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05.07.06 : Second tallest dam in Brazil, but it doesn't hold water.(ENR)

A diversion tunnel for recently built dam in Brazil failed during the last week in June, causing an uncontrolled release of the water from the huge upstream reservoir. The failure caused no loss of life and contractors assert that the dam's main structure is intact, but the event is raising alarms from international environmental groups and sparking concerns about additional delays in the project, which is already well behind schedule.
The 626-foot (202-meter) Campos Novos dam in the Santa Catarina region of southern Brazil is the world's third tallest concrete-faced rockfill dam and the second tallest dam in Brazil. A consortium led by Brazilian construction giant Camargo Corrêa and engineering consultants Engevix is building the project.
"We don't know the actual cause of the leakage," said José Ayres de Campos the engineering director for Camargo Corrêa. "We are concerned that it is not just a single cause creating this leak but perhaps several different things."
The flow of water through the tunnels pushed back the plans to plug the tunnels and complete the construction of the dam. The problems may push the completion of the 880-Megawatt hydroelectric generating station possibly into early next year, Ayres said.
The contractual schedule set forth a 54-month construction period concluding January 30, 2006. The three turbines were due to begin generating on January 31, April 30 and July 31, 2006. The delays in the project have caused the company to incur penalty fees that Ayres declined to specify on June 30.
The Campos Novos hydroelectric project is a 35-year build-and-operate concession awarded in 1998 to Enercan, a consortium made up of Brazilian power company CPFL Energia with 48.7 percent; Brazilian aluminum makers CBA with 22.7 percent; metallurgy company CNT with 20 percent and two state-run electric companies.
The original estimated cost of the project was $523.9 million. It is being financed through loans through the Inter-American Development Bank and the Brazilian state-owned National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES).
Construction began in August of 2001. The river was deviated through the two diversion tunnels in October of 2003. The dam is composed of 13,000,000 cubic meters of rock material quarried on site.
Two tunnels of 2823.75 feet (860.9 meters) and 3003.82 feet (915.8 meters) in length were dug to divert the water from the river around the dam during construction. The tunnels were roughly square in shape 52.48 feet (16 meters) high and about 13.12 feet (4 meters wide).
Leakage in the longer of the two tunnels began on October ten days after construction on the dam was completed. Water flowed into the tunnel at the rate of 50 cubic meters per second until a plug was installed that limited it to one cubic meter per second, Ayers said.
Leakage resumed in the beginning of April and at a greater rate. On June 20, the pressure of the water damaged two of three steel gates installed in the tunnel and allowed the water in the reservoir to flow through the diversion tunnel.
Ayers said the steel gates were designed to withstand 180 cubic meters of head but were shoved off their bases by the force of the water through the tunnel, estimated at a rate of 4,000 cubic meters per second. The entire reservoir, which was near its 1.3 billion cubic meter capacity at the time of the incident, flowed through the tunnel within the span of days.
The water flowed 15 miles (24 kilometers) downstream where it was collected in the reservoir for the 1,450MW Machadinho hydropower project located in the Pelotas River. Due to a regional drought, the water levels there were exceptionally low and the additional inflow filled the reservoir.
Ayres said a technical team would be working over the next two weeks to determine the cause of the leak and propose a solution. The IDB, who provided a $75 million loan for the project, also sent a team to evaluate the incident and plans to issue a report as well, said Robert Montgomery, a specialist with the IDB Private Sector Department Natural Resources.
Environmental groups have circulated photos of the dam taken on June 24 by Friends of the Earth Brazil suggest that the tunnel failure has seriously undermined the dam's structural integrity.
"The company has been covering up the extent of the damage, the cost and time of repairing (or rebuilding) the dam, and the potential risks to people and property downstream," said Glenn Switkes, International Rivers Network's Latin America Campaigns Director. The company did not disseminate any information, despite the dangers posed by the weakened structure."
Officials with both Camargo Corrêa and the IDB say the photos depict cracks in the 98,500 cubic meters of concrete on the face of the dam but that there is no major damage to the structure itself. Moreover, the cracks are completely separate to the leakage in the diversion tunnels that caused the draining of the reservoir, Ayres said.
"There is no structural damage to the dam whatsoever," Montgomery said.

Author : C. J. Schexnayder
Source : ENR via IRN



28.06.06 : EU Ministers Agree Rules to Prevent Flooding
LUXEMBOURG - June 28, 2006
European Union ministers agreed new rules on Tuesday to fight floods, saying climate change threatened to increase their frequency.

Environment ministers from the 25 EU member states endorsed a proposal requiring them to assess flood risks in their river basins and coastal areas, develop hazard maps for high-risk areas, and set out flood-management plans.
Floods in Europe have caused about 700 deaths and at least 25 billion euros (US$31.5 billion) in "insured economic losses", since 1998, according to the European Commission, which authored the draft legislation.
"People are realising now there's more and more risk of flooding," said Austrian Environment Minister Josef Proell, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.
"We now have a new instrument on planning and strategy to protect people from floods."
Proell said the rules aimed to improve coordination between member states so nations located upstream on a river do not take flood prevention measures that would hurt countries downstream, such as Germany and the Netherlands on the Rhine.
Under Tuesday's agreement, states must complete flood-risk assessments by December 2012. The management plans must be done by the end of 2015.
The rules must still be approved by the European Parliament.

Source : Reuters News Service, by way of Planet Ark website.


27.06.06 : Un Prix international «ReSource» 2007 pour soutenir la gestion durable des bassins versants

Organisateur: Groupe de réassurance et de services financiers Swiss Re, Suisse
Date limite de dépôt des candidatures : 31 juillet 2006

Swiss Re a créé le Prix international «ReSource» en 2002 afin de soutenir activement la planification, l’évaluation et la mise en œuvre de projets liés à l’eau visant à promouvoir et à encourager les utilisations rationnelles de cette précieuse ressource. Le prix est un concours annuel ouvert à tous les projets de gestion de bassins versants innovateurs et s’élève à 150 000 dollars US.

Les ONG, institutions privées, scientifiques ou publiques ainsi que les organismes similaires sont invités à concourir au Prix «ReSource» 2007. Le prix a vocation à être décerné aux projets qui cherchent véritablement à renforcer la sensibilisation des parties prenantes à l’importance écologique, sociale et économique des ressources en eau et des bassins versants dans les pays en développement et dans les pays émergeants. La préférence sera accordée aux projets soucieux de mettre en œuvre des mesures préventives innovatrices visant à protéger les ressources en eau, c’est-à-dire des projets audacieux dans le contexte local (culturels, institutionnels ou technologiques) et qui impliquent les communautés locales et/ou les institutions régionales.

Plus d'information : <>


25.06.06 : Choose your beach with Medspiration

Before you pack your swimsuit and head to the sea this summer, you may want to check out the water's temperature with ESA's Medspiration heat map of all 2 965 500 square kilometres of the Mediterranean. An updated map of the sea surface temperature (SST) of the world's largest inland sea is generated every day as part of ESA's Medspiration project, with an unprecedented spatial resolution of two square kilometres, high enough to detect detailed features like eddies, fronts and plumes within the surface temperature distribution.
The idea behind Medspiration is to combine data from multiple satellite systems to produce a robust set of sea surface data for assimilation into ocean forecasting models of the waters around Europe and also the whole of the Atlantic Ocean.

Read more... <>

Source: EurekAlert via EWMN


25.06.06 : Greece - Lake Volvi faces pollution risk

The heavy pollution in Lake Koronia, in Greece's Thessaloniki Prefecture, will end up infecting nearby Lake Volvi unless restoration efforts start treating all lakes and wetlands in the area as a single ecosystem, warned a report commissioned by the National Wetland Park. A restoration program for Lake Koronia, funded by the European Union, is currently underway; it will include a drainage system, treatment of urban and industrial wastes, the adoption of sustainable farming practices, and better management of local streams.

More information : <>

Source: SAHRA Water News Watch via EWMN News


24. 06.06 Low Impact of Public Participation in the European Water Policy

A new European study identifies patterns and lessons learnt from different European water related projects in terms of public and stakeholder participation. The authors conclude that the impact of public participation on the decision-making process in European water policy is still very slight, and there is no true involvement and collaboration from the interested parties.

Read more : <>


19.06.06 : China Tar Spill Threatens Water for Millions

Beijing, CHINA - June 19, 2006
A toxic spill in north China has contaminated water supplies for 50,000 people and poses a threat to a reservoir supplying millions more, state media reported on Friday.

Water pollution has become a major national concern since a blast at a chemical plant in November released a toxic slick into the Songhua river, affecting drinking water supplies to millions in the northeast.
Sixty tons of coal tar carried by an overturned truck spilled into the Dasha river in the northern province of Shanxi on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.
"The spill, moving at about one km per hour, is approaching the Wangkuai reservoir about 70 km from the accident site," Xinhua said, quoted environmental protection officials.
The Wangkuai is one of two key reservoirs supplying water to 10 million people in Baoding, a city in neighbouring Hebei province.
The spill had already reached Hebei's Fuping county on Tuesday, Xinhua said, contaminating water supplies for 50,000 people.
Clean-up efforts, initially delayed by the truck driver's cover-up of the toxic cargo, had included the building of 51 dams to intercept the coal tar "so as to win time for treating polluted water", Xinhua said.
A chemical plant blast in China's booming eastern province of Zhejiang injured one person and left two missing, Xinhua said in a separate report.
A 38-year-old man and a 42-year-old woman were missing after "numerous explosions" occurred on Thursday at the Longxin Chemical Plant, which primarily produces hydrogen peroxide, Xinhua said. Another person had been injured.

Source : Reuters News Service, delivered by Planet Ark website.


19.06.06 : Proposed Dams to be Chile's Next Environment Battle

Rio Baker, CHILE - June 19, 2006.
On the banks of the Rio Baker, Cecilio Olivares worries his days of guiding tourists on horseback through the magnificent Patagonian scenery could be over if power companies build a series of dams on the striking, turquoise-coloured river.

Olivares has lived his 59 years on the Baker, which flows through Chile's wild and remote Aysen region. The Baker's swift waters -- it has the strongest flow rate of any Chilean river -- have attracted the nation's largest power generators.
Endesa Chile, a unit of of Endesa Spain, and Colbun are proposing a joint, US$4 billion project to build four dams on the Baker and Pascua rivers in the rugged region some 1,000 miles (1,600 km) south of the capital Santiago, to produce 2,400 megawatts of power.
"I hope it doesn't hurt us much," an unshaven Olivares, wearing sheepskin trousers, a poncho and a thick wool hat, told Reuters in a resigned tone.
Tourism in Aysen -- which attracts hikers and wilderness adventurers -- has grown in the past decade and tourism activity rose 11 percent in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period last year.
Olivares earns his living farming, raising sheep and guiding tourists -- mostly Europeans -- on hiking, fishing and horse-back riding vacations in Chile's south, home to fox, endangered huemul deer and beech tree forests.
Environmental groups are already lining up against the power project, and the dams look to become the next major environmental battle in one of Latin America's healthiest and most modern countries.
In recent years Chileans have debated the toll booming development is taking on their wilderness areas. Public opposition has been fierce over big power projects, new mines and wood-pulp plants that produce pollution.

Rivers to save, Rivers to dam
The Endesa-Colbun project is one of a flood of new power generation investments being proposed to satisfy leaping power demand as Chile can no longer count on cheap natural gas imports from neighbouring Argentina, struggling to meet its own needs.
President Michelle Bachelet says Chile must balance the need for more electricity with preservation of wildlife areas and has pledged a national zoning project to define river basins to protect and rivers to dam.
"They want to flood thousands of acres to dam the waters of the Baker and Pascua rivers, which will affect not only local residents, but also the environment and tourism, and we won't allow that," said Carlos Garrido of the organization Defenders of the Spirit of Patagonia.
Environmental impact studies will not be complete until next year and the first dam would not begin construction until 2008, but Endesa is already working to win over locals and environmentalists.
The company has consulted with local politicians and set up information centres in the cities of Coyhaique and Cochrane, close to where the plants will be built.
Endesa executives have also met with Chile's best-known environmentalist, American former clothing magnate Douglas Tompkins, a fierce defender of Patagonia's wild areas.
Tompkins bought more than 714,000 acres (289,00 hectares) of forest in southern Chile and turned it into a park that is now run by a foundation. His wife Kristine's Patagonia Land Trust has purchased a 173,000-acre (70,000-hectare) cattle ranch south of Rio Baker and is planning a park there.
An Endesa executive told local media the meeting with Tompkins, who has been publicly critical of damming rivers in the South, was to give him information the company has given others about the project.
"There are still a lot of questions. We're doing the research right now. We have to take into account that this is a long-term project," said a company spokesperson regarding environmental impact studies.

Flooding nine square miles
One main concern of locals who live off tourism is losing their land if Endesa Chile sticks to its plan to build two dams on the river, Baker I and Baker II.
"People are accustomed to living peacefully. Imagine all the people who will come for the construction. It's not fair that they come here and want to change everything," said Patricio Krebs, who left a stressful life in Santiago to manage tourist cabins a few yards from Rio Baker.
A few weeks ago Endesa said it would try to limit flooded areas as much as possible to minimise social and environmental impact. It estimates it would flood some 9 square miles (23 square km) for the Baker I plant alone.
"Let them do their project but without damming the river; let them look for other technologies. The problem is the dams, they're going to kill tourism in the region," said Alejandro del Pino of the business organisation Corporacion Costa Carrera.
A few years ago, Endesa faced opposition on the construction of its Ralco dam, which flooded ancient Indian burial grounds in southern Chile. Ralco is up and running, but only after Endesa paid huge sums to communities that were dislocated.
Last year, No. 1 industrial conglomerate Copec was forced to temporarily shut down a huge new wood pulp plant in southern Chile and to take stricter measures to clean up its waste water after the deaths of black-necked swans in a wetland nature sanctuary.
Canada's Barrick Gold is facing opposition from environmental and local groups to its giant open pit gold project Pascua Lama, located high in the Andes mountains on Chile's border with Argentina.

Story by : Monica Vargas
Source : Reuters News Service, delivered on Planet Ark website


10.06.06 : EU - Groundwater needs stronger protection from nitrates, says NGO

EU law on groundwater pollution must be strengthened to protect Europeans from nitrate pollution caused by intensive animal farming, an environmental group has said.
The warning comes ahead of discussions of the EU Groundwater Directive in the EU Parliament in Strasbourg on 12 June. In its current form, the directive puts a 50mg limit on nitrates per litre, and obliges EU member states to monitor and counter pollution of groundwater by toxic chemicals such as pesticides, heavy metals and pharmaceutical residues.
Friends of the Earth criticised the directive for its numerous exceptions that they say allow nitrates to penetrate into drinking water supplies. The NGO urged MEPs to vote against changes that would weaken the directive, which it said is already "inadequate" because of the loopholes included in it.

Read more..

Source : Edie News Centre


09.06.06 : EU freshwater beach compliance rate takes a dip
- 7,000 previously registered bathing sites have been delisted, without justification, in 11 member states

EU Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas is “concerned” by a continuing fall in the number of Europe's inland beaches meeting EU water quality standards, following the publication of compliance figures for the 2005 bathing season on Friday.
Presenting the European commission’s annual report on member state progress in implementing the 1976 bathing water directive, Mr Dimas said improving the quality of EU freshwater bathing areas presented a “significant challenge”.
In 2005 ­ the first year in which all 25 member states have reported on bathing water quality ­ compliance with mandatory values for inland bathing areas fell by almost four percentage points to 85.6%. Achievement of more stringent but non-binding "guide" values fell by a similar margin: only 63.1% of EU inland beaches now meet this standard. For both sets of values this represents the EU’s lowest level of freshwater compliance since 1997.
The commission said the negative trend was “partly explained” by inadequate sampling in the four new member states who reported for the first time this year ­ Latvia, Hungary, Malta and Poland (<>EED 26/05/05). Sampling methods have been significantly streamlined in the newly-revised EU bathing water directive. The new law entered force this year but its provision will take practical effect only in 2008 (<>EED 08/03/06).
Compliance rates for coastal bathing waters remained roughly stable in 2005, at 96.1% for the mandatory targets and 89.8% for the guide values. There was a clear improvement in compliance rates in the six new member states reporting for the second time in 2005, the commission said.
The report reiterates an earlier commission revelation that since the early 1990s around 7,000 previously registered bathing sites have been delisted, without justification, in 11 member states. Mr Dimas said he believed most had been taken off site lists “to mask pollution” and said he was waiting for responses to infringement proceedings initiated in April (<>EED 06/04/06).

Follow-up: <>European commission, tel +32 2 299 1111, plus bathing water <>report, <>press release and <>memo.

Author : Stefan Scheuer
Source : ENDS Europe DAILY 2113, 09/06/06

EU Policy Director
European Environmental Bureau (aisbl)
Bld. de Waterloo 34
B-1000 Brussels
Tel: +32 22891304
Fax: +32 22891099
Contact : Stefan Scheuer


09.06.06 : Bathing Water: Large majority of beaches continues to meet EU standards

A large majority of bathing sites across the EU-25 continued to meet EU cleanliness standards in 2005, according to the annual bathing water report presented by the European Commission this week. However, the proportion of compliant sites decreased slightly in coastal areas and more significantly at inland bathing sites like lakes and rivers. Coming just before the bathing season begins, the report provides useful water quality information for the millions of people who visit Europe's beaches each summer. While 96% of coastal bathing sites met the mandatory standards of the EU bathing water directive last year, the proportion of inland waters in compliance continued to fall, decreasing by almost four percentage points to 86%. These falls were mainly due to insufficient sampling of water quality which counts as non compliance.


Source : European Commission


07.06.06 : UE: l’état des eaux de baignade en 2005

La direction générale (DG) de l’environnement de la Commission européenne vient de publier le rapport annuel sur la qualité des eaux de baignade en 2005 dans chaque Etat membre. 19 Etats membres ont répondu pour les 14.230 zones côtières (l’Autriche, la Hongrie, le Luxembourg, la République tchèque, et la Slovaquie n’ont pas de côtes), et 23 pour les 6.684 zones de baignade en eau douce (Chypre et Malte n’ont pas de zone de ce type). La qualité des eaux de l’Europe des 15 est restée sensiblement la même qu’en 2004. Quant aux nouveaux Etats membres, les résultats se sont améliorés pour les pays qui mesurent la qualité de leurs eaux pour la deuxième fois. Pour ceux qui n’en sont qu’à leur première année (Lettonie, Hongrie et Slovaquie), seule la moitié des échantillons respectent les normes européennes.

Auteur : Claire Avignon
Source : Le Journal de l'Environnement, 07.06.2006

05.06.06 : 4th World Water Forum ­ synthesis process and evalution

The 4th World Water Forum came to an end on Wednesday, March 22nd, World Water Day, in Mexico City, after seven days of debates and exchanges. Close to 20,000 people from throughout the world participated in 206 working sessions where a total of 1600 local actions were presented.
A synthesis process of the Forum is under way. Session's outcomes are available on the website of the World Water Council (WWC), based on reports prepared by session conveners. Also included are the main messages that were delivered through the Voices of the Forum on a daily basis, which reflect participant's views and conclusions.
As the co-organizer of the WWF, the WWC finds it important to be able to draw lessons from the experience and views of the participants. The WWC is inviting you to fill in the evaluation questionnaire on their website.

For more information, see the World Water Council website...

Source : World Water Council


01.06.06 Flood defences destroying Polish rivers, NGOs warn

Unnecessary flood defences funded through European Investment Bank loans are destroying the natural eco-systems of Polish rivers, NGOS have warned.
Much of the 250m euro loan Poland was granted after extensive floods devastated southern parts of the country in 2001 is being spent on flood defences in uninhabited areas, unnecessarily destroying wildlife habitats, European and Polish NGOs say.
Constructing wire-and-stone and cement embankments, flattening riverbeds and destroying natural sandbanks deprives wildlife of breeding and nesting grounds and destroys vegetation, Anna Roggenbuck of the Polish Green Network NGO told edie.
The NGO conducted studies that show numbers of fish, birds and mammals reducing significantly following the flood defence works, as breeding and nesting grounds are lost. It branded the technologies used out-dated and environmentally insensitive.
"River regulation always interferes with eco-systems. But we support this work where it is necessary, where people live. The problem is that it is being done in uninhabited areas, where the river runs through an empty forest for example - a forest actually needs to be flooded every now and again to keep it irrigated," she said.
Experts analysed biodiversity changes in a wetland forest on the banks of the river Stradomka in southern Poland found decreased numbers of sixteen bird species following the construction of flood defences under the EIB-funded programme. The Honey Buzzard, Common Kingfisher and Hen Harrier had completely stopped nesting in the area around the river, they said.
The Stradomka is one of hundreds of flood defence projects, many of them on-going, funded with EIB loans. The NGOs said that for most of these projects environmental impact assessments required under EU law were not carried out.
Last week, the NGOs managed to temporarily stop work that would have destroyed birds' nests, Robert Wawrety of Polish green group Society for the Earth said.
"The regional environmental office is investigating but it remains very doubtful whether the regional water management agency conducting the work will pull out of further potentially damaging work," he said.
The European Investment Bank responded to the complaints by saying it was satisfied with the project, and denied allegations of environmental damage.

Author : Goska Romanowicz

Source : edie newsroom <>


30.05.06 : EEB and WWF comments prior to Water Directors Meeting in Salzburg on 1-2 June 2006

Brussels, 30 May 2006
To: Water Directors of EU Member States, Accession and EFTA countries
CC: WFD CIS SCG members; WFD Unit, European Commission
EEB and WWF comments prior to Water Directors Meeting in Salzburg on 1-2 June 2006

Dear Water Director,

In anticipation of your meeting in Salzburg on 1-2 June 2006, EEB and WWF would like to provide you
with some comments concerning the future activities under the WFD Common Implementation Strategy
(CIS) work programme 2007-2009, including the intercalibration process, the current “state of play” with
national strategies and programmes under Rural and Regional Development Funds and proposed EU Flood
Risk Management Directive.

Future of the intercalibration process (agenda item 2.3)

You, as a Water Director, have recognised in the Mondorf Statement1 that the criteria for defining the WFD
good ecological status objectives represent the cornerstone of the Directive as they will set the level of
ambition of the WFD. Whilst recognizing that this matter will require progressive refinement in the light of
experience, you expressed your commitment to “the elaboration of a coherent and comparable interpretation
of the good status objective in all Member States”. We urge you to meet that commitment, and approve the
continuation of the intercalibration exercise beyond 2006 with increased resources and without delay. Such a
continuation is essential in order to achieve fully comparable and WFD-consistent class boundaries for ALL
biological quality elements, since the current intercalibration exercise will fail to meet the WFD
We are concerned about calls for a break before continuing the process. We are also concerned about the
argument that the WFD does not provide the legal basis for a continuation of the intercalibration exercise.
We fail to understand how in light of failure to apply the legal requirements set by the WFD, a legal
argument is used to block efforts to overcome the failure. The text of the WFD might not be well drafted in
this respect. But we do not believe that a revision of the WFD would lead to a better result, considering the
unpredictable outcome of a full fledged legislative process. In the view of the above, we call on you to use
the current momentum and the established expert networks and ensure continuation of the intercalibration
exercise in 2006-2013 without delay.

Future activities under the CIS Work Programme 2007-2009 (agenda item 2.6)

The central CIS objective is to support a coherent and harmonious WFD implementation … [and] … reduce
the risks of bad application. On the basis of our assessment of the current “state of play” in the WFD
implementation2, we can conclude that this objective has not been achieved so far and that the CIS produced
guidance, that you have endorsed, have not been adequately taken up by the competent authorities.

Recognising the importance of the EU-wide commitment to timely and effective WFD implementation, we
would like to see the CIS continuing, under the existing objective but with a substantially revised agenda. A
major focus of the CIS should be the quality of WFD implementation in practice, rather than just tracking if
the deadlines have been met. We thus call on you to establish an “implementation quality” Working Group
under the CIS which is given a mandate to assist improving quality of the WFD application on the ground.
This group should develop benchmarking criteria for national implementation based on WFD and CIS
guidance as well as serve as an early warning / problem solving mechanism for complaints about improper
application. Other CIS work items on integrated river basin management or further integration of WFD into
other policy (hydromorphology) or WFD interpretation (article 4.7) guidance work should be stopped and
resources re-directed to improving WFD implementation quality.

Feedback on national strategies and programmes under Rural and Regional Developments (agenda item 3)

The draft national strategies and programmes under the Rural and Regional Development Funds for 2007-
2013 do not seem to include appropriate provisions to support WFD implementation measures. We
acknowledge the efforts made in the framework of the CIS process to identify the existing funding
opportunities for sustainable water management measures under the EU Rural and Regional Development
Funds and believe that you, as a Water Director, should work closely with colleagues in Regional and
Agricultural/Rural Development Ministries to ensure that this window of opportunity is fully used. We are
especially concerned about draft national funding programmes under Cohesion Policy which fail to meet
WFD sustainability conditions. We would like to bring to your attention a number of publications we have
produced identifying these opportunities and giving ideas for potential measures and projects to be
developed in the next programming cycle in the field of sustainable water management.3

EU Flood Risk Management Policy (agenda item 6)

We cautiously welcome the current proposal for a Directive on Flood Risk Management, but in order for it to
truly provide "better regulation", we call on you to do everything in your powers to
- support obligatory coordination with the WFD and merging of planning instruments (article 13.1) , in
order to reduce reporting requirements and bureaucracy for public administrations and consulted citizens
- reduce legal ambiguity with regard to the scope of flood risk maps and flood risk management plans
(article 4.2a and 5.1a, deleting opt-out clauses, in order to make it simple and clear legislation; and
- ensure that the flood risk management measures (i) are taking into account the WFD article 5 principles,
including principle of cost-recovery, (ii) are compliant with the WFD article 4.7 and (iii) support the
achievement of the WFD objectives and focus on prevention of damage through improved land use
planning and increasing natural retention capacit ies (restoring floodplains etc.), in order to make the
directive a truly effective legislation
EEB and WWF hope that these comments will serve as a constructive input and support for your discussions
in Salzburg.

Yours sincerely
Stefan Scheuer Sergey Moroz
EU Policy Director, EEB Water Policy Officer, WWF

1) Statement of the European Water Directors on the future of EU Water Policy at the occasion of the Water Directors’ seminar “Review and Views” in Mondorf-les-Bains (Luxembourg) , 21 June 2005
2) EEB, May 2004: “The quality of national transposition and implementation – A snapshot - Results of an NGO questionnaire by the EEB”, available at; EEB and WWF, March 2005: “The quality of national transposition and implementation of the Water Framework Directive at the end of 2004 - A second “Snapshot” Report - Assessment of results from an environmental NGO questionnaire” available at ; “Making
economics work for the environment: Survey of the economic elements of the Art icle 5 reports of the EU Water Framework Directive”2 available at

3) The Rural Development Environmental Programming Guidelines available at : ;
EU Funding for Environment - A handbook for the 2007-2013 programming period available at :


24.05.06 : Three Gorges Dam Holds Lessons for Green Activists

Beijing, CHINA, May 23 (IPS)
As the last loads of concrete are poured into the wall of the world's largest dam and the waters behind rise, the long battle against the Three Gorges Dam -- spanning generations of Chinese leaders -- is considered lost.

But green activists here say the completion of the huge reservoir is only the beginning of an even harder fight to preserve the country's last virgin rivers and dwindling water resources.

"As we plan to triple our hydropower capacity from 2004 to 2020, it is crucial to decide future dams through a more open and participatory process so as to bring competing interests into consideration," says Ma Jun, an independent environmental consultant and author of the tome, 'China's Water Crisis'.

Consultation was absent from the approval debate for Three Gorges. Since construction began 15 years ago, more than a million people have been displaced from areas submerged by the huge reservoir that was created behind the wall of the dam. An additional 80,000 will have to be relocated in the next few months.

Environmentalists have warned that the backing of water behind the 2.3 km long dam could become a giant waste-collection pool for the city of Chongqing, about 400 km upstream. According to reports, numerous areas of historical and cultural interest have all been flooded.

"The environmental and social impact of the Three Gorges Dam is publicly acknowledged and much of it has to be yet properly mitigated," says Ma Jun. "But we would rather focus our efforts on fighting follow-up projects such as the dams on the Jinsha River".

Four megadams are designed to be built along the Jinsha River - a tributary of the mighty Yangtze, in part to reduce the silt pressures on Three Gorges.

Despite a wave of rural protests, construction of the Xiluodu dam, the country's second-largest hydroelectric dam on lower Jinsha, has already begun. Three other dams are in the exploration stage, including one on the scenical Tiger Leaping Gorge on upper Jinsha, one of the world's deepest canyons. If built, the dam would affect up to 100,000 people.

But the Jinsha River is not alone. The government has also announced plans to dam the Nu River that flows from the country's remote southwest into Southeast Asia where it is known as the Salween.

An initial proposal of 13-dam cascade on the Nu is projected to generate 4,000 more Mw of electricity a year than Three Gorges. When completed in 2008, the dam will produce some 18,000 Mw -- enough to supply an industrial powerhouse like the coastal hub of Shanghai.

hina's energy consumption has soared in recent years amid economic growth that last year neared 10 percent. Researchers say the country simply must boost its energy-generation capacity if it wants to continue powering its high economic growth.

China believes hydropower energy to be a cleaner alternative for its energy shortages and its officials are eyeing the last untapped river resources in southwestern China. After the Jinsha and Nu rivers, next on the board is the virgin Brahmaputra in Tibet. Experts reckon that only a quarter of China's hydropower has yet been tapped.

Yet, the costs may outweigh the benefits. South-western China, where all the three great Asian rivers, the Mekong, the Salween and the Jinsha, start, is one of the world's most biologically diverse areas, home to half of China's animal species and a quarter of its plant species.

The area, named the Three Parallel Rivers, is recognised by the UNESCO as a world heritage site. Whatever portions of this ecosystem that the dams don't submerge are certain to be disrupted in potentially disastrous ways.

A more immediate concern is the immense number of people who will need to be resettled when reservoirs inundate the region's densely populated valleys.

Since the communist takeover in 1949, 16 million people in China have been displaced by reservoirs. Some 10 million of them still live in poverty. At Tiger Leaping Gorge, where a mere 80,000 residents will have to be relocated, people fear that they will be ordered to move up the steep mountainsides to open marginal land at 1,800 to 2,700 metres.

But just as the country's energy officials' ambitions have soared, the drive to dam China's last pristine rivers has generated greater environmental sensitivity among the public. Vocal indigenous environmental groups, like the Green Watersheds based in the southwestern Yunnan province have emerged, waging a seemingly successful battle to protect the Nu River and the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Following a nationwide campaign of opposition organised by the green groups in 2004, Premier Wen Jiabao called for a temporary halt to plans for a cascade of 13 dams on the Nu River, and requested a survey on the environmental and social impact of the dams.

The results of the survey have been kept secret but reports in the Hong Kong media have said the review has recommended a scaled-down plan of only four dams along the Nu River.

Environmentalists have called on the government to comply with a 2003 law on environmental impact assessment, which requires for public participation in the review and planning of major development projects.

They fear that, if built, the four dams would prove the opening for the whole cascade to be completed, much as the completion of Three Gorges has necessitated the building of more and more dams upstream.

"The Three Gorges Dam represents the completion of a long-term political dream for Chinese leadership," says Yu Xiaogang, the founder and director of the Green Watersheds in Yunnan province. "But man conquering the nature is no longer the call of the day. On the contrary, the new thinking about sustainable development is about how to preserve nature."

The government recently called for more balanced development, even proposing a "green index" to measure growth. Indeed, Premier Wen Jiabao has declared that he wants to see more "scientific development" in China's approach to its environmental problems.

Green activists insist there are alternative ways of generating electricity that would be more cost effective. Despite its mammoth size and 24 billion U.S. dollar price tag, Three Gorges would generate only four percent of China's electricity, according to Cao Guangjing, the dam-building company's deputy manager.

The 11th five-year plan (2006-2010), approved by the National People's Congress in March, calls for an improved use of energy and natural resources. Energy per unit of GDP must be reduced by 20 percent from 2005, the plan said.

"If we can achieve this national goal for efficiency, imagine how many Three Gorges dams can be spared," says Yu Xiaogang. "Millions of money and the livelihoods of millions of displaced people could be saved if we learn how to use power more efficiently." (END/2006)

source : IPS, Antoaneta Bezlova
via IRN

20.05.06 : Three Gorges dam wall completed (BBC)

China has completed construction of the main wall of the Three Gorges Dam - the world's largest hydro-electric project.
The controversial dam in central Hubei province will not be fully operational until 2009, once all its generators are installed.

China says it will provide electricity for its booming economy and help control flooding on the Yangtze River.
Critics say over a million people were moved from the area, and the reservoir behind the dam is already polluted.

On Saturday, builders poured the last amount of concrete to complete the construction of the 185m (607ft) high, 2,309m (1.4 mile) long wall. A senior Chinese official said the event marked a "landmark progress" in the dam's construction, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. "However, tasks such as building of power houses of the dam, the ship lock and shiplift are still formidable," said Pu Haiqing, deputy director of the dam's construction committee

When its 26 turbines become operational in 2009, the dam will have a capacity of more than 18,000 megawatts.

Already the world's second-largest consumer of oil, China says it needs alternative energy sources to combat widespread power shortages and keep its booming economy powering along.

The authorities also hope the dam will help control flooding on the Yangtze River, which in the past has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, the BBC's Quentin Somerville in Shanghai reports.

But campaigners say the dam comes at too high a cost.

Over a million people have been moved from their homes to make way for the project and more than 1,200 towns and villages will disappear under its rising waters.

Environmentalists say the water behind the dam is already heavily polluted.

China says the whole project will cost about $25bn (£13bn), but environmentalists estimate it to be several times higher.

Source: BBC News

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18.05.06 : EU water management faces economic challenge (EEB press release)

Brussels (18 May 2006), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Europe’s largest federation of environmental citizens’ organisations, yesterday called on Europe’s Environment Ministers to sharpen up their act given their poor record in implementing EU water protection legislation in the shape of the 2000 Water Framework Directive (WFD). A more integrated approach is urgently needed to make economics work for sustainable water management. The EEB concludes from a recent EEB and WWF survey of national implementation reports that the required economic analysis of water uses in most cases fails to shed adequate light on the sectors identified as causing massive environmental problems, like hydropower, navigation, and flood defences.

“We still don’t know who pays for what, or whether current arrangements are fair and reflect the true environmental cost of unsustainable water use,” said Stefan Scheuer, EEB’s Policy Director. “The existing set-up makes it impossible to come up with robust and cost-efficient measures which target the harmful environmental impact of infrastructural and river maintenance work involved in delivering hydropower, navigation or flood-protection for businesses. We’re afraid that ultimately water managers would have to obtain the funds they need for environmental measures from the general public or households, who often already pay a fair price for their water consumption.”

Under the WFD, in 2005 Member States were asked to present a report for each of their River Basin Districts, focusing on environmental problems and the economic analysis of water uses, the ‘Article 5’ Reports. EEB’s and WWF’s assessment of 25 Article 5 Reports from 21 countries shows that Europe is still far from practising ecologically sustainable water management. Some 50% of surface waters risk failing to achieve the WFD’s objective ‘good ecological status’.

“We call on Environment Ministers to live up to their commitments to use economic tools to make the market work for the environment and give higher priority to a correct application of relevant requirements laid down in EU environmental legislation, like the definition of what constitutes a water service,” said John Hontelez, EEB’s Secretary General, “Water management authorities must therefore revise the economic analysis of water uses by 2008 to better address environmental damaging infrastructures and bring it in line with WFD legal obligations, and in time for the programme of measures to restore our aquatic environment to be drawn up in 2009. Latvia and France have shown that it is possible: it is a question of political choice...”

Twenty-two reports pinpointed infrastructure, such as dams, embankments or channelling, supporting hydropower, navigation, flood defence or agriculture, as a key source of environmental pressure. Infrastructure of this kind reduces both the space of water and the variety of habitats, thus endangering aquatic biodiversity and the ecosystem’s stability. This reduces our ecosystem’s ability to cleanse itself as well as weakening its resilience to climate change. A safe and reliable natural water supply for human needs is also at risk. Only six Article 5 Reports identified hydropower, navigation or flood defence infrastructure as ‘water service’ for the assessment of their cost recovery from the end users, and just two of those tried to look into environmental and resource costs of those sectors: France and Latvia. ENDS

The letter to Environment Ministers can be downloaded at:; and the full EEB and WWF report at:

For further information please contact:-
John Hontelez, EEB Secretary General: ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1091; Mobile: +32 (0)486 51 21 27
Stefan Scheuer, EU Policy Director:; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1304

Peter Clarke, Press & Publications Officer:; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309

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