in the ocean's geochemistry is important."
Their collaborators included W. Berry Lyons, professor of geological sciences and director of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State; D. Murray Hicks, a hydrologist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research; Shuh-Ji Kao, assistant research scientist at National Taiwan University's Institute of Oceanography; and Jeffrey Owen, post-doctoral researcher at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. Nezat is now a doctoral student in geological sciences at the University of Michigan.
Throughout 1998 and 1999, the researchers gathered water samples from the Cropp, Hokitika, and Haast Rivers in New Zealand. In 2000, they collected samples from the Nan-she-chi, Hualien, and Lanyang Rivers in Taiwan. In New Zealand, the Cropp River yielded the most sediment, with more than 32,000 tons per square kilometer of its watershed per year. Likewise, the Lanyang River in Taiwan carried almost 14,000 tons of sediment per square kilometer per year.
Both rivers were well above the world average. The Amazon and Nile Rivers, for example, produce 190 and 40 tons per square kilometer per year, respectively.
Taiwan and New Zealand produce so much sediment because they both receive a great deal of rainfall, which washes away exposed mountain rock, Carey said. Some parts of Taiwan receive more than eight feet of rain per year, and parts of New Zealand receive as much as 32 feet. Ohio, by contrast, receives only about three feet of rain per year.
The sediments contain chemical elements such as carbon, copper, and phosphorus, which affect the chemistry of the oceans, Carey explained. "We're trying to understand how the Earth naturally balances such conditions," she said. "It looks like these small rivers could play a much bigger role in that balance than we thought."
Source: European Water Management News

13.11.01: River Indus: Flow has receded, resulting in acute shortage of water

The mighty Indus, the lifeline of civilisations for ages, is dying a slow death rendering the lives of thousands dependent on it for survival in a precarious condition, reports Massoud Ansari
The mighty Indus, till only a few years ago, was a cornucopia of riches for the fishermen who lived along its banks. The principal source of their bounty was 'palla' fish, which is unique to this river. Says a fisherman, "Sometimes we caught so much fish that it was difficult for us to pull our nets out. We never considered buying agricultural land which was cheaply available or even educating our children because we believed that the river would always take care of us."
The unthinkable has happened, however. The water of the Indus, which used to flow freely into the Arabian Sea, has now receded. Since 1995, the Indus Basin has been undergoing a dry cycle and very little run-off is generated in the Indus catchments. This has resulted in severe drought conditions.
The acute shortage of water has shaken the props of the national economy because of poor agricultural activity. The effects of this water shortage can also be seen in the scarcity of drinking water, the outbreak of diseases due to inadequate or contaminated supplies of water in parts of the country and the widely ignored but equally important environmental degradation.
But it is the story of individual fishermen in Hyderabad, a town in southern Pakistan, which brings home the serious implications of the situation. According to one estimate, over 50 per cent of the fishermen, who had lived along the Indus for generations have migrated to look for alternative sources of income.
The fact that the river is also the source of drinking water for the villagers around Hyderabad has added to their problems. For instance, the water trickling from the pipes in Sain Dino Malah village is practically unusable. "It is filthy and foul-smelling. When we try to boil it, a layer of scum forms on its surface, so now we use it only in the toilets," says a village woman. Many women from these villages walk miles to get drinking water from a hand pump, where they have to wait in long queues.
In such a scenario, it is hardly surprising that diseases like diarrhoea and jaundice are rampant. For instance, Guzbano, an aged, asthmatic widow, puts her palms together, begging for alms. She is trying to collect enough money to get her daughter-in-law operated for stones in the kidney. Her kidney stones have been attributed to the polluted water that she has been consuming for the last couple of years.
At another level, fresh water inflow from the river is required to abate the tidal impact of the sea. But with the Indus drying up, tidal waves from the sea are resulting in accumulation of chlorides in the soil and making it unusable for farming. Also with regular tidal impact, there has been a lot of soil erosion. As a result, many coastal areas have become a part of the sea. According to the Sindh Irrigation Department, seawater intrusion has resulted in a tidal infringement of over 12,20,360 acres of land in the Indus Delta - 33 per cent of the total land in the two districts of Badin and Thatta in southern Sindh.
Besides the fishing industry, the water crisis has affected the agriculture sector as well in the rest of the province. Last year, the shortage resulted in nearly 40 per cent less area being cultivated. The sowing of cotton normally commences in mid-March in the lower Sindh province, but this year, these areas have not been cultivated till end-April. The same is true of the paddy-growing areas in upper Sindh where the season for preparing nurseries starts by the end of March. But since the government has announced that there will not be enough water, no paddy has been sown so far.
Women's Feature Service

12.11.01: Budapest Memorandum on the Danube River Basin

On 9 and 10 November, 2001, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts held a conference in Budapest where delegates from 21 countries discussed the historical, cultural, economical and ecological situation prevailing in the Danube river basin. Recommendations were formulated which could assist in the process of integrating this important region into the European Union. It was agreed to present these recommendations to the relevant political and economic decision-makers.
The recommendations reflect the principles contained in the Danube River Protection Convention ratified in 1998, and are in accordance with the recent communication issued by the European Commission on environmental co-operation in the Danube - Black Sea region:
1. The various multinational commissions active in and for the Danube region should join forces, even merge, and thus take a leading position in the process of economical and environmental development of the region. 2. To foster sustainable development of the region, a trans-boundary and multidimensional approach is to be taken. In this context, integrated water resources management needs to be implemented to re-establish the "Beautiful Blue Danube" in terms of water quality and beauty of the riparian landscape. 3. Norms and regulations as they have been developed in the EU States are to be implemented in the Danube region but need to be adjusted to the specific local situations. To assist in the development of appropriate actions, the 6th EU R&D Framework Programme should maintain focus on water resources management.
4. The EU should support the Danube countries in the process of implementing advanced material recycling and re-use strategies. Actions have to be taken to avoid mixing and dilution - but capture, treat and enable recycling of all sorts of waste streams.
5. Prevention of hazards and increase of environmental security is of high importance. In particular, attention has to be paid to the reduction of nutrient emissions from municipalities, industries and agriculture. 6. River navigation is an efficient means of mass transport. From an integrated perspective it needs to be promoted for both, ecological and economical reasons.
It was commonly understood by the participants of the conference that the Danube river and its tributaries serve as means of transportation (e.g., navigation), as energy source (e.g., generation of hydroelectric power), as habitat (man, flora, fauna), as a means for recreation (sport, catching fish, swimming, rowing, etc.) and as natural resource to satisfy the water demands of communities, agriculture and industry. The river also provides enormous cultural values which inspired, throughout the centuries, poets, composers and painters in a multitude of ways, shaping the unique cultural heritage of the Danube basin. On the other hand, the river has its dangers and hazards, for instance flooding, which have caused great destructions over the centuries.
All these aspects have to be considered in a holistic way to foster sustainable development of the region. Water management requires an multi-dimensional approach to be successful.
Water plays a predominant role in the ecological and economical development of the Danube region, with the Danube river representing an important cross-boundary link between nations, stakeholders and nature. As a symbol of common historical and cultural roots and as a natural resource the Danube river can meet its role as a joining link only if man treats the river and the adjacent landscapes with vision and care.
Cross-boundary cooperation in all aspects of water management is necessary to achieve prosperity and welfare in the region. Sustainable river water quality management must be anchored as primary commandment for all the nations providing home for the Danube.
Manipulation of the flow in the riverbed is necessary to serve the demands of effective navigation and flood protection. Prosperity of the region and welfare of the people depend greatly on a functioning river water flow management. It is crucial, however, to meet not only criteria of technical functionality of the river but of beauty and environmental balance as well. Reestablishment of the "Beautiful Blue Danube" as a common heritage of the Danube region is a major responsibility of our current society.
To establish ecological functionality of the river and the riparian landscapes and to minimize costs for water purification discharge of pollutions from any source (households, industry, mining, agriculture) must be efficiently regulated. Actions must be based on the local environmental concerns and on the local cultural heritage, however.
Norms and regulations as they have been developed and implemented in the western part of Europe should be adapted to the very situation in the Danube States, and brought into effect.
As a consequence of the Second World War and the subsequent East-West conflict, the States in the Danube region developed in very different ways during the 20th century. The current situation is characterized by an increasing economical disparity, and by a significant increase of the pollution load from various point and non-point sources as the river flows towards the Black Sea.
In order to facilitate transformation, and integration of the downstream States the European Union should support CEE riparian countries in the process of implementing advanced nutrient management strategies. The establishment and proper operation of treatment works can readily serve to this end. However, avoidance of discharge of pollutants would serve better the objectives of sustainability.
Novel sanitation and reuse concepts should be considered as an alternative to the linear water supply/wastewater treatment approach currently in use. In this context, all measures should be taken to avoid mixing and dilution, but capture, treat and enable recycling of waste streams close to the point of origin.
Agriculture is known to contribute significantly to the deterioration of the river water quality, and to the eutrophication of the Black Sea. Special attention has to be paid to control nutrient emissions not only from municipalities and industry, but from agricultural as well. Highly contaminated sites, mining activities, outdated industries and technologies are potential sources of accidental pollution, and are factors which inhibit economic growth and environmental restoration. Special focus should be devoted to prevention of hazards, development of emergency measures, and enhancement of environmental security. With the growth of Europe as a whole, the Danube river will act as a natural East-West bond and as a means of transportation of high relevance. The exchange of goods will increase as East and West grow closer. For accommodation of the expected traffic upgrading of the water way is inevitable.
To help minimizing environmental impacts caused by increasing traffic on highways, it is necessary to advance dock facilities and logistic mechanisms. River navigation is worth promoting for both ecological and economical reasons.
The Communication on Environmental Cooperation in the Danube - Black Sea Region issued by the EU Commission in November 2001 is appreciated. The initiative will facilitate environmental rehabilitation of and economical growth in the Danube region. It should be noted, however, that multi-disciplinary research has to be conducted to satisfy the specific needs of the region.
The potentials of the European research domain should be further vitalised and developed. The 6th EU R&D Framework Programme should maintain appropriate focus on water quality and water management and flood control.
For more information, please contact
Prof. Dr. Peter A. Wilderer, TU Muenchen, Wasserguete, Am Coulombwall, 85748 Garching, Germany
Prof. Dr. György Pethes, EASA Vice-Presidential Office, Törökbálinti út 28, 1112 Budapest, Hungary

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r> Prof. Dr. Peter A. Wilderer, TU Muenchen, Wasserguete, Am Coulombwall, 85748 Garching, Germany
Prof. Dr. György Pethes, EASA Vice-Presidential Office, Törökbálinti út 28, 1112 Budapest, Hungary

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These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.