16.05.06 : Vanishing Jordan River needs Global Rescue
Wahington, DC, USA, May 16, 2006 (ENS)
The Jordan River is dying and the Jordanian and Israeli governments
are failing to come to its aid, according to local officials and
environmentalists from both sides of the revered river, scene
of many events of Biblical history.
community needs to make saving the river a priority, the delegation
told a Washington, DC audience, and should encourage Jordan, Israel,
Syria and the Palestinian Authority to develop a regional environmental
and economic rehabilitation effort.
"We cannot say our governments are doing nothing, but they
are not doing enough," said Dov Litvinoff, mayor of the Tamar
Dead Sea Region Council in Israel.
The river and the ecosystem it supports, including the Dead Sea,
face "ecological catastrophe," said Litvinoff, who was
joined at the forum by two Jordanian mayors, a fellow Israeli
mayor, the mayor of Jericho, and three directors of Friends of
the Earth Middle East (FOEME).
The delegation spoke last week to an audience at the Woodrow Wilson
International Center for Scholars, a nonpartisan institute for
"We are here to tell the world that we need help to preserve
this wonder, to preserve one of the most unique places in the
world," Litvinoff said. "We came here to shout loudly
- all the mayors - for the world to help us."
Although there is growing international concern about the state
of the Dead Sea, the delegation said, most of the world is unaware
of the sorry state of the Jordan River because much of the river
flows through a closed military zone.
"The fates of the two are clearly connected," said Gidon
Bromberg, Israeli director of FOEME. "We must create an integrated
sources flow together to form the Jordan River - the Banias, or
Hermon, river; the Dan, or Leddan, river; and the Hasbani, or
Senir, river - all from the snowy slopes of Mount Hermon, on the
Syrian-Lebanese border. The Jordan flows down into Lake Tiberias,
or the Sea of Galilee, 212 meters below sea level. It then drains
into the Dead Sea which, at 407 meters below sea level, is the
lowest point on Earth.
ample evidence that the river is in dire straits, plagued by pollution
and starved of water. In the past half century, the annual flow
of the lower Jordan has sunk some 95 percent - from more than
1.3 billion cubic meters per year to less than 100 million cubic
meters. Some 20 percent of its dwindling flow is untreated sewage.
The river's plight is the direct result of conflicts and suspicion
that permeate the region, said Nader al-Khateeb, Palestinian director
"All the parties have competed unilaterally to use as much
of these resources as possible without paying any attention to
their neighbors," al-Khateeb said. "If we continue this
policy of unilateral utilization, we will just create more problems."
Jordan, Israel and Syria have all diverted upstream waters for
domestic and agricultural uses.
In the late 1950s, Israel began drawing massive quantities of
water from the Sea of Galilee and "not a drop" from
the sea now makes it to the lower Jordan, Bromberg said.
The latest threat to the river's water supply is a new Syrian
dam on the Yarmuk River.
The dam should be operational this year, Bromberg said, and then
the two major sources of the lower Jordan - the Yarmuk and the
Sea of Galilee - will no longer provide any water to the river.
FOEME is calling on the national governments to take a series
of steps to revise their water management plans in order to restore
"The irony is that the Jordanian and Israeli governments
subsidize water so much that is it is given virtually for free
to the farmers," said Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian chair of
FOEME. "We are subsidizing fruits for rich nations and the
economic return is so lousy."
changes, there are other options to boost the region's water supply
- namely the proposed 200 kilometer (125 mile) long canal to bring
water to the region from the Red Sea.
The Jordan River is an indispensible source of water for the entire
region. Combined with desalination projects, the canal could bring
fresh water not only to the Dead Sea but also to the lower Jordan.
Officials from Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are
working with the World Bank to study the feasibility of the canal.
Litvinoff said the canal must be considered as a possible solution
despite concerns about cost and environmental impacts - a view
echoed by Wajdy Abdelhammed Masaadeh, mayor of Jordan's Tabket
"It may have some disadvantages but we have to think seriously
about it," he said.
Mehyar said his organization is not prepared to endorse the project
and is keen to see how it compares economically and environmentally
to restoring more natural flows into the river and the Dead Sea.
"We don't have enough information to say if it is a good
project or a bad one," said Mehyar. "The problem lies
in our governments - they are treating this project with great
secrecy. There is hardly any transparency here."
effort for the river must consider the economic problems of the
people of Jordan River Valley, not just the environmental concerns,
according to Mohamed Ahmed Abujaber, Mayor of Jordan's Mua'z Bin
For a resident to feel the benefits of preserving the Jordan River,
"he must feel that his livelihood is improved as well,"
FOEME outlined their support for tourism as the future economic
engine for the Jordan River Valley, especially given the area's
remarkable history and its unique environment.
"We are not against farmers," Bromberg said, "but
it is an issue of not putting all your eggs in one basket. The
poorest people in the region are in the valley and agriculture
is clearly not paying."
In addition the region's remarkable history, the valley is at
the crossroads of biodiversity, Bromberg said, bringing together
species from Africa, Asia and Europe.
Rather than large resorts, the organization is promoting small-scale
bed and breakfasts and hotels along with sustainable ecotourism
for the region.
"We see tourism as the economic engine that will justify
bringing water back to the river and to the Dead Sea," Bromberg
said. "The economic returns would far outweigh the current
returns from farming."
Yael Shaltieli, mayor of Israel's Beit She'an Regional Council,
endorsed the concept and added that allowing closer collaboration
and easier travel between the communities on either side of the
river is key to boosting tourism and promoting preservation of
Fences and mines keep the public in the area from the river, Shaltieli
said, and "we cannot even approach it."
are one solution, she said, both to safeguard the river and to
encourage closer relations between communities on both banks.
"The civilians need to gain back the Jordan River for themselves,"
she said. "We need to rehabilitate the physical part of the
river, but we have to make an atmosphere a place where the people
can build the bridges among themselves."
A peace park at Old Gesher has been proposed by FOEME and the
organization is lobbying both governments for support.
The organization is also keen to see the Jordan River Valley declared
a World Heritage Site.
Mehyar said Israeli and Palestinian officials have expressed support
for the move, but Jordanian officials remain wary of the plan.
They mistakenly think that declaring the area a World Heritage
site "will prevent them from having a free hand" to
move forward with the "Red-Dead canal," said Mehyar.
"We are trying to lobby UNESCO to bring a delegation to Amman
to explain how the whole system works," he added.
Jericho Mayor Hassan Saleh told the Washington, DC audience that
any effort to save the Jordan River Valley must be part of a broader
effort to bring peace to the region and pleaded for continued
international financial support for the Palestinian people.
"We definitely have hope for peace and prosperity,"
Saleh said. "The Palestinian people are for peace, they want
peace. I am personally here with my colleagues from Israel and
Jordan to ask you to not to let the Palestinian people drown in
darkness and hunger."
Source : Environment
News Service, 16.05.2006
12.05.06 : Black Water Market Drying out Spain Says WWF
Madrid, SPAIN - May 12, 2006
Enough water to supply 58 million people is stolen from Spain's
underground reserves each year, drying out already-parched land
to feed the lucrative property, tourism and agricultural sectors,
a report warned on Thursday.
known as the World Wildlife Fund, said there was a hugely profitable
black market in water extracted from around 510,000 illegal wells
Southern Spain is already one of the driest parts of Europe and
according to the government, a third of the country is in danger
of turning into a desert.
"In most cases it supports businesses related with agriculture
and disproportionate urban development, at the expense of legal
users and the environment," the WWF said.
In the driest area of the country, near the south eastern city
of Murcia, reservoirs are less than 20 percent full. However,
an area about the size of Manhattan -- 6,500 hectares -- is turned
into irrigated farmland each year, the group said.
Wetlands that rely on groundwater seeping to the surface are drying
out, dropping water levels have left legal users without supplies
and some coastal areas now have saltwater in their wells, it added.
Rivers and streams are also drying out as they drain into aquifers
-- underground reserves -- starving animals and plants of water.
The report called on Spain's national and local governments to
crack down on law-breakers and change policies that encourage
water-hungry developments and agriculture, which suck up huge
amounts of water.
Spain was hit by drought for much of the 1990s and the last year's
dry spell was the worst in 60 years.
The report estimated that around 3,600 cubic hectometres of water
are stolen each year -- only 25 percent less than the whole country
Source : Reuters
News Service for Planet Ark
: Montenegro seeks investor for Ada Bojana
of Montenegro is searching for an international investor for the
Ada Bojana Island in the heart of the Bojana-Buna Delta. Based
on Euronatur's rapid assessment of the ecological value in the
coastal zone between Albania and Montenegro, the island is a unique
virgin area and habitat for many endangered species as Logger-head
Turtles, Jackal, Spoonbill, Pygmy Cormorant, Stone Curlew and
Levant Sparrowhawk. As the human use has been restricted to a
small area used for buildings and a part of the beach, over 90
% of the five square kilometers large islands is covered by virgin
habitats as forest, marshes and dunes.
"The developer has to protect the ecological value of the
Ada Island, as a unique area in the whole Mediterranean Basin.
Montenegro offers a great chance to include the preservation of
the virgin island into the tourism concept and to create a special
offer unique in the Mediterranean", explains Dr. Martin Schneider-Jacoby,
Euronatur project manager for the Bojana-Buna Delta. Until 1990
the island was part of the Iron Curtain and only a small part
was used as a famous nudist camp. In the development concept of
Euronatur for the Bojana-Buna Delta, the mouth of the river is
proposed as a transboundary core zone connecting the Ada Island
with the Albanian protected area Velipoja.
The tender announcement of the Government of Montenegro for ADA
BOJANA includes the obligation to construct an exclusive resort
complex, but also the protection of a unique nature site of international
Source : Euronatur,
You can find
more documents about Ada
Bojana Island on Euronatur website :
>Euronatur Paper on Ada Island,
> Euronatur Map of the delta with Ada Island,
>and links to the Montenegro Government webpage.
01.05.06 : FEATURE - Tigris Dam Project Stirs Hopes, Fears in
TURKEY - May 1, 2006.
For the people of Hasankeyf, this sleepy, once-mighty town on
the banks of the River Tigris is a historic treasure: for those
who want to build a massive dam here, it is a backwater in need
to stop the dam, our town will be destroyed," said Hasankeyf's
mayor, Abdulvahap Kusen, a staunch opponent of the Ilisu dam project,
which would swallow up more than 80 villages and hamlets by the
time of its planned completion in 2013.
"Our valley is part of ancient Mesopotamia, where human history
began," he said. "When you visit our caves, you get
a sense of how people lived millennia ago."
In the sun-baked valley, the minaret of a 14th century mosque
soars above a cluster of cottages and tombs. Locals say the waters
will rise to the mosque's speakers if the dam -- set to be Turkey's
second biggest -- goes ahead.
Only the bleating of goats on the steep hillsides and the Muslim
call to prayer disturb the midday silence. A stork flaps lazily
across an azure sky. A falcon swoops.
But Hasankeyf's tranquility belies a long history of struggle
between rival empires -- and more recently between sharply differing
visions of what Turkey's priorities should be.
Opponents of the dam project say the valley's unique archaeological
heritage that includes Sumerian, Roman and Ottoman monuments must
be preserved, and townspeople allowed to continue their ancient,
unhurried way of life.
In a last desperate effort to halt a project due to start at the
end of May, they have appealed to the European Court of Human
Rights in the distant French city of Strasbourg. They are also
urging foreign creditors to shun the project.
The dam's supporters stress the need to regenerate the poor, southeastern
region, create jobs, build modern infrastructure and provide much-needed
energy for Turkey's booming economy.
Uncertainty over the dam project -- first mooted in the 1980s,
begun, abandoned, now resumed -- has scared away much-needed investment
over the years, Hasankeyf's mayor said.
"This is a natural open-air museum. We could make lots of
money, but nobody wants to build hotels or restaurants because
they don't know what is going to happen," said Kusen.
Nearly 1,000 km (620 miles) away in the Turkish capital Ankara,
things are seen very differently.
"This project will save Hasankeyf, not destroy it,"
said Yunus Bayraktar, coordinator of the Ilisu dam and hydroelectric
power plant project in a consortium led by his company Nurol,
one of Turkey's major construction firms.
Bayraktar says the 1.2 billion euro (US$1.45 billion) project
will create 80,000 jobs and lure tens of thousands of tourists
to an area hit hard by years of Kurdish rebel conflict.
"It will inject 300 million euros (US$373 million) into the
Turkish economy every year (with the energy generated)."
The dam is part of a much bigger, decades-old strategy to harness
the Tigris and Euphrates rivers -- the Southeastern Anatolian
Project (GAP) -- that envisages a total of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric
power plants across the region.
Eighty percent of Hasankeyf's historic sites, including 4,200
caves, are above the projected waterline of 64 metres (210 ft)
and so will be unaffected by the dam, Bayraktar said.
The monuments that would be submerged -- including mosques, a
hamam and the remains of an ancient bridge spanning the Tigris
-- will be transported to a purpose-built park and open-air museum
nearby. The new lake created by the dam will be opened to water
sports. Roads will be built to improve access.
The project allocates 25 million euros (US$31 million) to protect
Hasankeyf's historical heritage -- a key condition of the Turkish
government for backing the scheme, Bayraktar said.
A new town will be built to house those whose homes are lost.
Residents who prefer to leave will receive compensation.
"Around 90 percent of the 3,800 people of Hasankeyf are currently
unemployed," Bayraktar said, adding that they would now get
work in construction and later in tourism.
Archaeological work will continue in the Hasankeyf valley until
the dam is completed in seven years' time, Bayraktar said.
Opponents are not convinced by such arguments.
"If they manage to transfer the monuments successfully, they
will still have destroyed the ensemble and its special relationship
with the landscape," said Zeynep Ahunbay, an Istanbul-based
architect and veteran campaigner against the dam.
"Hasankeyf is a spectacular site ... It has still not been
fully understood or excavated. The dam would mean a great loss,"
she said. Ahunbay is a member of the conservationist group which
in March lodged an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights.
Environmentalists fear the area's biodiversity, especially its
rich birdlife, will suffer.
"(The area) is one of the best-preserved examples of river
ecosystems in Turkey," said Jose Pedro Tavares, the Turkey
representative of Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of
Birds. "Unfortunately, the environmental impact assessment
study done by the project promoters fell short of international
standards and lacks crucial information and recommendations."
In Hasankeyf, populated mostly by ethnic Kurds and Arabs, some
even spoke darkly of a political conspiracy.
"The state wants to drive us Kurds from the area, to put
our lands under water. They don't like the Kurds," said one
man selling trinkets and rugs. He gave his name only as Ahmet.
"If Hasankeyf had been in western Turkey, this project would
never have been allowed to go ahead," Ahmet said.
Story by Gareth
Source : Reuters News Service
on Rivernet Turkish pages.
01.05.06 : Romania Struggles as Floods Leave 4,000 Homeless
ROMANIA - May 1st, 2006.
Romania is struggling to prevent a humanitarian disaster after
floods around the Danube river this month left at least 4,000
homeless, authorities said on Sunday.
of land and hundreds of houses along the river, Europe's second-longest,
remain under water after weeks of flooding and 14,000 Romanians
are still displaced, living in improvised shelters, military tents
or with relatives.
"Around 30 percent of the displaced people have no place
to go and are staying in schools and in camps we had created for
them ... They won't have a place to return to after waters recede,"
an interior ministry official told Reuters.
"Our efforts are now concentrated to prevent water-borne
diseases," he said.
Flooding risk from the Danube has gradually subsided over the
past days but officials said many waterlogged dikes could still
give way because of the prolonged water pressure.
The Danube poured over dams and burst defences throughout central
and southeastern Europe this month as melting snow and heavy rains
raised water levels to century highs.
Health authorities in Romania have been distributing anti-dysentery
tablets to the evacuees and vaccinated them against tetanus and
water-borne diseases such as typhoid.
TV footage has shown military helicopters spraying disinfectants
and anti-mosquito insecticides onto villages over a 1,000-km (620
mile) stretch of the river to prevent malaria threat.
But the effort may not be enough, officials say.
"The longer our 1,200 people stay in tents, the shorter the
way to an epidemics," Iulian Silisteanu, mayor of the worst
hit village of Rast in southwestern Romania told Reuters.
"I've lost hope," says Ion Bita, a 52-year-old farmer
from the village of Rast who has spent two weeks in a tent pitched
on higher ground.
In Bulgaria, civil defence units are working on draining and disinfecting
flooded houses and land along the Danube, officials said.
A team of experts from Belgium is due to arrive on Sunday to help
pump out water in the worst hit town of Nikopol, where more than
80 houses and public buildings are still under water.
Upstream from Romania, in Hungary, about 1,000 people returned
to their homes on Sunday, reducing the number of evacuees to 1,642
(Additional reporting by Tsvetelia Ilieva in Sofia and Gergely
Szakacs in Budapest)
Reuters News Service.
about the Danube's floods in the French newspaper Libération :
Find information about the Danube on Rivernet
28.04.06 : Poutine sauve le Baïkal et son image.
semblait pourtant arrêté, le début des travaux
était annoncé pour l'été : un oléoduc,
prévu pour être le plus grand du monde (4200 km,
une capacité de 80 millions de T de pétrole par
an) devait passer à 800 m de la "Perle de Sibérie",
le lac Baïkal, et relier ainsi les gisements pétroliers
de la Sibérie aux marchés asiatiques. Le tracé,
proposé par la société Transneft, compagnie
russe d'Etat chargée des oléoducs, avait reçu
l'aval de toutes les autorités écologiques russes,
ainsi que de la Cour Suprême et de la Douma. Ce tracé
soulevait de vives inquiétudes chez les ONG écologistes,
mais aussi auprès de l'UNESCO (le site du Baïkal est
classé site du Patrimoine Mondial).
Mais mercredi, le président Vladimir Poutine a surpris
tout le monde en ordonnant que cet oléoduc contourne le
Baïkal par un détour de 40 km au Nord. Le président
russe a justifié sa décision par la nécessité
de penser aux générations futures et de minimiser
voire éliminer tout danger.
Cette décision a bien sûr réjoui le monde
associatif environnemental russe, qui se félicite de cette
"grande victoire pour l'écologie". Les ONG avaient
en effet dénoncé ce projet, qui traversait des zones
sismiques et risquait donc de polluer le Baïkal avec des
tonnes de pétrole.
Si cette décision est porteuse d'espoir pour l'environnement,
elle l'est moins pour la démocratie russe. Vladimir Poutine
apparaît comme le "bon tsar", qui prend les décisions
justes, seul et contre tous. Ce nouveau rôle d'écologiste
convaincu tombe de plus à pic : la construction de l'oléoduc
devrait s'achever en 2008, juste pour les élections présidentielles
en Russie. Enfin, le président Poutine démontre
par son coup de théâtre que le Parlement et les autorités
censées veillées sur l'environnement n'ont pas été
capables de mener à bien leur tâche, prenant leurs
décisions "en fonction des pots de vin versées
et des pressions exercées sur elles", selon le porte-parole
de Greenpeace en Russie.
Pour Transneft, ce nouveau tracé devrait coûter un
milliard de dollars supplémentaires. Son président
s'est pourtant dit "aux ordres du Président, commandant
l'article de Libération.
Source : Libération.fr, 28.04.2006
Poutine saves the Baïkal lake and his image.
seemed to be decided, the construction was planned to begin during
the summer : a pipe-line, the biggest one in the world (4200 km,
a capacity of 80 millions Tons of oil per year) was expected to
pass 800m from the "Siberian Gem", the Baïkal,
and to link so the oilfield and the asian markets. This layout,
proposed by the Transneft (a Russian State Company in charge of
the pipes-lines), received the approval of all the environmental
Authorities, and of the Supreme Court and the Douma. However,
it was a cause for anxiety for the environmental NGOs and the
UNESCO (the Baïkal Lake is a World Heritage Site).
Last Wednesday, President Vladimir Poutine surprised everyone
by ordering that this pipe-line makes a detour of 40 km North.
The Russian President explained his decision by the need of thinking
of the future generations, and of limiting or avoiding any danger.
Of course, the Russian environmental associative world was quite
happy of such a decision, "a great victory for the ecology".
The NGOs had indeeed denounced the project, since the pipe-line
was planned to cross sismic areas and was likely to pollute the
Baïkal in case of accident.
If this decision is source of hope for environment, it is less
for Russian democracy. In this affair, Vladimir Poutine appears
as the "good Czar", who takes the right decisions, alone
and against the world. This new role of an convinced environmentalist
arrives just in time for the Russian President : the pipe-line
should be achieved in 2008, just for the presidential election.
Finally, President Poutine shows through its theatral decision
that Parliament and Authorities that should protect the environment
were not able to achieve their task, "deciding in function
of the given bribe and the pressure put on them", according
to the spokesman of Greenpeace in Russia.
For Transneft, the new layout should cost a billion dollars more
than the initial one. However, the president of the company summarized
the problem : "I am a soldier, the President is a commander-in-chief.
We don't question the orders".
the article from newspaper Libération (in french).
Source : Liberation.fr, 28.04.2006
: Satellite helps detect massive rivers under Antarctica
have discovered rivers the
size of the Thames in London flowing hundreds of
miles under the Antarctica ice shelf by examining
small changes in elevation, observed by ESA's
ERS-2 satellite, in the surface of the oldest,
thickest ice in the region, according to an
article published in Nature this week.
which came as a great surprise to
the scientists, challenges the widely held
assumption that subglacial lakes evolved in
isolated conditions for several millions of years
and raises the possibility that large floods of
water from deep within the ice's interior may
have generated huge floods that reached the ocean
in the past and may do so again. Prof. Duncan
Wingham, of the University College London, who
led the team said: "Previously, it was thought
that water moves underneath the ice by very slow
seepage. But this new data shows that, every so
often, the lakes beneath the ice pop off like
champagne corks, releasing floods that travel very long distances."
22.04.06 : American Rivers blasts army engineers for endangering
Washington, DC, USA. April 21, 2006 (ENS)
In the 2006 version of its annual list of Americas 10 Most
Endangered Rivers, the conservation organization American Rivers
is focused on reversing the damage it says has been done by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The organization believes that 2006
will be a pivotal year for addressing the mismanagement of U.S.
waterways by the Corps.
Read the whole
Source : American
Rivers / Environment
News Service (ENS)
22.04.06 : Sudan Government Massacres Merowe Dam Affected People
Three killed and more than fifty wounded - civil society demands
protection of affected people and immediate suspension of project
construction and displacement
April 22, 2006
Merowe Dam militia armed with machine guns and heavy artillery
attacked the affected people while they were gathering in Amri
School in the project affected area. The Amri communities have
been vigorously resisting displacement in the past months. The
attacking militia opened fire on people without warning when they
were having breakfast in the school courtyard. Three people were
immediately killed and more than fifty injured.
Eyewitness say the dam militia attacked the school using 16 pick
up land cruisers equipped with heavy artillery and machine guns
and opened fire without warning on people who are using school
as their meeting place. At 11.00 am while the people were having
breakfast, the school was cordoned by the dam militia who opened
fire randomly on the people inside. Three were killed immediately
1) Atta Al sayed Al Khidir Al Mahi (a farmer)
2) Yassin Mohamed Al Khair (a farmer who was released from detention
by dam security two day ago)
3) A third whose details are not yet confirmed.
More than fifty people have been wounded in the attack, eyewitness
says injuries of thirty are serious and they are in critical conditions.
The wounded were drove by local cars owners to the nearest hospital
(25 km) in Kariema town.
Further reports from the area confirmed that the dam security
have arrested all the people who drove the injured to Kariema.
Unconfirmed reports say the number of detainees could be more
The conflict between the dam authority and the affected people
is about the resettlement places. Whereas the affected people
demand to be resettled around the dam reservoir, the dam authority
insists on resettling the people in Bayouda desert, a location
rejected by the people. Affected people allege that the dam authority
has sold their land to some rich Arab investors.
The Merowe Dam (under construction) is financed by China Exim
Bank and different Arab Funds, and executed by Chinese and European
companies, including Lahmeyer International, Alstom, and ABB.
The Leadership Office of Hamdab Affected People (LOHAP), the Corner
House and International Rivers Network call on the United Nations
and Western embassies in Khartoum to take immediate steps to protect
the people affected by the Merowe Dam from further atrocities,
and to investigate the massacre at Amri School. They call on the
Sudanese government and all the companies involved in the Merowe
Dam project to immediately halt construction of the Merowe Dam
and displacement of the affected people.
For further information about the project, see www.irn.org/programs/merowe/
Source: IRN International
20.04.06 : Nouvelle relance du projet de canal Rhin - Rhône
par Claude Mislin, 13 avril 2006
Le 6 avril dernier, la relance du canal Rhin - Rhône a été
décrite comme une priorité pour Christian Estrosi,
ministre délégué à l'aménagement
du territoire, et pour le gouvernement. Le projet a même
été inscrit parmi ceux qui bénéficieraient
de la dotation de l'Agence de Financement des Infrastructures
de Transport, lors du Conseil des Ministres du 29 mars.
Rappelons que ce projet avait été longtemps évoqué,
jusqu'en 1997 et son abandon par Dominique Voynet, alors ministre
de l'aménagement du territoire et de l'environnement dans
le gouvernement Jospin. Mme Voynet avait justifié sa décision
par le coût élevé de ce projet au regard de
sa faible efficacité économique, et surtout par
les importants dommages environnementaux qu'il aurait provoqués.
A l'époque, de nombreux parlementaires de droite comme
de gauche s'étaient ralliés à cette décision.
Aujourd'hui, le canal Rhin - Rhône revient dans les discussions.
Le but affiché de ce projet est de réduire le transport
de marchandise par la route, et d'augmenter le fret aérien,
ferroviaire, fluvial ou maritime. Différents organismes
(Voies Navigables de France, Conseil Général du
) sont chargés d'étudier trois possibilités
1- Une liaison entre la Saône et le Rhin en passant par
la Moselle. Cela nécessiterait le percement d'un canal
entre la Saône et Epinal sur la Moselle.
2- Une liaison fluviale par la vallée du Doubs.
3- Une liaison empruntant la Saône jusqu'à Port-sur-Saône,
avec un canal entre Port-sur-Saône et Montbéliard.
Le Rhin est ensuite rejoint via le canal entre Montbéliard
et Mulhouse, dont le gabarit serait augmenté.
Le Ministre ne privilégie aucune piste avant que les conclusions
des diverses études ne soient rendues. Cependant, la relance
de ce projet soulève déjà des réticences
dans les régions concernées, d'autant plus qu'existe
en parallèle le projet de TGV Rhin - Rhône. Celui-ci
devrait libérer les ligne classiques du trafic voyageurs,
offrant ainsi un axe ferroviaire pour les marchandises entre l'Allemagne
et l'Espagne, et ceci à un coût vraisemblablement
bien moindre que celui du canal.
l'article de C. Mislin et l'interview de M. Christian Estrosi.
: ERN - SOS Loire Vivante, d'après L'Alsace - le Pays,
13.04.2006, par Claude Mislin.
: Is hydropower possible under the WFD ?
is a strong defender of sustainable water
management and therefore also committed to the
protection of water bodies. Apart from its
''no-deterioration clause'', the directive
requires member states to ensure that all their
water bodies revert to a ''good status'' by the year 2015.
The WFD creates a strong echo in the
water/hydropower industry. Does it put a stop to
hydropower and its invaluable benefits for our
climate? A study conducted by TU Graz has the
details. The aim of the study was to look at the
WFD and assess its potential impact on domestic
hydropower from the viewpoint of energy and economic efficiency.
EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) put a
stop to hydropower and its invaluable benefits for our climate?
A study conducted by TU Graz has the details
Experts at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
Austria claim that some 80 % of Austrian
watercourses are either penstocked, impounded,
diverted, or flow-controlled and therefore deem
further losses as unacceptable to the environment.
a background of growing electricity
consumption, such losses resulting from the
construction of new hydropower plants appear
likely. WWF refers to a number of plants which
are located either in Natura 2000 protected
zones or in river national heritage areas as
defined by the BMLFUW and WWF (e.g. Schwarze
Sulm, Koppentraun, Niedergailbach in Lesachtal,
Ybbs, and several watercourses in Tyrol).
organisation also denounces the small is
beautiful concept, arguing that the impact of a
small hydropower plant on a smaller watercourse
is as dramatic as the one a large hydropower plant exerts on a
WWF river expert Ulrich Eichelmann:
Considering that brooks and rivers are limited
water resources and hydropower has only a low to
marginal impact on the energy balance, WWF is
strictly opposed to the construction of both
large and small hydropower plants. If we really
wanted to compensate the current increase in
electricity consumption, we would in fact have to
build a new hydropower station on the Danube every year.
WFD, too, is a strong defender of sustainable
water management and therefore also committed to
the protection of water bodies. Apart from its
no-deterioration clause, the directive requires
member states to ensure that all their water
bodies revert to a good status by the year 2015.
As a compulsory
EU directive, the WFD naturally
creates a stronger echo in the water/hydropower
industry than the activities of a nature
conservation organisation, irrespective of its international standing.
EU has sought to minimise the level of
friction which for Austria mostly arises in the
hydropower sector by including a category
defined as heavily modified water bodies in the
directive. The goal in such cases shall be to
restore the good ecological potential by taking
practicable measures aimed at improving the
living habitats of aquatic organisms.
even this provision could not dispel all
doubts (which are by no means limited to the
energy sector). Many experts fear that a
potential restriction of hydropower usage might
jeopardise the achievement of the climate
protection targets, which from an ecology viewpoint are just as
concerns find their expression in a study
which was conducted by the Institute of
Electricity Economics and Energy Innovation
(head: Heinz Stigler) at Graz University of
Technology on behalf of the BMLFUW, the Austrian
Association of Electricity Companies (VEÖ) and
Austrian Small Hydropower Association.
aim of the study was to look at the WFD and
assess its potential impact on domestic
hydropower from the viewpoint of energy and
economic efficiency. The study results have been
accessible to the public since autumn 2005. Heinz
Stigler describes the purpose of the study:
Firstly, it shall help to implement the WFD in a
way which ensures that ecological and economic
interests are optimally balanced and that
Austrias most important primary energy source
continues to be produced in the same quantity and quality.
it shall help to accomplish the
environmental goals set out in the WFD and to
secure a sustainable management of our water
bodies. The range of possible effects on energy
efficiency is illustrated by means of different
scenarios. The study investigates residual water
flow *), surge restriction and fish migration enhancement models.
is drawn between storage hydropower
plants, run-of-river plants with more than 10 MW
capacity and small hydropower plants (with less
than 10 MW capacity). The following section
summarises the financial implications of the WFD
for hydropower plants with more than 10 MW capacity.
implications for storage hydropower plants
storage hydropower plants, which
account for a total capacity of more than 10,000
GWh, are said to require a diversified
investigation due to their different plant
design, usage and contract terms. Residual flow
assessments could be carried out in about 80 % of these facilities.
on the future residual water flow according
to the residual flow scenarios 1/3 MJNQT, 1/2
MJNQT, 2/3 MJNQT and MJNQT, production losses
would increase from 3 % up to 10 %. As for MJNQT,
the values of individual plants may vary between 0.3 % and 45
financial implications for large storage
hydropower plants cannot be assessed on a
standard basis due to their different usage and
contract terms. Especially with respect to surge
restrictions, individual plant data have been shown to vary greatly.
one storage plant, restricting surges to
ratios of 10 : 1, 5 : 1 and 3 : 1 would reduce
the number of peak-load hours by 14 % 85 %,
which equates to a financial loss of e 1.3 to 4.5
million annually. In one extreme case, an annual
loss of up to e 70 million was assessed!
storage plants render different individual
results, but still in most cases restrictions are
substantial, says Heinz Stigler. There is broad
agreement by experts that surge restrictions
exclusively caused by a change of the operating
mode tend to diminish the flexible use of storage plants.
Rupert Nocker (head of the hydropower
utility centre of Salzburg AG): We need this
flexibility to ensure a regular supply and to
balance out fluctuations in consumption and
production as they, for example, tend to occur in
the generation of electricity from wind power!
Run-of-river plants with more than 10 MW even harder hit
standard work capacity of all run-of- river
plants over 10 MW totals 3,000 GWh, of which
2,660 GWh were assessed in the study. As for the
residual flow scenarios 1/3 MJNQT, 1/2 MJNQT, 2/3
MJNQT and MJNQT, production losses may vary between 5 % and 20
results in financial losses in the range of
e 4 to 16 million annually. Experts estimate that
the cost of installing fish migration facilities,
depending on the different sensitivity of the
water bodies, will amount to e 60, 65 and 70 million in the period
water flow is a decisive factor for SHP
2,070 domestic small hydropower plants (SHP)
produce about 4,000 GWh, which corresponds to 8 %
of the total electricity generation in Austria.
Due to the large number of facilities on which no
detailed figures are available, the scenario
assessments were based on cumulative data from
the federal provinces of Salzburg and Lower Austria.
85 % of the facilities are designed as
run-of-river plants, where the residual flow
issue plays an essential role. Says Heinz
Stigler: Based on the relevant scenarios,
production losses in the range of 10 % to 32 %
are calculated; related to the current
eco-electricity rates, this corresponds to
financial losses in the range of € 16 to 49 million.
high values mainly result from the fact
that most of the plants are exempted from
residual flow requirements due to their age.
About 90 % of all SHP plants do not allow
undisturbed fish migration. The installation of
upstream fish passage facilities would amount to
€ 90 million (calculated until 2027)! Not
surprisingly the study results have exceeded the
worst fears of Bernhard Pelikan, President of
the European Small Hydropower Association (ESHA).
the WFD makers who, he says, would
have been well advised to carry out similar
assessments before establishing the relevant
provisions. In doing so, they would have done
sustainable energy production in Europe a good
service. But now they are trapped in the
predicament of having to limit the damage that has been done.
Ulrich Eichelmann from WWF, who believes
the acceptance of a revitalisation of existing
plants would adequately compensate for the losses
to be expected, Bernhard Pelikan cannot take much
comfort from this. What about those who have
invested in small hydropower (SHP) and are paying
off their loans? After the resupply tariffs,
which have earned us a compassionate smile from
our neighbours, the additional investment imposed
by the WFD (in particular as regards the
subsequent installation of fish ladders) deals
yet another detrimental blow to Austrian SHP!
to Pelikan, this additional burden is
in stark contrast to the basic WFD principles of
consensus and proportionality. The ESHA President
suggests a straight solution: The economic
effects of the WFD on hydropower need to be
buffered by public-sector support such as
investment backing, adjustment of tariffs, or tax
abatement. But even then it leaves us with the
bitter taste that we should neglect environmental
protection (as set out in the Kyoto targets) in order to save
Study said to reflect worst case
authors of the study point out that the table
of results on page 10 provides only a rough
overview and does not allow to draw conclusions
as to the accomplishment of targets set out in
the 2003 Amendment to the Water Conservation Act (WCA).
implementation of WFD provisions does not
automatically rule out the possibility of
building new hydropower plants in the future,
says Heinz Stigler. Head of Division Wolfgang
Stalzer from the BMLFUW, on whose behalf the
study was conducted, argues that the study
basically reflects a worst-case scenario.
assessment fails to address that there is
still the possibility of resorting to the
heavily modified water body category or the
exemption provisions defined in the WCA, which
could reduce the impact on hydropower. The study
also fails to mention that the requirement to
preserve the ecological function of water bodies
in case of water usage was embedded in the WCA
even before the WFD became effective.
1990 not only new facilities but also
existing plants needing a new permit because
they have been extensively upgraded or their
permit has expired have been required to fulfil
ecological criteria to obtain such a permit, he
explains. The examples he mentions include
adequate residual flow specifications, fish
ladders, measures to minimise the impact of
peaking operations, and various others. The
BMLFUW acknowledges the problems resulting for
the energy sector, yet points out that the
effects of the WFD on domestic hydropower could
be minimised. Wolfgang Stalzer suggests the following remedial
plants may be upgraded, such as by
installing state-of-the-art turbines, so as to increase their
- The minimum water flow may be adjusted to comply with local
- Surge reduction measures should not be limited
to a change of the operating mode, but also
include structural measures such as surge
chambers, discharge stretches connecting to
larger watercourses, or structural adjustments in the receiving
- The efficiency of old plants may be enhanced.
- Any additional potential should be preferably
used to accomplish an improvement, or at least
prevent a deterioration, of the current
ecological status of a water body.
Stigler, Wolfgang Stalzer does not
deduce from the WFD that it seeks to ban the
future construction of new hydropower plants.
However, it will be essential to choose sites and
plant types which keep the impact on the
ecological status of water bodies to a minimum.
has committed itself to increase the
percentage of eco-electricity (related to 1997
consumption figures) to 78.1 % until 2010. If the
lacking amount of electricity of up to 2,900 GWh
per year were to be produced in thermal power
stations, an additional CO2 emission of 1.8
million t would have to be expected (data source: Salzburg AG).
Haas, head of the Institute of Power
Systems and Energy Economics at Vienna University
of Technology, believes it would be more sensible
to implement the WFD into Austrian law in a way
that mainly newly built plants are affected. Haas
basically agrees that the EUs environmental
ambitions are fairly contradictory: While
there is a directive that promotes the generation
of electricity from renewable resources, the WFD
is heading in the opposite direction.
in terms of small hydropower, a great
deal of caution and sensitivity is required.
After all, there still is an unexploited
potential in the magnitude of the capacity
already in place. Besides, many plants have an
additional repowering potential which results
from the upgrade of existing facilities. Here the
WFD should also allow for a technical, scientific
and ecological optimisation.
believe that in addition to the
press Int. 1/2006, Mag. Christof Hahn)
best possible use of heavily modified water
bodies as set out in the WFD, only a delicately
balanced implementation of WFD provisions would
be beneficial for the whole system.
: The Danube ruptures dikes: thousands flee
A raging Danube
River ruptured dikes in Bistret, southern Romania, forcing some
4000 people to flee, while 3400 residents in the northern villages
of Rast and Negoi had to evacuate their homes. Neighboring Bulgaria
faces the same situation and is preparing to relocate 10,000 people
as the river continues to submerge farmlands. In Hungary, both
the Danube and the Tisza River are at dangerous heights. In Serbia,
thousands of people abandoned their homes and some areas could
remain underwater for months.
della Sera / SAHRA News Watch / EWMN
: Danube Floods: Long-term solutions needed for people and nature
have returned to Bulgaria and Romania, menacing towns, villages
and human lives. Human interventions in the floodplains of the
Danube River and its major tributaries have led to a dramatic
situation in downstream areas of the Danube. Long-term solutions
for flood management are required that work with nature, not against
it, by giving space back to the rivers.
As an important
step in this direction, WWF urges the Governments of Romania,
Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova to put into practice the solutions
agreed by them in 2000 in the ''Declaration on the co-operation
for the creation of the Lower Danube Green Corridor''.
14.04.06 : Un bon état des eaux en 2015: objectif réaliste
ou insurmontable ?
Le colloque parlementaire sur l'eau a été l'occasion
de revenir sur la question des méthodes pour parvenir à
un bon état écologique des eaux en 2015. Un objectif
qui suppose, pour être atteint, de revoir l'ensemble des
pratiques agricoles et de simplifier les processus de décision.
par Laurent Richard
Le 4 avril,
la table-ronde s'est d'abord concentrée sur les pratiques
agricoles. Pierre Stengel, directeur scientifique à l'Institut
national de la recherche agronomique (INRA), considère
que l'objectif de 2015 fixé par la directive cadre sur
l'eau est "difficilement tenable". Les pratiques agricoles
génèrent en effet des risques de fuites de polluants
vers les nappes, qu'il s'agisse des nitrates, des effluents d'élevage
ou des antibiotiques donnés aux animaux. Certes, des solutions
techniques existent, telles que les "pièges à
nitrate", mais il faut que les agriculteurs se les approprient
davantage. Il convient par ailleurs de renforcer les filières
de traitement et, surtout, de modifier les pratiques agricoles
les plus polluantes telles que les élevages hors-sol.
industries de la fertilisation (Unifa) émet un autre son
de cloche en la personne de son délégué général
Gilles Poidevin. Pour ce dernier, "la quantité d'azote
utilisée est maîtrisée": elle n'a pas
augmenté depuis 1980 et a même permis de produire
50% de céréales en plus
En outre, les agriculteurs
se mettent aux bonnes pratiques, en ayant recours par exemple
au "fractionnement" de l'épandage (3 passages
ou plus par an au lieu de 2). Les résultats sont là,
puisque l'on est passé de 38 milligrammes par litre (mg/l)
de nitrate en 1993 à 29 en 2004 (l'OMS prescrivant de ne
pas dépasser le seuil de 50 mg/l).
optimiste est partagé par Jean-Charles Bocquet, qui s'exprimait
au nom des fabricants de produits phytopharmaceutiques (Union
des industries de la protection des plantes ou UIPP). Non seulement
la norme de 0,1 µg/l pour les eaux de boisson est respectée,
mais aussi il convient de souligner les initiatives de la profession:
création de la société Adivalor, spécialiste
de la gestion des déchets d'emballages issus des produits
phyto-pharmaceutiques, en partenariat avec les chambres d'agriculture
et la Fédération nationale des syndicats d'exploitants
agricoles (FNSEA), réalisations de diagnostics par bassins
versants (en vue de vérifier le réglage des pulvérisateurs,
la protection des berges des cours d'eau, etc.), et enfin, actions
de formation auprès des agriculteurs.
s'est ensuite intéressée aux eaux usées.
Les entreprises de services d'eau et d'assainissement, représentées
par Antoine Frérot, vice-président du SPDE (1),
ont tenu à faire savoir que "les objectifs de la directive-cadre
ne seront pas atteints
tant que ceux de la directive précédente
sur les eaux urbaines résiduaires ne l'ont pas été".
Or, beaucoup reste à faire dans ce domaine, par exemple
en ce qui concerne le renforcement de la police de l'eau en amont
des stations d'épuration (STEP). Des progrès restent
également à faire s'agissant de la récupération
et du traitement des eaux pluviales et de l'utilisation des nouvelles
techniques de recyclage des eaux usées (irrigation, ré-infiltration
dans les nappes ou utilisation comme eau de lavage ou de refroidissement).
des responsabilités est une tâche ardue. C'est pourquoi
Jacques Oudin a tenu, en tant que président du Comité
national de l'eau, à rappeler l'utilité de structures
telles que les Sage (2), créés par la loi de 1992.
Selon Jacques Oudin, ces "petits parlements locaux",
réunissant l'ensemble des acteurs, sont la solution, au
moins au niveau local, pour une bonne gestion des différents
usages de l'eau. A condition toutefois qu'ils montent en puissance
(il n'y a que 27 Sage validés à ce jour), et qu'ils
disposent de moyens financiers suffisants. La question de l'allocation
des ressources financières est centrale, de l'avis du rapporteur
du projet de loi à l'Assemblée, François
Sauvadet (UDF, Côte d'Or). Elle se double de la question
de la clarification du rôle de l'Etat et des différentes
collectivités territoriales (communes, intercommunalités,
départements, régions), dont certaines voient leur
rôle renforcé par le projet de loi. Une tâche
autrement ardue, qui laisse planer un doute sur la possibilité
que l'Assemblée parvienne à un accord sur le texte
au début de l'été.
(1) Syndicat professionnel des entreprises de service d'eau et
(2) (2) Schémas d'aménagement et de gestion des
Source : Le
Journal de l'Environnement, 14.04.2006
14.04.06 : L´Islande est en train d'être vendue
à de puissantes multinationales !
communiqué de l'association Saving Iceland, 12.04.2006
La construction d'un méga barrage hydroélectrique
(190m de haut) au nord du glacier Vatnajökull, dont le seul
objectif est de fournir de l'électricité à
une fonderie d'aluminium qui sera construite par ALCOA (une multinationale
qui a de nombreux antécédents de non-respect des
droits environnementaux, des droits humains et des droits des
travailleurs) est une catastrophe écologique sans pareil
en Occident qui va détruire tout un écosystème
dans une zone jusque-là protégée.
de Karahnjukar détruira une large bande de nature sauvage
sur les hauteurs de l'Islande. Il s'agit d'un véritable
>57 km2 de terres seront submergées d'ici 2007, ce qui
va avoir un impact irréversible sur la biodiversité
: sols, végétation, vie sauvage, le paysage (lacs,
canyons, hauts plateaux vont être submergés), sur
le climat (pollution, fonte des glaciers) et donc sur tout l'écosystème
de la région.
> Karahnjukar étant le plus grand et l'un des premiers
en construction, d'autres sites suivront (au total il s'agit de
> Le projet de Karanhjukar aura un impact direct sur 1000 km2
de terre, cependant on estime que les dommages définitifs
toucheront environ 290 000 hectares, c'est-à-dire 3% de
l'Islande et ceci sans compter les impacts indirects du projet
mené à son terme sur l'environnement.
> Le projet Karanhjukar est considéré comme étant
l'un des plus destructifs parmi six des projets de barrages les
plus néfastes au monde, et ce seulement pour une fonderie.
qui ont été menées l'été dernier
en Islande, campagnes de sensibilisation, manifestations, camp
de protestation sur le site de Karahnjukar, et notamment premier
"lock-on" de l'histoire de l'Islande, ont eu un grand
impact sur le pays et sur les Islandais qui sont désormais
de plus en plus nombreux à se battre contre ALCOA et la
construction des barrages.
(à partir du 21 juillet 2006 et ce jusqu'à ce le
temps le permette - jusqu'à la mi-septembre certainement)
un nouveau camp de protestation aura lieu.
Iceland, se bat depuis le début du projet contre les
Aujourd´hui, celle-ci fait une campagne de sensibilisation
à travers l'Europe et sera à l'Assemblée
Nationale le 19/04 de 8h30 à 12h30 pour un colloque organisé
avec le soutien de M. Jean-Luc TOULY, Président de l'ACME
et SOS Loire Vivante.
Soutenez Saving Iceland dans son action en participant aux débats
Envoyez un mail à Camila
VEGAN pour vous inscrire à la liste des participants.
Pour d'autres infos concernant les actions de Saving Iceland,
le projet Karanhjukar et autres détails de la Campagne
Européenne, consultez le site : www.savingiceland.org
Association Saving Iceland, 12.04.2006
13.04.06 : UN : China Dam Project Threatens World Heritage
Voice of America, Beijing, China. 13.04.2006
By Daniel Schearf
China plans to build a series of hydroelectric power dams on
one of the
country's last free-flowing rivers. Officials say the project
on the Nu
River is necessary to provide much needed investment and electricity
an impoverished region. But environmentalists and international
organizations fear the dams will harm the river valley's unique
The Nu River winds through China's southwest Yunnan Province along
border with Burma and Tibet.
The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization designated
parts of the river area a World Heritage site in 2003.
The U.N. agency says the area is China's last stronghold for rare
endangered plants and animals and is perhaps the most biologically
diverse temperate region on earth.
But there are concerns that a plan to build up to 13 hydroelectric
power dams on the river may harm the unique environment.
David Sheppard is head of the Protected Areas Program at the World
Conservation Union, the organization that evaluates and monitors
Heritage sites for UNESCO, says the dams could place the World
site in danger.
"These impacts could be direct, such as impacts on water
flow, impacts on fisheries and other aquatic species. They could
indirect in terms of issues such as road construction and dam
construction and people moving into the area that could impact
natural values of the site," said Sheppard.
Chinese law requires the government to notify the public about
construction projects and the likely effect on the environment.
people who live along the Nu River say they have been kept in
about the plans. The project was delayed in 2004 until an environmental
study could be done, but the report has yet to be released.
Li Zhihua lives in Xiaoshaba village. Government plans call for
the dams to be built here and for hundreds of villagers to be
says he heard in February that the government was going to build
dam, but the villagers have received no official notice.
"Even though they are cadres they cannot just tell us where
move to without discussing with us. Although we support the
government's project, the construction of the dam should comply
the law and they should meet the people's demands when it comes
resettlement," said Le.
Downstream in Burma and Thailand, environmental organizations
more information from the Chinese government.
Witoon Permpongsacharoen works for a group in Thailand called
Ecological Recovery and Alliance.
He says a dam on the upper part of the Mekong in China has caused
erosion downstream in Thailand and Laos and blocked fish migration.
does not want to see the same thing happen downstream on the Nu
"We would like to see the process of planning and decision
collective with the other downstream country. And also, we would
to see a study of the impact, both environmental and social impact,
just a local area but, looking the accumulative impact for the
basin," said Witoon Permpongsacharoen.
Environmentalists say Chinese officials often put economic growth
of environmental protection and the country in recent years has
suffered from increasing pollution due to industrial growth.
But China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao recently disputed
"If the effect on the environment is very severe, the Chinese
government will take due measures to protect the environment,"
"If the river is cross-border, we will also take into consideration
interests of people in downstream countries. We are not willing
things that will harm their interests."
Chinese officials say if all 13 dams are built they will produce
clean energy than the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest
hydroelectric power project. The 20,000 megawatts of electricity
the dams will help feed the country's growing energy needs.
Despite the concerns, the project looks set to go ahead. On the
River, workers drill holes in rock cliffs and the riverbed. They
taking geological samples to determine the best locations for
Local officials say the dams will attract billions of dollars
investment that will improve the local infrastructure and create
in this remote and impoverished region.
Chinese news media report that half of the Nu River residents
below China's poverty line, and their average salary is $120,
third of the national average for farmers. Chinese experts say
three people in the area have never used electricity.
Environmental activists doubt that local people will see many
They say among other problems, the best land in the Nu valley
the river, and so will be flooded by the dams. The farmers will
on mountainsides, where the soil is poor.
Many villagers along the river support the dam project. But they
that local officials will not compensate them fairly or move them
The central government acknowledges that in many cases when land
been taken for development projects, local authorities embezzled
of the compensation money that was to go to farmers.
Premier Wen Jiabao earlier this year vowed the government would
farmers who are relocated.
"We must give adequate and due compensation to farmers whose
seized," he said. "And, we believe land transfer revenues
mainly paid to farmers affected."
Recent Chinese media reports indicate three or four dams will
in the first phase of construction. But there is still no confirmation
of the plan from the government and no information about when
construction will begin or where.
UNESCO and the World Conservation Union are sending a team to
to investigate potential damage to the World Heritage site if
construction goes ahead as planned.
Source: Voice of America. Beijing. 13 April 2006
By Daniel Schearf, http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-04-13-voa26.cfm
: Next Stage of Fox River, Green Bay PCB Cleanup Funded
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (USA), April 12, 2006 (ENS)
Two corporations have agreed to spend $30 million on the expedited
dredging and disposal of the most toxic sediments in Wisconsin's
Fox River as part of a legal settlement announced today by the
U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Office supplies company NCR, and paper manufacturer Sonoco-U.S.
Mills Inc. will design and implement the cleanup project. They
have agreed to dredge, dewater and dispose of about 100,000 cubic
yards of sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs) downstream and west of the De Pere Dam.
"The Fox River is the biggest source of PCBs flowing into
Lake Michigan," said EPA Regional Administrator Thomas Skinner.
"Cleaning up this hot spot is a major step toward eventually
removing the Fox and Lower Green Bay from EPA's list of Great
Lakes Areas of Concern."
The state of Wisconsin was a partner in today's consent decree,
which was lodged today in United States District Court in Milwaukee
and is subject to a 30-day public comment period. If the court
approves the settlement, dredging is scheduled to begin in the
spring of 2007.
operating on the Fox River to remove sediments contaminated with
PCBs from decades of carbonless paper manufacturing.
The Lower Fox River and Green Bay Superfund Site encompasses a
40 mile stretch of the Fox River and more than 1,000 square miles
of Green Bay in northeastern Wisconsin.
Sediments in both water bodies are contaminated with about 700,000
pounds of PCBs that were discharged into the river in connection
with past production and re-processing of carbonless copy paper
containing PCBs at multiple facilities from about 1954 to 1971.
PCBs are a group of manufactured chemicals. They were widely used
in electrical equipment, in industrial processes, and in the manufacture
and recycling of carbonless copy paper until research in the early
1970s showed that they pose risks to human health, wildlife and
the natural environment. Their use and discharge into the environment
were outlawed by federal environmental regulations in 1976.
The ban was successful, but because PCBs bind to dirt and break
down very slowly, they are still found today in the sediment of
the Lower Fox River and Green Bay. PCBs bioaccumulate, concentrating
up the food chain as smaller species containing the chemicals
are eaten by larger species. PCB levels in top predators such
as bald eagles, lake trout, and humans can be millions of times
those found in surface water.
The PCBs at this Superfund site have caused adverse health effects
and reproductive effects in fish and birds. Fish and waterfowl
in the area are subject to human health based consumption advisories.
"Today's settlement provides for the prompt removal of the
most highly contaminated sediments in the Lower Fox River and
Green Bay site, greatly improving the quality of the environment
and mitigating the harm that the PCBs have caused to fish and
birds in the area," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant
attorney general of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural
contaminated sediment is pumped into geotubes, large bags made
of a specialized geosynthetic fabric. The fabric is porous enough
to allow the water to run through, but traps the solids, compacting
them and making their removal and disposal easier. The water is
pumped to a treatment plant for decontamination before release
back into the river. The sediment is landfilled.
This agreement furthers the past progress made on cleanup and
restoration of the entire site, which is one of the largest contaminated
sediment sites in the United States.
"It is another important milestone in the efforts to cleanup
this site, and it underscores the department's commitment to ensuring
that hazardous waste sites are cleaned up and that the cleanup
costs are borne by the responsible parties," Wooldridge said.
Between 1998 and 2000, two major sediment removal demonstration
projects were completed in areas of the river under agreements
that the paper companies reached with EPA and Wisconsin. Those
projects helped demonstrate that contaminated sediments at the
site can safely and feasibly be dredged.
Full-scale dredging in the uppermost segment of the river began
last year under a 2003 settlement with two of the paper companies,
P.H. Glatfelter Co. and Wisconsin Tissue Mills.
NCR and another paper company, Fort James Operating Co., are currently
performing detailed remedial design work for the downstream portions
of the river under a separate consent decree, under the direction
of the EPA.
The paper companies also have paid more than $35 million for natural
resource restoration projects under several of the partial settlements.
The money from those settlements has been used to acquire wildlife
habitat that will be protected as state-managed natural areas,
to protect and propagate threatened native fish and bird species,
and to preserve native plants and enhance bird habitat in areas
such as the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
In 2003, the U.S. EPA and the Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) issued two Records of Decision selecting the cleanup
remedy for different portions of the Site. Taken together, the
two decisions would require removal of 7.25 million cubic yards
of contaminated sediment at an estimated total cost of about $400
with teeth is used to tear into the geotubes. The geotubes and
the dewatered sediment are loaded into trucks for disposal at
While the Wisconsin DNR and the EPA have specified landfilling
as the chosen method for dealing with sediment dredged from the
Fox River, they have also allowed for the consideration of alternative
approaches. Vitrification is one of those alternatives.
This relatively new technology that involves melting sediment
at very high heat and turning it into a glassy material, which
can then be used in road construction projects and in the making
of concrete and shingles. Melting the contaminated sediment from
the Fox River at such high temperatures has been shown in a demonstration
project to destroy the PCBs in it.
While vitrification is in many ways an attractive option, there
are some drawbacks that could make it difficult to use in the
Fox River project, the DNR says.
It has been tested only on a small scale, and the technology is
unproven at the much larger scale that would be necessary for
the Fox River cleanup. There are no vitrification facilities in
Wisconsin that can handle sediment, and it could take up to three
years to obtain the necessary permits, find a suitable site, and
design and build a new full-scale facility.
The final cost of this alternative is still in question, the DNR
says the greater cost of vitrification instead of landfilling
for sediment disposal may be offset by permanently removing the
PCBs from the environment.
The DNR's Remedial Action Plan for the Lower Fox River/Green Bay
Area of Concern establishes a goal of increasing the number and
diversity of the fishery through the increase of top level predators
in the aquatic food chain.
The state of Michigan and the Oneida Tribe and Menominee Tribe
are also cooperating with the United States and Wisconsin in many
aspects of the Fox River/Green Bay restoration program but are
not parties to this particular settlement.
: Worldwide Wetland Restoration Could Reduce Bird Flu Threat
Nairobi, KENYA, April 11, 2006 (ENS)
The loss of wetlands around the world is forcing wild birds that
may have avian influenza onto alternative sites like farm ponds
and paddy fields, where they come into contact with chickens,
ducks, and geese, finds a new report commissioned by the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Restoring the tens of thousands of lost and degraded wetlands
could help reduce the threat of an avian flu pandemic by providing
wild birds with their preferred habitat, according to the report
authored by Dr. David Rapport of Canada.
The report's preliminary findings were announced today at a scientific
seminar on avian influenza taking place at UNEP headquarters in
expert Dr. David Rapport is co-founder of the International Society
for Ecosystem Health and editor-in-chief of the society's quarterly
journal, "Ecosystem Health."
"Wetland depletion has direct implications for migrating
wild birds," Dr. Rapport writes. "Wetland habitat world-wide
continues to decline, owing to agricultural expansion and urban
development, resulting in fewer staging areas for wild migrating
The remaining wet areas associated with rice paddies and farm
ponds would be expected to be increasingly attractive to wild
birds lacking enough natural habitat for staging, nesting and
migration, he explains.
Current "heroic efforts" focusing on "isolation,
quarantine, culls and medications" are likely to be quick
fixes offering only limited short term benefits, finds Dr. Rapport,
an honorary professor of the Ecoystem Health Program, Faculty
of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, and a member of the
firm EcoHealth Consulting of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.
His report recommends that governments, the United Nations and
public health experts back environmental measures over the medium
and longer term to counter the spread of diseases like the highly
pathogenic strain of bird flu, H5N1.
This strain has killed or caused the culling of 200 million poultry
birds in the current outbreak that began in December 2003.
of avian flu or being culled, chicken carcasses are burned at
a farm in Long An province, near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The H5N1 virus has been confirmed in 45 countries on three continents
- Asia, Europe and Africa. To date, the virus has killed 108 people,
all in Asia. Most died after handling diseased poultry.
Health experts fear that the H5N1 strain could mutate into a form
of the virus that spreads easily from human to human, triggering
a global avian flu pandemic that might cause the deaths of millions
Close contact of wild birds and poultry species is believed to
be a major cause behind the spread of bird flu. Clearing intensive
poultry rearing units from the flyways of migratory birds would
be prudent, Rapport suggests.
"Intensive poultry operations along migratory wild bird routes
are incompatible with protecting the health of ecosystems that
birds depend upon. They also increase the risks of transfer of
pathogens between migrating birds and domestic fowl," he
He also suggests reducing contact between wild birds and poultry
by shifting livestock production away from humans and other mammals
such as pigs.
The report acknowleges that in some parts of the world, such as
Southeast Asia, separating poultry from people is at odds with
generations of cultural traditions and practices.
"As unpalatable as this may be, where it is clearly in the
interest of preventing future pandemics with potentially catastrophic
global effects, it can and should be undertaken," Rapport
in Thailand with newly installed net to keep ducks and wild birds
apart, a measure against spread of the avian flu virus.
Shafqat Kakakhel, UNEP deputy executive director, said, "These
thought provoking findings will need to be looked at in detail
by all those involved in fighting current and future threatened
pandemics. However, what this research underlines is that the
link between a healthy environment and disease prevention is no
marginal topic, but an important component in public health policy,
particularly in a globalized world."
He said, "There are numerous pressing reasons for conserving
and restoring degraded ecosystems like wetlands."
Wetlands are natural water storage features that filter pollution,
help absorb floods, and are inhabited by numerous species including
fish. "Their ability to disperse and keep wild birds away
from domestic ones is now yet another compelling argument for
conserving and rehabilitating them," said Kakakhel.
During their biannual meeting that ended March 31 in Brazil, the
Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD) concluded that a far wider range of species than birds may
be affected by bird flu. Large cats like leopards and tigers,
small cats such as civets, and other mammals like martens, weasels,
badgers, and otters might also be at risk.
The CBD delegates concluded that over 80 percent of known bird
species, both migratory and nonmigratory, may also be at risk,
with members of the crow and vultures families of particular concern.
Culling of poultry, especially in developing countries where chicken
is a key source of protein, may lead to local people killing wild
animals for food, the CBD delegates warned. This may put new pressure
on endangered species such as chimpanzees, gorillas and other
The CBD delegates also expressed concern over the development
of a genetic monoculture of domestic poultry, claiming that this
may make domestic fowl less disease resistant.
The two day avian flu seminar, organized by UNEP, the Convention
on Migratory Species (CMS), and the African Eurasian Water Bird
Agreement builds on the work of the international Scientific Task
Force on avian influenza established by CMS last August, which
now includes experts from 13 UN agencies, treaty organizations
and nongovernmental organizations.
at the Laipipia Conservancy in Kenya on the occasion of the first
World Migratory Bird Day
It was preceded on Sunday by the first World Migratory Bird Day
where the main celebrations were organized by internationally
renowned author Kuki Gallmann and the Great Rift Valley Trust
at the Laikipia Conservancy in Kenya.
To mark World Migratory Bird Day, CBD Executive Secretary Dr.
Ahmed Djoghlaf said, "Threats to migratory birds reflect
threats to biodiversity at large. Indeed, the main threat to migratory
birds, habitat loss, is also one of the main drivers of biodiversity
Mentioning high-voltage power lines, habitat fragmentation, and
over-hunting, Dr. Djoghlaf stressed that migratory birds now face
the unprecedented additional threat of avian influenza.
"Often seen as the vectors of the virus, migratory birds
are first and foremost its victims. Some responses to this, such
as culling birds or draining wetlands, have been ill advised,"
he said. "Better responses, involving the protection of the
well-being and diversity of ecosystems, species and genetic resources,
can mitigate against the spread of such diseases."
The draft report, "Avian Influenza and the Environment: An
Ecohealth Perspective" has been submitted to UNEP by Dr.
David Rapport, EcoHealth Consulting, with contributions from John
Howard, Luisa Maffi and Bruce Mitchell. A final version is to
be published soon on www.unep.org.
Source : ENS
: Bathing water: EU Commission starts legal action against eleven
Commission has sent a first
written warning to eleven Member States which
have been removing bathing sites from their
official lists and thereby avoiding to apply EU
rules aimed at protecting the health of bathers.
The Member States in question are Belgium,
Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy,
Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. About
7,000 bathing sites in total have been affected.
Removal of bathing sites from the official lists
should be properly and individually explained and
should not be a response to pollution problems.
Explanations from the eleven Member States are
currently lacking, and the Commission has
therefore asked them to justify their
cancellation of previously recognised bathing sites.
source : EU
/ via EWMN
more information ...
: Medha and Jamsingh arrested, the dharna and the indefinite fast
continue - Press Release
Medha Patkar and Jamsingh Nargave forcibly removed to
medical institute after 12 am last night
Dharna continues on 21st day
Seven people from Dehli join indefinite fast
Last night, at around 11:30pm, a force of more than 400 police
swamped Jantar Mantar, forcefully and roughly attacking the satyagrahis
who were peacefully sitting on their 20th day of dharna. Medha
Patkar and Jamsingh Nargave, on their 8th day of indefinite fast,
were arrested, forcefully lifted and taken in an ambulance to
the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. They have both maintained
their fast, Medha refusing IV and taking only lime juice. Meanwhile,
over fifty Narmada Bachao activists were arrested, dragged, beaten
up and taken to the Parliament Street Police Station where they
were harassed and detained until 4:40am this morning. The manner
in which they were treated was in complete violation of democratic
norms and human rights.
The unexpectedly copious breadth of police presence and brutality
at the site was met with determined resistance. Many people were
beaten including Kailash Awasya, Arun from Bombay and women from
the Mandala slum in Bombay. The high-handedness of police was
well reported on several mainstream media channels as it occurred,
and coverage continued until well past 2am. The movement is strong
and continues to pressure those accountable into forcing the justice
of rehabilitation to be carried out. Only in response to such
pressure would police be mobilised in such great force. The governments
move was clearly out of panic rather than concern for Medhas
health, as they have still not stopped the construction of the
Sardar Sarovar Dam and have isolated her within AIIMS, not allowing
anyone to meet her.
Today the dharna continues strong at Jantar Mantar. Bhagwati Patidam
is in her 9th day of her fast, as she is remaining at the dharna
site. Bhama Bhai and Raja Kalla, also from the valley, are in
their fourth day of fasting, while today seven more people from
Delhi have joined them. This group includes: Mona Das, President
JNUSU; Dananjaoi Tripathi, Vice President JNUSU; Avadhesh from
All India Students Association; and, JNU Prof Kamal Mitra
Chenoy. The Bhopal victims, who are sitting across the road in
a dharna of their demands for human rights, are performing a symbolic
solidarity day-long fast in support as well. Still hundreds of
people are at Jantar Mantar, putting pressure on the government
to heed the calls of Medha and the dharna, and hundreds more are
With pressure mounting from vast media coverage and exposure of
the concerns of the people, three ministers are leaving today
to visit the valley where they will review the status of rehabilitation
first hand and the rationality of construction. The delegation
includes Minister for Water Resources, Professor Saifuddin Soz,
the Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Ms Meira Kumar,
and State Minister from the PMO, Shri Prithyiraj Chauhal. This
is a symbolic step as the claims of the villagers and adivasis
cant be denied when they are seen visually manifest in the
Tonight there is a candlelight procession being held in Bangalore,
with a solidarity fast being held there on Saturday. There have
been various vigils and rallies across India, including four in
the valley to which 200 tribal people gathered for each, and throughout
many cities including Pune, Bombay and Trivandrum. There has been
a huge outpouring of support worldwide. Tomorrow, more than 70
scientists and engineers associated with IITs and universities
across India and the US will undertake a one-day solidarity fast,
following the release of a Scientists and Engineers' Open Challenge
to SSP claims in which more than 250 prominent scientists and
engineers slammed the Sardar Sarovar engineers for projecting
unrealistic power benefits and luring state governments into ignoring
the rehabilitation of 35,000 families in the submergence zone
of the dam.
We strongly condemn the brutal and illegal action of the Indian
State and its attempts to suppress the non-violent struggle for
justice. We urgently demand:
The immediate release of Medha Patkar and Jamsingh Nargave
Criminal case registered against the Police Officials who
brutally beatup the activists
Immediate halting of the construction of the dam
Removal of all false charges, if any, against Medha Patkar
Just and proper resettlement and rehabilitation of all
affected people as per Supreme Court judgement of 2000 and 2005
and the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award.
We caution the government that all these demands be taken with
utmost seriousness lest we lose complete faith in the state institutions.
Shivani Chaudhry, Yogini Khanolkar
The open challenge
of SSP engineers by concerned scientists and engineers across
the world is hosted at the site - http://petitions.aidindia.org/narmada_petition/
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Source : Narmada
- Andolan news service
on Narmada River :
Save the Narmada : http://www.narmada.org
General information : http://www.rightlivelihood.org/recip/narmada.htm