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12.06.03 : China's Three Gorges fills faster than expected

CHINA: June 12, 2003

China's Three Gorges dam reservoir, the world's biggest hydroelectric
project, is filling faster than expected, state media reported yesterday.

The People's Daily, mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, said the
massive reservoir hit 135 metres (443 ft) at 10 p.m. (GMT 1400) this week,
five days ahead of schedule. It did not say why.
By the time it is full, the reservoir will be 175 metres (575 feet) deep.
Engineers blocked the Yangtze River at the Three Gorges dam on June 1,
starting to fill the reservoir for the project that is a point of national
pride but which critics fear will become an environmental nightmare.
The project began in 1993 and is expected to be completed by 2009.


10.06.03: The state of freshwater in the world

The state of freshwater in the world Aquatic ecosystems are threatened
everywhere. More than half the major rivers of the world are either
seriously polluted or partly dried up downstream from over-exploitation
according to the World Commission on Water for the 21st century.
Out of the 500 major rivers in the world 250 are seriously polluted or
over-exploited. Every day, 2 million tons of waste are discharged into
rivers, 40% of the rivers assessed in 1998 in the United Sates were not
considered fit for leisure activities due to the presence of excess
minerals, metals and agricultural pollution. Only 5 rivers out of 55 in
Europe are considered to be largely uncontaminated and only the river basin
heads of the 14 largest rivers have a “good ecological status” (the meaning
of this expression also needs to be studied). In Asia all rivers flowing
through towns are seriously polluted. However the Amazon and the Congo
which are two of the world’s largest hydrographical systems remain
relatively clean. They are not affected by industrial centres, agricultural
activities or high population density.
Nearly half the lakes in the world have deteriorated due to human activity.
The main threats include over-intensive exploitation, pollution, the spread
of development due to population increase, the expansion of towns and the
impact of industrial and agricultural activities, and the introduction of
invasive species.

The needs in water for human use are constantly increasing. Water returning
to lakes and rivers cause various degrees of pollution. The quantity of
water available to maintain the quality of the freshwater ecosystem is
diminishing considerably. In China, for example, approximately 100 lakes
have been affected to such an extent that 70% of the volume of the water in
some lakes is made up of polluted non-treated water from towns and
industry. There are many other examples : lake Managua (Nicaragua) is dead
due to the massive quantities of non-treated waste water and urban waste
which have been discharged into the lake since 1925. Lake Manzala in Egypt
is now empty of any fish owing to industrial toxins discharged in the 1970s
during the expansion of Port Said. The water in lake Victoria (Tanzania),
has no oxygen below a depth of 30 metres due to the fact that non-treated
waste water has been discharged into the lake every year. Introduced
species of fish such as Nile perch and tilapia have replaced most Cichlidae
species which were orginally specifically native to this lake. The biomass
of these delicate species has been reduced from 85% of the total to less
than 5% today. Lake Baikal (Siberia) is polluted by about 74 million cubic
metres of industrial waste. During the 1990s approximately 20 square
kilometres of the lake bed recorded very low dissolved oxygen levels due to
The state of the world’s freshwater lakes reflects the problems affecting
the catchment basins and rivers of the world. With no integrated plans for
the management of resources freshwater will continue to deteriorate.

source: Sea River Newsletter N° 106

06.06.03 : New worrying trend for bathing waters in Europe

A high percentage of bathing waters across the EU are achieving the
compulsory standards for water quality, but some member states are
de-classifying bathing sites with poor compliance rather than addressing
the causes of pollution.

High standards have been maintained despite the high rainfall across Europe
during the winter, with 96% of coastal beaches achieving the Bathing Waters
Directive mandatory standard in 2002, as were 91% of inland bathing areas.
However, there is concern that some states are banning bathing at sites
rather than cleaning up the pollution, and one of Environment Commissioner
Margot Wallström’s priorities is to prevent them from using this device to
get round the directive.
The impact of water quality on bathers demonstrates the effects poor
environmental quality on people, said Wallström. “The susceptibility of
children to gastric infections and respiratory illnesses associated with
swimming in polluted waters underlined why we need to maintain our
vigilance,” she said.
There is a slight variation in success of the individual states, for
example: 96% of Austria’s fresh waters comply with the directive; as do
94.3% of Belgium’s freshwater. However, Belgium’s coastal compliance
dropped from 100% to 94.9%. Denmark’s freshwater compliance rose to 97.3%,
but its coastal water quality is down to 93.3%. Both sea and freshwater
compliance in Germany is down slightly, but in Spain, coastal waters are
still high at over 98%, although its freshwater is low at 85%. The
Netherlands has 100% compliance.
Countries banning bathing at polluted sites include Italy, where 14.8% of
freshwater bathing areas were banned in 2002, and Luxembourg, where
swimming was banned at 15% of bathing sites.

more information :European Commission
edie newsroom


L'eau étant essentielle à la vie, le manque d'eau peut porter atteinte à
la sécurité de l'homme. La communauté internationale doit aujourd'hui
redoubler d'efforts dans ce domaine. Il faut promouvoir la bonne
gouvernance, renforcer la capacité des pays bénéficiaires d'une aide à
adopter des politiques de l'eau appropriées et orienter les ressources
financières vers le secteur de l'eau de manière plus efficace et plus
efficiente afin d'atteindre les objectifs de la Déclaration du Millénaire
et du Programme de mise en ¦uvre du Sommet mondial sur le développement
durable (SMDD) dans le domaine de l'eau et de l'assainissement, et
d'inverser la tendance actuelle à la dégradation de l'environnement grâce
à la protection et à la gestion équilibrée des ressources naturelles.
Nous avons pris l'engagement de jouer un rôle plus actif dans les efforts
déployés à l'échelle internationale pour atteindre ces objectifs, sur la
base du Consensus de Monterrey et des conclusions du troisième Forum
mondial sur l'eau et de la Conférence ministérielle qui se sont tenus au
Japon en mars 2003. En nous appuyant sur cet acquis solide et en répondant
aux besoins et priorités des pays partenaires, nous adopterons les mesures
suivantes, individuellement et/ou collectivement, en tenant compte plus
particulièrement de l'importance d'une bonne gestion de l'eau en Afrique,
en appui au Nouveau partenariat pour le développement de l'Afrique, comme
cela a été indiqué dans le plan d'action du G8 pour l'Afrique.

1. Encourager la bonne gouvernance

1.1 Nous sommes déterminés à aider en priorité les pays qui font la preuve
de leur engagement politique en faveur de l'eau potable et de
l'assainissement de base, dans le cadre de leur stratégie de promotion du
développement durable et d'éradication de la pauvreté, à :
- élaborer les plans les plus complets pour la gestion intégrée et
l'utilisation efficace des ressources en eau ;
- mettre en place un cadre institutionnel stable, transparent et reposant
sur l'Etat de droit, respectant les besoins fondamentaux de l'homme et la
préservation des écosystèmes, et favorisant la responsabilisation des
acteurs locaux et une approche appropriée du recouvrement des coûts ;
- définir des objectifs clairs et, s'il y a lieu, élaborer et évaluer des
indicateurs de performance.
1.2 Nous appuierons les efforts déployés par ces pays pour renforcer leurs
capacités à développer les compétences nécessaires pour offrir des
services publics efficients, en les aidant à :
- instaurer un cadre juridique, réglementaire, institutionnel et technique
approprié ;
- renforcer les établissements de formation professionnelle initiale ou
continue en gestion de l'eau ou à les créer le cas échéant.
1.3 Compte tenu de l'importance de la gestion des bassins fluviaux, nous
intensifierons nos efforts pour :
- aider au développement de plans de gestion intégrée et d'économie des
ressources en eau ;
- appuyer une meilleure gestion et la mise en valeur des bassins fluviaux
partagés ;
- promouvoir, au niveau mondial, la coopération à l'intérieur des bassins
fluviaux, avec une attention particulière pour les bassins fluviaux africains.
1.4 Nous proposons de diffuser les bonnes pratiques en matière de
fourniture de services de distribution d'eau et d'assainissement,
s'agissant notamment du rôle des différents acteurs, ou de la création et
du fonctionnement des partenariats public-public ou public-privé selon les cas.

2. Utiliser toutes les ressources financières

Dans le prolongement du Consensus de Monterrey et du Plan de mise en ¦uvre
du Sommet mondial sur le développement durable et ayant à l'esprit les
besoins différents des populations rurales et urbaines, nous avons pris
l'engagement :
2.1 D'accorder une importance prioritaire, dans l'affectation de l'aide
publique au développement, aux propositions de qualité des pays en
développement partenaires en matière d'eau et d'assainissement. Cela peut
jouer un rôle de catalyseur dans la mobilisation d'autres flux financiers ;

2.2 De contribuer à mobiliser l'épargne locale pour le financement
d'infrastructures pour l'eau en développant et renforçant les marchés de
capitaux et les institutions financières au plan local, notamment grâce à :
- la création en tant que de besoin, au niveau national et au niveau
local, de fonds renouvelables en monnaie locale ;
- des mécanismes appropriés d'atténuation des risques ;
- la fourniture d'une aide technique pour le développement de marchés
financiers locaux efficaces et la mise en place de capacités
d'administration municipale en matière de conception et de mise en ¦uvre
de projets financièrement viables ;
- la fourniture, en tant que de besoin, de subventions ciblées pour les
groupes sociaux les plus pauvres qui ne peuvent pas rembourser totalement
leur dette contractée au taux du marché ;
2.3 D'encourager les institutions financières internationales à accorder à
l'eau la priorité nécessaire ;
2.4 De promouvoir un recouvrement des coûts prenant en compte l'octroi
d'aides en fonction des résultats, afin de permettre aux personnes qui
n'en ont pas les moyens d'accéder aux services proposés ;
2.5 De promouvoir des partenariats entre secteur public et secteur privé,
en tant que de besoin et lorsque cela est approprié, notamment par :
- le soutien aux investissements du secteur privé et l'encouragement à
recourir à la monnaie locale ;
- la facilitation de l'investissement international en matière commerciale
et des prêts par la mise en ¦uvre de mécanismes de garantie des risques ;
- l'encouragement de l'harmonisation des procédures opérationnelles ;
- la facilitation des procédures d'appel d'offres nationales et
internationales ;
2.6 D'appliquer, sur une base volontaire, des outils d'aide au
développement pour des projets d'eau et d'assainissement pouvant comporter
des mécanismes de financement tels que : des financements concessionnels
compatibles avec les règles internationales en matière d'aide financière,
des techniques de financements de projets, le recours aux micro et
éso-crédits, ainsi que des opérations de conversion de dette en
investissement ;
2.7 D'encourager le financement de pratiques d'irrigation adaptées ;
2.8 D'améliorer la coopération et la concertation entre donateurs, en
recherchant une meilleure synergie entre nos diverses initiatives.

3. Créer des infrastructures en s'appuyant sur des autorités ou
communautés locales responsabilisées

Nous ferons tout notre possible pour aider les pays partenaires à élaborer
et à améliorer les infrastructures adaptées aux différents besoins dans le
domaine de l'eau et de l'assainissement, de la manière suivante :
3.1 En aidant à mettre en place, entre autres, des systèmes de gestion
locale de l'eau dans les zones rurales et des dispositifs d'adduction
d'eau potable et d'assainissement dans les zones urbaines, grâce à une
utilisation efficace des ressources publiques et à l'encouragement des
partenariats public-privé en tant que de besoin ;
3.2 En favorisant les approches fondées sur les communautés locales, et en
particulier la participation de la société civile à la fourniture d'eau et
de services d'assainissement et d'hygiène ;
3.3 En encourageant l'utilisation par les ménages de technologies adaptées
sur une base durable pour la fourniture de services d'assainissement de
base et l'alimentation en eau potable saine, y compris le traitement de
l'eau sur le lieu de consommation qui s'est révélé efficace en termes de
coût pour répondre aux besoins des pauvres ;
3.4 En renforçant les compétences et les connaissances des différents
acteurs dans le secteur de l'eau, en particulier les autorités locales et
les acteurs concernés de la société civile, en reconnaissant le rôle
déterminant que jouent les femmes dans les communautés locales ;
3.5 En favorisant la prise en compte du renforcement des capacités dans
chaque projet de coopération, plus précisément sous la forme d'actions
permettant "d'apprendre en faisant" ;
3.6 En renforçant la coopération Sud-Sud.

4. Renforcer le suivi, l'évaluation et la recherche

4.1 En collaboration avec tous les partenaires, nous favoriserons la
coordination des mécanismes d'échange d'informations et de suivi en
utilisant le système des Nations unies et d'autres systèmes existants,
ainsi que le réseau des sites Internet créés lors de la Conférence
ministérielle du troisième Forum mondial sur l'eau, et nous encouragerons
les organisations internationales compétentes à les faire fonctionner.

4.2 Nous appuierons le renforcement des capacités de suivi du secteur de
l'eau dans les pays partenaires en complément des efforts de suivi existants.
4.3 Nous soutiendrons le développement de mécanismes de coopération sur la
recherche liée au cycle de l'eau et nous intensifierons les efforts de
echerche dans ce domaine.

5. Renforcer l'engagement des organisations internationales

5.1 Nous soulignons combien il est important que les Nations unies jouent
un rôle clé dans le domaine de l'eau. Nous soulignons la nécessité de
renforcer la coordination au sein du système des Nations unies, et entre
le système des Nations unies et les institutions de Bretton Woods, les
banques régionales de développement et les différentes parties prenantes.
5.2 Nous demandons à la Banque mondiale, en consultation avec les autres
institutions financières internationales, d'étudier et de recommander les
mesures nécessaires pour mettre en ¦uvre les propositions suivantes émises
par le panel mondial sur le financement des infrastructures dans le
domaine de l'eau :
- utilisation des instruments de financement de manière plus souple pour
autoriser, en tant que de besoin, les prêts directs à des entités
publiques non souveraines ;
- développement de mécanismes de garantie et d'assurance afin d'atténuer
les risques ;
traitement de la question de la couverture du risque de change et du
risque souverain ou politique.


30.05.03 : Iraq's dried-out marshlands reviving, UN says

GENEVA - Water is returning to Iraq's southern dried-out marshlands, the
U.N. said in a report on the home of a unique Arab culture almost destroyed
by Saddam Hussein in apparent retaliation for an uprising.

The United Nations' environmental agency UNEP said mechanical diggers had
broken down barriers and levees built under Saddam, allowing water to flow
into the area - believed by some archaeologists to be the Garden of Eden in
Satellite images of the area, once home to some 450,000 largely Muslim
Shi'ite Marsh Arabs made famous by British traveller and explorer Wilfred
Thesiger, "dramatically reveal streams and waterways...surging back to
life", UNEP said in its website report.
Saddam is believed to have diverted rivers in retaliation for what he saw
as support by the Marsh Arabs for an uprising against his rule after the
1991 Gulf War.
Tens of thousands of people were forced to leave as the marshes dried up,
leaving an estimated population of only some 40,000 on the eve of the
U.S.-led war in March to oust Saddam.
The UNEP site ( carried the images showing the return of
water to some of the most desiccated areas of the region, where people have
lived on small islands and moved around on thin wooden boats for over 2,000
Parts of the marshes, UNEP said, had been inundated as floodgates had been
opened upstream on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that flowed into the
area before their waters were diverted by Saddam.
Officials of Saddam's government said at the time the projects that led to
the drying of the marshes were aimed at feeding water into other
development areas.
UNEP said some dams had now been opened upstream from the marshes and heavy
rains had also helped lift water levels in the swamplands.
Local people had been involved in piecemeal efforts to revive the
marshlands, but a more orderly and coordinated programme was urgently
needed to ensure the recovery could be extended to the entire region and
sustained, it said.

Story by Robert Evans


26.05.03 : Austria to build 350 million euro hydro plants in Bosnia

SARAJEVO - Austria plans to provide 350 million euro ($408.6 million) in
funding for new hydro-electric plants in Bosnia in the next few years, an
Austrian diplomat said.

The projects would go ahead once Bosnia signs a memorandum proposed by
Austria and based on the Kyoto protocol on cutting polluting greenhouse
gases, said Michael Scherz, the commercial counsellor at the Austrian
embassy in Sarajevo.
"If we have this in place, Austria would finance in a soft loan mostly
environmental projects in Bosnia...which will be hydro power projects,"
Scherz told Reuters in an interview.
The 1997 Kyoto protocol aims to stop global warming through cutbacks in
emissions of gases widely believed to cause it.
Scherz said the protocol allowed wealthy countries such as Austria to meet
part of their targets by carrying out projects in less developed countries
such as Bosnia.
He said Austrian companies had already identified eight possible locations
for hydro power plants in Bosnia's two regions, the Muslim-Croat federation
and the Serb Republic, and it was realistic to expect up to five stations
to be built.
The value of the projects, planned to be implemented over the next four to
five years, would be 350 million euro, he said.
Scherz said Bosnian authorities had begun preparations for the agreement,
which is expected to be signed by summer.
He said 60-70 percent of the work would be done by local companies in
projects that would create a few thousand jobs, stimulating a local
economy, poor by Western standards.
"We would like to widen it with other infrastructure projects," Scherz said
of Austria's involvement. "This is just the first step."
But he cautioned that Bosnia had to ratify the Kyoto protocol for the plan
to go ahead.
Due in part to historical ties and geographical proximity, Austrian firms
have been prominent investors in postwar Bosnia. Scherz said businesses had
expressed fresh interest in the Balkan state since economic reforms
quickened in recent months.
"Everybody is suddenly so interested in Bosnia. The companies that we could
not motivate at least to come here to see what is possible suddenly are
very interested," Scherz said.
"I think the real big influx (of investors) will start next year," he added.

Story by Daria Sito-Sucic



From Agricultural Subsidies to Virtual Water, Stockholm Water Week Agenda
in August to Offer Future Perspectives.
The world’s water experts and stakeholders will assemble this August in
Stockholm for sharp discussions about the planet's most pressing
water-related issues. The program for the 2003 World Water Week in
Stockholm, August 10-16, and the 13th Stockholm Water Symposium, August
11-14, is now available.
Experts in Stockholm will examine causes, effects and strategies for key
global water-related issues. These include water and agricultural
subsidies/trade barriers, climate variability, ecosystem protection,
financing, integrated water resources management, pollution elimination,
governance, poverty reduction, river basin management, transboundary
issues, and "virtual" water.

07.05.03 : Greens may delay Brazil Amazon hydro scheme

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuter) The 1,087-megawatt Estreito dam in the
Amazon basin is one of several hydroelectric schemes facing delay due to
environmental lobbying, lack of government rules and financing problems,
engineering and metals industry executives said.

Construction at Estreito, on the Tocantins river in Para state, had been
due to start in April 2004 and take 3-1/2 years.
"Delays are now foreseen in all projects," said a Brazilian office of
Belgian-based engineering services company Tractebel , a partner in Estreito.
Estreito's other partners are Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) (VALE5.SA)
(RIO.N), Alcoa Aluminio, a unit of U.S.-based Alcoa Inc. (AA.N) BHP Billion
Metais, a unit of BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP.AX) and Camargo Correa.
"This year, everything is at a standstill while we wait for the new
government to regulate the energy sector," Tractebel said, adding: "High
local interest rates and the high cost of the dollar also make it difficult
for companies to obtain ... financing."
BHP Billiton Metais described Estreito and Santa Isabel, another massive
Azazon basin power project, as "several years off" because they are still
at the environmental study stage.
The government's environmental protection agency, Ibama, has said it
opposes Santa Isabel. But Ibama's offices in Brasilia and in the Amazon
basin declined comment on the two projects.
Power supply doubts are curbing aluminum expansion plans.
"We are not currently considering any expansion of our aluminum smelting
facilities," a BHP Billiton Metais executive said, indicating that any
decision would be linked to the company's main focus of resolving energy
supplies for Alumar.
The 370,000 tonnes/year smelter, a joint venture with Alcoa Aluminio, also
a partner in Santa Isabel and Estreito, continues in talks with state
utility Eletronorte on an extension or renegotiation of long-term energy
CVRD, with a 43.85 percent stake in Santa Isabel and 30 percent in
Estreito, could not say when the two schemes may start.
But they are included in the mining and metal giant's strategic energy
generation program, which foresees investments of $979 million over the
next seven years in seven new hydroelectric projects in north, south and
southeast Brazil, out of a total of 10 projects which should generate 4,451
MW by 2009.
CVRD recently estimated it consumes nearly 5 percent of Brazil's total
electrical energy generation.
According to aluminum association Abal, the aluminum sector's proposed
energy investments - totaling an estimated $5 billion - aim to boost
smelters' self-sufficiency in electrical energy generation from the current
13 percent to more than 50 percent by 2010.


08.05.03 : Kiev / Ukraine: a last chance to save despoilation of the danube delta?

The Ukrainian Parliament's National Safety Committee meeting which is to
decide whether or not to route a deep water canal through the Danube Delta
biosphere reserve has been postponed to the end of May. This may be because
the 5th Pan-European Environment Ministers Meeting of the "Environment for
Europe" process is to be held in the capital of the Ukraine, Kiev, from
21. - 23. May 2003.
This gives us all an opportunity to lobby European Union Environment
Ministers, the responsible Commissioner and national MEPs.

You can add your support by sending the draft
a draft text below, to the addresses of ministers which you will
find at the end of message. MEPs addresses are on site

More publicity for the campaign with the background arguments will be
published shortly at <
Thank you,
Russian and Ukrainian campaigners and
David Conlin, Proact International
ALso more info is at

Published by Socio-Ecological Union International, Center for Coordination
and Information
SEU Times is a newsletter devoted to environmental news, events, NGO work
within former Soviet Union territory.


06.05.03 : May 2003:Water transfers are increasing the water crisis (WWF,EEB)

Brussels, Belgium - Big volume water transfers worsen social, economic, and environmental problems instead of solving them. This is the result of a new WWF study, presented by WWF and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) with its Spanish Member organization, Ecologistas in Accion, today.

The study, Tagus Segura — Lessons from the Past, examines the disastrous ecological, social, and economic consequences of the Tagus-Segura Transfer (TST) in Spain. The results come at a crucial time, when the European Commission is deciding on 7.5 billion Euro funding for the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP), which is based on the same water transfer model.

"The Tagus-Segura water transfer has created a huge burden for this and coming generations. It has increased the thirst for more and more water, while water resources are limited and continue to decrease," says Stefan Scheuer from EEB. "Instead, the EU water policy requires that water demands be managed and water transfers like the Tagus-Segura not be repeated."

All these problems result in a spiral of unsustainability, and the new Ebro transfer is planned to hide the problems. "The fiasco of the former Tagus-Segura water transfer will be repeated on an ever-increasing scale if the Spanish Ebro water transfer is pushed forward by the Spanish government," says Guido Schmidt, Freshwater Officer from WWF-Spain. "The Ebro water transfer goes against sustainable development, modern water and river basin management, and environmental protection, all concepts dear to the European Union."

The Tagus-Segura Transfer from the Iberian System in Central Spain to the Mediterranean Levante Zone is a well-studied water transfer. It has been operating since 1979, and has caused severe impacts in both river basins, including:

• Increasing water deficit: The water demand in the receiving basin has been doubled in 24 years by 500 million m³ due to the increase of irrigation and tourism demands.

• Habitat destruction and promotion of unsustainable agriculture: The increase of irrigated land and tourist activities has led to the destruction of thousands of hectares of protected natural areas.

• Black water market and illegal water uses: Water uses are partially uncontrolled. More than 100 million m³ of transferred water simply 'disappears' to supply illegal tourist resorts and golf courses.

• Water overexploitation in the Tagus donor basin and, as a consequence, chemical contamination and the deterioration of the river ecosystem. Even in normal summers, the river has stopped any water flow in some sections, let alone critical periods of drought. The legal minimum flow of 6m3/s is not respected.

•Increased social imbalance as the benefits of the transfer are mainly directed towards big agro-business and construction companies, marginalizing traditional farmers. Additionally, illegal immigration and exploitation of immigrants are increasing with about 30 per cent black labour — the highest levels in Spain.

WWF and EEB urge the Spanish government to apply a different, modern, and world-wide successfully applied alternative to large scale water transfers: demand management, which is based on resource conservation by lowering demands, increasing efficiency of distribution and use, and reuse of waste water. The EU must stop funding water transfers where alternatives exist or have not been evaluated properly. European taxpayers’ money must not be wasted for a repetition of the mistakes of the past.

For further information:
Stefan Scheuer
Policy Officer, EEB
Tel: +32 2 2891304

Miguel Ángel Hernández Soria
Ecologistas en Acción, Spain

Paloma Agrasot
WWF European Policy Office
Mobile: +32 476 957 388


09.04.03 : EU : WATERTIME, a new Waterprogram

Watertime is the name of a three-year, EU-funded research project aiming at producing a set of recommendations and a decision-making model for stakeholders in water supply and sanitation. Under the coordination of the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), six research institutes from different European countries will look at decisions made in 29 cities across 13 European countries, including EU and Central and Eastern European countries. The project, which was initiated in December 2002, just had its first steering committee meeting at Greenwich University in the UK.
for more information see the Watertime Website
source: via European Water Management News

24.04.03 : China's dam-safety monitoring system 'in chaos'
by Kelly Haggart

The monitoring of dam safety in China is hampered by a severe shortage of
funds and personnel, the China Economic Times (Zhongguo jingji shibao)
reports, warning that the system is "in chaos."
With an annual budget of 800,000 yuan RMB (less than US$100,000), the Dam
Safety Monitoring Centre in Beijing can barely run its day-to-day
operations and pay its 37 staff members, let alone function as an effective
inspector of China's dams, the newspaper said.
"The financial situation has deteriorated with the dismantling of the State
Power Corp.," Wang Dianxue writes in the April 17 issue of the financial
newspaper. "To pay staff salaries, the centre has had to draw on
contingency funds. At this turning point in China's power-sector reform
process, and before new institutions are in place, the monitoring of dams
and hydropower stations is in chaos."
Most of China's 84,000 dams were built hastily in the 1950s and 1960s, and
many are considered at risk of collapse. Dam failures have brought about
"unforgettable nightmares," China Economic Times said, involving "huge loss
of life and tremendous devastation to areas below the dams, where topsoil
has been washed away and nothing can be grown for many years afterward."
"It has been said that of all manmade disasters, the degree of destruction
associated with dam collapses is second only to that of nuclear bombs," the
newspaper said. It cited the 1975 disaster, when 230,000 people are thought
to have died after the Banqiao and Shimantan dams in Henan province broke
during a typhoon; and the 1993 Gouhou dam failure in Qinghai province,
which claimed about 300 lives and caused economic losses of 153 million
yuan RMB (US$18.5 million), a huge sum in a poor area. Even dam collapses
in remote regions can cause heavy loss of life and enormous property
damage, the newspaper said. And dams located in populous areas or upstream
of large cities are particularly troubling: "Xinanjiang dam in Zhejiang
province, Fengman power station in northeast China, and Liujiaxia reservoir
on the Yellow River are cases in point," the newspaper said.
The Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River is located 200 kilometres
upstream of Jinsha (population two million) and 700 km upstream of Wuhan
(pop. seven million). An efficient monitoring system is particularly urgent
now given the serious safety concerns that experts in China have raised
about the world’s biggest dam, which is due to start coming onstream this
summer. For instance, leading scientists have warned that filling the huge
reservoir behind the dam (scheduled for June 1-15) could cause increased
seismic activity and geological instability in a region already prone to
earthquakes and landslides.
Zhang Jiyao, China's vice-minister of water resources, told a national
conference last year that 3,459 dams, most of them considered small-scale,
had collapsed between 1954 and 2001. He attributed the high failure rate to
faulty construction, lack of safety awareness, negligence and
mismanagement, and called for improved dam-safety institutions and
But dam safety inspections, which are supposed to take place every five
years, "are not going very well," China Economic Times reports. "The
inspection is usually organized by the operator of the dam or hydropower
station rather than by a more independent organization such as the Dam
Safety Monitoring Centre." And to save time and money, the operators invite
as few experts as possible to take part in the inspection, and ignore or
curtail important parts of the process, the newspaper said.
The Beijing monitoring centre is drafting a series of laws aimed at
bolstering dam safety, but it can't do a good job without strong government
support, the newspaper said.
China needs new institutions to ensure the safety of its dams, the
newspaper argued. It called for more funding and more legislation to back
up the inspection process, as well as early warning systems, emergency
rescue plans and "disaster-resistance" measures to reduce the consequences
when dams do fail.

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17.04.03 : EU Commission sends warnings to Ireland, France, Spain and
Greece (Edie News)

The European Commission is starting infringement proceedings against >Ireland, France, Spain and Greece for their failure to respond tocomplaints about potential breaches of EU environmental law. All four countries have received their first warning, sent as Formal Notices, and have two months to respond. France has been questioned about its compliance to EU nature conservation obligations over the development of a port in the Loire Estuary, which is a special protection area under the Birds Directive.Spain has been asked to provide information about how a proposed hydro-electric project in the river Ulla in Galicia had been assessed under the Habitats Directive, and how impact assessments have applied to a wastewater treatment plant for tanneries at Lorca and apartment blocks in Toledo.The country has also been asked to clarify hunting regulations in the province of Orense, following a complaint that the hunting season did not comply with the requirements of the Birds Directive.
Greece has yet to respond to a complaint that the mortality rate of a rare falcon in Crete is disturbingly high because of the over-use of pesticides.Ireland has been asked to demonstrate compliance with EU law over waste
exports, waste facilities at Fermoy and Ballysimon, and oil discharges in water next to a special protection area in Dublin.

(Source edie news)

12.04.03: China / 3gorges : Dam begins to store water
The Three Gorges dam has begun to store water since the temporary ship lock was closed Wednesday night, with the reservoir water level expected to reach 80 metres in 20 days time.

10.04.03 : The "Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Water
" :
Background information (externe, SEE Server)

Sunday 20
Arrival of the delegations

Monday 21
Arrival of the delegations
14.00 –15.30
Opening ceremony
- Official opening
- Presentation of the delegation
- Presentation of the organisation staff
Presentation of the program
Registration in the 3 workshops
Intercultural Evening
Each delegation presents its culture (food, music, theatre, dance…)

Tuesday 22
9.00 – 12.00
Workshops 1,2,3
Visit of a Reverse Osmose Plant in Pembroke by the Water Service Corporation
Conference and debate with professionals of the Mediterranean Basin
Theme : culture, history, water management
Possible speakers :
Roberto Epple : President of European Rivers Network
Water Service Corporation
Iro Alempei Environmental Education Program officer at the Mio –Ecsde
Prof. P.J. Schembri – University of Malta

Wednesday 23
9.00 – 12.00
Workshops 1,2,3
14.00 – 16.00
Group 1 Visit of the Water Gallery of Ta Kandja by the Water Service Corporation
Group 2 Visit of Valetta
Conference on climate change
By Vania Walker Leigh on Climate Change
DR Jason Bonnici (Medical doctor) from Nature Trust – Air Quality
Outside Games organised by the Youth

Thursday 24
9.00 – 12.00
Workshops 1,2,3
14.00 – 16.00
Group 2 Visit of the Water Gallery of Ta Kandja by the Water Service Authority
Group 1 Visit of Valetta
Boat trip in the harbour
Open debate : how to build up a project of exchange with several countries.
Possible Speakers :
Giovanni Buttigieg – European Union / Malta
Solidarity Water Europe
Exhibition forum with all the youth projects

Friday 25
Preparation of the parliament
Preparation of the parliament
Free evening

Saturday 26

Rehearsal for the Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Water
Setting up of the artistic exhibition at the Home, Environmental and Garden fair week in Ta Qali National Park
Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Water
Inauguration of the artistic exhibition at the Home, Environmental and Garden Fair Week in Ta Qali National Park
20. 00 Maltese evening

Sunday 27
Departure of the delegation


06.04.03 : Human Rights Crisis at Three Gorges as Officials Plan to Fill

The reservoir of the controversial Three Gorges Dam in China's Yangtze Valley is officially scheduled to start filling on April 10, aggravating already serious human rights problems in the resettlement areas. A recent report shows that resettlement problems of this internationally publicly funded project have not been resolved, and that project construction is linked to systematic human rights violations. One official in Chongqing who is in charge of the resettlement did not deny totally that there are serious problems but said it is natural that there should be some problems. He also noted that submergence of the reservoir
zone is certain to be delayed. Many experts are still examining the engineering work and to a lesser extent the progress and quality in resettlement. The official said this work will not be finished before April 10th. He said he was certain it would be postponed but could not predict when it will actually take place. At the annual session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva this week, International Rivers Network and Friends of the Earth International have called on China to suspend submergence until the project's human rights problems have been resolved. They have also called on Western governments that fund the dam to ensure that the project comply with international norms. So far, 640,000 people have been resettled for the Three Gorges Project. An investigative report published by International Rivers Network (IRN) reveals that the record of compensating and rehabilitating the affected people has been abysmal in many areas, and does not meet international standards. "Land and jobs to rehabilitate affected people are no longer available", says Doris Shen, coordinator of IRN's East Asia program.
"According to recent interviews, resettlement funds continue to be corrupted and diverted into the pockets of local officials." (see interviews below) A submission that IRN and FoE International presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on March 31 documents that the construction of the Three Gorges Project is linked to the systematic violation of human
rights. "No independent grievance mechanism exists in which people can claim their right to fair compensation, and the police have used excessive force to quell many protests against the project", IRN's policy director Peter Bosshard reported in Geneva. "Many people have been detained, and in some cases sentenced to long prison terms, for engaging in peaceful protests."
IRN and FoE International presented their demands to the Chinese and Western governments at an NGO briefing at the UNCHR. The groups call for the submergence of the Three Gorges reservoir to be suspended as long as the resettlement and human rights problems remain unresolved. Affected people should not suffer repression for seeking redress for the damage they
have suffered, and the people who have been imprisoned for organizing and protesting peacefully should be immediately released. FoE International and IRN are also holding the governments that have provided funding for the Three Gorges Dam accountable for the human rights impacts of the project. Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland have extended export credits and guarantees to the tune of more than $1.4 billion for the project. In many cases the governments claimed that their involvement would reduce the risk of human rights abuses. On March 31, the environmental groups called on the involved governments to closely monitor the human rights situation in the project area, and to extend no further export credits as long as the problems have not been resolved.
In response to the IRN report, the Swiss foreign minister committed to
"gathering additional information from a variety of sources" on the problems of the Three Gorges Project. Canada's foreign minister in turn claimed that Canada's involvement in the project was "minor" and "as a result, our ability to influence project implementation and impacts is very limited". The other involved governments have so far not responded to the
IRN report. "The failure by most Western governments to take any action in the face of serious human rights violations defeats the justification of why these governments got involved in the Three Gorges Project in the first place", comments Janneke Bruil of Friends of the Earth International. ### Background: With a planned capacity of 18,200 megawatts, the Three Gorges
Dam is the world's largest power project. More than 1.2 million people - and according to some estimates, up to 1.9 million people - will have to be resettled for the project. Reservoir filling will start on April 10, and will continue to 2008. Project officials have announced that additional contracts for turbines and generators for the Three Gorges power plant will be tendered before the end of 2003. The investigative report on the Three Gorges Project is available at
The IRN March 31, 2003 presentation to United Nations Commission on Human Rights is at
Further background information on the Three Gorges Project, video footage
of the resettlement process, and photos of the Three Gorges area are at


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Further background information on the Three Gorges Project, video footage
of the resettlement process, and photos of the Three Gorges area are at


older News


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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 !.