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16.06.05 : Brazil : Controvers Water Diversion to the arid Nort East (The

Controversy engulfs plan to bring water to Brazil's arid north-east
John Vidal, Thursday June 16, 2005
The Guardian

The Brazilian army is to start work on one of Latin America's most ambitious
water transfer schemes, when construction begins next month on a project to
supply water to more than six million people.
The army will build a network of reservoirs and more than 430 miles of
canals to transfer water from the country's third largest river to the
semi-desert region in the north-east of the country.

The Rio Sao Francisco project is intended to provide irrigation water for
millions of impoverished farmers and drinking water for communities in a
region which has experienced more than 70 droughts in the past 150 years.

The Brazilian ministry of national integration says it will bring water to
six million people, irrigate 330,0000 hectares and bring 1,300 miles of dry
riverbeds back to life.
It is expected to cost $2.3bn (£1.2bn) over five years, providing little
more than drought relief.

But the plan has been denounced by more than 200 social and environmental
groups. Critics argue that it is ecologically and socially misguided,
extravagant and aimed at promoting the reelection of the president, Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva, next year. He is from the north-eastern state of

They favour the construction of more reservoirs, cisterns, wells and
aqueducts, which they say would be cheaper and more efficient than building
the canals.

The army will start to build the two short canals needed to take the water
from the river to two new dams next month.

The water, estimated at about 1% of the Sao Francisco's flow, will then be
pumped into 435 miles of canals which are planned to irrigate the states of
Ceara, Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco and Paraiba.

The idea of diverting water from the 1,800 mile-long Sao Francisco to the
north-east of the country has been debated in Brazil for almost 200 years,
and has been promised or investigated by colonial, civil and military
governments since 1858. More than $8bn has been spent on drought relief
since 1988.

Critics of the project, which is not supported by the World Bank or foreign
backers, do not contest the need for drought relief in the region but say
this plan will be socially divisive and environmentally dubious.

"It is nonviable economically, socially and ecologically," said Roberto
Malvezzi, the national coordinator of the Catholic Church's pastoral land

According to Mr Malvezzi, the World Bank studied the viability of the plan
and proposed a series of smaller projects to store and distribute water to
the region's rural poor instead.

The area is home to many of Brazil's poorest farmers as well as large
numbers of landless people, but it is doubtful whether they will directly

"About 70% of the water will be for economic use - irrigated grapes and
other fruits, flowers and shrimp farming for export. Only 4% is for poor
people in the scrub", said Mr Malvezzi.

Renato Cunha, the director of the Bahia Environmental Group, said: "The
problem of the northeast is not the scarcity of water, but the way water is
managed and that existing projects have been left unfinished. This plan is
not going to solve the problem. It will only exacerbate existing conflicts
over who controls land and water."

The growing opposition now includes environmentalists, scientists, community
and professional associations.

Source : The Guardian, via Glenn Switkes
International Rivers Network
São Paulo tel (+55) 11.3822.4157


A first national consultation "Respecting Water" was launched in France by
the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development from May 2nd to
November 2nd, 2005. This consultation proceeds within the framework of
implementing the WFD. The Committees of Basin will carry out the synthesis
of all the expressed opinions, and will propose a final document "the
inventory of state of art and important questions" taking into account the
contributions of the public debates. On the basis of this document a
management plan will be proposed to define objectives and actions in order
to reach a good state of water. The public will then again be consulted in
2007, on this second phase, which will be completed with the publication of
a new "SDAGE" in 2009.
more information (french gov website)

08.06.05 : Vietnam Wants Mass Relocation Of People Speeded Up For Giant
Power Project Hanoi (AFP)

Vietnam's government has ordered the relocation of more than 8,600 people
from the site of a reservoir for a huge hydro-electric dam by November, an
official working on the project said Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered the state-run Electricity of
Vietnam (EVN) and the northwestern provinces of Son La, Dien Bien and Lai
Chau to speed up relocation, the official said.

"The government asked us to prepare the relocation zones so that we can
begin building the hydroelectric dam by blocking the waters of the Da river
in November," said Dinh Van Thoat, of the Son La provincial committee in
charge of the population transfer.

A total of 91,000 people are to be relocated from the areas to be flooded by
2010. The hydroelectric dam is expected to begin generating power in 2012,
with full operations planned by 2015.

Already 4,000 people have been moved.

"We have an enormous amount of work to do urgently to accomplish the task,"
Thoat told AFP. "However, we have already done the ground work for the
population relocation."

Vietnam's parliament approved in late 2002 the construction of the 2.46
billion-dollar project after the government scaled down its size in the face
of objections on human and safety grounds.

Son La is located in an area of seismic activity, and legislators were
concerned an earthquake could unleash a torrent of water, threatening Hanoi,
some 300 kilometres (188 miles) southeast.

Officials say ethnic minorities make up as much 80 percent of the total
number of people set to be moved. The main bulk of the relocation is
expected to take place between this year and 2010.

Electricity demand has risen on average by 13 percent to 15 percent annually
in the past few years in Vietnam. According to government estimates, about
70 billion to 80 billion kilowatts of power will be needed in 2010.

source : IRN

27.05.05 : Government Shirked Its Duty to Wild Fish, a Judge Rules

The New York Times
A judge ruled that the government improperly
limited its analysis of how fish were affected
by Northwestern dams like Ice Harbor, in Washington.

WASHINGTON, May 26 - A federal judge in Oregon
ruled Thursday that the Bush administration had
arbitrarily limited and skewed its analysis of
the harm that 14 federal dams cause to
endangered Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead.
As a result, Judge James A. Redden of Federal
District Court ruled, the administration had
shirked its duty to ensure that government
actions were not likely to jeopardize the survival of the species.
The ruling came in a challenge by
environmentalists, fishing groups and Indian
tribes to the administration's determination
that the harm the hydropower dams were posing to
the young salmon and steelhead could be remedied
over the next 10 years by $6 billion in
improvements to the dams, including spillways
designed to get the fish through safely.

The ruling sends the issue back to the National
Marine Fisheries Service for the third time. It
also paves the way for the judge to rule on
other pending requests by the same groups that
the fish have a greater claim than they have had
on limited water resources, especially when the
Army Corps of Engineers manages the rate of flow
this summer during the annual out-migration of year-old fish.
At least in the short term, these decisions
could change the balance of power on the rivers.
The rulings could give fish and fishing
interests new leverage in the perennial
competition among the hydropower industry,
farming and ranching interests, Indian tribes
and commercial fishermen, all of which want a
share of drought-depleted water resources in Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

In his ruling, Judge Redden pointed out four
fundamental flaws in the November 2004
"biological opinion" presented by the National
Marine Fisheries Service, a branch of the
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
Administration, which estimated the threats to
the fish and made conservation recommendations.
Chief among the flaws cited was the distinction
that the agency drew, for the first time,
between harm to the fish resulting from the
dams' existence and the harm resulting from the operation of the dams.
The oceanographic agency argued in the November
document that the dams were an immutable part of
the landscape and that the agency's obligations
to the fish under the Endangered Species Act
extended only to accounting for and ameliorating
those actions that it could control.

The judge ruled that the administration was
trying to carve out a loophole that would
restrict its obligations under the Endangered
Species Act. "Under N.O.A.A.'s interpretation,"
he wrote, the agency "would be able to exempt
itself from accountability by characterizing
some, even lethal, elements of any proposed action as
'nondiscretionary.' "

Judge Redden added that the consequences would
be an analysis "that ignores the reality of
past, present and future effects of federal actions on listed species."

The November 2004 biological opinion was just
such an analysis, the judge wrote, adding, that
"N.O.A.A.'s interpretation conflicts with the
structure, purpose and policy behind" the
Endangered Species Act. He also said the
analysis "has the effect of substantially
lowering the threshold required for the mitigation."

The ruling comes at a moment when unexpectedly
low returns of spring Chinook salmon to their
spawning grounds to produce the next generation
have caused great concern among fishing interests.

Environmental and fishing groups say that this
generation, the offspring of a bumper crop of
salmon, was decimated by low river flows that
made the seaward passage unusually difficult.
Officials of N.O.A.A.'s regional office and the
Bonneville Power Administration argue that
changes in ocean temperatures or disruptions of
the saltwater food chain that supports these
fish are responsible for the low returns.

The ruling also comes as a group of largely
western Republican governors and members of
Congress, along with ranching, mining and timber
interests are re-examining provisions of the
Endangered Species Act, with an eye to making
its requirements for protecting species from extinction more flexible.
The judge's decision was a step in a
long-running struggle between environmentalists
and the federal government over the harm done to salmon by the dams.

It was the third time that federal courts in
Portland have rejected the fisheries services
analysis of how federal actions might affect the
fish and what could be done. The first two were
in the Clinton administration. The second,
completed shortly before George W. Bush was
inaugurated, included the possibility of dam
removal, as a last resort, to protect the fish.

The Bush administration's biological opinion
last fall treated the dams as an immutable part
of the landscape. The environmental and tribal
groups that had objected to that opinion embraced the ruling.

John Kober, wildlife program manager for the
National Wildlife Federation, said in a
telephone interview: "We applaud this decision.
What the Bush administration was trying to do
was essentially rewrite the Endangered Species
Act by ignoring the most egregious impact to
species, such as salmon in this case, on a technicality, discretion."

Charles Hudson, a spokesman for the Columbia
River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, which
represents the four tribes with treaty rights to
fish in the rivers, said in an interview, ", "He
takes on, head-on, the Bush administration's
attempt to rewrite recovery, federal recovery policy on the Columbia

The agencies on the losing end of the ruling -
including the fisheries service, the Bureau of
Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers
-expressed disappointment in a news release and
said agency officials would consult lawyers about their options.

The Northwest regional director of the
fisheries services, Bob Lohn, said in the
statement: "Our efforts to protect salmon are
yielding measurable improvements, and we are
hard at work on recovery plans. Together,
Northwest stakeholders have helped to restore
over 3,000 miles of salmon habitat and are
producing locally driven recovery plans for the entire Northwest."
Bonneville Power Administration officials warned
that if the environmental and fishing groups
prevailed in reallocating river water operating costs would skyrocket.

(for another article on this see

Source: Jeff T. Green for The New York Times / via IRN

27.05.05 : IRN Welcomes New Water Policy from Major International Bank

HSBC, one of the world's largest banks, announced a new freshwater policy
at their Annual General Meeting in London today. The policy prohibits
lending for dams that do not comply with the recommendations of the World
Commission on Dams.

"HSBC's announcement is excellent news for everyone who wants to see
socially just and ecologically sustainable solutions to the world's water
and energy needs. Now its time for other financial institutions to step up
to the plate and follow HSBC's example," says Patrick McCully, Executive
Director of IRN.

The World Commission on Dams issued their recommendations in 2000. IRN and
hundreds of other civil society groups around the world believe that
meeting the WCD's criteria should be the litmus test for whether or not a
dam should be built.

The Commission made a comprehensive set of recommendations on water and
energy planning and management. Among these are that dam developers must
reach legally binding and freely negotiated agreements with communities
that stand to lose their lands and other resources. The Commission also
called for better environmental assessments and greatly improved planning
processes that should ensure the selection of low impact water and energy
Over the past five years a growing number of governments, UN agencies, and
companies have endorsed the WCD's approach. Much of the big dam industry,
and the World Bank, remain strongly opposed to key parts of the WCD
recommendations. HSBC is the first major private bank to endorse the WCD.

For further information:
* Patrick McCully, IRN, tel: + 1 510 213 1441 (WCD)
IRN works to halt destructive river development projects and to encourage
equitable and sustainable methods of meeting needs for water, energy and
flood management.

24.05.05 : Four more hydropower plants for Yangtze River 2005-05-24 09:55:33

BEIJING, May 24 -- China Three Gorges Project Corp. planned to build
four hydropower plants on the upper course of the Yangtze River, domestic
media reported Friday.

The Wudongde, Baihetan, Xiluodu and Xiangjiaba plants would have an
installed capacity totaling 38,500 megawatts, Xinhua said.

The plants located in Southwest China, would generate 174,400
megawatt-hours of electricity a year when they became operational, it said.

Construction of the Xiluodu plant has already started, while that of
Xiangjiaba plant will commence before the end of this year.

The company is still conducting feasibility studies for the Wudongde
and Baihetan plants. Construction of the two plants was scheduled to
begin in 2009, said the report.

Xinhua didn't provide details about the investment costs needed.

China Three Gorges Project Corp., the parent of Shanghai-listed unit
China Yangtze Power Co. Ltd., is also involved in the Three Gorges
Project - the world's largest hydropower project - also on the Yangtze
River. Construction of the project began in 1993 and is expected to last
17 years.

Xinhua said the Xiluodu and Xiangjiaba plants would help to moderate
the volume of water available for optimal power generation at the Three
Gorges Project downstream, particularly during the dry season when water
levels are low.

The two plants would also help to stop sand from silting up the Three
Gorges Project, Xinhua said.

The 6,380-kilometer-long Yangtze is the longest river in China as
well as in Asia.

China is racing to develop nuclear power and hydropower, as well as
harness various sources of renewable energy, while reducing its reliance
on coal as a primary fuel.
(Source: China Daily/Agencies)

19.05.05 : SUDAN: Environmental groups warn over new dam

NAIROBI, 19 May (IRIN) - The Merowe/Hamadab dam being built on the River
Nile in northern Sudan could cause serious environmental problems, two
environmental advocacy groups said.

The International Rivers Network (IRN) and the Corner House said in a
report that once completed, the 67-metre-high dam would create a 174
km-long reservoir and flood an area of 476 sq km. It is currently the
largest hydropower project being developed in Africa.

According to the report, the dam was likely to cause "sedimentation of the
reservoir due to massive erosion, evaporation from the reservoir and
infestation of the reservoir by water hyacinths.

It could also lead to massive daily fluctuations of the water level
downstream of the dam, with corresponding impacts on downstream
agriculture and the spread of waterborne diseases."

In addition, the report said, the reservoir would inundate an area rich in
history and antiquities dating back 5,000 years, "from the time of the
ancient Nubian civilization that preceded Pharaonic Egypt."

"It is clear that there is a great need for electricity generation in
Sudan, and the affected residents in the area acknowledge that," Nicholas
Hildyard, Corner House researcher and one of the co-authors of the report,
told IRIN.

Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid, the Sudanese minister of humanitarian affairs, told
IRIN on Wednesday in Nairobi: "I think this is one of the best-organised
projects with the best-organised response for those that have been affected."

Expected to be completed between 2007 and 2009, the dam would generate
1,250 MW of hydroelectricity, roughly doubling Sudan's current
power-generating capacity.

The Merowe Dam Project Implementation Unit estimated that the dam project
would displace 9,500 families, or about 50,000 people, from their land in
the Nile Valley.

The Sudanese government has offered the affected families cash
compensation for lost assets, a new house, land at resettlement sites and
free utility services for two years after resettlement.

"I have been there to see their places. They have proper houses, they have
proper facilities, they have farms, everything. And even it is better than
the old villages," Hamid said. "The have been compensated generously."

"It is one of the most important projects, and it will change the whole
situation in the area," he added. "I was there, and they are now
constructing an airport, a bridge, roads, everything. The whole area is
moving now. About US $2 billion will be spent in that area and it will
bring it alive."

About 10,000 affected people have been resettled from the fertile Nile
Valley to the El Multaga resettlement site in the Nubian Desert since June

The IRN/Corner House report said the soil at the resettlement site was so
poor the farmers could not grow produce to sell on the market.

"Those that have been resettled there simply can't make a livelihood,"
Hildyard said. "The land is desert and extremely unproductive. It is just

After meeting with the affected communities and visiting El Multaga, the
two organisations said most of the free services, such as water,
electricity and fertiliser, were not in place.

When asked about people who complained that they had not received the
compensation and free services they had been promised, Hamid said these
measures had been provided for in the compensation programme.

"They free services and compensation] will come, but they will come
later. They will come in phases. Some groups in the opposition want to use
it as a political issue," the minister told IRIN. "All the problems now
are with those who are very far from the dam, and they will be affected
later on, in 2007. They think that they have to get the same things as
those who are in the direct site of the dam."

The Merowe/Hamadab dam, budgeted at a total cost of $1.2 billion, was
financed by China's Export Import Bank and several Arab financial institutions.

The report urged private investors and donors - who have pledged more than
$4.5 billion over three years to support the peace-and-reconstruction
process in Sudan - to ensure that the benefits of new development and
investment projects were widely shared, and the rights of affected
communities and the environment were protected.

According to the report, Sudan's electricity-generating capacity before
the project consisted of about 760 MW of thermal power and about 320 MW of
hydropower. In a country with a population of close to 40 million, the
national power utility had only 700,000 customers. About 70 percent of the
electricity was consumed in the capital, Khartoum.


The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has proposed and sponsored the establishment of
the Great Man-Made River International Prize for Water Resources in Arid
and Semi-Arid Areas.

The Prize recognizes the achievements of an individual, a group of
individuals or a research institution having made fundamental and
substantial contributions to the assessment, development, management and/or
use of water resources in arid and semi-arid areas.

The Prize is awarded biennially by the Director-General of UNESCO at a
public ceremony, to be held next in autumn 2005 at UNESCO Headquarters, and
comprises a certificate, a medal and a sum equivalent to 20,000 US$.

The circular letter from the Director-General (available online in English and ( French)
officially inviting Member States to submit nominations for the 2005 award
of the prize has been distributed to the Ministers responsible for
relations with UNESCO, with copy to the National Commissions, the Permanent
Delegations and the IHP National Committees.

Non-governmental organizations maintaining official relations with UNESCO
are also welcome to submit nominations, in accordance with the statutes of
the prize. Click here for
the statutes of the Great Man-Made River International

source : UNESCO

12.05.05 : Serbia Obtains Grant to Support Its Efforts to Protect the
Danube River from Agro-Industrial Pollution

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2005­The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors
yesterday approved a Danube River Enterprise Pollution Reduction Project
for the Republic of Serbia. The project will be funded by a grant from the
Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of US$9.0 million, with expected
contributions from beneficiary enterprises, other donors and the Government
of Serbia of about US$13 million equivalent.

The project will reduce the contamination of the Danube River and its
tributaries in Serbia by introducing to selected enterprises modern,
environmentally friendly practices that are compliant with European Union
rules and regulations. It will help Serbia and Montenegro in meeting its
international commitments on the protection of the Danube River. It will
also help Serbian farmers increase their profits by recycling manure into
soil rather than using artificial fertilizers.

Furthermore, compliance with European Union environmental directives will
enhance Serbia’s potential to export its livestock products. Importantly,
thanks to reduced pollution run-off, the groundwater quality will improve,
which is important for households who derive drinking water from
wells. Last but not least, the reduced pollution of the river will help
save aquatic life and provide for better recreational opportunities, such
as swimming and fishing.

The project will support:

· Investments in livestock farms and slaughterhouses, which will help to
reduce pollution run-off and discharge into the Danube River and its
tributaries. These investments will be carried out in Po arevac, Vrbas,
Novi Sad and Šabac as well as in surrounding
municipalities. Slaughterhouses from around the Danube basin in Serbia
will be eligible for project investments;

· Improvements in the agricultural advisory service’s capacity to extend
knowledge on these technologies;

· The preparation of a Code of Good Agricultural Practices, which will
promote environmentally friendly farming and will help to harmonize Serbian
legislation with EU directives; and

· Raising of public awareness on the benefits of water pollution reduction
for the public, the economy, and Serbia’s natural resources.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a mechanism for providing new and
additional grant and concessional funding to meet the agreed incremental
costs of measures to achieve agreed global environmental benefits in four
focal areas: climate change, biological diversity, international waters,
and ozone layer depletion. GEF also supports the work of global agreements
to combat desertification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants.

The World Bank Group is one of GEF’s implementing agencies, and it supports
countries in preparing GEF co-financed projects and supervises their
implementation. It plays the primary role in ensuring the development and
management of investment projects. The Bank draws upon its investment
experience in eligible countries to promote investment opportunities and to
mobilize private sector, bilateral, multilateral, and other government and
non-government sector resources that are consistent with GEF objectives and
national sustainable development strategies.

Since 1991, the World Bank Group has committed $1.972 billion in GEF
resources and $3.037 billion in Bank group co-financing for GEF projects in
80 countries. In addition to GEF and Bank resources, it has mobilized
additional co-financing of $6.952 billion from other donors.

For project information documents, please visite this website

For further information on Bank’s GEF program, visit
< . For further
information on GEF, visit <
For more information on the World Bank’s work in Serbia and Montenegro,
please visit <

In Belgrade- Vesna Kostic (11) 302-3723

in Washington DC: Merrell Tuck-Primdahl (202) 473-9516

09.05.05 : Germany : New Flood Control Act enters into force

Berlin 9 May 2005, Preventive flood protection is improved significantly

The new Flood Control Act initiated by Federal Environment Minister Jürgen
Trittin will enter into force tomorrow. "With this Act, flood protection in
Germany is set on a new basis and will improve significantly," Trittin
explained. For the first time, the Flood Control Act lays down uniform and
stringent legal provisions for the prevention of flood damage on a
nationwide level. The Act is based on the Five-Point Programme which was
presented by the German government immediately after the flood disaster of
the Elbe river in the summer of 2002. This catastrophe alone claimed 21
lives in Germany and caused property damages of more than 10 billion euro.

In March, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat approved a compromise proposal
submitted by the Mediation Committee. Under the new Act the Länder are
obligated to designate more areas as flood plains than before. Waters and
water segments have to be identified, along which flood plains have to be
designated due to the risk of flood damage. The Länder are obligated to
inform the general public about their decisions. For areas with a high
potential of damage flood plains have to be designated within five years,
the flood plains in flood-prone areas have to be designated within seven
years. The public has to be included in this process. The basis for
designating flood plains is the so called 100-year flood, an event that
statistically occurs every 100 years.

When the Act enters into force tomorrow, it will be the first time that
planning new housing areas in flood plains is prohibited by federal law. No
new buildings may be planned in these areas. Exceptions are possible if
nine closely defined requirements are met, all of which have to be
fulfilled completely in every individual case. They include that the
municipality concerned has no alternative for human settlement development,
that no lives are at risk and no significant property damage is to be
expected and that the structure of new buildings is adapted to flood
events. "Especially in the construction sector, we should not knowingly
create new damage potential along the water bodies", Environment Minister
Trittin stressed. Also, oil heating systems in flood plains have to be
constructed in a flood-proof way or they have to be backfitted.

The installation of new oil heating systems may be prohibited if possible
damages are too severe. In case of agricultural land use the Länder have to
take care that soil erosion and pollution of water bodies are prevented or

If no flood protection plans exist, the Länder have to draw up plans
co-ordinating flood protection along the rivers within four years. These
plans have to be based on a 100-year flood as well. In the process of
developing these plans, the interests of upstream and downstream riparians
of a water body may be co-ordinated.

In addition to flood plains the Länder have to designate flood-prone zones.
This is done to raise awareness among the general public and the
development planning authorities concerning the flood risk of areas behind
dykes. Trittin: "Even dykes do not provide an absolute protection against
floods, as more than 200 dyke failures proofed during the flood disaster in
the Elbe river basin." Flood plains and flood-prone zones have to be marked
in spatial plans, land use plans and development plans. This measure is
intended to point to the danger of flooding at an early stage.

Please note: further information on flood protection, including the wording
of the Act, is available here.

SOURCE : German Ministry for Environment




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