03.05.04 : Spain Puts
Last Touches to New Ebro Water Plan
Reuters Mon 3 May, 2004 17:34
Spain's government will finalize next week cheaper
alternatives to a scrapped multi-billion euro plan to divert the
country's longest river to irrigate parched regions, the environment
minister said Monday. The plan, touted by
the previous conservative government as the answer to Spain's historic
water problems, would have rerouted the Ebro with 600 miles of pipes
taking water from the fertile northeast to the arid south.
By Jeremy Smith
One of the first acts of Spain's new socialist government last month
was to scrap the plan -- to the delight of green groups that criticized
it as an ecological disaster. Environment
Minister Cristina Narbona said she would soon conclude talks with
the Spanish regions affected by the earlier Ebro plan and be in
a position to publish alternative projects. These
would be cheaper and have less impact on the environment than the
original Ebro project, the biggest and most controversial part of
Spain's wide-ranging $5.2 billion water plan. "We
are still holding meetings with the regional governments,"
she told a news conference held jointly with European Environment
Commissioner Margot Wallstrom. "Next week I hope we can finalize
the details of the projects," Narbona said. "We
haven't got a definitive figure of the investment cost and of the
European funding that we shall seek. I calculate that the cost will
be somewhat below what was foreseen for the Ebro transfer -- very
expensive at more than four billion euros."
Spain expected to request a similar amount of EU aid to finance
its alternative projects as had been foreseen by the country's previous
government, she said. This amount, around 1.2 billion euros, was
never formally approved by Brussels. Ecologists
had said the previous Ebro project would wreck the river's delta,
one of Europe's most ecologically important wetlands that is home
to flamingos, herons and oystercatchers and depends on silt from
Although the details of the new plans are
still unclear, a key idea would be to use renewable energy to desalinate
sea water, Narbona said, adding that this solution would be cheaper,
more feasible and offer better quality water. Wallstrom
welcomed what she called Spain's new "holistic approach"
to solve its historic water problems, worst in the southern and
eastern areas. "They will look at both
the cost-benefit analysis as well as the environmental aspects of
this plan. I'm hopeful for the future," she said.
more information about the OLD PLAN: http://www.rivernet.org/Iberian/planhydro.htm
: Activists Say World Bank Dam Projects Detrimental
SERVICE, April 23, 2004
WASHINGTON - The World Bank is accelerating its funding for large
projects to the detriment of the environment and locals in the
countries where the projects are built, a report released on Thursday
"So often it's the poorest that pay the price for projects
supposed to bring development," said Peter Bosshard, main
the International Rivers Network report.
"Bank-funded dams have displaced more than 10 million people,
millions of hectares of lands and pushed many countries deeper
debt. Yet the bank is set to repeat its mistakes all over again,"
The report, published on Earth Day and presented as the IMF and
Bank hold their spring meetings in Washington, underlines what
calls the dangers of the World Bank's renewed interest in engaging
big dam projects.
Richard Uku, spokesman for the World Bank's infrastructure branch,
said the bank is indeed reinvigorating its development of water,
communications, sanitation, energy and transportation infrastructure.
The agenda is outlined in the Infrastructure Action Plan released
The world spends about $60 billion on the water sector, including
sanitation, irrigation, hydro power and water supply in developing
countries, said a World Bank spokesperson. About 90 percent of
comes from domestic sources.
The World Bank accounts for 50 percent of external financing or
billion a year.
World Bank supporters and bank President James Wolfensohn say
lender's involvement in the projects helps ensure that some social
and environmental regulations are met.
"If we withdrew, in one case, it would have been financed
by people who didn't give a damn," Wolfensohn told reporters
Thursday. "Sometimes there's criticism of us for staying
in when it
would be a lot easier for us to move out."
However, Bosshard said, large dam projects often do more harm
good to the environment and the displaced people.
The report, which focuses on India as a case study, calls on the
to look more into alternative projects like rainwater harvesting
systems. The report also suggests the World Bank apply the
recommendations of the 2000 World Dam Commission review.
The review was the first global assessment of dams and was
co-sponsored by the World Bank.
The Bank has its own environmental and social safeguard policies,
said. Critics argue, however, that the bank has a poor track record
of implementing those safeguards.
Alok Agarwal is a long-time activist with Save the Narmada, a
against a controversial dam project in India with which the World
Bank was involved.
"On paper there is a policy that people should be given land
land, but the government is not following those principles,"
said. Nor, he said, did the bank provide adequate compensation
the displaced people.
"The WCD analysis showed that in the past, those safeguard
... generally have not been implemented," said Deborah Moore,
former commissioner on the World Commission on Dams. "If
to reengage with those kinds of projects, what is it that you
doing differently this time?"
April 24, 2004
IMF, World Bank butt heads with critics
By Emad Mekay
WASHINGTON - Leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) on Thursday disputed charges from critics and activists
that the lenders have aggravated poverty in the developing world
devalued the rights of millions of people affected by their programs.
During the institutions' spring meetings here, the officials took
credit for helping to stabilize the world economy, pull people
poverty, and educate millions of children. But the opposite is
"The world economy as a whole has enjoyed a rate of economic
never before realized in world history," IMF acting managing
Anne Krueger said on the 60th anniversary of both the IMF and
"We have had a growth of international trade. We've had
liberalization of trade, which has spurred that growth. We've
living standards, life expectancies, any measure you name - not
incomes - life expectancies, educational attainments and what
you, going up."
Krueger, whose Washington-based institution is often blamed for
resounding financial meltdown in Asia in the 1990s and in Argentina
two years ago, said that the IMF and World Bank had brought about
"better framework internationally, where international financial
stability is important".
She also gave the IMF credit for price stability, steady inflation
and a better general understanding of governments' role in the
economy. "Even though we still have many poor peoples, even
have a lot to do, what we're forgetting is where things were 50
ago," added Krueger.
World Bank president James Wolfensohn echoed those statements
a press conference, disputing some of the accusations of activists
and critics from the so-called "global justice movement".
saying that there has been good progress over 20 years, over the
20 years, and that is true ... and it's been good progress on
number of things: on literacy, on life expectancy."
The IMF and World Bank came into existence at Bretton Woods in
United States state of New Hampshire following World War II with
purpose of building a stable global economic framework.
But their critics - who have grown quickly over the past decade
part of the international anti-globalization movement and include
many people from developing countries - gave the two institutions
grades on some of the same issues the lenders boasted about.
At a press conference economists and activists grilled the IMF
the bank about their roles in plunging millions of people into
"On its 60th anniversary, the World Bank seems to be suffering
case of institutional amnesia," said Peter Bosshard, policy
at California-based International Rivers Network.
Bosshard told reporters that the bank - which has continually
supported major infrastructure projects, including dams - has
part in displacing more than 10 million people and flooding millions
of hectares of land.
Because of its insistence on such mega-projects and its financial
backing for them, which eventually found its way to large
multinational firms based in rich nations, the World Bank had
helped to push many countries deeper into debt, he added. "In
60th year, one would hope that the bank would be a bit wiser by
But Wolfensohn argued that his organization is much improved,
that critics were focused on old problems. "I'd say to them
we're doing a 10 times better job than we ever did in the '80s,
because I think everybody now is coming to understand that the
of human rights, that the issue of effectiveness of programs on
relocation, is not just a fringe activity but that it is central,"
But the international advocacy group Oxfam also contradicted the
assessment of the top officials. "The bank and donor countries
still failing the poor," said Max Lawson, Oxfam policy advisor.
"Urgent increases in both debt relief and donor aid are vital.
60 long years, the bank is old enough to know better."
"Donor decisions are crippling countries twice over - through
to deliver debt relief while at the same time refusing to provide
so that millions of children will never complete a basic education,"
The critics, who include religious groups and other civil society
organizations, said the institutions need to act on many fronts.
demanded that the bank and the IMF open their meetings to the
and the public and end proposals, including privatization of national
assets and introduction of user fees, which hinder people's access
food, clean water, shelter and health care.
They also called on the bodies to stop supporting socially and
environmentally destructive projects, like oil and gas developments
and dams. They insisted that the two lenders cancel impoverished
nations' debts, a call that Wolfensohn rejected. "No one
wants to not
have social programs, but as with an individual who has some debts,
it would be much better to be able to spend it on things that
want, and ignore obligations," he said.
"And at some point as an individual, you can't just go on
your credit cards and not paying your bank and not paying your
mortgage, and saying 'but really what I want to do is to educate
kids'. Well, of course you want to educate your kids," Wolfensohn
added, "but at a certain moment the rules are that if you
keep playing the game, you do have some other obligations."
(Inter Press Service)
20.04.04 : RAMSAR mission report 20-23
march 2004 : ecology expert group meeting of the danube convention
The Danube Commission (ICPDR) established for
the period 2001-2004 an Ecological Expert Group. In view of the
7th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Danube
River Protection Convention and Ministerial Conference, to be
held in Vienna on 13-14 December 2004, all Expert Groups established
by the ICPDR are now drawing their current work to a conclusion
and exchanging their draft outputs to include other experts' comments.
more information: http://www.ramsar.org/w.n.danube_update_march2004.htm
19.04.04 : Colorado River: most endangered
US river for 2004
Last week the Colorado River was proclaimed the
most endangered river in the United States for 2004 by American
Rivers. AR identified three specific threats to the water quality
of the Colorado River: uranium mill waste from Moab, Utah; rocket
fuel waste from Henderson, Nevada; and septic sewer waste from
riverside development in the Lower Basin. Living Rivers, local
citizens and regional scientists are currently working on a plan
to provide accurate scientific information to the Department of
Energy concerning the potential of flooding, which could wash
Moab's uranium waste pile into the Colorado River. This effort
is in response to a statement issued by National Academy of Sciences,
which concluded that the integrity of the uranium waste pile could
be compromised by historic type flood events. Many concerned citizens
and scientists believe that Moab's uranium waste pile must be
removed from its floodplain location and contained at a place
that is safe and stable. In the press coverage of this event,
which follows, Living Rivers and the Colorado Riverkeeper stressed
the importance of moving Moab's uranium waste away from the Colorado
River to ensure that drinking water and river ecosystems downstream
are safe from radioactive poisons.
MORE INFORMATION: LIVING RIVERS & COLORADO RIVERKEEPER Electronic
Information Services PO BOX 466 Moab, UT 84532, Tel: 435.259.1063
, Fax: 435.259.7612 email@example.com http://www.livingrivers.org
17.04.04 : New Spanish leader to scrap
controversial water transfer plan
The new Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez
Zapatero, has ordered a review of the entire workings of the Spanish
National Hydrological Plan and cancelled its most controversial
project, the Ebro Transfer. In a speech to parliament, Prime Minister
Zapatero said: "This review will imply halting some specific infrastructures
and replacing them with more efficient, cheaper and less disputed
projects." He added that the environmental consequences of any
decisions would be taken into account. SNHP was one of the biggest
water infrastructure projects in the world, along with the Three
Gorges Dam in China. The plan has caused outrage among environmental
groups (Plataforma en defanes del Ebro, COAGRET , WWF, Greepeace,
ERN and and man,y more NGOs) , since it was first suggested .
It proposed a massive transfer of water from the north of the
country to the south, which suffers severe water shortage difficulties
due to such things as intensive agriculture and tourism. The cancellation
of the Ebro Transfer was not a huge surprise, however. The European
Commission delayed funding on the project in December last year
and Margot Wallstrom, the Environment Commissioner, said she was
not in favour of the project last month. more information on SNHP:
07.04.04 : Commission takes Italy
to court to prevent Hydro- Electric plant from damaging river
The European Commission has decided to refer Italy
to the European Court of Justice with regard to a hydro-electric
project in Lombardy that involves abstracting water from the Schiesone
River (Sondrio). The Commission is concerned that this project
will lead to the deterioration of important fluvial habitats within
a site that is nominated for special protection under the EU's
Habitats Directive. Read
02.04.04 : Spain: Itoiz Dam Protester
Ibai Ederra of Solidarios con Itoiz imprisoned
in Pamplona . Support the Solidarios in prison! On 15 March 2004
Ibai Ederra was arrested in a routine traffic police check. Ibai
is one of the 8 Solidarios who famously cut the cables of the
concrete pump at the construction site of the Itoiz Dam (Ebro
Riverbasin), stopping the construction for a year. Ibai now faces
4 years 10 months in prison for the action. Inaki Garcia Koch,
from the same group, is already in prison having been detained
in similar circumstances in 2001. After a 20-year struggle by
tens of thousands of people against the dam, and despite the fact
that experts believe it is unstable and could endanger the lives
of thousands, the dam is currently being filled. Those who know
the beautiful area will be saddened to hear that the flooding
is now extensive, brutal deforestation has taken place and a road
is being built very close to the peaceful village of Lakabe. The
dam was declared illegal by the Supreme Court due to the fact
that it will flood several nature reserves, but this was overturned
in 2001 by the Constitutional Court which changed the law specifically
for Itoiz. Since the arrest Solidari@s have done several noise
emos outside the prison, and their struggle continues. It's very
important that people write to Ibai and Inaki in prison. A letter
in any language is better than no letter at all. Ibai Ederra or
Iņaki Garcia > Carcel de Pamplona. Apdo. 250. Iruņa. Nafarroa.
more information :
23.03.04 : Romania reports river pollution
with cyanide (Reuters)
Romania's Environment Ministry said that toxic
waste containing cyanide
had spilled into a river in the northeast of the country and could
health hazards and kill fish. Cyanhydric acetone, used in production
detergents, leaked from a storage tank at the Metadet chemical
Falticeni, 500 km (300 miles) north of Bucharest, into Somuzul
tributary of the Siret river which flows into the Danube.
22.03.04 : World Water day : EU agrees
to set up new water facility to boost access to clean water and
The European Union agreed today World Water
Day to set up a special Water
Facility to promote access to clean water and sanitation for people
Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The facility, originally
by President Prodi in 2003, could in a first phase be worth up
to € 500
million and is designed to have an important catalytic effect
generating additional funds for water and sanitation.
complet text : http://www.europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/04/375%7C0%7CRAPID&lg=EN&display=
(in english, french, german and spanish)
14.03.04 : International day against
dams, for rivers, water and life 2004
go to: general/movement/14mars.htm
10.03.04 : Dam building threatens China's
by Jim Yardley, The New York Times, March 10,
Dimaluo, China: The highest villages in the mountains
above the Nu River seem to hang in the air. Farmers grow cabbage
and corn nearly a quarter-mile up, as if cultivating ski slopes.
Necessity has pushed them into the sky; land is precious along
the river. They may have to move higher still, perhaps into the
The Nu, which flows through a region that is home
to old-growth forests, some 7,000 species of plants and 80 rare
or endangered animal species, is the latest waterway coveted by
a Chinese government that is planning to build a new generation
of dams to help power its relentless, booming economy.
Unlike the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest
hydroelectric project and the subject of a bitter international
debate, the Nu River plan has barely stirred a ripple outside
China. But in China the project, which calls for 13 dams in all,
has unexpectedly touched a nascent chord of environmental awareness
and provoked rare public rifts within the government.
The reason is that the Nu is one of the last pristine
rivers in one of the world's most polluted countries, running
through a canyon region unlike any other, which a United Nations
agency has designated a World Heritage Site. Last year, China's
State Environmental Protection Agency and the Chinese Academy
of Sciences publicly criticized the Nu project.
"If this river system is destroyed, it would
be a terrible blow," said Li Bosheng, a prominent Chinese
botanist. "This area has been called the Grand Canyon of
the Orient. It forms one of the world's most special canyon environments."
For China, which already has more large dams than
any other country, environmental awareness has been slowly growing
since the long fight over the Three Gorges, where ground was broken
a decade ago for a project that will cost at least $25 billion
and displace more than a million people by the time it is finished
No estimate has been made public for the cost
of the Nu project. In Yunnan Province in southwest China, the
Nu project would force the relocation of as many as 50,000 people,
many descended from Lisu, Nu, Drung, Tibetan and other ethnic
hill people. Many are farmers and herders who cannot speak Chinese
and who choose to live on the land as their ancestors did.
complet article see : www.threegorgesprobe.org/tgp/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=9689
08.03.04 : EU Commission pans Spanish
water transfer plan
The European Commission's environment directorate has recommended
provisionally withholding €1.26bn funding requested by Spain
planned north-south water transfer project, it emerged on Friday.
leaked report rejects government claims that the Ebro river basin
sustain the transfer, expreseses "worries" about "exaggeration
benefits and systematic undervaluing of costs" and criticises
plan's environmental impact assessment. The Commission's competition
directorate is understood also to have criticised aspects of the
The news comes days before Spanish elections in which the transfer
project has become an issue (ED 05/03/04
source: Environment Daily 1623, 08/03/04
See European Commission
more information on the PHN on RiverNet:
: New initiative to clean up the Nairobi Dam
New project launched to restore Kenyan water supply
A new initiative to clean up the Nairobi Dam, in an attempt to
restore water supplies to the 'chronically water scarce' Kenya,
was launched this week by the United Nations.
Friends of the Nairobi Dam has launched
a trust to restore the water supply for residents
The Nairobi Dam Trust Initiative needs to raise US$600,000 to
return the reservoir to its original supply of 98,422 cubic meters
of potable water. Representatives of the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme
(UN-HABITAT) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched
A lack of proper waste management, in terms
of solid waste, liquid waste and industrial waste, along with
a high-density population from the surrounding settlement and
increased recreational activity in the water has seen a gradual
degradation of the supply. The Dam was originally commissioned
High coliform counts, indicating high sewage contamination, have
consistently registered in water samples taken from the Nairobi
Dam. This and other pollutants have rendered the waster in the
river system and the dam totally unusable and hazardous to human
health, says the UN Environment Programme.
"It is clear that the Nairobi Dam presents a particular problem,"
said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UNEP. "We congratulate
the newly formed Friends of the Nairobi Dam for launching this
new Trust Initiative and call on all actors, including the private
sector, to wholeheartedly back the scheme."
"Cleaning up the dam and the water
sources of Nairobi will directly benefit the urban poor,"
said Mrs. Tibaijuka Executive Director of the United Nations Human
Settlements Programme. "However, it is important to realize
that successful completion of the project will require a commitment
by all stakeholders to slum upgrading and to providing decent
shelter, adequate sanitation and clean water to the poor, especially
those living in Kibera."
In the immediate stages the Initiative will work to raise money
to meet the investment need to restore the Dam and the Kenyan
water sector in general.
By Sorcha Clifford
source: edie news 5.03.04
01.03.04 : New map shows impact of human
activities on lakes and rivers in Germany
Structural map of waters provides overview of
impact of human activities on lakes and rivers Of
the 33,000 km of flowing waters investigated in Germany, a mere
semi-natural and have been changed little by man. This is clearly
illustrated by a newly published and convenient structural map
which classifies changes in the structure of bodies of water from
natural state on a scale of 1 (unchanged) to 7 (completely changed).
This free DIN A3-sized map with explanations on the reverse side
especially suited for schools and universities and was published
Federal Ministry for Environment (BMU) and the Federal Environmental
Agency (UBA).It is important for natural ecosystems and for good
quality in general to have as natural a water structure as possible.
The new structural map of waters is based on the December 2002
published by the Working Group of the Federal States on Water
(LAWA) on a scale of 1:1,000,000. It offered the first ever overview
the structure of all of Germanys creeks and rivers as well
condition of their flood plains. The new map in its convenient
to make the issue more accessible to a broader public.The fold-out
available from the UBA, Central Services Unit, P.O. Box 33 00
Berlin (postcard), fax: 030/8903-2912, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and from
PR Office, tel: 01888/305-3355, fax: 01888/305-3356, email:
The 2000 leaflet on the biological quality of waters is also
available.Further information on the development of water quality
found online at
http://www.bmu.de, under the Gewässer
heading.Berlin, 1 March 2004