28.12.05 : China Dumps Chemicals to try
to Clean Toxic River
BEIJING - China is dumping chemicals into a southern river to
try to neutralise a toxic spill and contain the second environmental
disaster to hit the country in as many months, a local official
and state media said on Friday.
The cadmium-containing slick, which has cut tap water for tens
of thousands of people downstream for five days, was flushed into
the North River running across Guangdong province north to south
from a Shaoguan zinc smelter last week.
The government has already lowered dam gates at the Baishiyao
hydropower plant near Yingde, 90 km (54 miles) downstream from
Shaoguan, to try to stall and dilute the pollutants.
Now it is to dump chemicals into the water, Yingde government
spokesman Huang Zhensheng told Reuters by telephone.
"With only 1,200 tonnes of the chemicals, toxicity can be
reduced by 30 percent," the Southern Metropolis News quoted
an expert as saying.
Cadmium, a metallic element widely used in batteries, can cause
liver and kidney damage and lead to bone diseases. Compounds containing
cadmium are also carcinogenic.
In China's northeast, the front of a slick of benzene compounds
that poisoned drinking water for millions after a chemical plant
blast last month has crossed the Russian border through the frozen
China apologised again to Russia on Thursday, while Russia's
far east city of Khabarovsk readied alternative water supplies,
though taps had not been turned off.
"Analysis of the water showed that the benzene content does
not exceed ... the maximum allowable concentration," RIA-Novosti
news agency quoted an Emergencies Ministry official as saying.
"As a result, the city authorities have decided not to turn
off the Khabarovsk water supply."
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
: EU will Rhein in Nord Rhein
Westfalen komplett unter Naturschutz stellen
- Nordrhein-Westfalen droht wegen
eines Streits um den Naturschutz auf dem Rhein
offenbar eine Millionenstrafe aus Brüssel. Die
EU-Kommission fordere von der Landesregierung,
den Strom von Bad Honnef bis zur holländischen
Grenze komplett als Naturschutzgebiet
auszuweisen, bestätigte das NRW-Umweltministerium
der in Essen erscheinenden «Westdeutschen
Allgemeinen Zeitung». Wirtschaftsverbände sähen
durch die Umweltauflagen einen Ausbau des
wirtschaftlich wichtigsten Stroms Europas und
damit tausende Arbeitsplätze gefährdet.
der Kommission verstoße NRW gegen
die EU-Vorgaben zur
Flora-Fauna-Habitat-Richtlinie, schreibt das
Blatt. Danach müssten die EU-Mitgliedsstaaten
jeweils zehn Prozent ihrer Landesfläche als
schützenswerte Gebiete nach Brüssel melden. Die
NRW-Regierung habe auf dem wirtschaftlich
wichtigsten Strom Deutschlands nur streckenweise
Fischruhezonen einrichten wollen. Brüssel halte
diese Pläne für unzureichend und setze NRW nun
eine Frist bis zum 19. Februar. «Andernfalls wird
die EU-Kommission Klage vor dem Europäischen
Gerichtshof einreichen», sagte der Sprecher des NRW-Umweltministeriums.
könne bis zu 800 000 Euro pro Tag
betragen. Am 5. Januar komme es im
NRW-Umweltministerium in Düsseldorf zu einem
Krisentreffen mit Vertretern des
sowie Industrie- und Handelskammern.
source : http://linkszeitung.de/content/view/6034/58
via DNR www.dnr.de/infoservice
: New York State offers Hudson River restoration plan
New York, December 24, 2005 (ENS) - People would be able to fish
and swim the entire 315 mile length of the Hudson River under
the Hudson River Estuary Program's newly released final draft
Action Agenda to honor exploration of the river by Henry Hudson
nearly 400 years ago. By restoring and protecting the whole river,
the plan aims to safeguard the Hudson River Estuary, where the
river meets the Atlantic Ocean under the Verrezano Narrows bridge
in New York Harbor.
23.12.05: Nu River: Vast Dam Proposal
is a test for China (New York Times)
By Jim Yardley, The New York Times, FRIDAY, DECEMBER
XIAOSHABA, China Far from the pulsing cities that
symbolize modern China, this tiny hillside village of crude peasant
houses seems disconnected from this century and the last. But
follow a dirt path past a snarling watchdog, sidestep the chickens
and ducks and a small clearing on the banks of the Nu River reveals
a dusty slab of concrete lying in a rotting pumpkin patch.
The innocuous concrete block is a symbol
of a struggle over law that touches every corner of the country.
The block marks the spot on the Nu River where
officials here in Yunnan Province want to begin building one of
the biggest dam projects in the world. It would produce more electricity
than even the mighty Three Gorges Dam but would also threaten
a region considered an ecological treasure. This village would
be the first place to disappear.
For decades, the Communist Party has rammed through
such projects by fiat. But the Nu River proposal, already delayed
for more than a year, is now unexpectedly presenting the Chinese
government with a quandary of its own making: Will it abide by
A coalition led by Chinese environmental groups
is urging the central government to hold open hearings and make
public a secret report on the Nu dams before making a final decision.
In a country where people cannot challenge decisions by their
leaders, such public participation is a fairly radical idea. But
the groups argue that new environmental laws grant exactly that
"This is the case to set a precedent,"
said Ma Jun, an environmental consultant in Beijing. "For
the first time, there is a legal basis for public participation.
If it happens, it would be a major step forward."
China's leaders often embrace the concept of rule
of law, if leaving open how they choose to define it. For many
people in China's fledgling "civil society" - environmentalists,
journalists, lawyers, academics and others - the law has become
a tool to promote environmental protection and to try to expand
the rights of individuals in an authoritarian political system.
Trying to invoke the law is risky, however. Chinese
nongovernmental organizations, few of which existed a decade ago,
have taken up the Nu as a major cause. But the activism on the
Nu and other issues has provoked deep suspicions by the Communist
Party even as a broader clampdown against such nongovernmental
organizations has forced some to shut.
The government knows China has a drastic pollution
problem and has passed new environmental laws. But top leaders
also demand high economic growth and need to increase energy supplies
to get it. The "green laws" are becoming a crucible
to test which side will prevail and whether ordinary people can
take part in the process.
The closed process that led to the Three Gorges
Dam is what opponents of the Nu dams most want to avoid.
In the late 1980s, a wide range of intellectuals
and others tried in vain to force public hearings to discuss the
environmental and social costs of a project that has flooded a
vast region and forced massive relocations.
Ultimately, opponents could only muster a symbolic
victory as the final vote in the National People's Congress saw
an unusually high number of abstentions or nay votes.
The central government is still deliberating how
to proceed on the Nu.
Domestic media coverage has been banned in recent
months. Three central government ministries refused interview
requests, as did provincial officials in Yunnan. Local officials
along the Nu River, after initially agreeing to an interview,
failed to reply to a list of written questions.
Out in the jagged mountains along China's remote
southwestern border, villagers in Xiaoshaba gather information
about their future from rumors. In early December, a team of surveyors
inventoried property and measured the narrow terrace of village
farmland along the Nu.
Several villagers say local officials have told
them that everyone will be relocated around the coming Lunar New
Year holiday, which ends in early February - even if the dams
have not yet been approved.
"If they tell me to move," said a villager,
Zhang Jianhua, "I have no other choice."
In the spring of 2003, a slender, studious man
named Yu Xiaogang learned that the hydropower industry was eyeing
the rivers of southwestern China. Yu, an environmental resources
manager, knew that China believed hydropower was a cleaner alternative
for its energy shortages and that the Nu was considered one of
the country's richest, untapped resources. But he and others believed
the Nu would be untouchable.
The Nu, which translates as Angry River, roars
out of the Tibetan Plateau east of the Himalayas and plunges through
steep canyons just inside the border with Myanmar, or Burma, as
it careens southward before crossing the border.
In China, it passes through a mountainous region
with more than 7,000 species of plants and 80 rare or endangered
animals or fish. Unesco said the region "may be the most
biologically diverse temperate ecosystem in the world" and
designated it a World Heritage Site in the summer of 2003.
"We were very happy because we thought the
Nu would be protected and would have no problems," said Yu,
who also headed an environmental NGO called Green Watershed. But
not long after the World Heritage designation, a state-run provincial
newspaper announced that a public-private consortium planned to
build 13 dams on the river. The project would be the largest cascade
dam system in the world and it appeared politically unstoppable.
The majority partner, China Huadian Corporation,
was a state-owned goliath; the local government was a minority
partner. In Beijing, the State Development and Reform Commission,
a powerful government ministry, had approved the dams in August
and planned to present the plan to the State Council, or China's
cabinet, for final approval.
Construction would begin in September 2003.
The environmental community was blindsided. More
than 50,000 people, most of them from ethnic minority hill tribes,
would be relocated. The Nu also was one of only two free flowing
rivers in China. The State Environmental Protection Administration,
or SEPA, the country's environmental watchdog, criticized the
project in its official newspaper. But SEPA was considered one
of the weakest ministries in the central government.
Then, a snag arose: a bureaucratic delay, hardly
uncommon in China. August became September and the proposal had
not yet been presented for final approval.
During the delay, a new environmental law took effect on Sept.
1. Based on an American model, the China Environmental Impact
Assessment Law required comprehensive environmental reviews in
the planning stages of major public and private development projects.
Decades of relentless economic growth had left
China with dire pollution problems and squandered natural resources.
President Hu Jintao had made "sustainable development"
a new government mantra.
The assessment law gave the environmental agency
new powers to handle and approve environmental reviews before
a project was approved. It also called for public participation,
including hearings, as part of the review, though it did not detail
But it would take public pressure to force action
on the Nu case. Despite its uniqueness and natural beauty, the
Nu was not well known, largely because of its isolated location.
In September, an environmental conference in Beijing
brought together academics, government environmental officials
and NGOs to discuss the Nu.
A month later, Pan Yue, the outspoken vice minister
of the environmental agency, organized China's first "Green
Forum," a public relations event that included Chinese music
and film stars. One person at the forum was a woman named Wang
Yongchen, a member of Green Earth Volunteers, an environmental
NGO in Beijing.
Initially, the Green Earth Volunteers had concentrated on tree
planting and teaching children about the environment. But in recent
years, the group had participated in efforts to stop a dam proposal
in Sichuan Province. At the forum, Wang persuaded 62 celebrities
and film stars to sign a petition in support of "natural"
rivers. She would later donate money to build 30 libraries in
poor villages along the Nu.
But the key factor was the Sept. 1 law. As the
project appeared to be nearing approval, biologists, academics
and environmentalists all argued that the government had not properly
conducted an environmental review.
In late winter, as Wang guided a tour of Chinese
journalists, her mobile phone rang. A friend informed her that
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had temporarily suspended the project
so that it could be "carefully discussed and decided on scientifically."
Wang began to cry with joy.
Later, some Chinese newspapers speculated that Wen's edict meant
the project was dead.
Yu thought otherwise. "I thought this was the first success
of public participation," he said. "But I did not think
the decision was final."
The dispute over the Nu seems at a standstill.
Ultimately, the decision on holding hearings may fall to the prime
minister. Wang, the NGO leader, described the dilemma in simple
"If the law is not enforced, what shall we do?" she
asked. "We have this law. Why doesn't this law work?"
Source : New York Times http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12/23/news/dam.php
: Danube Delta /Project Start: Connecting Katlabuh Lake with Danube
of the Katlabuh liman with the Danube river has
started this week in the Ukrainian Danube Delta. This is the second
project site of WWF Netherlands and WWF DCP in the delta and the
contract for its implementation was signed with the local Odessa
Water Management Board. The main goal of the project is to restore
the natural hydrological regime by reconnecting the Katlabuh Lake
the Danube River through the old river channel.
: Croatia - The Drava river basin project
lower Drava river basin is known as a largely
intact piece of nature, which however is
threatened by illegal landfills and effluents. An
INTERREG IIIB CADSES Project is to counteract
this situation. In view of a possible EU
accession, Croatia plans to implement a central
environmental management system within the years
to come. The most important measures include a.o.
the implementation of new water management and
wastewater disposal plans. About eight billion
euros will be invested in environmental measures
until 2012. With its integrative approach, the
Drava river basin project fits perfectly in this picture.
Source: Aquamedia via EWMN
20.12.05 : Elbe
: Schwarz-Rote Bundesregierung plant Ausbau der Mittel- und Oberelbe
vom 12.12.2005 hat es ans Licht gebracht, was die Koalitionsvereinbarung
nicht offen preisgab:
Die neue Bundesregierung plant den Ausbau der Mittel- und Oberelbe,
um den Hamburger Hafen
ans Hinterland anzuschließen.
Vorgesehen ist die Einengung und Vertiefung der
Elbe im Dessauer Raum bei Coswig/Wörlitz sowie
zwischen Dömitz und Hitzacker. Außerdem soll in Magdeburg
der Domfelsen zur Verbreiterung der
Fahrrinnen teilweise abgetragen werden. Die Kosten sind unbekannt
und ein Nutzen ist kaum zu erkennen,
denn die Elbe ist, wie der Spiegel richtig feststellte, als Wasserstraße
eine Null. Sicher ist hingegen
nur, dass das Auenland Schaden nehmen wird und zwar irreversibel.
Damit wird das EU-Recht ausgehebelt, das ein Verschlechterungsverbot
stösst auf vehemente Opposition seiten der Umweltorganisationen
und steht auch im Kontrast zur Position der sächsischen Regierung.
Die Elbe ist
seit der Wiedervereinigung Deutschlands stark unter Schutz gestellt
worden. In ihrem deutschen Verlauf besitzt die Elbe =keine Staustufe
bis Hamburg auf rund 700 km Länge. 460 km davon sind gar
als UNESCO Biosphäre klassiert (Mittlere Elbe) Zudem befinden
finden sich an ihren Ufern ein Nationalpark sowie zwei UNESCO
Es in diesem Zusammenhang sicher auch kein Zufall,
dass vor wenigen Wochen (siehe RiverNews 110) die tschechische
Regierung erneut das Projekt einer Staustufe in der tschechischen
Elbe oberhalb der deutsch - tschechischen Grenze veröffentlichte
Es ist zu
befürchten, dass die Elbe mit ihrer ausserordentlichen biologischen
Vielfalt, der erst gerade erreichten guten chemischen Wasserqualität
im Süsswasserabschnitt, dem fast schon wieder heimischen
Lachs (nach 70 Jahren Abwesenheit) auf dem besten Weg zu einem
Standardfluss mit trapezoidem Profil ist. Noch schlimmer, es ist
ein wieter Schritt in Richtung eines elbe/Oder - Donau Kanales.
Alle Statistiken und seriösen Studienzeigen überdies,
dass das Verkehrsaufkommen heute gering ist und bleiben wird und
von der Bahn absorbiert werden könnte. Im weiteren ist absehbar,
dass die Elbe durch den Klimawechsel bedingt,in Zukunft sinkende
Wasserpegel aufweisen wird und damit eine noch unattraktivere
ERN / BUND LV Berlin / Spiegel : krauss@BUND-Berlin.de
fuer mehr Infos
- Link zur
"'Elbe Erklärung von 1996
im RiverNet zum tschechischen Projekt einer Staustufe
von ERN / ARNIKA / BUND zum Projekt einer Staustufe in der
- Link zur Webseite Elbe
- Oder -Danube Kanala des BUND
: Fleuve Elbe : le nouveau Gouvernement allemand fait marche arrière:
Moins de protection - plus de navigabilité !
Selon un article de
Spiegel Nr 50 /2005, le nouveau gouvernement fédéral
dirigé par Mme Merkel, dans le cadre des négociations
pour le gouvernement de coalition, a décidé de l'aménagement
de l'Elbe afin de la rendre navigable une plus grande partie de
l'année entre Hambourg et la frontière germano-tchèque
(en amont de Dresde). Cette décision va à l'encontre
de la décision prise par le précédent gouvernement
dans le cadre de la Déclaration de l'Elbe : il avait alors
exclu tout aménagement du cours principal de ce fleuve,
jusqu'à la frontière tchèque. (voir lien
en fin d'article)
Cette décision a rencontré une forte opposition
de la part des ONG de protection de la nature. Mais elle va aussi
à l'encontre de la position adoptée par le Land
Le fleuve Elbe a été fortement protégé
depuis la réunification de l'Allemagne en 1989. Dans sa
partie allemande, aucun barrage n'entrave ce fleuve sur une distance
de 700 km. 460 km du fleuve sont même classés "réserve
de biosphère" par l'UNESCO ( Mittlere Elbe) et un
parc national ainsi que deux site du Patrimoine Mondial sont situés
sur les rives de l'Elbe.
Rappelons que parallèlement
à cette décision, le gouvernement Tchèque
avait lui aussi relancé un projet de canalisation de l'Elbe
au travers d'un projet de barrage situé en amont de la
frontière tchéco-allemande (cf.
la Rivernews précédente, no 110) dans le but
d'améliorer la navigabilité du fleuve.
En d'autres mots, nous pouvons dire que l'Elbe, avec sa biodiversité
extraordinaire, avec la bonne qualité d'eau récemment
atteinte dans sa partie dulçaquicole, avec le saumon (de
retour dans le fleuve après 70 ans d'absence), avec ses
milieux humides (qui absorbent les grosses crues comme celles
de 2002), est sur le point de devenir une "rivière
standard", trapézoïdale et banale. Pire que cela
: cela pourrait être la première étape d'un
futur canal Elbe - Oder - Danube !
De plus, toutes les statistiques et études actuelles sérieuses
montrent que le trafic des bateaux devrait être insignifiant
et pourrait être pris en charge par chemin de fer. Enfin,
approfondir l'Elbe pour la rendre navigable même en période
d'étiage est un projet insensé : en raison des changements
climatiques, le nombre de jour d'étiage va de toute façon
Pour plus d'information
du Spiegel (pdf)
vers la "'Elbe Declaration" 1996 (allemand)
Oueb sur le projet de barrage en Rép. Tschèque
de presse sur le projet de barrage en Rép. Tchèque
de ERN / ARNIKA / BUND (en anglais)
- lien vers la page Oueb Elbe
- Oder -Danube Channel project (in german)
20.12.05 : Elbe River : the new German
government steps back ! Protection is out, improving navigability
According to an article
published in the Spiegel of 50 / 2005, the new federal government
headed by Mrs Merkel, within the framework of the negotiations
to constitute the coalition's government, took the decision to
deepen and channel the Elbe in order to make it "more navigable"
between Hamburg and the German-Czech border (upstream from Dresden).
This decision is opposed to the one that took the former government,
within the framework of the Declaration of the Elbe : he then
excluded any development of the main way of the river, up to the
Czech border. (see link at the end of this articel)
This decision met a strong opposition from the NGO for the nature's
protection. But it also goes against the position of the Sachsen
The Elbe River has been highly protected since the reunification
of Germany in 1989. In Germany, the Elbe is free of dams along
700 km. 460 km of the river are designated as UNESCO biosphere
(Mittlere Elbe).and a national park and 2 World heritage sites
are located along its banks.
Let us remember that
in parallel, the Czech government had also restarted a project
of canalisation of the Elbe, through a dam project located upstream
from the German-Czech border (see
the latest Rivernews Nr 110), in order to improve the navigability
of the river
In other words, we can say that the Elbe River with its extraordinary
biodiversity, with the newly reached good water quality in its
freshwater part, with the salmon (back after 70 years), with its
wetlands (absorbing big floods such as the one in 2002) is on
the best way to become a normalised 'Standard River", trapezoid
and common. More than that : it would be the first step for a
future Elbe - Oder - Danube 'Channel' !
More over, all the actual serious statistics and studies show
that the boat traffic would be insignificant, and could be overtaken
by railway. Finally, to deepen the Elbe to make it navigable even
during the low water periods is a nonsense : due to climate changes,
the number of days of low water levels of the Elbe will increase
For more information
of the Spiegel (pdf)
to the former 'Elbe Declaration" (german)
on the czech dam project
on the czech dam project by ERN / ARNIKA / BUND
- link to webpages Elbe
- Oder -Danube Channel project (in german)
20.12.05 : A
new report: "What have dams got to do with peace?
Conflict and the politics of infrastructure development"
by The Corner House,
Nicholas Hildyard addresses the very real and
damaging conflicts that dams (and other large infrastructure projects
such as oil pipelines and mines) can cause and exacerbate.
Infrastructure development is often at the junction
where conflicts over resources and decision-making meet, where
future conflicts are created and where past conflicts are perpetuated.
It raises key questions, therefore, about decision-making, and
political and economic power, about wider geo-politics and re-colonisation.
This presentation illustrates these points with
reference to several projects proposed or being
implemented in Turkey. 20.12.05
source : The Cornerhouse
: USA: A big wave of mini-hydro projects
in hydropower on a small scale, sparked by the new
energy bill and high fuel costs.
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
When the surging
Grasse River breached the old concrete-and-wood dam
in Massena, N.Y., the dam, only a few feet high, collapsed slowly.
Its failure injured nobody - and did the environment a big favor.
Today, eight years later, the unplugged Grasse flows freely from
Massena to the St. Lawrence River, and eel and sturgeon are
returning. Canoeists and anglers have, too. That idyllic scene
shifting, though, worrying some.
are planning a new dam, whose spinning hydropower
turbine will generate about 2.5 megawatts and $1 million worth
electricity a year for the city-run utility.
Hoover Dam it is not. It would generate enough juice for only
2,500 homes. Still, Massena's tiny project is part of a big new
of "small hydro" power projects emerging nationwide.
by high energy costs, federal incentives, and an eased
licensing process, at least 104 projects in 29 states - with 2,400
megawatts of new capacity - have been granted "preliminary
by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates
hydropower development. Many other projects in the works have
been officially reported by FERC, observers say.
The jolt in interest is lifting the long-languishing hopes of
hydropower's true believers.
seems to be a trend, hopefully, of getting more hydropower
on-line," says Linda Church Ciocci of the National Hydropower
Association in Washington, which represents investor-owned utilities.
most energy analysts felt hydro's best days were
behind it, because the rivers with the best potential for large-scale
water power were dammed long ago. Since the 1980s, hydropower
been eclipsed by other, faster-growing types of "clean"
generation, for instance, grew nearly 240 percent
in the decade ending in 2003. Hydro grew just 4 percent - its
of the nation's power generation sagging to 9 percent from 11
a decade earlier.
the surge in hydropower interest to little-noticed
provisions in the 2005 energy bill that provided tax credits and
incentive payments to boost the industry. It also included measures
to soften the clout of environmentalists, native Americans, fishing
enthusiasts, and federal agencies that might oppose or wish to
are still on the drawing boards, and the majority will
probably never be built. Many projects call for retrofitting existing
dams with generators. Only a few involve new dams.
story of hydropower in recent years has been one of dam
demolition, not construction. Nearly 200 dams have been demolished
since 1999. Concern over declining salmon stocks and other migratory
fish, and the rise of cheaper energy alternatives, have taken
shine off hydro. Last month, for instance, FERC approved removal
the Powerdale Dam on the Hood River in Oregon.
A few new
dam projects are buried among the preliminary permits FERC
has granted, but officials say new dams, which often generate
opposition, won't be what saves the industry.
not advocating building new dams," says Ms. Ciocci. "We
to see existing hydropower dams get upgrades and a lot of existing
dams that don't have generators have them installed."
About 4 in
5 projects on the books are tiny - producing less than 20
megawatts of power. But if all 104 projects now in the planning
stages are built, they would contribute 2.4 gigawatts to generating
exists for much more, say federal researchers. Of
80,000 existing dams, only about 2,500 generate electricity.
Upgrading those hydropower dams could boost power by 4,300 megawatts.
Retrofitting the most promising of the remaining 77,000 dams could
generate as much as 17,000 megawatts, according to a recent US
Department of Energy Report.
Such a boost
might reduce the need for future fossil-fuel or nuclear
projects. Still, environmentalists are wary.
heard through the grapevine that there is movement," says
Robbin Marks, director of the hydropower reform campaign at American
Rivers, an environmental group in Washington. "We don't want
new hydro dams."
At a recent
town hall meeting in Massena, environmentalists, the US
Fish and Wildlife Service, state environment officials, Indian
tribes, and sportsmen's groups came to ask questions.
The new dam
is needed to defray rising power costs, Massena officials
say. The timing seems right, they add, because the new federal
law may provide economic incentives that make it a good deal.
"Frankly, the public response has been overwhelmingly positive,"
Andrew McMahon, superintendent of Massena Electric, the city utility.
"We're going to do our best to work with everyone and deal
nation, many existing dams are slated for relicensing
hearings, where interest groups are expected to challenge their
to the public - in some cases leading to dam demolition. In other
cases, relicensing will help the environment because it leads
upgrades that meet today's standards, environmentalists say.
Science Monitor , via IRN
: Water transfers back on Spain's agenda
Spain's government on Friday approved an emergency law facilitating
inter-river basin water sales to help tackle drought on the
Mediterranean coast. Environmental group WWF/Adena criticised
measure, which it said contravened the EU water framework directive
would encourage illegal water extraction. Last year the government
scrapped a huge north-south water transfer plan tabled by its
predecessor, arguing that it was unsustainable (ED 18/06/04
http://www.environmentdaily.com/16906). The new law allows inter-basin
sales by holders of private water rights. See press releases from
and WWF/Adena http://www.wwf.es/noticia.php?codigo=721
Daily 2006, 19/12/05
China: Exodus forced by dam under way
by SHI JIANGTAO in Beijing South China Morning Post. 2005-12-13
of Sichuan residents have come to terms with being forced from
their homes to make way for a controversial dam.
of the 186-metre-high Pubugou dam on the Dadu River in Hanyuan
county recently resumed after it had been halted over deadly clashes
year. It will be the country's fifth-largest hydropower plant,
capacity of 3.3 million kilowatts.
But the 20
billion yuan China Guodian project will see up to 100,000 people
displaced from seven townships in Hanyuan and a neighbouring county
August, according to villagers.
is almost ready to go, as many of the county residents have
already left, said Ji Changhua , 39, from Dashu township in Hanyuan,
city , more than 300km from Chengdu .
Of the villagers
who signed relocation agreements with the county government
in September, more than 30,000 had yet to be moved to their new
four counties in Chengdu and Leshan , Mr Ji said.
told me that my new house in Pujiang county, about 200km
from Hanyuan, will not be ready until next March, although according
agreement, I should move out by the end of January, he said.
were signed after representatives of the villagers were said
to be content after a field trip to their new homes.
residents have failed in their bid for increased compensation,
they face fines of up to 20,000 yuan if they do not vacate their
My new house
will be 50 square metres smaller than the one I am living in.
The farmland there will also be smaller, and what's more, our
land here is
so fertile, Mr Ji said. But we have no other choice but to accept
as the authorities are so determined to build the dam. We don't
government any more.
Mr Ji was
among up to 100,000 farmers who staged sit-ins and protests to
stop the damming of the river in October last year.
erupted into violent clashes the next month when up to
10,000 People's Armed Police were sent to the dam site to quell
protests. One policeman was killed and a number of villagers and
a year after the massive demonstration, which earned the
mountain-valley county international attention, it remains a taboo
the mainland media and among Sichuan academics.
embarrassed by the open opposition by the usually
obedient locals, have questioned as many as 400 villagers and
least a dozen protesters.
villager, Gao Qiansong , was jailed for three years for his
alleged role in leading the protests. The massive protests also
led to a
purge of local city and county officials who had been accused
and involvement in the clashes.
vice-mayor Tang Fujin , who was promoted to the city post after
having served as Hanyuan's party secretary for six years from
1998, was put
on trial in June for accepting nearly 2.5 million yuan in bribes,
say Tang has been jailed for life, while his confidant, former
deputy county party secretary Bai Rangao , is also said to have
sentenced to a lengthy spell behind bars.
of the dam, designed to help ease the country's chronic
power shortage, resumed in September and the damming of the Dadu
completed late last month. The dam project is scheduled for completion
Source : SHI
JIANGTAO in Beijing South China Morning Post., via IRN
: Albania protects Lake Skadar and the Buna Delta
in the Balkan Area under protection: 900 sqkm protected in Montenegro
Delta in Montenegro still missing to complete unique protected
wetland area on the Balkan Green Belt
at the border of Albania and Montenegro (also called Lake Scutari
or Lake Shkodra) is a dynamic natural lake, changing its surface
area from 350 sqkm in dry summers to up to 542 sqkm after heavy
rainfall. The Lake is connected to the Adriatic Sea by the Buna
River (called Bojana in Montenegro) and divided by the border.
Now, 495 sqkm on the Albanian side are being protected as "Shkodra
Lake Natural Reserve" by a decision of the Albanian Council
of Ministers taken on November 2nd 2005. Lake Skadar, the Buna
river, a beach stretching for miles, lagoons, marshlands and wide
pastureland are part of the new protected area. Dolphins, golden
eagles, pelicans and bears can be found in one coherent natural
area. "The beauty and natural wealth of this former iron
curtain border area are remarkable and probably unique in Europe,"
Dr. Martin Schneider-Jacoby of European Nature Heritage Fund (Euronatur)
puts his enthusiasm into words. Euronatur has been working for
the protection of the area as part of the "Balkan Green Belt"
- project since three years. This initiative wants to save the
natural beauties along the former iron curtain.
The new Shkodra Lake Natural Reserve includes the Albanian part
of Lake Skadar (265 sqkm) and the terrestrial and marine area
of the Buna delta (230 sqkm) including the 44 km river course
and the coastal mountains. Most important sites are the Viluni
lagoon, a 15 km long beach, the Velipoja reserve, the Domni marshland
and the large pasturelands at the river. Together with the adjacent
Lake Skadar National Park on the Montenegrenian side the whole
protected area comprises now almost 900 sqkm of extaordinary natural
The Albanian decision offers great opportunity to develop a transboundary
protected area according to the international guidelines of UNESCO
and the Ramsar Convention. "Most important now is the integration
of the Bojana Delta in Montenegro in the protected areas network
and the implementation of management measures in the new nature
reserve", states Schneider-Jacoby of Euronatur. The protection
of the landscape values and high biodiversity could make the area
a tourist destination attractive all year round. Nevertheless,
Euronatur emphasizes that in this context it will be important
to stop illegal building in the natural areas as well as uncontrolled
hunting. For the hinterland and the rural areas a development
program is needed to preserve the cultural and natural heritage
and to improve the living in the villages. During a recent meeting
the Prime Ministers of both Albania and Montenegro strongly expressed
their will to enhance transboundary cooperation.
: Laos: Stone laid for Nam Theun 2 Dam
Controversial dam will power Thailand
AFP and BANGKOKPOST, Bangkok Post, Monday 28 November 2005
stone was laid yesterday for the controversial Nam Theun 2 hy-dropower
Laos, which will supply power to 17 provinces in Thailand from
One of four
dams to be built on the Theun river, part of the Mekong watershed,
it has survived
years of tenacious opposition, a long delay in obtaining finance,
and hesitation on the part of the main engineering firm.
Thaksin Shinawatra was present at the ceremony, joining Lao Prime
Bounnhang Vorachit at the site, 250km southeast of Vientiane.
The dam will
supply Thailand with low-cost electricity at 1.59 baht per unit
(kilowatt hour) compared to 1.90 baht per unit from oil.
said the $1.25 billion project was concrete proof of his government's
use its resources to help neighbours meet their energy needs.
``We aim to supply sufficient electricity to meet domestic consumption
as well as to export to neighbouring countries,'' he said.
will bring mixed blessings to Laos, with the displacement of 6,200
potential earnings of up to $150 million a year for a country
totally dependent on international aid.
the project has swallowed up millions of dollars in studies and
research. Its promoters
made a global tour earlier this year to counter pressure from
the dam's critics. They failed to win over more than 150 NGOS
in about 40 countries which maintain that the dam is of no use
to local people and will permanently scar the environment.
Bank gave its backing in March, paving the way for private foreign
banks and other financing organisations.
After 12 years
of work, the Nam Theun 2 Power Company Ltd (NTPC), the joint venture
that manages the project, is ready to take off. ``I don't think
we can call it a miracle but we are proud that 12 years of methodical
work is finally bearing fruit,'' said Ludovic Delplanque, the
de France International, the main engineering company and main
promoter with a 35% stake, hopes to finish the work in about four-and-a-half
are Electricite du Laos and the Electricity Generating Authority
of Thailand, which each have a 25% stake, and the Italian-Thai
Development Public Co, which holds 15%.
it signifies the new image the regime is seeking to promote, of
that is gradually emerging from isolation and tackling modern
and complex tasks.
Laos has had
to speed up reforms, especially in its budget-making, in order
to show transparency
in handling the finances for the project.
Maurice Portiche lauded the regime's efforts while noting that
its conduct of
the project would be watched closely. ``Laos is aware of the enormous
responsibility that has been thrust on it,'' he said.
warning came from Aviva Imhof, campaign director of the US-based
organisation, International Rivers Network.
will require massive vigilance to ensure that construction is
carried out in the
most environmentally sensitive manner and that all of the thousands
of affected people really do
get proper compensation,'' she said.
real concern that people are getting small plots of quite infertile
land'' in compensation, she said.
and BANGKOKPOST, Bangkok Post, Monday 28 November 2005
: The Lessons of Harbin
Government inaction means millions are paying for prosperity with
BY ELIZABETH ECONOMY:
disaster that has unfolded over the past two
weeks in the northeast Chinese city of Harbin has the makings
great story: explosion at large petrochemical plant releases toxic
pollutants into major river, threatening millions; local officials
attempt cover-up; panic ensues; wiser voices prevail; corrective
action is taken. Unfortunately, the real story remains largely
untold. China's rapid economic development, endemic corruption
highly decentralized political system have produced a
life-threatening environmental crisis for hundreds of millions
tell the tale. Earlier this year, China's Minister
of Water Resources announced that 300 million people drink
contaminated water on a daily basis. Of these, 190 million consume
water so contaminated that it is making them sick. Children are
particularly susceptible-more than 30,000 die annually from diarrhea
due to unclean water. Wang Bin, director of the Ministry of Health's
Women's Health Division, has linked environmental pollution to
25% increase in birth defects China recorded between 2001 and
China's most polluted rivers-where factories simply dump
their waste and sewage directly into the waterways and their
tributaries-towns and villages record startling rates of cancer,
stunted growth, diminished IQs and miscarriages. The economic
are staggering, too. According to the Yellow River Conservancy
Commission, river pollution costs China's economy about $1.9 billion
annually. None of this should be surprising. China's State
Environmental Protection Administration has repeatedly published
reports indicating that more than 75% of the water flowing through
China's urban areas is considered unsuitable for drinking or fishing,
and 30% of the river water monitored by the Chinese government
worse than grade 5 (not suitable even for agriculture or industry).
It is easy
to blame China's rapid economic growth for this
devastating situation. Scant attention has been paid to the costs
pollution or resource degradation engendered by this dramatic
economic development. Central government investment in environmental
protection remains well below the 2.2% of GDP Chinese scientists
claim is the minimum necessary to prevent further deterioration.
Pollution fines are so low that factories often elect to pay them
rather than take corrective measures. Water is typically priced
below replacement cost, discouraging recycling or conservation.
also rests deep within China's political system.
While officials in Beijing routinely pass laws to protect the
environment, local officials and factory managers collude to evade
them. Many enterprises and municipalities are so confident in
ability to ignore the law that even when they possess appropriate
waste-treatment facilities, they elect not to use them in order
avoid operational costs. Local environmental protection bureaus
courts are also beholden to local governments rather than to central
government agencies, making them particularly susceptible to
political and economic pressure. With few incentives for factory
managers and local officials to do the right thing and even fewer
disincentives to do the wrong thing, environmental officials face
comes at a steep price. The environment is one of the
leading causes of China's rising social unrest. Last year the
government recorded 74,000 protests. This year, international
domestic media have kept busy reporting on numerous environmental
protests, several of which have spiraled out of control, resulting
beatings, arrests, even deaths. In wealthy Zhejiang Province,
example, thousands of people mobilized throughout the spring and
summer to protest chemical, pharmaceutical and battery factories
were polluting their land and water. In one case in April, up
30,000 people living in and around the village of Huaxi reportedly
set roadblocks, smashed windows, overturned scores of police cars
sent at least 30 police to the hospital.
government has taken some steps to try to improve its
environmental record. Much of this involves encouraging the public
report polluters, to take part in the environmental-impact-assessment
process, and to use the legal system to take the most egregious
offenders to court. Beijing has also opened the door to thousands
environmental NGOs that now openly tackle issues such as biodiversity
protection, dam resettlement and public-health awareness.
Nevertheless, the government remains wary of too much citizen
activism, fearing calls for broader political reform. NGO leaders
tread into politically sensitive areas have been barred from further
activity, prevented from leaving the country and even arrested.
be the lessons of Harbin? In the wake of SARS, China's
leaders have become increasingly adept at operating in the harsh
spotlight of the international community. After acknowledging
missteps and perhaps removing some culpable officials, they will
likely point to the Harbin incident as further evidence of their
newfound willingness to deal openly with challenges such as avian
flu. Unfortunately, it is unlikely Beijing will recognize the
disaster for what it really is: a wake-up call signaling that
real reform, they risk hundreds of millions of desperately ill
citizens, greater social unrest and, perhaps, the end of the Chinese
Economy is the Council on Foreign Relations' Asia
Studies director and author of The River Runs Black
source : Dec. 05, 2005 issue of TIME Asia Magazine
via International Rivers Network http://www.irn.org
: (green) Hydropower is Making Waves
(EnergyBiz Insider )
Water from the Mamquam River near Vancouver will turn turbines
to generate 25 megawatts of
electricity. The new hydro-powered plant is a run-of-the-river
project, which does not require
dams that upset ecosystems and damage fisheries.
of the world with hydro resources recognize the delicate balance
environment and the need to generate fewer emissions from power
plants. But the review
processes in this country have become more inclusive, although
they are about to be
streamlined. Promising models such as the one developed along
the Mamquam River in combination
with clean air standards and global warming treaties are expected
to spawn new hydro projects
while existing facilities will likely get re-licensed.
new power plant is a perfect example of balancing the needs of
the environment with
responsible economic development," says Canadian Hydro Developers
CEO John Keating, whose company
developed the Upper Mamquam Hydroelectric Plant. "We know
green electricity builds sustainable
communities. Environmentally, the (plant) generates virtually
zero emissions." Such "run-of-the-river" sites
are dependent on stream flow, access to power lines and proximity
In the United
States, hydropower has grown from 56,000 MW in 1970 to more than
90,000 MW today,
according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Scientists at the
Idaho National Engineering and
Environmental Laboratory, meantime, say that the United States
could more than double its supply
of hydropower by accessing smaller streams in addition to dams
that are traditionally used for
such purposes. The next phase of hydropower, however, will focus
on smaller hydro units that
are less disruptive environmentally but still useful in supplying
electricity to remote areas.
Falls-based research lab says that about 170,000 megawatts of
the clean and
sustainable energy form remain untapped and are not restricted
from development by the federal
government. Meanwhile, at least 100 countries are developing small
hydro plants, with the most
potential in the former Soviet Union, South Asia and South America.
way to produce hydroelectricity is through dams. But the amount
of power is
contingent upon the speed of the water that turns the turbines.
Dams can increase the velocity by
raising the water level. But they leave big footprints and can
cause local populations to disperse.
The 2005 Energy
Law gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) new
it comes to re-licensing hydroelectric dams. Under new rules expected
out, utilities will be
able to challenge requirements meant to safeguard the environment
and fisheries that they say add a
decade to the licensing process and cost hundreds of millions.
Critics say such moves give
utilities more rights than environmentalists and Native American
tribes. More than 200 dams in 36
states are set to apply for new permits by 2020.
to make changes to meet the needs of these rivers," says
Dave Kvamme, spokesman for
Portland, Ore.-based PacifiCorp, in an interview with the Associated
Press. "But we don't want to
do it at any cost." PacifiCorp wants to build five dams on
Oregon's Klamath River.
are used to irrigate farms and supply water to cities, they are
also responsible for
displacing people and costing livelihoods as reservoirs occupy
once-useful land. Spokane-based
Avista Corp. is at odds with interest groups over the operation
of five hydroelectric dams along
the Spokane River in Washington State. The three-year battle is
now in the hands of FERC,
which will have until 2007 to hold additional hearings and review
the applications before it
would re-license the project for 30-50 years.
a feature story in the New Scientist says that contrary to popular
hydropower can cause serious damage to the environment. It says
that hydroelectric dams
produce significant levels of carbon dioxide and methane because
up to 28 percent of all
artificial greenhouse gas emissions could be from rotting vegetation
in dams. The story cites
Philip Fearnside of Brazil's National Institute for Research in
the Amazon, who estimates that
the greenhouse effect from one Brazilian dam was 3.5 times what
would have been produced if oil had been burned.
thinks hydro is very clean but this is not the case," says
Eric Duchemin, a consultant
for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the New
in this country are expected to streamline licensing rules, they
do say that all voices will be heard. It used to be that FERC
allowed dam operators to apply for licensing before public comment
was taken. But stakeholders who took issue with those requests
insisted that their views be known from the start. Now, dam operators
must meet with all lobbies before they seek formal approval.
It's the tack
that the Snohomish County Public Utility District in Washington
State is using to re-license its Henry M. Jackson Hydroelectric
project, which provides 75 percent of the county's drinking water
and 5 percent of its electricity. The current permit, which expires
in 2011, would be extended another 50 years.
of our processes provide an opportunity for the public to get
involved early on," says David
Turner, coordinator of the integrated licensing process for FERC.
"The advantages of this are
making sure that we know not just what the concerns are but that
we have the information
needed to consider and address those issues."
standards along with global warming fears are giving alternative
energy sources new
appeal, including hydropower. But any future development must
also take into account the
concerns of environmental and business organizations. An inclusive
permitting process in
combination with innovative ways to harness hydroelectricity is
working to ensure that.
source : http://www.irn.org
: Maroc: construction de barrages (Jdle)
Lors d'un colloque à Rabat cette semaine, le secrétaire
d'Etat marocain chargé de l'eau,
Abdelkbir Zahoud, a affirmé que le Maroc doit construire
50 barrages supplémentaires d'ici 20
ans et un millier de petites retenues avant 2050 afin de pallier
le manque de stockage d'eau. Le
potentiel des ressources en eau diminue, il est de 1.000 mètres
cubes (m3) par an et par habitant
contre 2.500 m3 en 1980 et ce malgré les 113 barrages déjà
existants. Le secrétaire d'Etat a
expliqué cette situation par le développement économique
et social et un plus grand accès à
l'eau potable pour 16,5 millions d'habitants. Il a estimé
que les moyens alternatifs comme le
dessalement de l'eau n'étaient pas avantageux, notamment
en termes de coûts.
: UNESCO/RAMSAR: Update on the Danube Delta canal
A joint UNESCO
and Ramsar Convention mission visited Ukraine in October 2003
in order to examine different choices to re-establish a navigable
waterway through the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta. In its
report the mission reflected on issues concerning navigation vs.
biodiversity and delta dynamics and the need for transboundary
Much has happened since then, so it's timely that Ramsar now has
a 2005 update on the situation.