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08.08.03 : Germany: Trittin presents draft Flood Control Act -Give our rivers more room - before they take it themselves

Pressrelease by The Federal Environment Ministry :
Almost one year to the day after the devastating flood disaster along the river Elbe, Federal Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin has presented a draft for an Act to improve preventive flood control. "We will give our rivers more room again; otherwise they will take it themselves", the Federal Environment Minister said, adding that it was essential to put an end to the practice of building residential areas and industrial facilities and estates in floodplains, as this would be asking for the next flood disaster with billions of Euros of damage. The draft Act was sent for comments to the Länder as well as to industrial associations and environmental groups yesterday.
The draft Act is based on the Five-Point Programme to improve preventive flood protection, adopted by the Federal Government on 15 September 2002, in the wake of the flood disaster. "Our aim was to design more effective strategies to combat the risk of flooding. The Flood Protection Act now being presented as a draft is the most important element in this strategy", said Trittin. The concept is to adapt by means of an Article Law the various legal provisions relevant to flood protection at federal level in such a way as to take into account aspects of flood prevention. Amendments will be made to the Federal Water Act (WHG), the Federal Building Code (BauGB), the Federal Regional Planning Act (ROG), the Federal Waterway Act (WaStrG) and the Act on the German Meteorological Service (DWDG).
In future, there will be a nationwide requirement for the designation of flood zones on the basis of so-called "100-year flood levels". The Länder will be given a period of five years to designate these zones. A second category of "flood-prone zones" will be introduced and placed under protection. Such zones include areas flooded after dam failures. "The large number of dam failures along the rivers Elbe and Mulde have shown that dams and walls do not provide absolute protection", said Trittin. The Act will require the Länder to mark the flood zones and flood-prone zones in regional plans and urban development plans.
The Act will generally prohibit designation of housing developments and industrial estates in flood zones. "There will be quite a few complaints about that. But it is now time to finally draw the lessons from the flood disasters of the last few years, rather than merely paying lip service", the Federal Environment Minister emphasised, pointing out that less than a year after the great flood, a number of municipalities were already planning new housing developments in river plains again.
Agricultural land use, too, will be governed by the needs of flood prevention. The Act requires all agricultural activity to be stopped in flood zones by the end of 2012. "Agriculture in flood zones increases especially the risk of erosion and thus of pollutant inputs during flood events", Trittin pointed out, adding that nobody wanted to harm farmers' interests, but that grassland farming was the first priority in flood zones.
The Federal Water Act will be amended to include a requirement for individuals to keep potential damage as low as possible. "In flood zones, computing centres, for example, should not be located in the basement", said the Federal Environment Minister. Likewise oil-fired heating systems will in future be banned in flood zones while existing ones will have to be upgraded. The Länder will be required to establish river-based flood control plans and coordinate them at international level. They will also be obliged to create retention zones for the floodwater, build dams, retain stormwater and preserve or restore floodplains.
Operations for the maintenance and the development of rivers and canals will in future have to be carried out without affecting the risk of flooding. And the German Meteorological Service is to play a more important role in preventive flood protection, in order to give relief services and the citizens concerned more time to seal house entrances and clear cellars and houses.
This is an ambitious concept for improving preventive flood protection; it imposes tangible restrictions on those affected", Trittin said, adding that anything else would amount to misinformation and to giving people a false sense of security where nobody can guarantee it any longer. "Whoever still wants to build in a flood zone has not understood a thing and cannot expect our society to help him out when the damage is done", the Federal Environment Minister emphasised.

Note: The draft Flood Protection Act can be obtained by contacting 01888/305-2010.

12.09.03 : Restoring the Rio Grande (el Rio Bravo)
The fabled Rio Grande is in trouble. Reeling from almost a decade of severe drought and over-use, this river straddling the border between the U.S. and Mexico has been reduced to a trickle in many places, and failed to reach the Gulf of Mexico in 2001 and 2002. While Rio Grande water is overused by communities along the river, scarce water is also being soaked up by nonnative saltcedar trees, devastating local ranching and agriculture. Now, Environmental Defense is working with partners in Texas and Mexico to restore this beautiful and historic river by improving river management, promoting water conservation, and securing government funding for replacing saltcedar with native plants.
For more information on efforts to protect the Rio Grande, and for maps and a colorful picture slideshow, visit Environmental Defense online.

05.09.03 : Protected forests best method for clean city water supplies

A new study has shown that protecting forest areas provides a cost-effective means of supplying many of the world’s biggest cities with high quality drinking water.
The report, Running Pure, by the World Bank /WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation, shows that more than a third of the world’s 105 biggest cities, including New York, Barcelona, Nairobi, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro and Jakarta, rely on forests in catchment areas for much of their drinking water.
It claims that it is cheaper to protect forests than to build water treatment plants, as forests can filter pollutants such as pesticides, and in some cases capture and store water. It estimates that adopting this strategy in New York would be seven times cheaper than building and operating a treatment plant.
Forests can also minimise the risk of landslides, erosion and sedimentation, the report states.
Dr Chris Elliott, Director of WWF’s Forests for Life programme, said: “Some cities that are currently struggling with unsafe water supplies should protect, manage, and where necessary, restore forests in strategic places. This would both help them secure their supply of clean water and save billions of dollars.”

source: Edie News
complet texte :


14.08.03 : Dutch flood waterways with seawater to beat drought

The Dutch authorities on Thursday took the unusual decision to allow seawater to flow into the country's waterways in a bid to compensate for the low waters caused by the ongoing drought. The plan so far is confined to the Western waterways between the North Sea shoreline and the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the junior minister for water management, Melanie Schultz van Hagen, said on Dutch public radio. <>Read more... Terra Daily

11.08.03 : Heatwave Kills 30,000 Eels in Europe's River Rhine

Soaring temperatures have claimed the lives of 30,000 eels in Europe's busiest waterway, the river Rhine, authorities said.
A spokesman for the Environment Ministry in North Rhine-Westphalia said 15,000 of the eels had died in the state, with another 15,000 deaths recorded in the Dutch section of the 820 mile river.
The ministry said the deaths of the normally robust animals were largely caused by an increased incidence of a bacterial plague caused by high water temperatures, which have been more than five degrees Celsius above average.
Temperatures around the Rhine have been nearing 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), with water temperatures measured at 26.6 degrees.
"However, we assume that the eel deaths have passed their peak, because hardly any new dead animals were found in the last two days," the spokesman said.



08.08.03 : HudsonRiver: Study shows that highly polluted riverbeds can recover environmental health

Highly polluted rivers can regain full environmental health once they are dredged of pollutants, a new study has shown.
The study, by scientists at Stony Brook University, USA, and funded by The Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Health, used worms as an indicator to prove that clean up projects really can work.

Source: Edie News
full texte :


04.08.03 : Environmentalists Warn of Roads, Dams in Amazon

A group of environmental experts urged last week that Brazil rethink four infrastructure projects in the Amazon that have caused a rush of deforestation even before building has begun.

The report on the world's largest tropical forest, by international environmental experts charged with advising Brazil and rich countries donating to a program which has channeled $350 million to conserving the Amazon, came after data in June showed the Amazon deforestation rate jumped 40 percent last year.
"The situation really is critical but the ministry is aware of this," said Mary Allegretti, the Environment Ministry's secretary of the Amazon. "This report underlines our worries about infrastructure projects."
The group visited the locations of four proposed projects, including paving 485 miles of dirt road running through the heart of the Amazon, building a gas pipeline through forests touching on Indian lands and developing two hydro-electric dams.

Source: Reuters
complet texte:

02.08.03 : Four contaminated urban rivers to be restored

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers have announced four pilot projects to clean-up and restore four urban rivers in the US.
The rivers are: the Passaic River in New Jersey, the Gowanus Canal in New York, Fourche Creek in Arkansas, and City Creek in Utah.
The pilot projects were announced at the Brownfields Showcase Community Research Summit in Washington, DC. They were selected after submitting plans which had to emphasise partnerships among many organisations; promote collaboration among businesses and the non-profit community; and advance pollution prevention, water quality improvements, and restoration of wildlife habitat.

source: Edie news
complet texte :


01.08.03 : Hidden problems with China's dams

21st Century Business Herald
This is a summary of "an in-depth investigation" published by 21st Century Business Herald (Ershiyi shiji jingji baodao) on June 12,2003.

According to Ministry of Water Resources statistics, 30,413 of China's reservoirs, or 36 per cent of the total, are considered badly functioning and dangerous; 145 of these are classified as large, 1,118 as medium-sized, and 29,150 as small.
Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces have the highest number of badly functioning and dangerous reservoirs. Hunan leads the list with 6,092 such reservoirs (45 per cent of the province's total), followed by Hubei (1,791 bad reservoirs, 31 percent of its total), Jiangxi (1,627 bad reservoirs, 18 per cent of its total) and Anhui (1,416 bad reservoirs, 30 per cent of its total).
Poorly functioning and dangerous reservoirs have resulted in numerous dam collapses, caused by overtopping (when too much flood water has been stored), structural weaknesses and bad management. In addition, as many as 10,000 reservoirs were damaged by floods last year alone and are in urgent need of repair, according to an official in the Reservoir Management Department of the Ministry of Water Resources.

In an interview, Li Lei, chief engineer at the Ministry's Large Dam Security Management Centre, cited several problems with China's dangerous reservoirs.
First, overtopping linked to inadequate flood-control capacity is the main reason dams have collapsed. More than 70 per cent of small, badly functioning reservoirs in Ningxia, Shandong and Xinjiang have insufficient flood-control capacity, and this is also the case for as many as 13,600 small reservoirs nationwide.
Second, water leakage and seepage are also major problems, especially with small reservoirs. Since most of China's dams were built in the 1950s and 1960s, the surveys, design and construction were all inadequate, and undertaken without a clear understanding of key technical parameters such as valley area, storage capacity, dam-foundation and upstream-runoff issues. So leakage and seepage, observed in 16,000 small reservoirs in China, has become another major cause of dam collapses.
Third, collapses have been caused by structural weaknesses, such as when dams walls are too thin or slopes are too steep. Cracks and landslides plague many dams and reservoirs as a result, especially in Shandong, Hebei and Hunan provinces. About half the dams in Sichuan are afflicted with such problems.
Finally, other threats to dam safety in China include inadequate safeguards related to seismic activity; communication failures linked to floods; termites; and hidden problems with diversion channels and outlets.
Why are there so many problems?
Jia Jinsheng, deputy director of the China Academy of Hydropower and Water Conservancy, said in an interview that the government and water-resources authorities have attached more importance to dam building than to dam research, management and maintenance, and more importance to big dams than to small ones.
"There is something wrong with the whole management system," Mr. Jia said.
Funding for preliminary studies has been in short supply. And the state has failed to channel special financial resources toward studying how to deal with badly functioning and dangerous dams and reservoirs.
"'Management by different levels' is partly responsible for these problems," said engineer Li Lei.
The Ministry of Water Resources is in charge of dozens of big dams, such as Xiaolangdi in Henan and Panjiakou in Hebei. Medium-sized dams are managed by water-resources bureaus at the city or county levels, while small reservoirs are the responsibility of townships or villages, which do not manage or maintain them well for lack of funds.
At a national conference on strengthening dangerous dams held in 2001, Zhang Jiyao, China's vice-minister of water resources, disclosed that 68 per cent of water-conservancy departments receive no funding from the central government. The remaining 32 per cent have difficulty raising enough money to be able to maintain dams and reservoirs adequately.
After the 1998 floods, both the central and local governments paid more heed to basic construction activities in the water-conservancy sector, such as bolstering and building flood embankments, with budget allocations reaching record levels. More than US$22 billion was poured into the work between 1998 and 2003.
"With the current system of 'management by different levels,' the problem is that small dams and reservoirs, which account for most of the national total, get the least money for repair and maintenance," said Fu Qunhua, deputy director of the Jiangxi Big Dam Security Inspection Centre.
Li Lei suggested drawing on the experience of the United States, where dams and reservoirs, regardless of size, are run by a special corporation that oversees their operation, management and maintenance, using revenue from power generation, water supply, fishery and tourism. Only one task is left to governments: inspection.
Wu Zhongru, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a professor at Hehai University in Nanjing, underscored the importance of dam and reservoir maintenance. "Lacking basic knowledge, officials have treated dams as being just as simple as concrete. They are good at coming up with funds and impromptu inspections before floods, but then do nothing after the floods. Meisha reservoir in Anhui, Gutian in Fujian, Longyangyuan in Qinghai, and Qingtongxia in Ningxia all still have hidden problems even after repair, and we have to be very careful about them."
Jia Jinsheng of the China Academy of Hydropower and Water Conservancy, who is also deputy chief secretary of the China Large Dams Association, said: "If only 1 per cent of the money allocated [by the central government to water-conservancy projects] was put into maintenance, we wouldn't have to worry about badly functioning and dangerous dams and reservoirs."

Translated by Mu Lan, editor of the Chinese edition of Three Gorges Probe.

Spanish Water Plan - WWF report on the water quality of the Ebro : the Ebro water transfer is a waste of money.

The New Water Culture Foundation and WWF last week launched in Spain a new report on the water quality of the Ebro river. In the report they conclude that the bad water quality of the Ebro shows that the water transfer to the Mediterranean coast will not be an effective solution from an economic, environmental and social point of view. The report was also presented to the European Commission and European Parliament representatives last week.

The Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP) proposes a transfer of 1050 hm3 of water from the Ebro river to the "dry" southeast region of Spain. Over 40% of the transferred water would be used for drinking water. Nevertheless, the facts presented in the report demonstrate that this transferred water will not have the necessary high quality for drinking water production.

According to the New Water Culture Foundation and WWF, the quality of the Ebro water during part of the year already exceeds the established EU (EC Directive 75/440) limits regarding water conductivity or salinity (for which the recommended limit is 1000 ?S/cm) and also regarding sulphates (both the guide value of 150 mg/l and the compulsory limit of 250 mg/l). The fact that the situation has worsened between the 80s and 90s (+ 17,6% increase of salinity and +13,% increase in the content of sulphates) according to the report, means that the Ebro river is not and will be even less so in future recommended as drinking water. Further, the high salinity will not only negatively affect human health, but also pipelines and domestic and industrial equipment.

For WWF and the New Water Culture Foundation, alternatives to the Ebro water transfer exist, like planning and control of the water demand, reuse of waste water and desalinisation.

For further information on the Spanish National Hydrological Plan and a copy of the Executive Summary and report on the water quality in the Ebro go to

22.07.03 : Bio Bio / Chile :- Four elderly Pehuenche Indian women are blocking completion of a $570 million hydroelectric dam at Ralco in southern Chile, saying it would flood sacred land and destroy their way of life.

For six years the women have rejected offers of money - up to $1.1 million - and land in exchange for their 103 acres (53 hectares) on the banks of the Bio Bio River that Chile's Endesa END.SN EOC.N power company needs to finish its giant power station project.
"They're not going to flood my land ... I'll only leave here when I'm dead," declared 78-year-old Berta Quintreman in front of her mud-hut home in the densely forested Bio Bio Valley some 370 miles (600 km) south of Santiago.

Graffiti on a decrepit bus shelter outside her home reads, "Endesa, you won't remove us even for a sack of gold." Eighty-nine of the 93 Pehuenche families affected by Ralco have already accepted compensation and agreed to move to new properties up to 37 miles (60 km) away.

The Chilean government and Endesa, which is controlled by Spain's Endesa ELE.MC , say the 540-megawatt dam, which is almost 90 percent complete, is crucial to meet Chile's energy needs and help economic growth.

However Indians and environmentalists have fought the project in court, saying it would destroy unique forests and endangered wildlife as well as ancient cemeteries, religious ceremonial grounds and Pehuenche communities.

Endesa aims to have the dam up and running by mid-2004 but the four women and their lawyers vow to fight to the end. Nobody knows when - or how - the dispute will end.

"This is the worst thing that could happen for the power generating system, this indecision over whether or not they will be able to flood the area," said Maria Isabel Gonzalez, former director of the government's energy commission from 1994 to 2000.

full stoyy (Reuters):


21.07.03 : Ramsar Convention : Germany designates parts of the Elbe floodplain.

The Ramsar Bureau is very pleased to announce that the Federal Republic of Germany has designated its 32nd Ramsar site, and its first since 1991. Germany's 32 sites now cover 839,327 hectares, and the Convention's total of 1291 Wetlands of International Importance covers a surface area of 109,097,491 ha. As summarized by Ramsar's Estelle Gironnet from the Ramsar Information Sheet, "Aland-Elbe-Niederung und Elbaue Jerichow" (listed as of 21/02/03, 8,605 hectares, 52°45'N 011°49'E) comprises two large parts of the floodplain of the Elbe river, including two EU Special Protection Areas and part of the Biosphere Reserve "Flusslandschaft Elbe". Both areas are composed of near-natural floodplain meadows, despite anthropogenic changes, with dynamic floodplain development and regular flooding occurring at a reduced level. The area is of outstanding importance for breeding, resting and wintering waterbirds, waders and grassland species. The site harbours large gatherings of Cygnus bewickii (2.7% of NW European flyway population), Cygnus Cygnus (2%), Anser fabalis (30%), Anser albifrons (2.5%), and Grus grus (6.6%) and offers opportunities for research and education activities. Grassland habitat is maintained by mowing and grazing. Public water bodies are used mostly for fishing. Problems with waterbird hunting arise regularly.


18.07.03. : EDF se retire du consortium pour la construction de Nam Theun 2(Laos)

Paris, le 18 juillet 2003. EDF, leader du consortium créé pour le barrage
controversé de Nam Theun 2 (Laos), vient d’annoncer son retrait du projet.
Cette décision met sérieusement en doute le futur du barrage.

Le désengagement d’EDF intervient un jour avant la signature de l’important
Accord d’Achat d’Electricité avec EGAT (Compagnie nationale d’électricité
thaïlandaise), le client de la quasi totalité du courant produit par le

Les Amis de la Terre, soutenus par trente deux ONG et syndicats français,
avaient mené campagne contre le projet en demandant notamment l’étude d’
alternatives. La seconde revendication était une transparence accrue de la
COFACE, l’agence française d’assurance-crédit aux exportations sollicitée
pour apporter une garantie publique au projet.

« C’est une excellente nouvelle pour les populations locales, dont cent
trente mille auraient vu leur mode de vie et leur écosystème bouleversé par
le projet, explique Sébastien Godinot des Amis de la Terre. Nous espérons
que la Banque mondiale, qui pousse à la réalisation du projet depuis des
années, saura en tirer les conséquences et s’interroger sur la viabilité de
cet immense barrage de 1,2 milliards de dollars ».

Selon le Ministère des Finances, l’entreprise publique s’est désengagée pour
des raisons financières et environnementales. Dans son communiqué de presse,
EDF parle de « consolidation de ses actifs ». « Il nous semble que si le
projet était aussi bon que le prétend la Banque mondiale, EDF n’aurait pas
abandonné brutalement le projet ainsi, ajoute Hélène Ballande des Amis de la
Terre. Il est grand temps que les institutions financières abandonnent leur
politique inefficace et coûteuse de méga-projets pour contribuer au
développement des pays pauvres. Au contraire, la réalisation d’alternatives
décentralisées à petite échelle est beaucoup plus prometteuse et moins
risquée sur les plans humain, environnemental, économique et financier.
Plusieurs dizaines de millions de dollars ont déjà été gaspillés pour Nam
Theun 2 ».

Pour éviter qu’un tel fiasco ne se reproduise, les Amis de la Terre
demandent que les institutions financières intègrent l’ensemble des
recommandations de la Commission Mondiale des Barrages, l’institution de
référence en la matière. « Avant toute chose, la priorité est de mettre en
place des procédures crédibles de consultation de tous les acteurs
concernés, ce qui implique une transparence accrue des décideurs publics et
privés, très en amont des projets », précise Sébastien Godinot des Amis de
la Terre.

Plus d’informations,,
Contact presse : Sébastien Godinot, Les Amis de la Terre :

16.07.03 : Rowing the Danube to draw attention to the need for continued
social and environmental improvement along the Danube

Later this summer, Charlie and John will be rowing the entire length of the
Danube River. All 2800 km of it.
They will be doing this a) to draw attention to the need for continued
social and environmental improvement along the Danube, and b) to raise money
for the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme and for Water Aid.

Please take 3 simple steps which will help them to help us...
1. Go to
2. Spend 5 minutes reading about their plans. You'll be so impressed that
you will be compelled to donate some money.
3. Pass this onto your friends and colleagues and ask them to do the same.
Many thanks and best wishes,

Dr David Tickner
Freshwater Team Leader
t: +43 1 52 45 470 19
f: +43 1 52 45 470 70


In the frame of the National Hydrologic Plan, the Spanish Governement has published the proposed project of the Ebro transfer and its corresponding environmental assessment in a document made public by the company Trasagua, contracted to carry out these works.
All interested parties are allowed to present objections to this project before the 2nd of August.

The Platform for the Defence of the river Ebro has prepared a page of objections and hopes to present tens of thousands directly in Madrid at the end of the month. Thousands from all parts of Spain, but also collected from all over Europe, or the world.

Please print out the enclosed, sign it, and send it back by real mail to the address on the sheet as soon as possible. And if you can help in spreading the campaign - photocopies to friends, email lists, web pages, every help counts - thanks a million.

Alegation in English
Pétition en Français
Alegaciones en Español
For more information, see our ERN pages on NHP subject (on RivernetWelcome right side Welcome page).


Dans le cadre du Plan National Hydrologique National espagnol, le Gouvernement Espagnol a rendu publique un projet de transfert d'eau de l'Ebre et l'étude environnementale réalisée par la Société Trasagua, chargée de ces travaux. Toutes les parties intéressées sont autorisées à présenter leurs objections à ce projet avant le 2 août 2003.

La Plateforme de Défense de l' Ebre a préparé une page d'objections et espère présenter plusieurs dizaines de milliers de pétitions directement à Madrid à la fin du mois. Des milliers venant de toute l'Espagn, mais aussi collectées à travers l'Europe, et même du Monde.

Merci de signer et renvoyer la pétition par courrier postal à l'adresse indiquée en bas de la page aussi vite que possible. Et s'il vous est possible de diffuser cette campagne, par photocopies à des amis, à des listes d'e-mails, de pages web, merci mille fois !

Alegation in English
Pétition en Français
Alegaciones en Español

Pour plus d'information sur le sujet du PHN, consultez nos pages ERN (colonne à droite de la page de bienvenue de Rivernet).

13.07.03 : UK River News (Summer News 2003)

UK Rivernews (Summer 2003)
1. Rivers and roads
2. Salisbury: Update on Brunel Link.
3. Save Stonehenge! Rivers Avon and Till under threat.
4. Don't bypass Bargoed!
5. River Piddle threatened by landfill site
6. Swimming in rivers and lakes
7. Online donations
8. Adopt-a-river
9. What's happening at UKRN?
10. Send us your news!
11. Did you know?
1. Rivers and roads
Here's an interesting exercise. Find a map of your area from the 19th
century (or before) and compare it with a modern-day map. What do you
notice? On old maps, rivers stand out as prominent features; on modern m
aps, you may be hard pressed even to find a single river. The rivers
themselves run in pretty much the same places, and may be just as wide as
they ever were -- but where old maps showed rivers as bold blue arteries,
modern maps sometimes don't even show them at all. Why? Because now we seem
to value roads more highly.
Rivers and roads find themselves increasingly in conflict. As towns grind
toward gridlock, some people call for bigger and "better" roads -- bypasses
that promise to sweep traffic problems under the concrete carpet. In the
modern, traffic-clogged world of bypasses and out-of-town superstores, it's
easy to forget why humans tended to locate their settlements near to
rivers. This is one of the reasons why bypasses, more often than not,
involve river crossings. And why many of our rivers continue to be
threatened by new roads. In this issue of our email newsletter, we'll tell
you about three new roads that threaten four more British rivers.

2. Salisbury: Update on Brunel Link.
Last November, we wrote to tell you about two new roads proposed in
Salisbury by Wiltshire County Council. One of them, the Brunel Link,
threatened huge damage to the River Nadder, part of the internationally
important River Avon candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC). Some of
you kindly wrote in to object to the road and we understand that around 600
objections were eventually received.
Margaret Willmot, one of the campaigners from Salisbury Transport 2000, has
just sent us an update on the road: "Things may be quiet at the moment, but
this road scheme, unfortunately,
has not gone away. However there is a very strong case against it. We
need to be prepared to put that case in the next round of consultation
and at a likely Public Inquiry, which will provide a platform to air
objections to the scheme and put forward the alternatives."
The public inquiry is now likely to be held in Spring 2004.
Given a positive outcome to the public inquiry and full acceptance of
the scheme, work could start on site early in 2005 with the road open to
traffic in 2006.
But not if Salisbury's excellent local campaigners have anything to do with
You can find out more at

3. Save Stonehenge!

Still in Wiltshire, we find the Avon river system under threat from a
Department for Transport proposal to build four lanes of new road through
the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Promoted as an "environmental" scheme,
this is in reality little more than a thinly disguised, old-fashioned
road-widening scheme. A small part of the new road would be sunk into a
tunnel, but the majority of it would be bulldozed through the priceless
ancient landscape around one of the world's most famous monuments.
The UK Rivers Network has played a prominent role in the Stonehenge
campaign for the last four years. We helped to set up the Save Stonehenge!
campaign in May 1999 when we noticed that the proposed new road would
involve damaging crossings of the rivers Avon and Till (also parts of the
River Avon cSAC) and severe disruption to the chalk aquifier that feeds
into them. To be fair, the viaduct crossing proposed for the river Till
crossing is a huge improvement on some of the crossings we've seen in
recent years: the infamous embankment crossings that featured prominently
in the M3 River Itchen crossing at Twyford Down, Winchester (built
1992-1994) and the A34 Newbury bypass crossings of the Rivers Kennet,
Lambourn, and Enborne were much more destructive.
But the mitigation proposed at Stonehenge is, in our view, far from
adequate. And the massive new road still threatens wholly avoidable
disruption to two very important rivers.
The planning application ("draft orders") for the Stonehenge scheme was
published early in June and you have until 4 September 2003 if you wish to
object. Please do write in now. See the Save Stonehenge! website for more
UKRN is currently helping to raise money for the campaign. See for more details

4. Don't bypass Bargoed!

A group called Don't Bypass Bargoed! (
is trying to stop a new bypass around the small town of Bargoed, in the
Rhymney Valley of Caerphily, Wales. At risk is the Rhymney river in Bargoed
Country Park, which the council want to span with a steel-reinforced
concrete bridge supporting a bypass with room for up to four lanes. Famed
transport consultant Dr John Whitelegg claims the road has the worst
economic justification of any road he has ever seen. Please check out their
website and help if you can!

5. River Piddle threatened by landfill site

A new landfill site proposed for an old clay quarry at Trigon, near Wareham
in Dorset, threatens the nearby River Piddle. Local campaigners have just
failed in their bid to squash the scheme, sponsored by Dorset County
Council, with a High Court (judicial review) challenge. The County
Council's solicitor said its planning committee would be "delighted" with
the outcome. Hardly the word we would use to describe the prospect of
building a festering garbage tip next to a pristine river. Until more
councils adopt imaginative, proactive approaches to waste reduction, more
rivers will be threatened by projects like this one.

6. Swimming in rivers and lakes

The school holidays are almost here. Any day now, well-meaning safety
campaigners will be popping up on our TV screens warning children about the
"dangers" of swimming in lakes and rivers. The dangers? Now just a minute!
Of course water can be dangerous. Of course rivers can be dangerous. But
what we really need is not blanket disapproval of swimming in rivers and
lakes, but clear guidance to parents and children on areas where it is safe
for them to swim out of doors. UKRN's position is that we should be
encouraging children to swim safely in the natural environment, not
bringing them up to believe that sterile, chlorinated swimming pools are a
better alternative. That would happen if the UK government followed its
European legal obligations and designated large numbers of inland bathing
waters, as other European nations do. Instead, it pretends no-one uses --
or wants to use -- inland waters for swimming or other types of bathing.
Two organizations are helping to challenge this "conventional wisdom".
Surfers Against Sewage ( has been increasingly
active in pushing for revisions to the EU Bathing Water Directive that
would benefit the whole spectrum of inland water users. Another group, the
River and Lake Swimming Association (, is
doing its best to defend the right to swim in the open air. Hurrah! (Where
did I leave my trunks?)

7. Online donations

Would you like to collect donations from people via your website? UKRN now
has its own secure online credit-card donation system. Our web page can
collect instant credit-card transactions from anywhere in the world. If
you'd like us to collect donations on your behalf (through a link from your
site), please get in touch. Now our bank has abolished bank charges on our
account, we're happy to offer this service to other community river groups
for free!

8. Adopt-a-river

Our long cherished programme to encourage community groups and individuals
to adopt their local rivers in still languishing in the doldrums... with
many other projects that we don't have the time, the people, or the money
they need. We'd like to start work on preparing a short, step-by-step guide
to adopting rivers very soon. If you'd like to contribute, if you'd like to
take on the project for us, or if you can help in some other way, please
get in touch straight away.

9. What's happening at UKRN?

Most of our time is occupied on the Save Stonehenge! campaign at the
moment. We are constantly on the lookout for people who'd like to help us
expand and develop the Rivers Network. There's no shortage of work to do or
projects to take on. But what we really need is the people to tackle them!

10. Send us your news!

We're updating our website regularly once again, so please send us news,
details of forthcoming events, and so on. If you have a website, please
make sure we're linking to you on our network page

11. Did you know?

More than a quarter of a million people, from more than 40 different
countries, have looked at our educational website pages since we first set
them up in 2000!

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UK Rivers Network

12.07.03 : Yangtze River dam floods 1,200 sites
by Lucian Harris, The Art Newspaper, July 11, 2003
Nearly 1,200 sites of historical and archeological importance along the
Yangtze River are now under water as the first stage of China’s massively
ambitious hydroelectric project reached completion on schedule. Full story:

10.07.03 : China begins commercial power generation at Three Gorges Dam

Kyoto News /
China began commercial power generation on Thursday at the Three Gorges Dam,
the world's biggest dam under construction in the midstream of Yangtze River
in Yichang, Hubei Province.
Engineers at China Three Gorges Project Corp. switched on the No. 1 turbine
in the early hours Thursday and fed the electricity to the East China power
full story :

01.07.03 : "Father Rhine" shows signs of improvement
Pressrelease Deutsches Bundesministerium für Umwelt
Berlin, 01 July 2003

International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine says protection policy has been successful
Policies geared to protecting the Rhine will in the next few years concentrate on implementing the EU Water Framework Directive and the Rhine Programme 2020. Both the Directive and the Programme constitute a holistic approach to conserving the river. This was stressed by the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) at the end of a 2-day meeting in Bonn, hosted by the German Ministry for the Environment. Government representatives from France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the EU stressed the success achieved so far in rehabilitating the river. German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin commended the transboundary cooperation in the river basin as an example for other river basins in Europe.
Federal Environment Minister Trittin: "Today the Rhine is again a living water body. Its water quality has improved substantially, fauna in the river has recovered, and the salmon programme has been successful. Thanks to ICPR recommendations for the safety of industrial plants and prevention of accidents, industrial plants alongside the Rhine are now better equipped to deal with accidents and the number of accidents involving substances hazardous to water such as chemicals has been considerably reduced. At the same time the successful implementation of the action plan on flood defence is continuing."
The ICPR outlined that the "Rhine Action Programme", launched after the 1987 chemical accident at Sandoz, has been a success. Since 1987, point discharges of hazardous substances have decreased by 70 to 100 per cent. Discharges of dioxins and DDT are no longer found. Discharges of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, copper and zinc and discharges of pesticides have been substantially reduced. Nitrogen discharged from non-point sources into tributaries, i.e. from agricultural soils, is still a problem.
Evidence shows that more than 1900 adult salmon have returned to the Rhine. With 63 species present today, the original fish fauna of the Rhine has almost been completely restored. Only the sturgeon is still not prevalent.
The ICPR has published a flood atlas on the Internet which for the first time ever depicts flood-prone areas. Currently the ICPR is working on models which are to reflect the impact of flood defence measures on the population.
In its "Rhine 2020 Programme" the ICPR defined its goals for the next 20 years. This programme is the continuation of the "Rhine Action Programme". New programme objectives include the further improvement of the river's ecological status, a holistic flood defence approach which takes into account ecological requirements, the conservation, improvement and restoration of natural habitats and natural flow characteristics. A further goal is to take groundwater into consideration - provided there is interaction with the Rhine.
In the Rhine river basin the EU countries' water protection policies will primarily focus on implementing the Water Framework Directive. The Directive obliges member states and rim countries to elaborate a management plan for the entire river basin. The ICPR supports this endeavour.


24.06.03 : The European co-financing of NHP blocked by the Environment European Commission.

EU environment chief Margot Wallström yesterday sparked a new flurry of debate in Spain over the government's controversial national hydrological plan when she told journalists that European co-financing of water transfer projects had been "blocked". Environmentalist opponents have been demanding that the European Commission take just this step. Ms Wallström's spokesperson told Environment Daily that the commissioner was "merely stating Commission policy that funds remain frozen pending a decision on compatibility with European legislation".
She blamed continuing delays in reaching a decision on "excessive politicisation" of the issue.
Environment Daily 1469, 24/06/03

24.06.03 : Le financement européen des transferts d'eau espagnols bloqué.

La responsable de l'Environnement de l'Union Européenne, Margot Wallström, a relancé hier le débat en Espagne sur le très controversé Plan Hydrologique, quand elle a annoncé aux journalistes que le co-financement européen des projets de transferts d'eau avait été "bloqué". Les opposants environnementalistes avaient demandé à la Commission Européenne de marquer justement cette étape. Le porte-parole de Mme Wallström a déclaré au "Environment Daily" que la Commissaire était "simplement en train d'appliquer la politique de la Commission et que les fonds restaient gelés en attendant une décision sur la compatibilité avec la législation européenne."
Elle a déploré les retards continuels empêchant de prendre une décision, dûs à une "politisation excessive" du dossier.

Environment Daily 1469, 24/06/03 (Traduction de l'anglais par ERN)

Press release : "Today, Monday 16th, Navarra´s Government is proceeding with the eviction of Itoitz village. Some of the inhabitants and people from the supportive association "Solidari@s con Itoitz" are resisting in two of the houses of the village, anchored to the walls. The Government of Navarre hasn´t accepted any mediation and so the lives of the people resisting are in serious risk. Solidari@s con Itoitz have called for a demonstration today at 8 in the evening from Agoitz´s townhall."
More information :

EXPULSION DU VILLAGE D' ITOITZ : les habitants résistent.

Communiqué : "Aujourd'hui lundi 16 juin 2003, l'explusion du village de Itoitz a commencé. Plusieurs habitants et personnes du collectif "Solidari@ con Itoitz se sont retrouvés pour résister dans deux maisons du village, enchainés aux murs.
Le Gouvernement de Navarre n'a accepté aucun type de médiation et est en train de mettre en grand risque la vie des personnes qui résistent. Solidari@s con Itoitz convoque une manifestation à 20h00 à la mairie de Aoiz."
Plus d'information sur le site du collectif :

EL DESALOJO DEL PUEBLO DE ITOITZ : la gente resiste. "Itotoitzen hustutzea".

Comunicado : "Hoy lunes se está procediendo al desalojo del pueblo de Itoitz. Varioshabitantes y personas del colectivo Solidari@ con Itoitz se encuentran resistiendo en dos casas del pueblo, anclad@s a las paredes.

El Gobierno de Navarra no ha aceptado ningún tipo de intervención y está poniendo en grave riesgo las vidas de las personas que están resistiendo. Solidari@s con Itoitz convoca a una manifestación a las 8 de la tarde
desde el Ayuntamiento de Aoiz."
Mas informaciones sobre la pagina del collectivo :

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.


13.06.03 : Chinese official says cracks in Three Gorges dam must be repaired (AP, by Christopher Bodeen)

In a rare admission of problems at the giant Three Gorges Dam in central China, officials said Thursday that cracks found in the dam could cause leaks if not fixed and that land provided to relocated farmers is not very fertile.
The comments contrasted with government claims that the dam on the Yangtze river has been a success since its reservoir began to fill on June 1. The government says the water on Tuesday reached the depth necessary to allow ships to sail on the reservoir.
Inspectors have found about 80 cracks in the dam's surface, said Pan Jiazhong, head of the construction committee inspection group. He said that while they weren't a threat to the dam's safety, they could expand and cause leaking if not repaired.
"If water enters these cracks, there could be negative effects, so we are fixing them very carefully," Pan said at a news conference.
Chinese officials say the dam will control chronic flooding on the Yangtze and produce power needed by industry.
Critics say the dam is a waste of money and could worsen pollution by trapping sewage and industrial waste. They say an accident could cause a catastrophe in the densely populated area.
The government has moved some 720,000 people out of a total of 1.3 million who are to be relocated from areas due to be inundated by the reservoir, said Guo Shuyan, director of the construction committee.
Dozens of towns and small cities have been flooded by the reservoir and 13 larger communities have been rebuilt on higher land with what the government says are much improved facilities.
However, Guo said there isn't enough farmland for many of the farmers moved above the waterline, and what there is is of poor quality.
"We're now studying how to make improvements in their living standards," Guo said. He said proposals include introducing fruit growing, tourism and animal raising.
Critics also complain of corruption and negligence in resettlement work. Scattered reports say some of the tens of thousands of people moved to other parts of China have returned to the gorges area after finding their new homes inadequate.
Plans call for the reservoir's water level eventually to rise to 175 meters (577 feet). At that point, the reservoir will flood an area covering 632 square kilometers (254 square miles).
Please visite us at:
Three Gorges Probe News Service:
Three Gorges Probe is dedicated to covering the scientific, technical, economic, social, and environmental ramifications of completing the Three Gorges Project, as well as the alternatives to the dam. Three Gorges Probe welcomes submissions. As part of our service, we also reprint articles about the Three Gorges Project we feel will be of interest to our readers.
All stories written by Three Gorges Probe staff may be reproduced freely, although we do ask that you credit Three Gorges Probe and send us the relevant clippings or Web site addresses.
Publisher: Patricia Adams
Editor (English): Kelly Haggart
Editor (Chinese): Mu Lan
Three Gorges Probe is also available in Chinese.


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nd us the relevant clippings or Web site addresses.
Publisher: Patricia Adams
Editor (English): Kelly Haggart
Editor (Chinese): Mu Lan
Three Gorges Probe is also available in Chinese.


older News

Back to the Homepage

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