2006, a good year for the rivers and for you ?To our many readers, to all the friends of the rivers, always more and more numerous, ERN's team and its President wish all the best for the Year 2006 ! May this year bring to everyone of you happiness and health, and success in your projects !
Let us also wish the best for the rivers all over the world, even if we know that they don't count in years, but in tens of thousands of years !
The vice-president of the European Commission in charge of transport, Jacques Barrot, presented on 17 January a new action programme aimed at promoting inland waterway transport. The action programme, called NAIADES (Navigation And Inland Waterway Action and Development in Europe), will run from 2006 to 2013.
NAIADES will seek to "re-balance the freight transport system", which the Commission believes is currently too focused on the road sector. "With a fleet of 11,000 vessels and a capacity equivalent to 10,000 trains or 440,000 trucks, inland waterways can make transport in Europe more efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly," said Barrot.
The programme focuses on five areas: (1) increasing market share, (2) modernising the fleet, (3) attracting skilled labour, (4) improving the sector's image and (5) building new infrastructure. New state aid guidelines will be issued to "facilitate investment [ ] and support programmes for fleet modernisation and innovation".
The Commission says inland waterways are especially at risk in Central and Eastern European countries, where road captures most of the market share for freight. "At present only 7 to 10% of the Danube's maximum capacity is actually used," the Commission points out. By comparison, the sector has "conquered a significant modal share" in the Benelux countries and France thanks to pro-active policies over the past 10 to 15 years. Market share for inland waterways is now at 40% in the Netherlands, the Commission indicated.
adopts new directive to fight floods
Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas said: Catastrophic floods endanger lives and are likely to cause human tragedy as well as heavy economic losses. This new directive will help Member States chose the right tools with which to reduce the likelihood of floods and limit their impacts. In particular, it aims to ensure that Member States cooperate in shared river basins and coastal areas to improve flood protection all over Europe.
Between 1998 and 2004, Europe suffered over 100 major damaging floods, including the catastrophic floods along the Danube and Elbe rivers in the summer 2002. Severe floods in 2005 further reinforced the need for concerted action.
Floods can also have severe environmental consequences, when, for example, installations holding large quantities of toxic chemicals are affected.
- Flood risks and
costs likely to increase
- Why a Floods Directive?
Since most of Europes river basins are shared by more than one country, concerted action at European level will result in better management of flood risks. A binding legal instrument will ensure flood risks are properly assessed, coordinated protection measures taken and the public properly informed. This basic set of legal obligations will create a firm basis for cooperation, while the Commission will also continue to work with Member States on a voluntary basis to exchange information and best practice.
- What does the directive
A three-step process is proposed. First, Member states will undertake a preliminary flood risk assessment of their river basins and associated coastal zones. Where real risks of flood damage exist, member states shall then develop flood risk maps. Finally, flood risk management plans must be drawn up for these zones. The management plans are to include measures to reduce the probability of flooding and its potential consequences. They will address all phases of the flood risk management cycle but focus particularly on prevention (such as preventing damage caused by floods by avoiding construction of houses and industries in present and future flood-prone areas or by adapting future developments to the risk of flooding) protection (by taking measures to reduce the likelihood of floods and/or the impact of floods in a specific location such as restoring flood plains and wetlands) and preparedness (for instance through providing instructions to the public on what to do in the event of flooding)).
In the case of international
river basins, these steps must be coordinated between the member states
concerned to prevent problems being passed from one area to another. Active
participation by all interested parties in the development and updating
of the flood risk management plans will have to be ensured and the plans,
risk assessments and maps made public.
complet text and more information
in english, german, and french : http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/water/flood_risk/index.htm
First international Water and Film Event (World Water Formum Mexico):
Registration is open as of the date of publication of this call and up
to January 31, 2006.
The issue of water in cinema and audiovisual productions of all types, deserves to be considered due to its great cultural wealth.
The 4th World Water Forum, to be held in Mexico, will bring together thousands of participants from countries throughout the world involved in the water sector. It will be an occasion to demonstrate the importance of cinema and culture in the search for solutions in relation to the problems of water and in the development of a culture of water in the general population.
For these reasons, we have decided to organize the First International Water and Film Event, to be held from March 17th to 21st, 2006, in the framework of the 4th World Water Forum. During these five days, water will be brought to the big screen through movies and audiovisual materials in which it plays a central role.
The Water and Film Event will focus on the deep and complex ties between water and cinema. Its objective is to contribute to an appreciation of water in its artistic, cultural, spiritual, and educational dimensions. It will consider the way in which fictional films, documentaries, news footage, educational movies, and awareness-raising spots from all over the world, contribute to mobilize all sectors of society, to educate and inform in relation to the major water-related problems.
At the same time, this event will be an opportunity for dialogue and exchange among the public, NGOs, and professionals from the world cinema and the water sector. 15.01.06
information in spanish : http://www.worldwaterforum4.org.mx/home/fest_cine.asp?lan=spa
Jan. 12 - A government environmental review has recommended reducing the
number of dams included in a controversial hydropower proposal on the
Nu River in southwestern China in order to limit environmental damage
and decrease the number of people who would
The newspaper, Wen
Wei Po, which has ties to the Communist Party, reported on Wednesday that
the recommendation called for 4 dams instead the 13 in the original Nu
proposal. The article, quoting an
The project has been delayed for nearly two years, and it will now be presented to the National Development and Reform Commission, a powerful government ministry, and later to the State Council, or China's cabinet.
But the article also suggested that the full 13 dams had not been completely ruled out. The source described the four dams as "a pilot proposal" and said more studies would be needed to assess the larger project.
The original Nu River
proposal, which would generate more electricity than the huge Three Gorges
Dam, has become an international controversy. Environmental groups inside
and outside China have called
assessment report quoted from the Hong Kong newspaper has itself become
a point of contention. A coalition of environmentalists, lawyers, journalists
and nongovernmental groups has
But the central government has refused to release the report and has not yet called any hearings.
The Hong Kong newspaper said the Ministry of Water Resources and the State Secrets Bureau had classified the report as a state secret.
The New York Times,
By JIM YARDLEY
By Mike Taugher/Knight Ridder and Paul Rogers/Mercury News
After decades of decline,
the vital signs of California's delta -- the vast network of sloughs,
marshes and farmland between Stockton
``The delta is not
an area that most Californians really resonate with, the way they do with
the coast or the Sierra,'' said Mary
Though out of sight for many, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is vital to California's economy and ecology.
At 738,000 acres,
the delta is nearly the size of Yosemite National Park. Formed where the
state's two largest rivers -- the Sacramento
Today, the delta still
provides a home to more than 50 types of fish, 225 bird species and 50
mammal species. Yet huge diversions of water
The delta remains
California's most important water source, providing drinking water for
23 million and irrigation for the Central Valley,
The Santa Clara Valley
Water District, which serves 1.9 million people in Silicon Valley, draws
nearly 50 percent of its water from
In 1994, after decades of lawsuits, Gov. Pete Wilson and the Clinton administration formed a team of federal and state agencies known as CalFed to try to restore the delta's environment while providing more water for population growth.
The group, which includes more than 20 government agencies, has held hundreds of public meetings and conducted countless studies under mountains of paperwork, punctuated with bureaucratic jargon impenetrable to all but the most hardy water lawyers and experts.
By the end of this fiscal year, more than $3 billion will have been spent on a program that was expected to bring across-the-board improvements.
Instead, each of the
four pillars of the plan is falling short. Drinking water quality has
worsened by some key measures. The ageing
And although more
water is being delivered out of the delta, longstanding plans to increase
delta pumping remain on hold while
Most urgently, the
delta ecosystem is on the brink of collapse. A fish called the delta smelt,
the key indicator of the delta's overall
``I believe that CalFed
has failed, and died, but that no one directly involved is willing to
admit it,'' Peter Gleick, president
via IRN 05.01.06
Swedish Multistakeholder Dialogue on the WCD Recommendations
The Commission's final report, Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making, was released in November 2000, and can be downloaded in English or Spanish att www.dams.org (an overview of the report is available in nine languages).
During 2004 and 2005 a dialogue process among a broad group of stakeholders - industry, government, academics and NGOs - is taking place in Sweden . The purpose is to develop a common policy on large-scale water infrastructure development and is a national level follow-up initiative to discuss the recommendations from the World Commission on Dams. 02.01.06
For more information
source : Swedish Society
for Nature Conservation 26.12.05
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 many
months, a local official and state media said on Friday.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
New York State offers Hudson River restoration plan
Project Website :
By Jim Yardley, The New York Times, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2005
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 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 its laws?
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 taken by their leaders, such public participation is a fairly radical idea. But the groups argue that new environmental laws grant exactly that right.
"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.
complet story (RiverNet)Source : New York Times http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12/23/news/dam.php via IRN, 23.12.05
The reconnection of
the Katlabuh liman with the Danube river has
Croatia - The Drava river basin project
The 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.
According to an article
published in the Spiegel of December 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
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
For more information
Source : RiverNet 20.12.05
Water transfers back on Spain's agenda
Interest revives in
hydropower on a small scale, sparked by the new energy bill and high fuel
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.
are planning a new dam, whose spinning hydropower turbine will generate
about 2.5 megawatts and $1 million worth of electricity a year for the
city-run utility.Hoover Dam it is not. It would generate enough juice
for only about 2,500 homes. Still, Massena's tiny project is part of a
big new wave
Propelled 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 permits" by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates hydropower development. Many other projects in the works have not yet been officially reported by FERC, observers say. The jolt in interest is lifting the long-languishing hopes of hydropower's true believers.
"There 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.
Until recently, 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 has
Some trace 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 modify such projects.
Most projects 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.
Indeed, the 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
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.
"We're not advocating building new dams," says Ms. Ciocci. "We want 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 capacity nationwide.
The potential 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.
Such a boost might reduce the need for future fossil-fuel or nuclear projects. Still, environmentalists are wary.
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 to see
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 energy law may provide economic
incentives that make it a good deal.
Across the nation,
many existing dams are slated for relicensing hearings, where interest
groups are expected to challenge their value to the public - in some cases
leading to dam demolition. In other
Monitor , via IRN 19.12.05
It will be the country's fifth-largest hydropower plant, with a 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 by August, according to villagers.
My family is almost ready to go, as many of the county residents have already left, said Ji Changhua, 39, from Dashu township in Hanyuan, Yaan 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 homes in four counties in Chengdu and Leshan, Mr Ji said.
The authorities told me that my new house in Pujiang county, about 200 km from Hanyuan, will not be ready until next March, although according to the agreement, I should move out by the end of January, he said. The agreements were signed after representatives of the villagers were said to be content after a field trip to their new homes.
While the residents have failed in their bid for increased compensation, they face fines of up to 20,000 yuan if they do not vacate their homes on time. 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 the deal as the authorities are so determined to build the dam. We don't petition the 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.The demonstration erupted into violent clashes the next month when up to 10,000 People's Armed Police were sent to the dam site to quell days of protests. One policeman was killed and a number of villagers and police injured.
More than a year after the massive demonstration, which earned the mountain-valley county international attention, it remains a taboo topic in the mainland media and among Sichuan academics. Local authorities, embarrassed by the open opposition by the usually obedient locals, have questioned as many as 400 villagers and arrested at least a dozen protesters.
One Dashu 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 of corruption
and involvement in the clashes.
Former Yaan 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, Xinhua reported. Local rumours say Tang has been jailed for life, while his confidant, former deputy county party secretary Bai Rangao, is also said to have been sentenced to a lengthy spell behind bars.
The construction of the dam, designed to help ease the country's chronic power shortage, resumed in September and the damming of the Dadu was completed late last month. The dam project is scheduled for completion in 2010.
Source : SHI JIANGTAO
in Beijing South China Morning Post., via IRN 13.12.05
Largest Lake in the Balkan Area under protection: 900 sqkm protected in Montenegro and Albania
Only Bojana Delta
in Montenegro still missing to complete unique protected wetland area
on the Balkan Green Belt
Lake Skadar 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.
Discover the place where the future Ilisu Dam, in Turkey, will be settled. A German traveller (by Thomas Schmidinger) went to meet people in Hasankeyf, a remote place of the Turkish Kurdistan, where the Turkish Government plans to build an important dam on the Ilisu river.
His diary and photos are available on our web pages : http://www.rivernet.org/turquie/prs2006.htm#101205 (text in German only)
Get information on Ilisu Dam project : http://www.rivernet.org/turquie/welcome.htm
source : Stefan Michel / Thomas Schmidinger / www.jungle-world.com
International Rivers Network is 20 ! Since 1985, International Rivers NEtwork is finghting to protect the rivers all over the world and to amplify the voices of dam-affected communities, too often forgotten by the stakeholders and the governments. Indeed, IRN has led during all these years a global movement to oppose environmentally and socially destructive dams. Another part of its job is to advocate for better ways of meeting needs for energy and for water.
European Rivers Network is quite happy to congratulate IRN for this birthday and for all the impressive job done since 20 years ! We wish the IRN's team all the best for the next 20 years !
We also want here to thank again IRN and its Founder President Phil Williams, which helped us a lot when ERN was created !
Learn more about IRN on its website : http://www.irn.org
WORLDWATER FORUM Mexico City
16.01.06 : In two separate rulings delivered on Thursday, Portugal and Italy were sanctioned for failing to transpose the 2000 water framework directive. Italy was also chastised for breaching two directives on air quality assessment and EU limit values for air pollutants.
Follow-up: <http://www.curia.eu.int/en/transitpage.htm>European court of justice, tel: +352 43031,
Judgments against Portugal in case <http://www.curia.eu.int/jurisp/cgi-bin/form.pl?lang=en&Submit=Submit&docrequire=alldocs&numaff=c-118/05
Judgments against Italy in cases <http://www.curia.eu.int/jurisp/cgi-bin/form.pl?lang=en&Submit=Submit&docrequire=alldocs&numaff=c-85/05
source: EEB 15.01.06
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.
illustrates these points with reference to several projects proposed or
source : The Cornerhouse
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