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01.03.04 : Huge Missouri River Management Plan Unveiled

Reutes (Planet Ark)
USA: March 1, 2004
KANSAS CITY USA, March 1 - In what may become one of the largest federally funded habitat construction programs in the country's history, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week unveiled a 30-year, $1.3 billion plan to restore the Missouri River.
Initial reaction indicated the plan satisfied no one involved in a years-long dispute over the future of the historic river, including environmentalists, farm and barge shipping interests and states that rely on the water.
But Corps Brig. Gen. William Grisoli said, "I'm confident we're providing the basin a comprehensive plan," with the "best balance" possible.
In the 200 years since William Clark and Meriwether Lewis first explored its length, America's longest river has been dammed, narrowed, deepened and straightened for commercial barge traffic so that it is some 100 miles shorter than the 2,500 miles navigated by their expedition, according to environmental group American Rivers.
Its water irrigates millions of acres of farmland, provides drinking water, cools homes, fills reservoirs and provides a waterway for barge transportation of farm products used by people throughout the United States and abroad. Its once ferocious spring floods are now history.
But the Corps, which manages the nation's rivers by building levees and dams and dredging to maintain navigation has been sued repeatedly from all sides by parties wanting either more water or less, or a more natural flow to the river. The whole problem has been worsened by a continuing drought in the West, where mountain snowmelt gives rise to the river.
Major suits were consolidated and a federal judge had ordered the Corps to come up with a plan by March 19.
The Corps said its plan is a compromise aimed at protecting endangered fish and birds, conserving enough water in upstream states to allow for recreation and other uses, and maintaining at least the minimum amount of water needed for barge traffic.
Under the plan, which the Corps estimates will cost $1.3 billion over 30 years, about 1,200 acres will be immediately established as a shallow-water habitat for spawning fish, while an unspecified amount would be designed to benefit nesting birds.
The plan aims to maintain a seven-month navigation season.
"Generally we should be able to provide the same level of flood control as the current plan," said Larry Cieslik, chief of water management for the Missouri River.
Upper-level management of the river calls for conserving more water in the northern states and "unbalancing" the three largest reservoirs, in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The Corps would lower one of three lakes about three feet (one meter) to allow vegetation to grow around the rim and then refill the lake, on a rotating three-year cycle.
Environmental groups attacked the plan as doing too much for business interests. Missouri Gov. Bob Holden said the plan didn't go far enough to protect farmers and barge businesses.
"The Army Corps has a legal obligation to prevent endangered species from going extinct and a moral responsibility to manage the Missouri River for the benefit of the public at large," Chad Smith, a spokesman for American Rivers, said in a statement. "Today, the Corps dashed our last lingering hopes that they will show leadership without an explicit court order."
Holden said in a statement the plan was "not acceptable," and he was considering legal action against the plan, which he said ran counter to promises made by the Bush administration.
North Dakota also objected, saying not enough water would be retained for the state.
Corps officials said they would re-evaluate the plan in three years.
Story by Carey Gillam

24.02.04: Danube Delta: Removal of dykes paves way for restoration of Tataru Island (WWF)

With the noisy sound of earthworks, the removal of more than 6 km of dykes on Tataru Island was underway. The work, which commenced on October 30 2003, is part of a larger vision to restore the natural flooding regime of the Danube River. This is the first model project of “A Vision for the Ukrainian Danube Delta” supported by Partners for Wetlands.

Previously, the 738 hectare Tataru Island was subject to strict forestry laws. Various dykes were constructed across and around Tataru to drain sections to be used for forestry and horticulture. Each year, the local forestry service was charged with extracting 1000 cubic metres of wood, three tonnes of meat, 700 kg of honey, 3000 muskrats and 0.5 tonnes of medicinal plants. Domestic animals such as pigs, sheep and horses were left to graze in areas occupied by indigenous wildlife.

With the restoration of the island, WWF and the local Izmail Forestry are combining efforts to sustainably develop the Ukrainian Danube Delta. Following the removal of the dykes, the island will again be naturally flooded. Tataru is intended to be a showpiece of how people and nature can be mutually supporting in the heart of the Danube Delta. Locals and visitors alike will be able to appreciate the unique natural setting in the most downstream part of this mighty European river. The establishment of sustainable tourism, forestry, fisheries and hunting will provide new opportunities for the future.

“As a part of the Lower Danube Green Corridor, the Danube Delta in Ukraine plays a crucial role. WWF, together with its partners in Ukraine, has developed a vision for the Delta. The change from technocratic management of the river delta to a management and economic development that is based on the natural potentials of the system is a real challenge for the Odessa Oblast. The work starting at Tataru Island is a historic moment in this respect. WWF has supported the Danube Delta project for a number of years now because we see huge potentials for restoration and a new development of Europe’s largest river delta,” says Mr. Frans Schepers, Manager International Freshwater Programme of WWF Netherlands.

Also for Izmail Forestry, owner of the island, this is a milestone in the management of Tataru. “While we previously tried to exploit the island with forestry, hunting and animal grazing, we now have understood that there is a much more promising route to development in this region,” explained Mr. Nikolay Scezepin of Izmail Forestry.

The Odessa Oblast Water Authority has also played an important role in the development of the Vision. Mr. Kichuk, Director of Odessa Oblast Water Management Department, is convinced of the relevance of this new route for development in the delta. “Water management plays a key role: we should work with water, and not against it. It is not sustainable and far too expensive to restore and maintain the old water regime. We know now that there is a much better alternative”.

source WWF (with photos and graphics):

information: Mykhaylo Nesterenko
Project Manager in Ukraine, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme
Tel\fax: +38 04 877 76779 E-mail:


20.02.04 : Four of Europe's major arteries to get healthy injection
Four of Europe's major rivers are set to receive a cash injection as part of a EUR 12 million clean up programme for the continent's waterways.
The Artery Project, a partnership of five European regions, will see a series of ten demonstration projects launched along the banks of the rivers Mersey, Ruhr, Neckar and Ijssel. Each of these rivers and their surrounding communities has suffered the effects of post industrialisation.
Source: Edie via EWM NEWS

20.02.04 : conserving Natura 2000 rivers
Technical Editor: Dr Lynn Parr
Publications on river biodiversity conservation launched on World Wetlands Day. 'Conserving Natura 2000 Rivers' is mammoth four-year project, sponsored by seven British conservation agencies led by English Nature, which consisted of field-based trials, original research and the collation of up-to-the minute scientific discoveries. The result is a body of work that conservation organizations around Europe can use to achieve best practice in managing their special rivers and threatened freshwater species.
for more information :

18.02.04 : World Water Day 2004 is focused on the theme of water and

In 2004 World Water Day is focused on the theme of water and disasters. UN
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the World Meteorological
Organization have been charged with co-ordinating events on the day. To
receive a copy of the information kit, please contact

17.02.04 : The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has adopted
criteria based on WCD recommendations.

excerpts from OPIC's revised Environmental Handbook, February 2004 (

OPIC Environmental Handbook February 2004

Dam Standards
For projects involving the construction and operation of large dams,
OPIC applies screening and environmental assessment criteria that
incorporates core values and strategic priorities identified in the
November 16, 2000 Report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD).
Although there is a lack of consensus on the advisability of adopting
all of the guidelines and recommendations contained within the WCD
Report, OPIC has adopted and implemented those elements of the WCD
policy that inform good public policy and that are within OPICs
capacity to implement.
OPIC will continue to apply the existing categorical prohibition on
large dams contained within Appendix F of this environmental
handbook. The following discussion gives further definition and
context to the terms used in the Categorical prohibition with
reference to applicable strategic priorities and guidelines contained
in the WCD Report.
OPIC does not support the construction of large dams that
significantly and irreversibly cause any of the following impacts:

A. Disrupt Natural Ecosystems
Disruption of natural ecosystems may result from barring passage of
anadromous (migratory) fish; restricting the mobility of terrestrial
species; modifying the timing and concentration of nutrient releases
downstream; reducing or eliminating downstream flow; or reducing or
permanently inundating critical or sensitive terrestrial habitat.
Additional guidance may be found in WCD Guideline 14 (Baseline
Ecosystem Surveys) and Guideline 16 (Maintaining Productive

B. Alter Natural Hydrology
Alteration of natural hydrology may result from the elimination or
significant reduction in stream flow; significant alteration of
diurnal or annual stream flow; modification of groundwater levels; or
induced seismicity. Additional guidance may be found in WCD Guideline
4 (Strategic Impact Assessment) and WCD Guideline 12 (Operating

C. Inundate Large Land Areas
A simplified cost benefit analysis is used to assess whether an
unreasonably large land area is inundated for power generated. For
irrigation dams, acreage inundated is compared to new acreage that
could be irrigated as a result of the project. Additional guidance
may be found in WCD Strategic Priority 2 (Comprehensive Options

D. Impact Biodiversity
Impacts on biodiversity may result from ecosystem and habitat impacts
described in (A) above or elimination or reduction of habitat due to
land take or increasing the potential for species exploitation due to
improves access to the site. Additional guidance may be found in WCD
Policy Principle 4.4 (Avoiding significant impacts on threatened and
endangered species).

E. Displace Inhabitants
Evaluation of this impact is based on a quantitative threshold (5000
person displacement). Additional guidance may be found in WCD
Guideline 19 (Mitigation, Resettlement and Development Action Plan).

F. Impact on Local Inhabitants Livelihoods
Impacts on livelihoods may result from impairment or elimination of
traditional hunting or fishing methods; elimination of scarce
agricultural lands; elimination of access to drinking or irrigation
water; or project-related increases in endemic diseases. Additional
guidance may be found in WCD Strategic Priority 1 (Gaining Public
Acceptance), Strategic Priority 2 (Comprehensive Options Assessment),
Strategic Priority 4 (Sustaining Rivers and Livelihoods), Policy
Principle 4.1 (Basin-wide understanding of ecosystem and livelihood
issues), Policy Principle 4.2 (Precautionary Approach) and Policy
Principle 4.5 (Release of Environmental Flows).

For dam projects determined to be categorically eligible for further
consideration, OPIC continues the environmental assessment process.
EIAs prepared for hydroelectric and irrigation projects should, at a
minimum, address issues cited in the International Finance
Corporations Application of EA to Large Dam and Reservoir Projects
(IFC Procedure for Environmental and Social Review of Projects, Annex
D). OPICs assessment also includes at least an evaluation of the
following factors:

A. Hydrological and Limnological Impacts
Impacts on water resources due to impoundments include effects on
stream flow; groundwater; surface water quality; potential for
increased floods; and potential for alteration of sediment deposition
patterns. Additional guidance may be found in WCD Strategic Priority
4 (Sustaining Rivers and Livelihoods).

B. Catchment Area Impacts
Impacts on terrestrial environments surrounding impoundments include
induced seismic and geologic events, impacts on terrestrial wildlife
and impacts on downstream aquatic life. Additional guidance may be
found in WCD Strategic Priority 4 (Sustaining Rivers and Livelihoods).

C. Construction Impacts
Impacts resulting from land use requirements in excess of the
dam/reservoir footprint include supportive power structures, worker
housing, borrow areas, access roads, power transmission corridors and
waste disposal units.

D. Air Quality and Global Climate Change Impacts
Impacts evaluated include decomposition of submerged biomass; vehicle
and machinery emissions; and potential impacts associated with
deforestation and elimination of potential carbon sinks. Additional
guidance may be found in WCD Strategic Priority 2 (Comprehensive
Options Assessment) and Guideline 8 (Greenhouse Gas Emissions).

E. Resettlement
Factors evaluated include public consultation and disclosure
procedures; community development planning; livelihoods assessment;
potential for income restoration; compensation; and dispute
resolution mechanisms. Additional guidance may be found in WCD
Guideline 18 (Impoverishment Risk Assessment) and Guideline 19
(Mitigation, Resettlement and Development Action Plan).

F. Safety
Factors include structural stability of the dam and the capacity of
the spillway(s) to pass flood flows. In the case of high hazard
potential dams the analysis must examine the capacity to pass the
probable maximum flood and the adequacy of monitoring and warning
devices and downstream warning and evacuation procedures. Additional
guidance may be found in WCD Strategic Priority 2 (Comprehensive
Options Assessment), Strategic Priority 3 (Addressing Existing Dams)
and Guideline 11 (Economic Risk Assessment).

G. Project Acceptability
Factors include an evaluation of consultation and disclosure
procedures; land acquisition process; stakeholder identification; and
compliance with local laws and regulations. Additional guidance may
be found in WCD Strategic Priority 1 (Gaining Public Acceptance),
Strategic Priority 5 (Recognizing Entitlements and Sharing Benefits)
and Guidelines 17 (Baseline Social Conditions), 19 (Mitigation,
Resettlement and Development Action Plan) and 20 (Project
Benefit-Sharing Mechanisms).

17.02.04 : World Wide Fund for Nature WWF and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
invite you to a seminar about World Commission on Dams (WCD)-A tool
for sustainable water management?
Date: Friday, March 5th 2004
Time: 9.00 - 16.00
Place: Norra Latin, Drottning gatan 71 Music Room Stockholm
Water scarcity is one of the major challenges of today.
Up to 7 billion people in 60 countries are expected to face water
scarcity by 2050 2 billion people have no access to electricity at
all. The United Nation's Millennium Development goals set a target of
halving the number of people without access to adequate quantities of
affordable and safe water by 2015. Dams and large-scale
infrastructure projects are considered by numerous actors to be the
only way to meet these targets and needs. Dams can serve a variety of
purposes: energy generation, flood control, irrigation and water
supply. In 2003 there has been a call for renewed attention to dams
and other large-scale infrastructure projects. However, the
construction of dams has a major impact on ecosystems and sources of
livelihood of local people.
In November 2000 the World Commission on Dams (WCD) launched its
final Report Dams and Development: A new framework for decision
making. The WCD recommended a new framework for decision-makers to
apply the WCD framework to the planning of new dam projects. The
report includes a set of recommendations on dams and sustainable
development to ensure better environmental, social and economic
choices. The report also has significant relevance to other water
related large-scale infrastructure projects.
Over the past years a growing number of countries have engaged in
multi-stakeholder dialogues to integrate relevant WCD recommendations
into policies. Sweden has not yet engaged in such a process and
stakeholders have different policies when engaging in dam
projects.WWF and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation would
like to invite you to a seminar on the World Commission on Dams with
the aim to start up the process to implement the WCDs principles and
practices at the national level. The seminar will give examples of
national processes conducted in other countries and a range of
Swedish and global actors will give their views on the WCD.
Draft program :
March 5th 2004 9.00-16.00
The time includes questions from audience (5-10min)
Introduction the global WCD process and WCD in Sweden
9.00-9.15 Introduction - Lars Kristoferson, WWF
Introduction to the day by Chairperson Bengt Westerberg, Chairperson
9.15-9.45 An introduction to the WCD and Global efforts to implement
WCD by governments and by stakeholders. TBD, Dams and Development
Project (DDP)
9.45-10.15 Implementation of the WCD in Sweden.Lena Sommestad,
Minister of Environment
10.15-10.30 Coffee break Examples of National WCD processes
10.30-11.15 The Multi-stakeholder Forum of South Africa Brian
Hollingworth, Development Bank of South Africa, Liane Greeff , EMG
11.15-11.45 National WCD process of Germany Anne Schuster, GTZ
11.45-13.00 LUNCH AND PRESS CONFERENCE Stakeholders’ Views on WCD
13.00-13.30 WCD from a Southern perspective Himanshu Thakkar, Save
the Narmada Movement, India
13.30-13.45 Lessons learned from Europe Patricia Schelle, WWF International
13.45-14.00 Sweden a global role model for WCD implementation, Göran Ek, SNF
14.00-14.15 WCD as a business concept to industryTBD
14.15-14.30 Sustainable investments by applying WCD, Erik Belfrage, SEB
14.30-14.45 Coffee break A WCD process in Sweden
14.45-15.45 Panel debate The way forward? What has been done so
far? Working group All presenters
15.45- 16.00 Conclusions Lennart Nyman, WWF

more information about WCD

source : IRN

16.02.04 : Ankündigung : Das Fluss Festival :
in 15 Tagen beginnen die Einschreibungen für Audiovisuelle und Multimedia Produktionen : 01.03.04-31.05.04
für mehr infos :

16.02.04 : Annonce : Le festival du fleuve :
dans 15 jours nous ouvrirons la periode d'inscription pour toutes les production (audiovisuelle et multimedia ) : 01.03.04-31.05.04
more information :

16.02.04 : Announcement : The River's Festival :
in fifteen days we will open the application time for all those production (audiovisual multimedia) : 01.03.04 - 31.05.04
more information :

11.02.04 : Water companies draining U.K Wetlands, groups say

By last October wildlife along the Wylye Valley in southern England was gasping for life following a long, hot summer. Yet fly fishermen who rescued many hundreds of brown trout from dried up tributary streams aren't blaming the weather. Nor are environmentalists, wildlife groups, and even government agencies. They are pointing the finger at water companies, which they accuse of depriving England's rivers and wetlands of their lifeblood. Read more...
Source: National Geographic News via EWN News

10.02.04 : IUCN Netherlands commitee Small grants for Wetlands Programme

The Small grants for Wetlands Programme (SWP) is managed by the Netherlands Committee for IUCN (NC-IUCN) with funds from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The SWP financially supports small-scale wetland conservation and sustainable management projects that are designed and implemented by local NGOs in developing countries. The list of eligible countries has been considerably extended and now includes some 130 countries. The next deadline for the submission of project proposals by local NGOs to SWP is now set on 1st March 2004.
More information:
source : EWM News

09.02.04 : Tanzania Ignores Nile Treaty,Starts Victoria Water Project

Monday, February 9, 2004
TANZANIA LAST week launched a Tsh27.6 billion ($27.6 million) project to draw water from Lake Victoria to supply Kahama in Shinyanga region, in contravention of two treaties colonial Britain signed with Egypt and Sudan controlling the use of water from the lake. The Agreements restrict riparian countries from initiating projects that would affect the volume of Nile waters without the permission of Egypt.
The contract for the laying of a 170-kilometre inland pipe was awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, and signifies Tanzania's loss of patience with talks involving Kenya, Uganda and Egypt over the validity of the two agreements signed in 1929 and 1959 respectively, stipulating how water from Lake Victoria and the River Nile was to be shared out.
Despite engaging in lengthy negotiations over the use of waters from Lake Victoria and the Nile, Tanzania has maintained that the two agreements were illegal, said the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Livestock Development, Dr C. Nyamurunda, in Dar es Salaam last week.
The second phase of the contract, said to be worth about Tsh57.5 billion ($57.5 million), is expected to commence in July 2004, and will be completed next year. The total cost of the water project is estimated at Tsh85.1 billion ($85.1 million).
The water will be mainly used for domestic purposes, said the official, indicating that the government was still sensitive to concerns from Egypt about the widescale use of water from the lake without consulting Cairo.
The water project will initially benefit 420,000 people, but this number is expected to soar to 940,000 in the next 20 years.
Apart from Shinyanga and Kahama towns, some 54 villages situated along the pipeline will benefit from the project, said Edward Lowassa, the Minister for Water and Livestock Development.
To cut down on the costs involved in maintaining the pipeline, the government says it will set up an independent body to manage the project.
Dr Nyamurunda said that Tanzania's sentiments about the legality of the agreements were shared by other Nile Basin countries. "Other countries also believe that the treaties were illegal, but they are ready to co-operate in negotiations although they are not restricted from using the waters of the Nile," he said. The Nile Basin initiative is made up of 10 countries.
"In the Draft Agreement on Nile River Basin Co-operative Framework, Section 15, all countries, except Egypt and Sudan take the position that the treaties in question are illegal," he said.
At independence, Dr Nyamurunda says, Tanganyika made its position on the agreements clear to the UN, Egypt and Britain.
The controversial 1929 Nile Waters Agreement was concluded between Egypt and Great Britain, which represented Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and the Sudan. It was concluded by an exchange of letters between the Egyptian Prime Minister and the British Ambassador in Egypt on May 7, 1929, in Cairo.
It stated that no works would be undertaken on the Nile, its tributaries and the Lake Basin, that would reduce the volume of the water reaching Egypt. It also gave Egypt the right to inspect and investigate the whole length of the Nile up to the remote sources of its tributaries in these territories.
The agreement also allocated Egypt 48 billion cubic metres per year of Nile water as its acquired right, while that of the Sudan was four billion cubic metres per year. This was based on the report of a commission appointed by Cairo in 1925 providing a technical basis for the 1929 Agreement.
But Sudan and Egypt renegotiated the 1929 agreement in 1956, coming up with the 1959 "Full Utilisation of the Nile Waters" agreement, which was signed on November 8, 1959, allowing the construction of the Aswan High Dam as the major element in the control of the Nile waters for the benefit of the two countries.
Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Sudan, depend almost entirely on the Nile for their agricultural production and are major users of the 6,700 km river's waters. Its basin area is about three million sq km.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), by 1995, Egypt had three million hectares under irrigation, using 62 billion cubic metres of water annually, while Sudan had developed 1.26 million hectares, requiring 16 billion cubic metres of water per year.
Although the treaty was first signed in 1929 by the Egyptian Prime Minister and the British High Commissioner in Egypt, it bound seven other countries, including Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Apart from Ethiopia, which had a government in place, the treaty was made before these countries gained their independence.
The treaty, a culmination of previous agreements made in 1889, 1891 and 1902 between the British and Italian governments and later the Ethiopian Government, merely acknowledged Egypt's natural and historical "right" to the Nile's waters.
A section of the treaty says, "Without the consent of the Egyptian Government, no irrigation or hydroelectric works can be established on the tributaries of the Nile or their lakes if such works can cause a drop in water level harmful to Egypt." Dissatisfied with its share of the waters, Sudan withdrew from the treaty when President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt commissioned the Aswan High Dam in 1950s.
Around the same time, the country experienced a military coup in circumstances widely seen as suspicious, especially after the new government renegotiated the treaty. This resulted in the 1959 Agreement, which increased Egypt's share to 55.5 billion cubic metres while Sudan's share was increased to 18.5 billion cubic metres.
Kenya and the rest of the East African countries' water needs were ignored in the agreements as the two sole beneficiaries went ahead to irrigate six million hectares (Egypt) and 2.75 million acres (Sudan).
Since the signing of the agreements, Egypt and Sudan have used force or the threat of force to sustain them. For instance, in June 1980, Egypt nearly went to war with Ethiopia after Addis Ababa opposed attempts by the late President Anwar Sadat to divert the Nile waters to the Sinai Desert.
Sadat had promised Israel that he would irrigate the desert after the historical peace agreements made in Camp David brokered by the US government. Ethiopia then threatened to obstruct the Blue Nile, prompting Egypt to prepare for war.
By the end of last week, Egypt had yet to react to the Tanzanian move.

09.02.04 : request for proposal, society of wetland scientists' Ramsar support grant program

The Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) is soliciting proposals for their Ramsar Support Grant Program. The grant program was established to advance Ramsar Convention objectives, including the selection, designation, management, and networking of Ramsar sites; and the promotion of Ramsar's Wise Use guidelines. Two to five projects are funded each year at a level of US $5,000 on a competitive basis as reviewed by an evaluation committee. Grant guidelines, an application form, and a description of previous grant awards can be found on the SWS web site.
source EWM News

08.02.04 : Hungarian Ministry of Environment opposed to the Croatian plan to build Novo Virje Dam

The Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Water has just issued an official statement that they are opposed to the Croatian plan to build the dam at Novo Virje. If necessary they will use transboundary conventions and international law to prevent the project going ahead. However the decision still needs a Governmental Decree to make it totally binding.
This long-awaited statement on Hungary’s position follows a public hearing on the issue in the town of Barcs, Hungary, on October 17th last year: this was a requirement of the Espoo Convention process for dealing with transboundary environmental impacts. Since the hearing, WWF-Hungary and environmental NGOs in Hungary and Croatia have been lobbying the Hungarian government. Laurice Erifei of WWF-Hu and Miklos Toldi of the Drava Federation of Hungarian NGOs co-ordinated the sending of 5000 e-mails under WWF’s ’Panda Passport’ initiative and collected 3000 signatures for a petition against the dam. In Croatia, Helena Hecimovic, President of the Drava League, and her supporters collected 8000 signatures.
In February 2001 the Croatian government announced their intention to go ahead with this construction, and Croatian NGOs responded by uniting into the Drava League coalition and taking national and international action. The section of the Drava which would have been affected by this dam is one of the most natural lowland river ecosystems in Central Europe, with unique habitats and high biodiversity. Another threat to the Drava still exists: habitat destruction caused by the exploitation of gravel direct from the river bed and banks, combined with unnecessary river regulation.
David Reeder,
WWF Danube Carpathian Programme
International Co-ordinator for the River Drava

15.01.04 : Vistula: No money for the Nieszawa dam in Polands national budget 2004

After a a successful international joint NGO "fax jamming action" and withdrawal money for the Nieszawa Dam during the debate, senators did not dare to table any amendment allocating public spending for the dam when voting the budget act in the Senate of the Polish Parliament. It is the second time when due to intensive lobbying we managed to stop financing the Nieszawa Dam from the national budget.
source: WWF Poland
more information: "Jacek Engel" <>

14.01.04 : Water policy: EU Commission acts against eight Member States

The European Commission is taking legal action against Greece, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Ireland for non-compliance with EU laws on water quality. The Commission has sent final written warnings to Greece and the Netherlands urging them to comply with rulings of the Court of Justice with regard to dangerous substances discharged to water. It has also sent a final written warning to Belgium requesting it to comply with a Court ruling on drinking water. Failure to comply with these Court rulings could result in substantial fines being imposed on these Member States. In addition, the Commission has decided to refer Portugal and France to the Court of Justice for failing to implement water legislation. Spain has been sent a request urging it to prevent further pollution of a beach at Motilla in Valencia. Ireland has received a request urging it to extend its designation and protection of waters used for shellfish culture. Germany has received a request urging it to improve its implementation of EU nitrate rules. These requests take the form of final written warnings. Non-compliance with this legislation can result in rivers, lakes and coastal waters being polluted, which in turn can present a risk to public health.
Commenting on the decisions, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said: "I urge Member States to improve their compliance with EU water legislation. This will help ensure the necessary safeguards for the environment and human health."
Cases against individual member states

The Commission has decided to refer France to the Court of Justice for failing to provide sufficient information on how the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive is implemented. This relates in particular to the a lack of information on sensitive areas.
The Netherlands
On 10 May 2001, the Court of Justice ruled against the Netherlands on account of its failure to adopt and communicate pollution-reduction programmes for 99 dangerous substances (as foreseen by the Dangerous Substances in Water Directive) in the Scheldt river basin. It had also failed to fix deadlines for their implementation of these programmes (Case C-152/98). In December 2002 the Commission sent the Netherlands a final written warning for not complying with the judgement. The Netherlands has since communicated its pollution reduction programme, but for it to be valid, a programme must have a binding effect and must be published. The Netherlands's programme fails on both counts. The Commission has therefore sent the Netherlands an additional final written warning addressing these shortcomings.

The Commission has decided to refer Portugal to the Court of Justice with regard to discharges from milk-processing factories at Angra do Heroísmo in the Azores, which are contributing to marine water pollution. The Commission's information indicates that Portugal is not respecting the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive or the Framework Waste Directive(1). According to the Portuguese authorities, new pollution-abatement installations will start functioning during the second half of 2004.

The Commission has sent Spain a final written warning for contravening the Urban Waste Water Directive and the Bathing Water Directive at Sueca, in the region of Valencia. A failure to adequately upgrade wastewater treatment operations in the area has led to water pollution of the beach at Motilla. The Spanish authorities have indicated that construction work is underway for the treatment of urban waste water.
The Commission has sent Ireland a final written warning for contravening the Shellfish Directive by designating and protecting too few shellfish waters. Although there are several hundred commercial shellfish operations around the Irish coast, Ireland has designated only 14 shellfish waters under the Directive. There is also evidence of a decline in water quality in a number of places as a result of coastal development and a lack of effective waste water treatment.

On 16 January 2003, the Court of Justice ruled that Belgium had failed to notify the national legislation needed to implement the EU's 1998 Drinking Water Directive (Case C-2002/122). The necessary legislation is still lacking for the Walloon Region. The Commission has, therefore, sent Belgium a final written warning. Failure by Belgium to adopt the necessary legislation could result in substantial fines being imposed.

The Commission has sent Germany a final written warning because of shortcomings in its national legislation to implement the Nitrates Directive. The national legislation in question, the "Düngeverordnung", allows manure to be spread on grassland up to a limit of 210 kilograms of nitrogen every year, whereas the Directive sets a limit of 170 kilograms. In addition, the legislation fails to address adequately the risks of spreading fertilizer on steeply sloping ground. The German authorities have indicated that a new "Düngeverordnung" is in preparation. This will reduce the limit from 210 to 170 kilograms, and will also contain additional safeguards with regard to steeply sloping ground. However, the new legislation has not yet been adopted.

On 25 May 2000, the Court of Justice ruled against Greece because it had failed to adopt and communicate pollution-reduction programmes for 99 dangerous substances under the Dangerous Substances in Water Directive (Case C-384/97). Since then, the Greek authorities have prepared, in close collaboration with the Commission services, a comprehensive national pollution-reduction programme for the substances concerned.
However, the legislation necessary to establish this has not been enacted or communicated to the Commission. The internal procedures for the formal adoption of the national pollution-reduction programme have been going on for more than a year. The Commission has, therefore, sent Greece a final written warning. Failure to comply with the Court ruling could result in substantial fines being imposed on

The Drinking Water Directive(2) establishes quality standards for drinking water and is a key instrument for safeguarding public health. These standards apply to a range of substances, properties and organisms (called parameters). The Directive is particularly strict with regard to microbiological parameters, given the public health implications.
The Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive(3) addresses nutrient-based, bacterial and viral pollution caused by urban waste water. Urban waste water that discharges excessive levels of nutrients (in particular, phosphorous and nitrogen) into rivers and seas causes "eutrophication." This occurs when there is a sharp increase of photosynthetic organisms - including algae - in the water. This leads to a lowering of oxygen levels (as microbiological organisms degrade the dead algae and other organic material) and to other negative ecological effects. The end result is an imbalance in the organisms present in water and a reduction in water quality. This can drastically change the ecosystem of a lake or sea. It may even lead to the death of large numbers of fish. By introducing potentially harmful bacteria and viruses, the discharges also pose human health risks in waters that are used for bathing or shellfish culture.
The Directive requires that urban centres meet minimum waste water collection and treatment standards within deadlines fixed by the Directive. Two deadlines expired at the end of 1998 and 2000. Another is due to expire in 2005. These deadlines are fixed according to the sensitivity of the receiving waters and to the size of the affected urban population. The Directive required Member States to have identified sensitive areas by 31 December 1993, and to have met strict standards for the discharging of waste water directly into sensitive areas or their catchment areas. This should have been achieved by 31 December 1998 (the same applies to the extraction of the nutrients that contribute to eutrophication). The Directive also imposes other requirements, including those relating to waste water of certain agro-food industries, the monitoring of wastewater discharges and sludge.
The Bathing Water Quality Directive(4) is also important for safeguarding public health. It aims to ensure that bathing waters meet minimum quality criteria by establishing a set of binding and strict EU standards for a range of key parameters (including indicators of the presence of faecal bacteria).
The Directive also requires that Member States carry out regular water quality monitoring and send annual reports to the Commission, detailing bathing water quality. The legal deadline for complying with these standards was 1985. Details of member states performance can be found in the annual report on bathing water quality (
The Nitrates Directive(5) aims to prevent the introduction into surface waters and ground waters of excessive levels of nitrates due to the presence of excessive amounts of agricultural fertilisers and agricultural waste. Excessive nitrate levels cause undesirable ecological changes in water and contribute to the proliferation of harmful blooms of algae. They can also adversely affect public health. The Directive required Member States to carry out monitoring of surface waters and ground water, to identify nitrate-polluted waters and to designate vulnerable zones (zones of intensive agriculture that include nitrate-polluted waters) by December 1993.
The Shellfish Water Directive(6) requires Member States to designate waters that need protecting or improving in order to support shellfish. It also requires, among other things, that mandatory quality standards be achieved in the designated waters. It requires Member States to do regular sampling and to establish pollution reduction programmes.
The Dangerous Substances Directive(7) is one of the earliest pieces of EU environmental legislation. It creates a framework for dealing with water pollution caused by an extensive list of dangerous substances. Under this framework, Member States are required to adopt pollution-reduction programmes that involve binding water quality objectives, a monitoring network and a system of authorisations for discharges. The European Court of Justice has made rulings in cases concerning Spain, Greece, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Italy for failure to adopt pollution reduction programmes for 99 dangerous substances. Amongst these 99 substances are well-known pollutants like arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and several organic tin compounds. The Court has also confirmed the need for pollution-reduction programmes to be specific, comprehensive and co-ordinated and to include statutory environmental quality objectives.

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source: EU Website (via European Water Management News, 14 January 2004)


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