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28.11.02: Rubber from tyres damages aquatic habitats

Particles of rubber worn off vehicle tyres on roads could be damaging aquatic habitats, killing off the organisms that live in waterways, according to new research in the US.

Alison J Draper, an assistant professor of chemistry at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, has been investigating the effect on the environment of tyre particles containing heavy metals such as zinc and cadmium, hydrocarbons, latex and sulphur-containing compounds.

By leaving tyre particles in samples of water for 10 days and then filtered off, Draper created a 'leachate'. All organisms that were exposed to the leachate in the laboratory, including algae, duckweed, daphnia, fathead minnows and snails, died.

Draper is currently working on determining the levels of rubber chemicals in water that cause sub-lethal effects such as reproductive problems in snails and pre-cancerous lesions in minnows.

Although all of Draper's work has so far been conducted in the laboratory, there is good evidence that tyre rubber has similar effects on organisms living in real waterways along roadsides, she says.

Draper previously worked on diesel exhaust, and has found that rubber particles from tyres can have a similar affect on respiration, aggravating problems such as asthma or allergies.

Source: Edie news

27.11.02: "Dam decisions" put Spain in the hotseat (WWF pressrelease)

Valencia, Spain At the close of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP8), WWF welcomed Spain's commitment to take concrete actions towards sustainable water management following a week of controversy over its Spanish National Hydrological Plan, a highly damaging water transfer scheme. The Plan's 118 dams and associated infrastructure will destroy the Ebro Delta and many of Spain's richest wetlands. This commitment was documented in a formal resolution at the meeting, binding Spain to properly evaluate impacts on all wetlands, not just designated Ramsar sites - wetlands of international importance - under the Convention. WWF and partner NGOs have been putting pressure on the European Union countries during the meeting to urge Spain to reconsider the Plan.
"WWF will continue to call on Spain to honour its commitment to the Convention and to consider alternatives to the Plan," said Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF's Living Waters Programme. "Proceeding with a flawed Plan when alternatives exist and when long-term damages to ecosystems and EU taxpayers' pockets are well-documented would simply be unacceptable."

WWF is also pleased that the Convention ended with a clear commitment to reduce bureaucracy by integrating its plans and guidelines with programmes such as aid agencies' requirements on water and poverty eradication around the world. This is a significant step after the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg last August, which will allow more time and resources to be focused on implementation. At present, countries often concentrate resources into developing parallel sustainability plans under different environmental programmes and treaties rather than implementing them.
In addition, WWF is happy that the meeting focused more on sustainability, stressing that wetland protection is more than fencing off swamps but also involves responsible decisions about managing all freshwater resources. Broader issues such as water allocation, culture, and daily livelihoods were tackled at the Convention.
"The Ramsar Convention is the oldest and most effective international mechanism tackling freshwater issues, taking its place in the debate on solving the global water crisis," said Mr Pittock. "Wetlands management is directly related to clean water, enough water, and the numerous raw materials that come from wetlands - the very things that the SNHP jeopardizes."

Noting successes during the week, WWF lauds the Convention's agreements to adopt a worldwide target to conserve 250 million hectares of wetlands as 'Ramsar sites' by 2010, nearly a 150 per cent increase of freshwater protected areas. In addition, Samoa and Palau officially joined the Ramsar Convention during the meeting, reflecting strong support from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to protect marine habitats as well as coastal wetlands such as mangroves, all incorporated under the Ramsar Convention.


Brussels, November 26
Five leading environmental umbrella organisations are calling on European Commission President Romano Prodi to intervene over Spainís National Hydrological Plan (NHP), which, according to the five, would contravene EU environmental legislation, and could cost EU tax payers up to seven billion Euros. The European Environmental Bureau, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, BirdLife International, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have sent a letter asking Mr Prodi to ensure that EU laws and procedures are not violated by the Plan, and urging him to safeguard the trust of European citizens in the Commission, as the "guardian of the EU treaty".
The five groups assert that the Spanish plan not only contravenes the EUís Sustainable Development Strategy, but also the Water Framework Directive, several articles of the EU Treaty, and several pieces of the environmental Acquis, as well as overall EC/EU commitments under International Conventions, including the Aarhus Convention. Numerous complaints to this effect have already been lodged with DG Environment. The plan is also likely to lead to infringement of the Birds and Habitats Directive, the letter adds.
"This is a crucial test of the European Commissionís commitment to Sustainable Development," said spokesman Stefan Scheuer, on behalf of the five. "President Prodi needs to give the NHP dossier the highest possible priority within the Commission, and make sure that an evaluation process is carried out in a fully transparent and consultative way.
The Commission must also ensure that public participation and access to environmental information are upheld in Spain on this matter, according to EU law and international conventions." There was a complete lack of consultation about the NHPís effects on the environment before its approval by the Spanish government.
The plan proposes the building of multiple dams and reservoirs across the country to redirect water from the north of the country to the south, in order to increase water-intensive agriculture and tourism. Spain intends to obtain EC funding for at least 30% of the investments required to develop the projects making up the NHP, and Community money has already been indirectly used to build some of the dams and reservoirs. Further information from: Stefan Scheuer, EEB water coordinator, ; tel: +32 2 289 1304 / fax 289 1099.

The letter sent by the five organisations to Commission President Prodi can be found on , together with additional background information about the Spanish National Hydrological Plan.
see also our Webpages on the PHN in english and french

25.11.02: China: a gigantic water transfer project

By Associated Press

November 25, 2002, 10:12 PM EST

BEIJING -- China has approved a multibillion dollar project to pump water from its verdant south to the arid north in a plan that would be China's largest water diversion effort.

State media on Tuesday quoted Water Resources Vice Minister Zhang Jiyao saying the construction was ready to begin and an initial segment could be finished by 2005.

"The south-to-north water diversion project is a mega-project that is strategically aimed at realizing the optimal allocation of water resources," Zhang was quoted saying in the English-language China Daily.

The project aims to relieve growing demand for water in Beijing and other key northern cities that are home to about half of China's population and important grain growing and industrial regions.

An idea credited to communist China's founder Mao Zedong, the plan would build three massive north-south aqueducts to pump water from the Yangtze, the world's third-largest river. Together, the three channels would pump 48 billion tons of water a year -- enough to fill New York City's taps for a quarter century, according to a comparison with New York state figures.

In the first phase, Yangtze water will be pumped to parched Shandong province by 2005, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Yangtze water will reach Beijing by 2010, it said.

The scale of the project has raised questions about possible negative effects on the environment, as well as the economic strain it will place on China's developing economy. China says the first two of the three man-made rivers will cost more than $18 billion, while the total expenditure could exceed that of the Three Gorges Dam, which is expected to cost $24 billion.

Illustrating the difficulty of building the third diversion route, which would pass near mountains on the Tibetan plateau, the entire project won't be completed until 2050, China Daily said.

Critics said China's leaders have been too keen to adopt grand, landscape-altering mega-project when smaller scale water works and improved management could solve much of the problem.
Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press

23.11.02 : extraits interview de M. Delmar Blasco, Président de la Convention Ramsar, lors de la 8ème Conférence de Valencia.
M. Delma Blasco rapproche la préservation des zones humides avec l'éradication de la pauvreté du Tiers-Monde.
Il s'oppose à la redistribution des ressources hydriques pour éviter les dégâts environnementaux.
Plus d'infos (more infos in french and spanish)

23.11.02 : Présentation d'un projet du transfert du Rhône jusqu'à Barcelone par canalisation sous-marine. Celle-ci pourrait éventuellement servir au transfert d'eau en direction des îles Baléares et descendre plus bas encore vers le sud du pays.
Plus d'infos (more infos in french).

20.11.02 : Le Président du Gouvernement Valencien (la Generalitat Valenciana), José Luis Olivas, se montre préoccupé par le financement européen des ouvrages prévus dans le Plan Hydrologique National (PHN), suite à la décision d'élargir l'Union Européenne à de nouveaux pays.
Il a reçu hier une délégation de chefs d'entreprise des régions de Valence, Murcia et Almeria qui ont constitué un consortium pour défendre et accélerer la réalisation du PHN. M. Olivas souhaite que les travaux commencent le plus rapidement possible afin de ne pas perdre le financement européen. Soit environ 30% des 4 200 millions d'euros nécessaires à la construction de la canalisation de déviation de l'Ebre de la Catalogne jusqu'à Almeria.

Source : article de F. RICÓS.Las Provincias 2002.

19.11.02 : Absence du Ministre de l'Environnement espagnol lors de l'ouverture de la 8ème conférence de la Convention RAMSAR.
Les organisations écologistes critiquent l'absence du Ministre de l'Environnement espagnol, Jaume Matas, lors de l'ouverture de la 8ème Conférence de la Convention Ramsar à Valencia. Ce manque d'attention du Gouvernement espagnol pour cette réunion internationale, organisée par et dans son pays et réunissant des délégations de plus de 100 pays pour la protection des zones humides, serait du à la volonté d'éviter un débat contradictoire sur le Plan Hydrologique National espagnol (PHN), lors d'un forum de dimension mondial.

18.11.02 : Artur Mas, le numéro 2 du Parti Convergencia y Unio au pouvoir en Catalogne, va faire mardi 19 novembre, la demande du transfert du Rhône auprès du gouvernement central de Madrid. Cette demande ne semble pas passer par le Parlement Catalan et n'aurait donc aucun caractère officiel pour l'instant. Elle aurait lieu lors de la journée "L' Eau des Alpes pour la Catalogne" ("Aigua dels Alps per a Catalunya") organisée à Barcelona le 19 novembre par l' EuroCongrès et la Fondation Occitanie-Catalogne.
Site de l'EuroCongrès 2000 et de la Fondation Occitanie-Catalogne

- D'autre part, le Conseil exécutif de la Généralitat Catalane doit approuver ce mardi 19 novembre le projet du transfert du Rhône pour l'envoyer à Madrid pour qu'il soit inclus dans le Plan Hydrologique National. Mais le Parti Convergencia y Unio (CIU) se retrouve très isolé dans son appui à ce projet. Même le Parti Popular Catalan semble rejetter celui-ci, préférant la solution du transfert de l'Ebre et le maintien ferme du PHN. Le Parti Popular du gouvernement central rappelait récemment clairement sa position par la voix de Jaume Matas, le Ministre de l'Environnement, qui déclarait que le transvasement de 1 050 hm3/an de l'Ebre est "irréversible".
Le transfert du Rhône est également mal vu par les partis de gauche. Le Parti Socialiste Catalan a déclaré qu'il ne souhaitait ni le transfert de l'Ebre, ni celui du Rhône. Pour le porte-parole de la Plataforma en Defensa de l'Ebre(PDE), Manolo Tomás
, "si ce transfert était réalisé, on perdrait une opportunuité historique de lancer une gestion de l'eau en accord avec les intérêts réels de la société."

18.11.02 : Artur Mas, the number 2 of the politic party "Convergencia y Union" at the head of the Cataluna region, will ask tomorrow, tuesday november 19, the Rhone water transfert, near of the central government of Madrid.
This demand doesn't seem to be official, because it won't be made by the Catalan Parliament. It will be made during the meeting day "The Alps Water for the Cataluna", organised tomorrow in Barcelona by the EuroCongres2000 and the Foundation Occitany-Cataluna.
Website of Eurocongres 2000 and of the Foundation Occitany-Cataluna.

17.11.02 : MARCHE DE L'EBRE et DU RHONE : 17 000 marcheurs à l'étape de Tortosa (Delta de l'Ebre).
L'étape du dimanche 17 novembre de la Marche de l'Ebre et du Rhône s'est déroulée ainsi :
de Xerta à Roquetes, 200 marcheurs sur 12 kms,
de Roquetes à Tortosa, 17 000 marcheurs sur quelques kms.
Maria Lloveras, de la POT catalane (Plateforme d'Opposition aux Transferts) et Christophe Tomati, de ERN, ont pris la parole pour dénoncer le transfert du Rhône en Catalogne, au nom du bassin cédant et du bassin récepteur.

17.11.02 : MARCHA OF THE EBRO AND RHONE : 17 000 walkers during the stage of Tortosa (Delta of Ebro).
The stage on sunday november 17 of the Ebro and Rhone Marcha was also :
from Xerta to Roquetes : 12 kms made by 200 walkers.
from Roquetes to Tortosa : few kms made by 17 000 walkers.
Maria Lloveras, from the Catalan POT (Plataforma d'Opposicion als Transferts) and Christophe Tomati, from ERN, spoke to denunce the Rhone water transfert, in the name of the water sending basin and the water receptor basin.

15.11.02: Iceland/Karahnjukar Hydropower Project: Alcoa, developing a $3 billion smelter, buys Icelandic-Norwegian company

Friday, November 15, 2002
By Richard Middleton, Associated Press

REYKJAVIK, Iceland - Alcoa Inc., planning a US$3 billion aluminum smelter project in Iceland, said Thursday it had bought an Icelandic-Norwegian development company that had been considering the feasibility of such a smelter.
Pittsburgh-based Alcoa, the largest aluminum producer in the world, did not reveal the price it paid for the Reydaral company, but the Icelandic daily Morgunbladid reported it was US$6.9 million.

"The sale of Reydaral gives us access to some first-rate environmental research that was conducted and is an important step forward," Alcoa spokesman Jake Siewert said. "However, we still have a lot of work to do and to continue to consult with the (Icelandic) ministries about how our plant will actually be designed."

Reydaral, previously owned by Haefi and Norsk Hydro, had been assessing the feasibility for an aluminum smelter at Reydarfjordur in east Iceland.

In July, Alcoa and the Icelandic government signed a declaration of intent to build a power plant and smelter called the Karahnjukar Hydropower Project in east Iceland.

The development is expected to provide 2,000 construction jobs and up to 1,000 permanent positions in an area of Iceland that suffers from high unemployment. The proposal, which is expected to be finalized in the New Year, involves building 11 dams and a 22-square mile (57-square km) reservoir north of the Vatnajokull glacier.

Despite protests by environmentalists, including the mother of Icelandic pop diva Bjork, work has already started on building access roads and tunnels for the scheme.

The area under threat is home to reindeer, rare geese, and plants, and has glacial rivers, snow-covered volcanoes and deep, basalt canyons.

Arni Finnsson, director of the Icelandic Conservation Association, greeted the news of the Reydaral sale with dismay.

"It means that Alcoa is not listening to the real concerns of Icelanders and that the company has no concern for Icelands environment," he said. "The project will lead to the destruction of perhaps the most important wilderness areas left in Europe. It has to be stopped and our campaign goes on," said Finnsson, who is also spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund in Iceland.

Copyright 2002, Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

10.11.02: Fondation Saumon : recherche, avenir et développement de la Salmoniculture du Haut Allier

Lancé à l'occasion de l'inauguration de la Salmoniculture du Haut Allier le 10 juillet 2001, le projet de Fondation Saumon - représenté à ce jour par une association de préfiguration - se fixe pour objectif premier de sauver le saumon, ce notamment en garantissant la pérennité de la salmoniculture (*).

Au-delà de cette mission de base, la Fondation Saumon souhaite sensibiliser tous les publics aux enjeux environnementaux - et plus particulièrement à l'importance de la qualité de l'eau - et, à terme, développer une économie durable autour du saumon. Le tout en valorisant l'image d'entreprises partenaires soucieuses de la protection de l'environnement. Une structure originale, qui bénéficie déjà de nombreux soutiens, publics et privés.

Pour en savoir plus :

09.11.02 : Espagne/France: Marches (Marcha al mediterraneo) against water transfers are on their way, on the Ebro and Rhône rivers, heading to Valencia for the Ramsar Convention on November 24th.

The Ebro basin march started on October 30th et the one from the Rhône river in France started today (November 9th) !

All the marches will converge in the Ebro delta before going together to Valencia for the Ramsar Convention on November 24th.

Theyr are organised by the Spanish NGOs COAGRET, la Plateforma en Defensa del Ebre, WWF Spain, Ecologistas en accion, in collaboration with ERN, the European Rivers Network.

More information on the "al Mediterraneo" marches

30.10.02: Upgrading dams could light 30 million US homes

USA: October 30, 2002
NEW YORK - While solar and wind power capture the fancy of environmentalists, the hunt for new cheap, renewable sources of electricity needs to look no further than existing dams.
According to Voith Siemens Hydro Power, campaigning to upgrade generating equipment at the nation's hydropower projects, an additional 30,000 megawatts could be squeezed from those dams, enough to run about 30 million homes.

30.10.02: The European Water Framework Directive: An Approach To Integrated River Basin Management

Article by Dr Martin Griffiths, recently published on European Water Management Online (EWMO).
The Water Framework Directive is the most significant piece of European water legislation for over twenty years. It will update most of the existing water legislation in Europe and was a feature of the key water initiative at the World Summit in Johannesburg in August. The concepts of river basin management have been central to the approach taken by the UK Government, the Environment Agency, the UK water industry and its predecessors. The paper will review the key principles of the Directive, its implementation in the UK and its applicability to other international river basins.
You may download the complete article at

29.10.02: First Of Two Ramsar Advisory Missions To Doñana

Doñana National Park in southwest Spain is one of Europe's greatest wetlands and one of its most prestigious protected areas. It was designated as a Wetland of International Importance in 1982, and is also a UNESCO
World Heritage site, a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO MAB programme, and an EU Special Protection Area.
Read more at and
Source: Ramsar

28.10.02 : More and more dam removal in us: Oregon dam removals set stage for new wildlife area

PORTLAND, Oregon, October 28, 2002 (ENS) - Two hydropower dams will be removed from Oregon's Sandy River, opening unhindered access for threatened salmon and steelhead from the Pacific Ocean to the southwest slopes of Mt. Hood. Under an agreement between Portland General Electric, Oregon Governor
John Kitzhaber and representatives from 21 other organizations, the dam removals will help create a 5,000 acre wildlife and public recreation area in the Sandy River Basin.

18.10.02: WWF: Spanish Government's figures and data on National Hydrological Plan's Ebro Transfer benefits are wrong and misleading

Brussels, Belgium - 3.5 billion Euros could be lost if the Spanish National Hydrological Plan's (SNHP) Ebro river transfer is allowed to go ahead, according to a new report released by WWF, the conservation organisation today.
The WWF study - Analysis and Economic Valuation of the Ebro river transfer in the Spanish National Hydrological Plan - shows data and figures used by the Spanish government to justify the SNHP to be inaccurate, and concludes that the actual costs of the Plan far outweigh the estimated profits.
The SNHP's Ebro river transfer is proposed to reallocate 1,050 cubic hectometres per year of water from the Ebro River basin to another four river basins in the north, south-east and south of Spain. The overall cost of the construction of the infrastructure of the overall Plan across Spain has been estimated at 24 billion Euro (one third of which will be paid by EU funds), of which the Ebro river transfer will be 4.2 billion Euro.
But to form a realistic picture of the costs and possible benefits of the Ebro river transfer, additional economic factors must be considered, but to date have not been.
The cost of transporting water, desalinisation, and the potential effects of climate change must all be taken into account. Considering specifically the economic efficiency and return on investment of irrigation in the transfer recipient regions, WWF data shows that even in the high revenue intensively cultivated areas, over production of crops and growing agricultural competition in the Mediterranean region will greatly reduce profits and benefits in the future.
The WWF report shows that once these factors have all been calculated, it is impossible to arrive at a positive cost benefit figure for the SNHP, and the 3.5 billion Euro loss calculated by WWF is a conservative figure.
WWF also questions the methodology and criteria used in the justification of the Plan, and has shown that in the calculations of benefits to both the donor and recipient regions of the water transfer, data has been misrepresented in terms of wealth and income potential.
"The figures in the WWF report only serve to add more fuel to the fire against the SNHP. The gap between the poor donor northern regions and the wealthier southern recipient regions will only broaden if the transfer is allowed to go ahead. It is time the European Commission stopped months of indecision and came to a consensus on how to proceed with the SNHP, taking into account not only the negative cost versus benefits of the plan, but also the environmental and cultural damage which the plan will cause across Spain" said Paloma Agrasot, WWF SNHP Initiative Co-ordinator.
"To date there have been no concrete steps by the Commission to resolve the SNHP issue, and this could potentially lead to the setting of some dangerous precedents for unsustainable water management in Europe in the future."
WWF believes with the evidence stacking up against the sustainability and cost effectiveness of the SNHP, it is time for the Commission to fully play its role as Guardians of the European Treaty and prevent irreversible environmental and cultural damage.
For further information, photos, video material or interest in press trips contact: Tania Paschen, Communications Manager, WWF European Freshwater Programme, mobile: +33 680 73 70 33, email: Angelina Hermanns, Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office, tel +32 2 740 09 25, email:

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