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23.06.04 : New Dams Threatens World Rivers (WWF/Reuters)

SOUTH AFRICA: June 23, 2004
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Dam building poses a serious threat to some of the world's largest rivers, with China's Yangtze at greatest risk, WWF International said in a report released yesterday.

The report, "Rivers at Risk," also said many of the benefits conferred by dams - such as hydropower - are canceled out by wasteful practices and environmental damage.
"Much of the water provided by dams is lost, mainly due to inefficient ... irrigation systems, which globally waste up to 1,500 trillion liters of water annually. This is equivalent to 10 times the annual water consumption of the entire African continent," the report said. The report said 60 percent of the world's 227 largest rivers have been fragmented by dams.

"(This) has led to the destruction of wetlands, a decline in freshwater species - including river dolphins, fish, and birds - and the forced displacement of tens of millions of people," WWF said.

The report identified China's Yangtze River as most at risk, with 46 large dams planned or under construction along its waterways.

The La Plata basin in South America and the Tigris and Euphrates basin in Turkey and the Middle East are also undergoing major dam works.

"Degradation of the water sources in this (Tigris and Euphrates) basin is of particular concern for the biologically rich wetlands, such as the Mesopotamian marshlands in Iraq, that host a myriad of species," said the report.

Some of the planet's most threatened mammals, such as the Ganges River dolphin, and dolphins and porpoises in the Yangtze, are at risk from habitat destruction associated with dam construction.

"Dams disrupt the ecological balance of rivers by depleting them of oxygen and nutrients, and affecting the migration and reproduction of fish and other freshwater species," it said.

The report says communities living downstream often suffer the most from dams, but the construction can be accomplished in an ecologically friendly way.

"Good site selection, such as avoiding building dams on the main stem of a river system, and better dam design can play significant roles in minimizing impacts," it said.


Presserelease WWF intl

Download the report


19.06.04 : Visca l'Ebre! (Long live the Ebro!): The Ebro Delta celebrates! (Ebro water transfer is abolished )

Today thousands of people are converging on Ampolla on the Ebro Delta in Catalonia for 3 days (18-20th) of "fiesta" to pay homage to the 3 and a half years of campaigning against the Ebro water transfer proposed by the ex-Spanish govt in its National Hydrological Plan. We will also be celebrating the fact that today, 18/6, the new govt (voted in on the 14/3/04) has finally abolished this water transfer as promised and has proposed other alternatives for the water "problems" in the south of Spain.

Three days of celebration, concerts and fiesta, and homage, but also of work, as we have prepared work sessions with many of the top scientists and other water experts of Spain (for example, Professor Arrojo, Goldman Prize 2003 winner), NGOs (Greenpeace, WWF, ...) and other social campign movements. Three years of mass popular uprising, with demonstrations in Madrid, Barcelona, even Brussels, have led to this moment, and this weekend we hope to plant the seed of the future of our movement, a future working for the implementation of the so-called New Water Culture and the protection of Mediterranean rivers. The people of the Ebro finally woke up 3 years ago and now are refusing to lie back down!

I enclose below the BBC story today. If you want any more info, don't hesitate to ask.
Visca l'Ebre! (Long live the Ebro!)

more information on the Ebro Transfer and the PHN


Spain ditches Ebro River project

There have been protests against the diversion plan in the past
Spain has abolished a controversial plan to divert the Ebro River.
The previous conservative Cabinet had already started the project to transfer 100bn litres of water a year from the northern river to the more arid south.

But Environment Minister Cristina Narbona said it was being stopped for environmental and financial reasons.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has already turned the former government's foreign policy on its head by ordering Spanish troops out of Iraq.

Instead of the Ebro plan, the Spanish Cabinet is backing an alternative, 3.7bn euro (£2.4bn) water plan that involves constructing desalination plants along the coast.

'More logical'

Ms Narbona said the 15 plants would provide the same amount of water as the pipeline but sooner and more cheaply.

"Everyone can understand that it's more logical to build a desalination plant close to where the water is needed than bringing water through a 900km [600-mile] pipeline," she said.

By using a special decree to stop the Ebro project, the government finally put an end to one of the most ambitious water projects ever conceived.

The plan approved three years ago aimed to build more than 100 dams and hundreds of kilometres of irrigation channels to transfer the water from the Ebro River.

This highly controversial project soon got bogged down in political and funding problems.

nOctober, when the government of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar improved the environmental impact statement, the plan was set to go ahead.

But the Cabinet's decision on Friday means the project is abandoned with immediate effect.

'No panacea'

Environmental groups that campaigned against the Ebro plan have said they prefer desalination as an alternative but do not believe the new proposal resolves all outstanding issues.

"It's not a panacea," said Mario Rodriguez, from Greenpeace. "There are still major issues that are not tackled such as the problems with the disposal of residual salt."

Jose Perez, spokesperson for the conservative Popular Party, says the government is destroying the dreams of southern Spain.

The BBC's Danny Wood says thousands of people are gathering in the city of Valencia to protest against the Cabinet's decision

17.06.04 : Australia: Big Riverfestival in Brisbane, 27 August to 5 September

Riverfestival is an initiative of the Brisbane City Council and Queensland Government in partnership with Channel Nine . You can be apart of this spectacular festival as we celebrate the heart of our city for ten days.

more information :


02.06.04 : Bathing Water Report 2003: continued quality improvements in the EU15

Just ahead of the summer holiday season, the European Commission today presented the annual report on the quality of Europe's bathing waters. Overall, the picture is good: bathing water quality in the EU15 continues to improve. The annual report is based on the requirements of the 1976 Bathing Water Directive and issued every year before the summer holiday season to allow citizens to check the quality of the bathing water in their favourite holiday destinations. In 2003, 98.6% of the EU coastal bathing waters and 92.3% of all fresh waters complied with the Directive. This confirms the positive trends of recent years. Many Member States are now very close to full compliance with the quality standards and the monitoring requirements under the Directive. However, one worrying aspect remains: in some Member States, there is a tendency to ban bathing or declassify bathing sites when there are problems, rather than removing the source of pollution.

complet texte of the EU communication (different languages)

Bathingwater Report (different languages)


01.06.04 : The International Commission for the Protection of the
Danube River (ICPDR) announce the “Danube Day”

The Danube: Celebrating a European Lifeline
Events Planned Across Danube River Basin to Commemorate First Danube Day on 29 June

VIENNA 1 June (UN Information Service) -- The International Commission for the Protection of the
Danube River (ICPDR) announced the “Danube Day” at a press briefing today, to be celebrated for the
first time on 29 June this year. With this innovative step, the ICPDR intends to raise awareness about
the importance of protecting the Danube and the sustainable use of its resources. “Danube Day” will
be celebrated throughout the Danube River Basin, in co-operation with national and local
governmental organizations, scientific and environmental institutions.
On 29 June, the countries of the Danube basin (Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia,
Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Moldova, Rumania and
Ukraine) have planned a series of events on the theme of the “Danube – bridge to the future”.

read the complete text

For more information, visit, ICPDR: Tel. +43 1 26060-4373
United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS)
P.O.Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: (+43-1) 26060 4666, FAX: (+43-1) 26060 5899, Email:

contact Jasmine BACHMANN, ICPDR Secretariat at UNOV,|
| e-mail:, Phone: +(43 1) 26060 4373 |

04.05.04 : UK Rivers Network News Spring 2004

Hello... Spring is here.. and so is our occasional, bite-sized email newsletter! We try never to send out unsolicited email, so if you don't want to receive things like this in future, please simply drop us a quick reply. A human being will promptly remove you from our email list. Apologies if you received this in error.

If you've never heard of us before, we're a small outfit set up in 1999 to improve communications between river-minded people in the UK. Simple as that!

1. New UK Rivers Message board!
If, like us, you find it hard to keep up with all the happenings in the "world of UK rivers", you might like our new plan to let the Internet shoulder the burden. We've set up a brand new message board on our website where you can share your news, event details, job postings, requests for help, and so on. Please help us make it a success!
More info:

2. Dibden Bay victory
A campaign to build a huge new container port at Dibden Bay, an important bird habitat on Southampton Water, has finally been defeated. We've been following progress and cheering from the sidelines since 1998. Well done to local campaign group Residents Against Dibden Bay Port (RADBP), who put up a fantastic fight with help from NGOs including Friends of the Earth, RSPB, and the Hampshire & IOW Wildlife Trust.
More info:

3. Bathside Bay port inquiry begins
Dibden may be defeated, but there are equally destructive plans for ports elsewhere in the UK. The big environmental NGOs have launched a joint campaign called Portswatch to push for a more rational port-planning policy. RSPB and others will be fighting proposals for a new port at Bathside Bay, near Harwich, on the Stour and Orwell estuary.
More info:

4. Stonehenge Inquiry wraps up
Plans for a major road upgrade through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site -- including a tunnel bored through the aquifer that feeds the Rivers Avon and Till -- have just been scrutinized at a three-month-long public inquiry. This is another long-running UKRN campaign. Most recently, we've been working with other NGOs, including Friends of the Earth and CPRE, as part of the Stonehenge Alliance. Visitors to our website have contributed over 1200 pounds to the Alliance's inquiry fighting fund... so the Internet does work... sometimes!
More info:

5. Fundraising online
On that note, if anyone wants help raising money online, please get in touch. We have a secure online credit-card donation system that any UK river groups or campaigns are welcome to use for their own fundraising. Or we can advise on how you can set up your own system.
More info: Please email us at

6. Sink the Link
Campaigners in Salisbury (venue for our 2001 conference) continue to oppose the Brunel link road. Plans have been repeatedly delayed, most recently by an amazing archaeological discovery: apparently the first evidence of the use of fire in Europe on the route of the road.
More info:

7. SAS find support for sewage!
Surfers Against Sewage, those sterling campaigners against water pollution, have recently found support for responsible, on-land sewage disposal in an important new study. Sounds good to us... but watch those rivers, please!
More info:

8. Campaigns further afield
If you're interested in river news and campaigns from further afield, don't forget to check out the *excellent* European Rivers Network's RiverNet and International Rivers Network websites:
More info:

9. Life in English rivers
EVER WONDERED how to reintroduce the endangered white-clawed crayfish to British waterways? Or the best way to monitor a riverine Special Area of Conservation? And where exactly does an otter like to breed? The answers to these and many more questions that have plagued freshwater ecologists and river managers can be found in a fantastic new resource: the 44 publications, CD-ROMs and website of Life in UK Rivers. The full-colour Life in UK Rivers reports are available from the Enquiry Service, English Nature, Northminster House, Peterborough PE1 1UA. Tel: 01733 455000. Email:
More info:

10. Newsletter postponed
Huge apologies to those of you who sent items for our summer newsletter last year. Due to a funding crisis (sending out a newsletter costs us about 500 pounds), we had to delay that plan for a while. So sorry! We will be doing a newsletter one of these days and we *will* re-use the items people submitted then.

11. New river groups on our network page
Our website continues to go from strength to strength. More than half a million schoolchildren have hit our educational pages since we first them up in Autumn 1999. Another popular page lists contacts for all the river groups we know about in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Are you on there? Would you like to be? Let us know!
More info:

12. Flush Out Poverty
Just in, as Ronnie Barker used to say, a request from WaterAid: Please drop by their website and add your name to their online petition calling on Chancellor Gordon Brown to increase aid spending on water and sanitation. He makes a decision in July so pressure is needed now:
More info:

13. Environmental Atlas
Just to prove that our minds, at least, venture beyond the UK: the brand new "Atlas of US and Canadian Environmental History" (Routledge, New York, 2003) contains a dozen fascinating features written by UKRN... including the story of the decline of the Newfoundland cod fisheries.
More info:

14. River restoration online
We've only recently noticed that the River Restoration Centre's manual is now online.
More info:

Want regular news updates?
Check out our website for the latest UK river news (updated as often as we can manage)... and an archive of river stories going back to 1995.

And don't forget, if you've got news of your own, why not add it to our message board for others too see? Even the most "local" news is often of much wider interest!
More info:

UK Rivers Network


04.05.04 : Alerte: Ukraine is planning to construct a deep-water navigation canal
through the Danube biosphere reserve ! Take action !

Ukraine is planning to construct a deep-water navigation canal "The Danube - The Black Sea". The
Ministry of Transport of Ukraine insists on pursuing a variant which passes
through an the Bystroye Estuary of the Danube Delta,
which is located within the specially protected area of the Danube Biosphere
The Danube Reserve is part of the UNESCO bilateral biosphere reserve "Delta
of the Danube". According to Ukrainian national legislation, law prohibits
such activity in a specially protected area of a biosphere reserve.
Recently, it came to light that the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine is
going to issue a Decree signed by the President to withdraw the Bystroye
Estuary from the Danube Biosphere Reserve.

After refusal from Netherlands companies, Ukrainian Minister of transportation Kirpa has contracted for canal construction through the Danube biosphere reserve company from Hamburg, Germany. (Josef Moebius Bau-Aktiengesellschaft)
Their representative has already been out to the Danube delta, discussing the work details. Ministry of Transportation says that the dredging fleet is already heading out to the Danube reserve and that the work will start at mid-May.

Arguments and more informations: (russ, ukr, eng)

Please help us to alerte and send letters to the company and to Ukrainian politicians
Draft and adresses: (socio ecological Union)

Olga Sakharova:
S.Shaparnko: pecheneg@ic.kharkov.uabzw
Aleksandr Boloshkevich (Director Biosphere Reserve Danube):


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