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23.12.06 : Outcomes of the UNESCO Workshop on GHG emissions from freshwater reservoirs, Paris, France

Recent research on freshwater reservoirs has included the monitoring of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions above the water surface, both within the reservoir area and immediately downstream of the retaining infrastructure, using various methodologies.

A workshop was convened at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, on 5-6 December 2006, to discuss the scientific issues related GHG emissions from freshwater reservoirs. At this workshop, government officials, scientists, and reservoir managers reviewed research and field measurements concerning GHG emissions, assessed a common understanding on this topic, identified knowledge gaps and research needs, and discussed roles for future actions. At the end of the workshop, participants approved a joint statement.

Workshop rationale [PDF format - 28 KB] :
Participants’ statement [PDF format - 100 KB] :


21.12.06 : Dutch Government Approves EUR14 Billion For Water Defenses, Quality

AMSTERDAM (AP)--The Dutch Cabinet Friday approved a EUR14 billion increase in spending on water defenses and water quality improvements over the next 20 years, part of an accelerating push to keep up with problems caused by climate change.

Around two-thirds of the country's population of 16 million lives below sea level, and the government already spends EUR500 million annually on maintaining the intricate system of sea and river dikes that keep the Dutch dry.

In a statement, the Cabinet said it would split the money between water defense improvements needed for safety reasons, and water quality improvements agreed by the European Union, but it would prioritize the safety improvements.

The government wouldn't complete all the work required by the E.U. guidelines by the target date of 2015, in order to save money by combining some of it with other building projects, the statement said.

However, "we will stick to (our) plan for preventing water damage. That means that in 2015, the risks of damage will be less," the statement said. "Carrying out these measures has a high priority, considering future climate change."

Dutch policy makers work on assumptions made by their own Royal Weather Institute, which predict an increase in average temperature in the Netherlands of 1-2 degrees Celsius by 2050, compared with 1990, and a rise in sea level of 15-35 centimeters.

The extra spending comes on top of EUR3 billion in extra projects this decade against the threat from river floods, as Dutch climate models predict global warming will lead to more abrupt showers in the Rhine catchment area, whose water ultimately funnels through the Netherlands on its way out to the sea.

Dutch thinking on water defense in the past decade has gradually shifted away from just strengthening dikes and dunes - though that remains crucial - to a concept termed 'living with water' which looks at how to absorb or divert sudden influxes of water, and being more ready for coping with floods when they occur.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


07.12.06 : Kurdish Mayor Demands Dam Project Halted (AP)

A Kurdish-Turkish official appealed Thursday for the cancellation of a dam project in his country, saying it would destroy cultural heritage and do little to boost economic development.

"Of course we want economic and social development ... but development should not disregard people, nature and history," said Osman Baydemir, president of the Union of South Eastern Anatolia Municipalities and mayor of Diyarbakir. The Ilisu dam, on the Tigris River 30 miles north of the Syrian border, will be one of the largest dams in Turkey and is scheduled to be completed by 2013. A ground breaking ceremony took place in August.

Opponents of the project say it will flood dozens of towns and destroy archaeological treasures including the medieval fortress city of Hasankeyf, which overlooks the Tigris.
"The cultural and historic heritage of Hasankeyf is indescribable. It is not comparable with other places and we have a large responsibility," Baydemir, speaking through a translator, said at a news conference organized by WWF.

Baydemir was in Vienna to lobby with the WADI NGO against project participation by an Austrian company, Andritz Va Tech Hydro. The company, whose financial involvement totals some $319 million, still needs an export guarantee from the Republic of Austria. Baydemir argued that funding for the roughly $1.6 billion project should be invested in the region's cities, the construction of an international airport, restoration of cultural heritage sites and tourism.

In prepared English remarks provided later, Baydemir added that 98,840 acres will be affected and that people would be evacuated "without a proper and effective resettlement plan".
Those in favor of the dam say it will create jobs and improve thousands of lives.
Some 40,000 people would benefit from it directly, said Yunus Bayraktar, Turkish project coordinator at a separate news conference at the Turkish Embassy.
Nihat Eri, a Turkish parliamentarian, said Turkey has no choice but to exploit its water resources.
"We have no oil, we have no gas ... the only thing we have is water," Eri said, noting that hydroelectric power was "clean energy."


more information on the Ilisu project

01.12.06 : Danube / Tisza : EU Solidarity Fund: Commission proposes € 15 million of aid for regions in Hungary hit by severe floods

other languages :

The European Commission today proposed to grant aid from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) totalling € 15.06 million to help to deal with the consequences of the flood disaster that severely hit Hungary earlier this year. The money will be used to reimburse a part of the cost of emergency measures such as rescue services, the cleaning up of disaster stricken areas and the restoration of basic infrastructures to working condition.
The severe floods along the Danube and Tisza rivers in Hungary, which continued for several weeks during April and May this year, were caused by unusually high quantities of quickly melting snow and intensive rainfall adding to the already unusually high levels of water coming from Austria on the Danube. The flood disaster caused casualties, extensive damage to public and private property, as well as disruptions to public services. Total direct damage is estimated at around € 519 million.

Danuta Hübner, Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy and the Solidarity Fund, conveyed her sympathy to all the citizens affected by the disasters. She said: “Today's decision to propose to mobilise the Fund expresses the Union's financial solidarity with the people affected by the severe floods this spring. The aid will help to offset the financial costs incurred in cleaning-up the disaster stricken areas, restoring basic infrastructures and in taking other emergency measures”.

Furthermore, the Commissioner underscored the importance of the Solidarity Fund and called on the Council for the "acceleration of the discussions of the revised instrument, which aims at responding more effectively to disasters of different nature".


The EU Solidarity Fund, created in 2002, grants emergency aid to Member States and acceding countries in the event of a major natural disaster. Its annual allocation amounts to € 1 billion. To qualify for aid under the Solidarity Fund, countries must provide a documented estimate of the damage which is examined by the Commission in the light of specific criteria, which are intended to ensure that EU funds are used to meet the most urgent needs.

In order to make the credits available, the Commission is now requesting the Budget Authority (European Parliament and Council) to adopt an Amending Budget. The conditions for implementing the aid by the beneficiary country will then be laid down in an agreement between the Commission and the beneficiary country.

On 6 April 2005, the Commission adopted a proposal for the new and improved EU Solidarity Fund (for 2007-2013), which would cover disasters other than those arising from natural catastrophes and with improved eligibility criteria and delivery mechanisms (see MEMO/05/111). After a largely favourable vote of the European Parliament the proposal is still on the table of the Council.
For more information please consult the following

source : EU 01.12.06 via

25.11.06 : Climate Change may affect Delivery of WFD objectives

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to achieve good status for all European waters by 2015. It establishes a framework for water management and policy based on the principle of integrated river basin management. The possible direct and indirect impacts of climate change on freshwater ecosystems are not well understood and have received relatively little attention to date. In particular, the Directive does not mention risks posed by climate change to the achievement of its environmental objectives. Nevertheless, the time scale for its implementation process extends into the 2020s, when climate models predict changes in temperatures and precipitations.

A group of British researchers has recently assessed the main risks posed to the delivery of the WFD’s objectives by climate change from a UK perspective. The scientists first reviewed the latest UK climate change projections and the policy and science context of the WFD. Thereafter, they examined the potential risks of climate change to key phases of the river basin management process that supports the WFD, such as the characterisation of river basins and their water bodies, programmes of measures, monitoring, or associated management activities.

The results of the analysis suggest that climate change has the potential to impact specific aspects of the WFD, including:

Prevention of deterioration in the status of water bodies. Changes in the flow regime and physical-chemistry conditions in rivers could have significant impacts on key species, which in turn would affect the ecological status, particularly in the protected water bodies. Moreover, global warming may promote the deterioration of some water bodies, such as wetlands, that are sensitive to changes in the water balance.

Achievement of good ecological status. With climate change, good surface water quality may become harder to achieve in some areas at specific times of the year, while elsewhere there may be a deterioration of status. For example, severe droughts in the summer could have long-term impacts on fish populations as associated increased temperatures, reduction in dissolved oxygen and low flow conditions increase fish mortality.

Achievement of good groundwater status. Coastal aquifers may be threatened by saline intrusion linked to rising sea levels. Increasing demand during hot summers would increase water extraction thus reducing the potential for groundwater recharge.

Halting the discharge of priority hazardous substances into surface waters. Some hazardous substances stored in contaminated sediments may potentially be mobilised under high river flow conditions resulting from increased heavy winter precipitation.

Programme of measures options, appraisal and implementation. Climate change may lead to land use practices/crop types with a significantly different water needs. If the risks posed by climate change are not taken into account, the timing and cost of an adapted response may be adversely affected.

The authors conclude that the WFD provides new opportunities for linking policy and participative mechanisms introduced for river basin management plans to the emerging climate change adaptation policies on a national and regional scale. They also highlight that new guidance, typologies and screening tools would be needed to identify which water bodies are most vulnerable to climate change.

Source: : R.L. Wilby, H.G.Orr,M. Hedger, D. Forrow and M. Blackmore (2006) « Risks posed by climate change to the delivery of Water Framework Directive objectives in the UK », Environment International, 32: 1043-1055.
Theme(s): Water, climate change and energy

21.11.06 : Publication of the first ever Action Guide for Communities Affected by Dams (IRN)

International Rivers Network is very proud to announce the publication of our first ever Action Guide for Communities Affected by Dams.
The guide, Dams, Rivers and Rights, is the perfect tool for anyone threatened by dam construction. Written for a low-literacy audience, the guide provides general information about dams and their impacts, and gives concrete ideas about how to challenge dams. Filled with case studies of real dam struggles and helpful illustrations, the guide offers practical suggestions on how to campaign to protect your rivers and rights.
Please contact Riam at International Rivers Network (E-mail: for English versions of the guide. Copies of the guide are available free of charge for social movements, NGO's and community organizations.
Please contact Ann Kathrin at International Rivers Network (E-mail: if you are interested in translating the guide into your local language.
Together, we can stop destructive dams and defend people's rights. Together, we can meet people's energy and water needs without hurting communities and the environment.

Source IRN,

01.11.06 : Battling Over Bubbles: Big Hydro Hides its Role in Global Warming

A bitter debate has broken out in the scientific community over hydropowerís
contribution to global warming. A leading Brazil-based climate scientist
calculates that startlingly high levels of greenhouse gases are emitted when
water is released from the turbines and spillways of tropical dams. But hydro
industry-backed researchers have fiercely attacked his work. In an effort to
settle the debate, International Rivers Network is releasing a report today,
just prior to the UN Climate Change conference in Nairobi (Nov. 6-25), calling
on a UN science panel to determine hydropowerís culpability in global warming.

ìIt may seem counterintuitive, but tropical hydropower reservoirs can have a
far greater impact on global warming than even their dirtiest fossil fuel plant
rivals,î says Patrick McCully, IRN Executive Director and author of the report.
ìThe big-hydro lobby has consistently underplayed the scale of hydropower
emissions and sought to discredit and silence independent scientists
researching dams and global warming.î

Philip Fearnside, one of the worldís most frequently cited scientists on global
warming, estimates that in 1990 hydropower dams in the Amazon caused between 3
and 54 times more global warming than modern natural gas plants generating the
same amount of energy.

The debate between Fearnside and the hydro industry-backed researchers pivots
on what happens to methane dissolved in reservoir water when it is released at
a dam. Imagine a reservoir as a vast bottle of Coke. Everyone knows what
happens when you shake a Coke bottle and open it. The same thing happens as
water jets out of dam turbines and spillwaysóas with opening a Coke there is a
sudden release of gas bubbles.

The surfaces of reservoirs also emit greenhouse gases. Emissions of carbon
dioxide and methane have been measured from the surfaces of over 100 reservoirs
around the world. These gases come from the rotting of flooded vegetation and
from organic matter that flows into reservoirs over time.

The scientists researching this issueómost of the relevant work is sponsored by
Brazilian and Canadian hydropower utilitiesóagree that reservoir surfaces emit
greenhouse gases. But the hydro-backed scientists downplay the significance of
ìdegassingî releases and assert that the overall impact of tropical hydropower
on global warming is not significant compared to fossil fuel power plants.

ìIt is as if Phillip Morris were in control of all lung cancer research, or
Exxon Mobil controlled climate research,î declared McCully. ìThere is far too
much at stake in this debate to allow Big Hydro to control the research agenda.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in climate subsidies and carbon credits could
be spent on projects which would both worsen global warming and destroy
valuable ecosystems.î

The report is at

* Patrick McCully, Executive Director, IRN, Berkeley, California: +1 510 213
1441 (mobile) +1 510 848 1155 (office),
* Philip Fearnside, National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA),
Manaus, Brazil: +55 92 3643 1822 (office),,
* Tim Kingston, Communications Manager, IRN, Berkeley, California: +1 510 290
7170 (mobile) +1 510 848 1155 (office),

30.10.06 : SPAIN - Drought-hit Spain looks to penalize heavy water use

MADRID (Reuters) - Spaniards who use "excessive" amounts of water may have to pay more for it in future, the government said on Monday, seeking ways to curb water use after two years of drought.
After the worst drought on record in 2005 and below average rainfall again in the year ended on September 30, the country's reservoir levels dropped to their lowest in a decade.
Environment Minister Cristina Narbona said she was planning to guarantee a minimum amount of clean water for everyone and would raise prices above that limit.
"In principle, in line with a proposal made by Ecologists in Action, we suggest a minimum of 60 liters (13 gallons) a day per person," she said.
"(There will be) a reform of the water law to penalize excessive consumption via tariffs charged," Narbona said at the start of a national water council meeting, which is due to debate several proposals.
A ministry spokeswoman denied household consumers would face higher prices if they used more than the 60 liters a day allowance. The onus may fall on other users.
Narbona did not say how the reform would affect farmers, who use 77 percent of Spain's water. Urban consumption accounts for 18 percent and industry the remaining 5 percent.
Spaniards now use an average of around 170 liters a day and water prices vary.
In some towns it is practically free and farmers often sink illegal wells and obtain water from aquifers for no more than the cost of pumping it.

Source: SAHRA Water News Watch

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