EURASIA

EURASIA

Last modified on 2015-01-16 19:04:23 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

In the Shadow of Glacial Lakes, Pakistan’s Mountain Communities Look to Climate Adaptation

Last modified on 2015-01-16 19:04:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Landslides, floods and soil erosion have become increasingly frequent, disrupting channels that carry fresh water from upstream springs into farmlands, and depriving communities of their only source of fresh water.

“Things were becoming very difficult for my family,” Zaman told IPS. “I began to think that farming was no longer viable, and was considering abandoning it and migrating to nearby Chitral [a town about 60 km away] in search of labour.”

He was not alone in his desperation. Azam Mir, an elderly wheat farmer from the Drongagh village in Bindo Gol, recalled a devastating landslide in 2008 that wiped out two of the most ancient water channels in the area, forcing scores of farmers to abandon agriculture and relocate to nearby villages.

“Those who could not migrate out of the village suffered from water-borne diseases and hunger,” he told IPS.

Now, thanks to a public-private sector climate adaptation partnership aimed at reducing the risk of disasters like glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), residents of the northern valleys are gradually regaining their livelihoods and their hopes for a future in the mountains.

Bursting at the seams

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), there were some 2,400 potentially hazardous glacial lakes in the country’s remotest mountain valleys in 2010, a number that has now increased to over 3,000.

Chitral district alone is home to 549 glaciers, of which 132 have been declared ‘dangerous’.

Climatologists say that rising temperatures are threatening the delicate ecosystem here, and unless mitigation measures are taken immediately, the lives and livelihoods of millions will continue to be at risk.

One of the most successful initiatives underway is a four-year, 7.6-million-dollar project backed by the U.N. Adaptation Fund, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Pakistan.

Signed into existence in 2010, its main focus, according to Field Manager Hamid Ahmed Mir, has been protection of lives, livelihoods, existing water channels and the construction of flood control infrastructure including check dams, erosion control structures and gabion walls.”

Read more: IPS News

 

Can We Forecast Where Water Conflicts Are Likely to Occur?

Last modified on 2014-10-27 14:50:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.newsecuritybeat.org

“The scientific literature on international water politics offers a wealth of case studies on individual river basins, but also an increasing number of larger-scale comparisons of many international freshwater catchments.

The latter work in particular offers a reasonably good basis for moving one step further, that is, from explanations of international water conflict in the past to predictions about which areas of the world are most prone to water conflicts in the future.

Basins at Risks

Building on new data on international river basins and conflict events, we revisited earlier research on the basins at risk of conflict and developed a prediction and forecasting approach for international river basin conflicts.

Whereas an earlier study by Yoffe, Wolf, and colleagues identified 29 basins at risk, our work, recently published in Global Environmental Politics, identifies 44 such river basins (see map). Only six basins simultaneously appear in the earlier and the new list: the Asi/Orontes, Cross, Han, Indus, Ob, and Tigris-Euphrates.

Note, however, that none of the river basins identified are likely to experience a “water war,” in the sense of an armed conflict over water. Instead, we expect conflicts to materialize primarily in the form of political tensions.”

Read more: New Security Beat

 

Gaza water network malfunctioning due to Israel war

Last modified on 2014-09-28 16:37:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.middleeastmonitor.com

“Palestinians in Gaza are suffering from water shortage with a Gaza resident telling Press TV that the drinking water is not suitable for use.

Reports say the damage to the sewerage system has led to the contamination of drinking water, making residents vulnerable to waterborne diseases.

More than 90 percent of the drinking water is reportedly contaminated.

“The water is very scarce and very salty and it is almost the same as sewage water,” said a Palestinian woman.

The Israeli military aggression has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Palestinians in the enclave are in desperate need for additional desalination plants.

“The devastation has created massive needs for more desalination plants,” a Palestinian desalination plant owner said.

Water pollution has also increased the death rate among the children in Gaza.

Experts say it would cost over USD 7 billion to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction said on September 4 that the reconstruction process would take” “five years if Israel removed its blockade on Gaza entirely.”

Read more: PressTV

 

Struggling to Find Water in the Vast Pacific

Last modified on 2014-09-10 15:34:11 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Pacific Island states are surrounded by the largest ocean in the world, but inadequate fresh water sources, poor infrastructure and climate change are leaving some communities without enough water to meet basic needs.

Laisene Nafatali lives in Lotofaga village, home to 5,000 people on the south coast of Upolu, the main island of Samoa, a Polynesian island state located northeast of Fiji in the central South Pacific region.

Like many on the island, she is dependent on rainfall and surface water for household needs. But without a nearby water source, such as a stream or waterfall, or a rainwater tank, she struggles with sanitation, washing, cooking and drinking.

“We only have one-gallon buckets, so if it is going to rain the whole week most of the water is lost,” Nafatali told IPS, adding that many people are unable to collect a sufficient amount of rainwater in such small containers.

 

“We have one bucket to store the water for the toilet, but that’s not enough for the whole family,” she added.

The wet season finished in March and now, in the dry season, it rains just two to four times per month.

Water for drinking and cooking is a priority. “If there is no rain the whole week, we pay for a truck. We put all our containers on the truck and we go to find families that have pipes and then we ask for some water. But that only [lasts] for two to three days, then we have to go again,” she said.

For washing, Nafatali and her family of six walk to the beach, which takes half an hour, and when the tide is low, they dig into the sand to find fresh water.”

Read more: IPS

 

 

Preventing crises over shared water resources requires stronger foreign policy engagement

Last modified on 2014-09-03 16:11:44 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.trust.org

“Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Gaza. With such crises in the headlines, it is easy to forget about the structural challenges that threaten to become the foreign policy crises of the future. Among these, access to fresh water stands out. It is already contributing to many conflicts around the world, and demand is growing fast while supplies are limited (and, in the case of groundwater, being exhausted at unsustainable rates). Simultaneously, about 60 percent of the volume of global river flow is shared by two or more states.

Many shared basins – among them the Nile, the Indus, the Ganges, the Euphrates-Tigris, the Orontes, the Jordan, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, and the Mekong – overlap with regions characterised by substantial interstate and intrastate tensions. Population and economic growth increase demand for water. Climate change is concurrently leading to changes in regional and seasonal water variability. The resulting scarcity and extreme weather events, both floods and droughts, threaten long-term regional stability.

Yet shared waters do not have to be flashpoints of conflict, and can even build bridges in the midst of conflicts. For example, the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty has survived three wars between India and Pakistan. Water has also served as a crucial means for strengthening cooperation in Southern Africa. And the negotiations over shared waters between Israel and its neighbours have not only come much further than negotiations over other issues, but have also helped to establish informal means of cooperation in an otherwise highly conflictive region.”

Read more: Reuters

 

Water rights of Ireland and Jordan

Last modified on 2014-09-03 16:03:16 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com

“Parts of this country receive up to 4 meters of rain each year. But Ireland was running out of water so its government recently brought in water charges. Here is why.

Jordan is one of the world’s driest countries, with desert comprising 75 percent of its land area. The entire country averages only about 160mm of annual rainfall and 41 percent of its land receives fewer than 50mm of rain each year.

Ireland receives an average of 1000mm of annual rainfall and parts of its Atlantic coastline receive nearly 4000mm (4 meters) of rain each year. Ireland’s driest recorded year was 1887 when only 356.6 mm of rain fell, more than twice Jordan’s average rainfall. With such a plentiful source of freshwater, Ireland never had to pay for huge reservoirsdesalinization plants, waste-water reclamation systems or Red to Dead sea projects.

In fact, in 1997, the government of Ireland decided that water should be a basic human right. So domestic water charges were abolished. Ireland did this thirteen years before the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 64/292 in July 2010 which also “Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

Water, they argued, shouldn’t be a commodity. Water should be a human right.

Irish residents took full advantage of this basic right. They washed their cars, dishes, clothes, bathed, showered and drank the free water. They could even water their golf courses and gardens during rainstorms and let their faucets drip 24 hours per day, 365 days per year– all for free because there was no such thing as a water meter!”

Read more: Green Prophet

 

 

‘State of the World’s Rivers’ Project Documents Decline in Rivers From Dams

Last modified on 2014-08-29 17:03:10 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“Many of the world’s great river basins have been dammed to the point of serious decline, including the Mississippi, Yangtze, Paraná and Danube.

“The evidence we’ve compiled of planetary-scale impacts from river change is strong enough to warrant a major international focus on understanding the thresholds for ‘river change’ in the world’s major basins, and for the planet as a whole system,” said Jason Rainey, Executive Director of International Rivers.

For example, in the Middle East, decades of dam building in the Tigris-Euphrates basin have made it one of the most fragmented basins in the world. As a result, the basin’s flooded grassland marshes have significantly decreased, leading to the disappearance of salt-tolerant vegetation that helped protect coastal areas, and a reduction in the plankton-rich waters that fertilize surrounding soils. Habitat has decreased for 52 native fish species, migratory bird species, and mammals such as the water buffalo, antelopes and gazelles, and the jerboa.

Meanwhile, some of the lesser-dammed basins, which are still relatively healthy at this point, are being targeted for major damming. For example, the most biodiverse basin in the world, the Amazon, still provides habitat for roughly 14,000 species of mammals, 2,200 fish species, 1,500 bird species, and more than 1,000 amphibian species, like the Amazon River Dolphin, the Amazonian Manatee, and the Giant Otter.

When all dam sizes are counted, an astonishing 412 dams are planned or under construction in the Paraná basin, and 254 in the Amazon basin. In Asia, China plans to continue to dam the Yangtze basin with at least another 94 planned large dams, while an additional 73 are under construction. At least 153 more dams are planned or already being built in the Mekong basin.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

Jihadists Rout Kurds in North and Seize Strategic Iraqi Dam

Last modified on 2014-08-08 15:36:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

 

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“The crisis gripping Iraq escalated rapidly on Thursday with a re-energized Islamic State in Iraq and Syria storming new towns in the north and seizing a strategic dam as Iraq’s most formidable military force, the Kurdish pesh merga, was routed in the face of the onslaught.

The loss of the Mosul Dam, the largest in Iraq, to the insurgents was the most dramatic consequence of a militant offensive in the north, which has sent tens of thousands of refugees, many from the Yazidi minority, fleeing into a vast mountainous landscape.

In one captured town, Sinjar, ISIS executed dozens of Yazidi men, and kept the dead men’s wives for unmarried jihadi fighters. Panic on Thursday spread even to the Kurdish capital of Erbil, long considered a safe haven, with civilians flooding the airport in a futile attempt to buy tickets to Baghdad.”

Read more: NY Times

 

The Right to Water in Gaza

Last modified on 2014-07-29 15:43:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“After almost three weeks of bombing, the death toll in Gaza rose to more than 1,030 on Sunday. The Palestinian poet Jehan Bseiso writes, “There’s more blood than water today in Gaza.”

Haaretz notes, “After two and a half weeks of bombardments from the air and ground, roughly two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s inhabitants — 1.2 million people — are suffering from severe disruptions to the water and sewage systems, according to Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene, a coalition of around 40 humanitarian groups operating in the occupied territories. In addition to the damage of the central pipeline and the reservoirs — which affects cities and villages throughout Gaza — home pipes and water containers on roofs have been damaged by the bombardments.”

Beyond water shortages, Gazans are now paying more to get what scarce water there is.

The Associated Press reports, “Electricity and water have become luxury items [in Gaza]. …Gaza gets its electricity from Israeli and Egyptian lines — for payment — and from a power plant in Gaza. The Israeli lines have been damaged in the fighting, leaving only supplies from Egypt and the power plant, says the local electricity distribution company’s official, Jamal al-Dardasawi. …Without power to run pumps, there is no water, especially in Gaza’s high-rise buildings. Rawan Taha, a 39-year-old housewife, lives in such an apartment tower. She says she last showered three days ago. When the water is on, she fills her bathtub, pots and empty bottles. Gaza’s tap water is not drinkable, and her family pays 20 shekels ($6) each day for drinking water.”

Al Jazeera adds, “In Khan Younis, a burned-out crater leaves a gaping hole on the main road, the aftermath of an Israeli F16 missile strike. The residents of nearby Khuzaa, which was under heavy Israeli bombardment, are sleeping on the streets. Access to water is extremely difficult; a man who generally sells water tanks for $4 is now asking for $29.”

And there is another water crisis just around the corner.

The Haaretz article highlights, “Gaza’s water supply was in crisis even before the current conflict. According to the United Nations, the section of coastal aquifer that serves Gaza will be unusable in 2016 because of the overpumping of groundwater.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Drought and Misuse Behind Lebanon’s Water Scarcity

Last modified on 2014-07-29 15:36:01 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“In a normal year, the water trucks do not appear until September, but this year they have started working even before summer because of the severe drought currently affecting Lebanon.

This comes on top of the increased pressure on the existing water supply due to the presence of more than one million Syrian refugees fleeing the war, exacerbating a situation which may lead to food insecurity and public health problems.

Rains were scarce last winter. While the annual average in recent decades was above 800 mm, this year it was around 400 mm, making it one of the worst rainfall seasons in the last sixty years.

The paradox is that Lebanon should not suffer from water scarcity. Annual precipitation is about 8,600 million cubic metres while normal water demand ranges between 1,473 and 1,530 million cubic metres per year, according to the Impact of Population Growth and Climate Change on Water Scarcity, Agricultural Output and Food Securityreport published in April by the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) at the American University of Beirut.

However, as Nadim Farajalla, Research Director of IFI’s Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World Programme, explains, the country’s inability to store water efficiently, water pollution and its misuse both in agriculture and for domestic purposes, have put great pressure on the resource.

According to Bruno Minjauw, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative ad interim in the country as well as Resilience Officer, Lebanon” “has always been a very wet country. Therefore, the production system has never looked so much at the problem of water.”

Read more: IPS

 

 

Water supply key to outcome of conflicts in Iraq and Syria

Last modified on 2014-07-06 15:54:36 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.grist.org

“Rivers, canals, dams, sewage, and desalination plants are now all military targets in the semi-arid region that regularly experiences extreme water shortages, says Michael Stephen, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute think tank in Qatar, speaking from Baghdad.

“Control of water supplies gives strategic control over both cities and countryside. We are seeing a battle for control of water. Water is now the major strategic objective of all groups in Iraq. It’s life or death. If you control water in Iraq, you have a grip on Baghdad, and you can cause major problems. Water is essential in this conflict,” he said.

ISIS Islamic rebels now control most of the key upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates, the two great rivers that flow from Turkey in the north to the Gulf in the south and on which all Iraq and much of Syria depends for food, water, and industry.

“Rebel forces are targeting water installations to cut off supplies to the largely Shia south of Iraq,” says Matthew Machowski, a Middle East security researcher at the U.K. houses of parliament and Queen Mary University of London.

In April, ISIS fighters in Fallujah captured the smaller Nuaimiyah Dam on the Euphrates and deliberately diverted its water to “drown” government forces in the surrounding area. Millions of people in the cities of Karbala, Najaf, Babylon, and Nasiriyah had their water cut off but the town of Abu Ghraib was catastrophically flooded along with farms and villages over 200 square miles. According to the U.N., around 12,000 families lost their homes.

Earlier this year, Kurdish forces reportedly diverted water supplies from the Mosul Dam. Equally, Turkey has been accused of reducing flows to the giant Lake Assad, Syria’s largest body of fresh water, to cut off supplies to Aleppo, and ISIS forces have reportedly targeted water supplies in the refugee camps set up for internally displaced people.”

Read more: Grist

 

 

As Violence Grips Iraq, Fears of Pre-Emptive Flooding Arise

Last modified on 2014-06-28 14:59:51 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Regardless of which side might open the floodgates, it is the civilian population who would suffer in such an event, Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, an organization that works to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them,explained to Common Dreams.

“Dams have been used as weapons of mass destruction through the ages,” Bosshard continued. “In the first recorded water war, the army of Umma, a Sumerian city state, drained irrigation canals against their enemies of Lagash in present-day Iraq, not far from Haditha Dam, 4,500 years ago. In the most infamous case, the nationalist army of Chian Kai Shek destroyed the dikes of the Yellow River in 1937 to slow the advancing Japanese army, thereby flooding hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land and killing at least 800,000 of its own people,” he added.

Khalid Salman, head of the Haditha local council, told the Washington Post that ISIS would want take over the dam not to unleash flooding but to control the power plant powered by it, thus being able to provide a service to the local population.

“Of course they want to control the dam, which is very important, not only for Anbar, but for all of Iraq,” the Post quotes Salman as saying.

Meanwhile, violence continues to erupt in the country. Reuters reports that on Thursday battles were “raging” in the city of Tikrit, where Iraqi forces are launching a counter-attack on Sunni militant forces.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

A Push to Save Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake

Last modified on 2014-06-11 17:20:33 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“Every year, the lake yields about 300,000 tons of fish, making it one of the world’s most productive freshwater ecosystems. That and the floods that pulse through it in monsoon season, swelling it to as much as five times its dry-season size, have earned the lake the nickname “Cambodia’s beating heart.”

But the Tonle Sap is in trouble — from overfishing to feed a fast-growing population, from the cutting of mangrove forests that shelter young fish, from hydroelectric dams upstream, and from the dry seasons that are expected to grow hotter and longer with climate change.

Keo Mao, a 42-year-old fisherman from Akol, says he hopes his five children can find a way out of the life that has sustained his family for generations. “The lake now is not really so good,” he said. “There are too many people.”

Now an international team of researchers has joined local fishermen in an ambitious project to save the Tonle Sap. The scientists are building an intricate computer model that aims to track the vast array of connections between human activity and natural systems as they change over time. Begun in 2012, the model will take several years to complete, while threats to the Tonle Sap continue to mount.

But the hope is to peer into the lake’s future to predict how different developmental, economic and regulatory choices may ripple through this interconnected and fast-changing ecosystem, and to plan a sustainable way forward.

Charting a Changing Cambodia

Henri Mouhot, the 19th-century French explorer who crossed the Tonle Sap on his way to Angkor Wat, said the lake resembled a violin lying diagonally across Cambodia. At its neck, a tributary flows southeast to the Mekong River. On the laptop of Roel Boumans, an ecologist who helped develop the modeling project, the lake and its flood plain are divided into 16 watersheds that he fills with shades of green, yellow and brown, based on vegetation and land-use data from satellite images.”

Read more: The New York Times

 

 

Climate change could lead to China-India water conflict

Last modified on 2014-06-11 17:07:19 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.rtcc.org

“Based on latest research by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the study has been published by the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change and Cambridge University.

“There are concerns that tensions will increase due to climate driven water variability in the Trans-boundary drainage systems linked to the vast Tibetan plateau in central Asia, where rivers supply more than one billion people with water,” it says.

Around 40% of the world’s population rely on water from the plateau for survival. It is the source of some of the world’s great rivers, including the Indus, Ganges, Irrawaddy, Mekong and Yangtze.

Speaking to RTCC, former Royal Navy Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, who reviewed parts of the report, said water shortages would increase the risk of instability in the region.

“If the glaciers melt as a result of the increase in temperatures, after an initial burst of too much water there’s going to be a shortage, and it’s going to compound the problem,” he said.

“Clearly there is a politics in that part of the world which needs to be taken into account when looking at those risks.”

Emerging powers

China-India troop clashes over the past five decades has caused deep mistrust on both sides, while memories of a short but brutal war in 1962 are fresh in the minds of many older politicians.”

Read more: RTCC

Rain Holds Key to Thirsty Summers

Last modified on 2014-06-02 18:45:38 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.gsmroofing.com

“BANGALORE: Rainwater harvesting is a win-win situation for all – borewells are full, the quality of water is better and the city gains, declares David Saldanha, a resident of Residency Road.

Faced with dipping water level in the two borewells in the area in 2010, Saldanha did not throw up his hands. Instead, he opted for rainwater harvesting to recharge the borewells. Estimating the annual rainfall in Bangalore at 1,000 mm, he says he is able to harvest 1 million litres of rainwater annually and also breathe life back into the borewells.

“The water level in the two borewells ran lower than 100 metres deep, and the yield was low. The advantage is continuous water supply and les power consumption to pump up water. I’m thrilled with the result. The water yield has gone up and its quality is much better too,” says Saldanha.

Saldanha’s success story deserves to be emulated across the city, especially with the monsoon around the corner. Experts say one-third of the city’s water demand can be met through RWH.

Experts term rainwater harvesting one of the best ways of conservation, more so at a time when Bangalore faces acute water scarcity. Harvesting in urban areas is the process of collecting, filtering and using rainwater which falls on roofs and on porticos, and is channeled in three ways: recharging borewells, replenishing groundwater and collecting rainwater for re-use later.”

Read more: Times of India

Jerusalem’s water contamination scare hits both Arabs and Jews

Last modified on 2014-05-08 15:09:39 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com

“Residents of Jerusalem were told yesterday to boil their water for two minutes until further notice. High levels of treated sewage water had leaked into the main drinking water system. The neighborhoods affected include Arab and Jewish regions alike: Baka, Abu Tor, Talpiot, Tsur Baher, Silwan, Ras el-Amud, the Old City, Mamilla and Musrara.

Even by this morning the Health Ministry said people should still boil their water and not use water from the tap for brushing teeth or for any matters involving food.

The issue affects an estimated 130,000 people. Early this morning helicopters with missiles attached to them were spotted and cited by Jerusalem residents. One on Facebook connected the sighting to the water contamination and a possible terror attack. Though no comment was made like this in the mainstream news.

Hagihon, the company that tests the water started getting calls on Tuesday, the local newspaper the Jerusalem Post reports.

First samples showed decreased levels of chlorine, pointing the finger at contamination.

The city has taken the issue so seriously that they have set up a situation room, including the mayor’s presence, in order to deal with the problem.

I took a tour of one of Jerusalem’s largest water repositories way back when and it was like looking inside a football field-sized pond covered with cement. With high levels of security, it’s hard to see how infiltrators could get in, but this is always on the minds of the people who protect Israel’s drinking water.”

Read more: Green Prophet

Hundreds of dead pigs fished from Shanghai river

Last modified on 2014-04-21 18:02:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: www.yourhealth.asiaone.com

“At least 2,800 dead pigs have been fished from a Shanghai river since Friday, but authorities insist that tap water in the city is still safe to drink.

State news agency Xinhua said labels tagged to the pigs’ ears indicated they came from the upper waters of the Huangpu River, which flows through the center of Shanghai and is a source of the city’s drinking water.

It’s not clear why the pigs had been dumped in the river, though local media reported earlier this month that a disease had killed thousands of pigs in a village south of Shanghai.

“We will continue to trace the source, investigate the cause, co-operate with neighboring areas and take measures to stop the dumping of pigs into rivers,” the Shanghai Municipal Agricultural Commission said in a statement posted on their website on Monday.

As of Sunday, water quality on the Songjiang section of the river, where most of the pigs were found, remained normal and the incident has had “no significant effect on tap water supply,” the commission added.”

Read more: CNN

 

China Rivers at the Brink of Collapse

Last modified on 2014-03-26 19:33:45 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com

“China’s rulers have traditionally derived their legitimacy from controlling water. The country ranks only sixth in terms of annual river runoff, but counts half the planet’s large dams within its borders. A new report warns that dam building has brought China’s river ecosystems to the point of collapse.

Since the 1950s, China has dammed, straightened, diverted and polluted its rivers in a rapid quest for industrialization. Many of these projects had disastrous environmental, social and economic impacts. The Sanmenxia Dam on the Yellow River for example flooded 660 square kilometers of fertile land and displaced 410,000 people. Yet because it silted up rapidly, the project only generates power at one sixth of its projected capacity.

In the new millennium, the Chinese government realized that its ruthless dam building program threatened to undermine the country’s long-term prosperity and stability. In 2004, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao suspended dam construction on the Nu (Salween) and the Jinsha (upper Yangtze) rivers, including a project on the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge. The government created fisheries reserves and strengthened environmental guidelines. In 2011, it even acknowledged the “urgent environmental problems” of Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, the world’s largest hydropower project.”

Read more: Huffington Post

 

Debunking some myths about Israel’s water politics

Last modified on 2014-03-12 14:50:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com

“In his speech to Israel’s Parliament on February 12, Martin Schultz, president of the European Parliament, spoke of our shared responsibility to stand up for freedom and dignity at all times. He acknowledged Israel’s success at realising a dream shared by many people: To live “in freedom and dignity” in “a homeland of their own”, noting that Palestinians also have the right to “self-determination and justice”.

He then addressed Palestinian suffering and in doing so, highlighted the glaring discrepancy in access to water between the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza on the one hand, and Israelis – inside the “Green Line” and on settlements in the West Bank – on the other.

AIPAC did not remain silent. In a New York Times article AIPAC’s Seth Siegel suggests that the Arabs should stop viewing Israel as “the problem”. Without any mention of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, he calls upon Arabs to reach out to Israel and benefit from its superior know-how.

Israel could save them from water scarcity and reconciliation could ensue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke likewise in his address to AIPAC on March 4: The Arabs need to recognise Israel as a Jewish state; then there would be peace and the deserts would bloom.”

Read more: Aljazeera

 

Citarum polluters more than 71 companies: Deputy governor

Last modified on 2014-02-27 16:03:26 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.planetforward.ca

“West Java Deputy Governor Deddy Mizwar has said more than 71 companies were thought to be involved in environmental pollution in the Citarum River basin.

“Based on our data, the number of industrial players polluting the Citarum River is far higher than that stated in the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) report. The BPK earlier reported there were 17 companies. It’s not 17, it’s more than 71 companies,” said Deddy in Bandung on Wednesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Speaking to journalists after attending a plenary meeting at the West Java Legislative Council (DPRD), Deddy said if only 17 companies were polluting the Citarum as stated in the BPK report on the audit, which was carried out in 2012-2013, damage to the river basin would not be as severe it was.

He acknowledged that the budget allocated by the government to tackle pollution in the Citarum River was quite substantial. “We have spent a lot of money over time, but there have been no significant results,” said Deddy.

In 2013, environmental organization Green Cross Switzerland and international nonprofit organization Blacksmith Institute named the Citarum River among the world’s 10 most polluted places.”

Read more: Jakarta Post

 

Drought-hit Malaysian state rations water

Last modified on 2014-02-25 17:59:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.channelnewsasia.com

“KUALA LUMPUR: Authorities began rationing water to thousands of households in Malaysia’s most populous state on Tuesday, as a dry spell depletes reservoirs across a country normally known for its steady tropical downpours.

Much of Malaysia has been under bone-dry conditions for a month and high temperatures have left some reservoirs at “critical” levels, sparking an increase in bushfires and leading to protests in at least one hard-hit community near the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia does tend to experience dry weather early in the year, but the current dry spell has been unusually long.

The lack of significant rainfall has caused increasing alarm, particularly in the state of Selangor, which surrounds Kuala Lumpur, and adjacent areas, as meteorologists have warned the dry patch could last another month.

Selangor is Malaysia’s most populous state and its economic and industrial hub.

Water rationing in the state will affect an estimated 60,000 households, according to the Selangor’s private water company.

A Selangor local government spokeswoman said the state was reducing the flow to four water treatment plants “until the weather improves”.

“The reduction of water will start today,” she told AFP. “What we need now is the rain.”

Authorities have said planes are on standby to conduct cloud-seeding, but the spokeswoman said the effort has been hampered by inadequate cloud formation.”

Read more: Channel NewsAsia

 

River Thames Bursts Banks, Flooding Homes Near London

Last modified on 2014-02-11 16:46:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.online.wsj.com

“As of late Monday, the Environment Agency had severe flood warnings—meaning there is a danger to life—for 14 areas in the southeast of England and two in the southwest, one of the hardest hit regions. It also warned that flooding was expected and immediate action required for 131 further areas across England and Wales, with the highest risk seen in the Midlands, southeast and southwest of the country, and flooding was also possible in a further 216 areas.

The Thames Barrier, one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world, closed Monday morning and would be closed again later until early hours of Tuesday, the agency said. Since the beginning of January 2014 the barrier, designed to protect 125 square kilometers of central London from flooding caused by tidal surges, has been closed 29 times.

“Extreme weather will continue to threaten communities this week, with further severe flooding expected Monday evening into Tuesday along the Thames in [the counties of] Berkshire and Surrey,” Paul Leinster, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, said in a statement. “River levels are high across southwest, central and southern England and further rain has the potential to cause significant flooding.”

Significant groundwater flooding was also expected in the southeast, including parts of London, the agency said.”

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

 

Glacier Hazards and Risk Mitigation

Last modified on 2014-01-31 17:38:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Pakistan is located at the junction of the world’s three largest mountain ranges— Karakorum, Himalayas and Hindu Kush. The region has a total coverage area of 3500 sq.km and Pakistan hosts 8 out of 14 highest peaks of the world. A large part of the area remains covered by piles of snow round the year. Scientists and climate advocators call the region the Third Pole outside of the polar region.

An inventory study conducted by International Center for Integrated Mountain Development(ICIMOD) in the five Hindu Kush-Himalayan(HKH) countries of Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, has identified a total of 15,003 glaciers, covering an area of about 33,344 sq.km, and 8,790 glacial lakes, of which 203 have been identified as potentially dangerous

 

Baltoro Glacier, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, retrieved from DeviantArt

In 2005 water Resource Research Institute (WRSI) of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) in collaboration with ICIMOD prepared a glacial inventory, identifying 5218 glaciers with an average coverage area of 15041 sq.km. The study has recorded 2420 glacial lakes of which 52 were identified as potentially dangerous.

Outburst floods of such glacial lakes pose great threat to the downstream low lying areas. The northern and north western parts of Pakistan, mostly Chitral in KPK district and Gilgit Baltistan are hosting these larger glaciers. As climate change intensifies, risk and frequency of Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods (GLOF) is expected to increase in future. Many other research papers have also indicated that the glaciers in Karakorum and Himalayas which also have a regional sharing with central Asian region is susceptible to climate change, and these glacier are going through rapid changes.”

Read more: Dardistan Times

China’s water squeeze worsens as wetlands shrink 9 pct

Last modified on 2014-01-15 17:02:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.reuters.com

“China’s wetlands have shrunk nearly 9 percent since 2003, forestry officials said on Monday, aggravating water scarcity in a country where food production, energy output and industrial activity are already under pressure from water shortages.

China has more than a fifth of the world’s population but only 6 percent of its freshwater resources, and large swathes of the nation, especially in the north, face severe water distress.

Since 2003, wetlands sprawling across 340,000 sq. km. – an area larger than the Netherlands – have disappeared, officials of China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) told reporters.

“The investigation shows that China is facing various problems with wetlands protections,” Zhang Yongli, vice director of the forestry body, told a news conference, adding that loopholes in protection laws imperil the shrinking wetlands.

The lost wetland areas have been converted to agricultural lands, swallowed by large infrastructure projects or degraded by climate change, the forestry administration said.

Wetlands lost to infrastructure projects have increased tenfold since the government’s last survey in 2003, Zhang added.”

Read more: Reuters

 

Fukushima Ghost Towns Struggle to Recover Amid High Radiation Levels

Last modified on 2014-01-02 18:41:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Namie is nobody’s town now. Nobody lives here, and nobody visits for long. Even the looters have stopped bothering, and no one knows exactly when the inhabitants may be allowed to return permanently – or whether they will want to.

The 2011 catastrophe faded from world headlines long ago, but in Namie, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and other blighted towns in the 20-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant,  it is a disaster that never ends.

At the plant itself, recent leaks of contaminated water into the sea and a fraught operation to remove fuel rods from one of the damaged reactors have shown how critical the situation still is – and will remain during a decommissioning process that could take up to 40 years.

For Fukushima’s displaced population, the effects of the disaster continue to be deeply felt. The evacuation area was subdivided earlier this year into three zones of higher or lower radiation risk. In the worst affected zone, return will not be allowed before 2017 at the earliest.

In other areas, families and businesses face difficult decisions about whether or not to go back. At present,  no one is even allowed to stay overnight. Locals say that whatever happens, many younger people will not return.”

Read more: AlterNet

 

Growing a Glacier

Last modified on 2013-12-15 16:31:14 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

This year has been a fascinating one for glaciology.  Dozens, if not hundreds, of important discoveries have been made, and are rampant within academic literature. However, the bulk of glaciological developments are often too complex for wider dissemination. Consequently, I relish glaciological tales that manage to permeate more mainstream channels. My favourite exposé this year was The Economist’s article ‘Do-it-yourself glaciers: The iceman cometh’, a re-emergence of National Geographic’s 2001 article ‘”Artificial Glaciers” aid farmers in Himalayas.

In the high Himalaya, glacial and snowmelt are essential to the continued survival of montane peoples. Thus regional ice is critical to sustaining high altitude communities. Well over a billion people, more than 20% of Earth’s population, living in the shadows of the Himalayas are reliant on such meltwater. Bafflingly, little action has been taken to prevent their total disappearance, which is speculated to be imminent unless rising temperatures and other changing climatic variables are abated. Already, 600 glaciers are known to have disappeared throughout the world.

Dr Walter Immerzeel, of the Dutch Utrecht University, led a research team looking into the stability and security of the ‘Asian Water Towers’. They determined that the major Asian river basins, comprising the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, are experiencing a generalised trend of ice wastage. Meltwater is a significant contributor to all these rivers, especially for the Indus and Ganges, with 40% directly feeding in from glaciers. This pattern is expected to persist, with these rivers facing extreme, consistent reductions in peak discharges, during the height of seasonal meltwater influx, by 2046-2065. Resultantly, it is reckoned that the diminishing meltwater supplies will threaten the food security of 4.5% of the peoples within these Asian basins within 50 years. Potentially, 70.3 million face a bleak future of malnourishment and starvation, over and above the present figures of 563 million. This additional 70 million is up to four times the number exterminated by famine during Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forwards’, between 1958-1960, acknowledged as ‘the worst in world history’…so far.

Despite these utterly demoralising statistics, there are, thankfully, truly inspirational innovators leading a sortie from the mountains. Engineer Chewang “The Ice Man” Norphel of Ladakh has pioneered an incredible and novel method for replacing glaciers; the ‘Do-it-yourself’ approach to glacier growth. Mr Norphel has led the charge to install glaciers throughout his home-province since 1987, seeking to replace many that have already disappeared. As of summer 2013, he had emplaced twelve.

His largest glacier thus far is 300 metres long, 45m wide, and averages 1m deep. This amounts to potentially 13.5 million litres (~3.6 million gallons). This ice-mass sustains 700 people in the village Phuktsey. Per person, the allotment allows an estimated annual stipend of 19,285 litres, sourced from the home-grown glaciers, and is utilised in agriculture, drinking, sanitation, and other essential practices. In comparison, the USGS estimates that the average American utilises 300-380 litres per day. The Ladakhi survive on 13-17% of that, using it sparingly for far more than daily ablutions. To bring this further into perspective, the entire annual allotment of Phuktsey equals 29%, less than a third, of that utilised by The Bellagio’s dancing fountains, in Las Vegas.

High-altitude Himalayan agriculturalists have historically been reliant upon small (approximately 1km2) cirque glaciers, which form as precipitation gathers in depressions on shaded, north-facing mountain slopes. Based upon these prerequisite conditions, Mr Norphel formulated his DIY plan. Small streams were diverted towards a series of tiered ponds and channels, where the water is slowed, desilted and then pools in the shade. During the winter months, November to December, the water freezes. Come April, it begins to thaw, and release the stored resource. This cycle is critical to local farming, as the regional agricultural systems evolved to periodically rely upon meltwater, with seed-sowing beginning in April. It is estimated that 80% of Ladakh’s villagers are dependant on glacial meltwaters.

However, the water shortages faced by the villages of Stokmo, Changla, Phuktsey, and other settlements rescued by the Messianic “Ice Man”, are destined to further permeate the Himalayas. In 2010, Croat Valentina Radić and German Regine Hock, of the Universities of British Columbia and Alaska respectively, published findings on the potential of small glaciers to contribute 12cm to sea level rise. They estimated that half of Earth’s smaller ice glaciers (under 5km2) are fated to disappear by 2100, with obviously far-reaching consequences. As a whole ‘High Mountain Asia’, including the Himalayas, is projected to face volumetric reductions of approximately 10%. Between 1975 and 2008, Ladakhi glaciers were found to have variably retreated by 60m (1975-1992), 89m (1992-2002), and 52m (2002-2006).

Ladakh is an area of ~117,000km2, supporting 274,289 (c. 2011). To meet the demands of this population, should all source glaciers waste away, potentially 5.3 billion litres of water would have to be transferred to the region (assuming consumption to be broadly homogenous throughout the region). To address this need locally, more than 390 of the largest artificial glaciers would need to be created. At US$2,000 (~£1,228) per scheme, deployment costs for all of Ladakh could be as little as $780,000 (~£478,000).

In light of this, it is blatant that growing a glacier is a clever stopgap. However, it is by no means the solution to glacier retreat, and the subsequent, seemingly inevitable disappearance. Nor can it prevent the imminent water shortages, and subsequent widespread ripple effect. I applaud Mr Norphel’s efforts, for he is among a handful to successfully implement effective adaptive glaciological schemes. Nevertheless, the slow rate of deployment, relatively limited scale of their impacts, and limited acceptance of the severity of the situation, are likely to prevent their proliferation.

 

World Rivers Review – Dec. 2013: Focus on Arts and Activism

Last modified on 2013-12-11 20:26:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Protecting rivers and communities from the ravages of large dams tends to involve brainy pursuits: there’s often a heavy focus on policy and political issues, and on designing strategic campaigns to stop destructive river projects and promote better options. While these efforts play a very important role in countering the powerful forces that threaten our rivers, the global river protection movement is also working to change hearts as well as minds. Around the world, groups are using the arts to reach people’s hearts and to promote a vision of water and energy for everyone, and a respect for rivers and the life, livelihoods and traditions tied to them. As one artist told us, “Art is a megaphone to project our side of the story.”

In this issue we hear from a wide range of groups who are using creativity to educate and build community for healthy rivers. This special issue ofWorld Rivers Review includes interviews, art works and essays by artist-activists using art, music, poetry and film to create social change.

To Learn More and Download the December Issue Click Here: International Rivers

 

Water – Making It Personal: Communicating A Sustainable Future

Last modified on 2013-12-11 20:20:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Throughout history, journalism and storytelling have defined civilization. Journalists are the first responders to global crises, the pointers to important trends and the translators between disciplines. Good journalists seek out knowledge, ask thoughtful questions, listen carefully and tell unforgettable stories. The art of the story, well-told, is a powerful force because it compels the resilience and connectedness of humanity.

In China, we have one of the richest, most complicated stories unfolding that the planet has ever seen. The country is the second largest economy after the US, and its economy tripled between 2000 and 2010. China’s GDP is expected to grow by more than 7% each year over the next 10 years.166

Yet our reporting found that the priceless energy beneath Wu Yun’s family grasslands may be trapped. China faces severe constraints to its GDP growth because it may not be able to continue to mine and process its coal at current rates. 167 Mines use copious amounts of water to extract and process coal, and as water supplies dwindle, production will slow.

Just as the account of Wu Yun’s life and choices framed the reporting that introduced the existence of water and energy stresses in Inner Mongolia and China, lives of people offer keen insight into the challenges and opportunities of sustainability, consumption and the dreams that drive them.”

Read More: Circle of Blue

Uprising Grows Against Fracking in a Surprising Part of Europe

Last modified on 2013-12-10 18:02:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Do you think they’re about to have sex?”, one of the group whispers. I’m in Transylvania, crouched in the bushes with a bunch of activists in balaclavas, taking turns to speculate why a car has crept to a halt close to where we are hiding out. “No, it must be the cops, you can see the light from the mobile phone”, another one says. Time to move on.

It has been over an hour since the group started trashing equipment owned by the gas exploration company Prospectiuni, playing an edgy game of cat and mouse as we struggle to stay one step ahead of the security teams and police vehicles that are now sweeping the hilltops looking for us.

Another light tears round the bend on the road and the shout goes through the team to hide. I throw myself down, stretched out once again in the cool damp grass of a Transylvanian meadow. It’s going to be a long night.

In recent weeks the sleepy Saxon communities and protected forests of Sibiu county in Transylvania, have become an unlikely front for a new battleground, pitting gas exploration companies, the Romanian government and international investment firms, against a small band of environmental activists from across Romania, who are working side by side with local farmers to resist gas and oil exploration that they claim is taking place illegally on their land.

Read More: Alternet

 

Jordan, the PA and Israel trade water from the Red and Sea of Galilee

Last modified on 2013-12-10 17:47:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Some good news out of the Middle East region for a change: It was announced at the Israel Business Forum that Israel has signed an historic water-sharing agreement with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. But not all parties are happy with political manoeuvrings around the announcement.

The new project will include a new desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan, at the northern tip of the Red Sea in order to provide Jordan and Israel with a new source of drinking water. As per the agreement, Israel would release some of its water from Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee), further north, to flow to Jordan, and at the same time provide desalinated water to the Palestinians to use in the West Bank.

In a later phase of the project a 180km pipeline system might transport brine produced in the desalination plant form the Red Sea north to the Dead Sea, but officials on the ground say they don’t have information that it would be part of Monday’s agreement.

Read More: Green Prophet

 

Saudi Arabia: Largest solar-powered desalination plant announcement

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:53 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Revolve magazine

“The world’s largest solar-powered seawater desalination plant will soon be established in Ras Al Khaimah to produce more than 22 million gallons of potable water per day and 20MW of solar power.

The announcement of the plans for the new plant was made by Utico Middle East, the GCC’s largest private full-service utility and solutions provider, at the second Global IWPP (independent water and power projects) Summit, being held in Ras Al Khaimah.

Richard Menezes, Executive Vice-Chairman of Utico Middle East, said that the project would set the new benchmark for the desalination business model and will be the world’s greenest desalination plant with the least CO2 emissions. Utico earlier this month released the prequalification tender inviting bids for the IWP project, which will be co-developed by Utico and the winning bidder.

The new project will implement the most advanced reverse osmosis and filtration technologies and when operational, will push unit production rates down drastically. The reverse osmosis process forces seawater through a polymer membrane using pressure to filter out salt. “The GCC has an abundance of sunshine throughout the year and our aim will be to harness this free energy and channel it to UAE residents at extremely low cost,” Menezes said.”

Read more: Albawaba

Sustainability Out of Necessity: One Country’s Water Solutions

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:56 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Algemeiner

“Israelis will be the first to tell you that they look to create opportunity out of adversity. As a developed country with a relatively high standard of living, situated in an arid part of the world, Israel has focused on harnessing and conserving water for years. With water scarcity becoming an increasingly recurring theme in the United States, we would do well to learn to do the same. Here are a few innovative water management sustainability projects that are worth learning from:

Irrigation

Go anywhere in Tel Aviv and you will see drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is a system of valves and pipes that delivers water directly to the root of the plant, with almost no evaporation or surface runoff. The system uses 30 percent to 50 percent less water than conventional sprinkling. In Israel, drip irrigation makes up 95 percent of watering applications.

Drinking Water

Drinking water is another challenge, which Israel has addressed by focusing on desalination. The Israeli Water Authority estimates that 80 percent of its water will be desalinated by 2014. Issues with desalination aside, the next challenge is getting Israelis to drink the desalinated water. While I thought the water tasted fine and better than in some states in the US, Israelis seem to prefer their water filtered.

Education

Finally, education, as in anything, is key. The Israelis understand the importance of education in promoting a sustainable way of living. At the David Yellin College’s Education for Sustainability Development (ESD) Institute, they consider water “blue gold”. One project ESD has undertaken involves storing water from air conditioning condensation in a cistern. This is used in part to water plants, and the rest is sent to a pond downstream.

Kibbutz Lotan reuses water from the bathroom sinks and composting toilets, also known as black water, via constructed wetlands pools that process the water. The pools work like a septic system but instead of the water going from the leach field into the ground, it is cleaned from organic load then used to water the fig, date and olive trees.”

Read more: Huffington post

Flooding cost the UK £600m in 2012

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: The Guardian

“Last year’s flooding could have cost the UK economy up to £600 million, according to research.

The Environment Agency said the estimated damage to all property totalled about £277 million while the impact on businesses in England was up to £200 million, including some £84 million in property damage.

Other indirect impacts – such as lost working days – hit companies and local economies by around £33 million, the EA found, and disruption to transport, communications and utility links cost up to £82 million.

While a quarter of days were officially in drought in 2012, with 20 million people affected by hosepipe bans, flooding occurred one in every five days, affecting more than 7,000 properties.

Every affected business suffered an average of £60,000 in setbacks, the latest figures showed, but flood defences protected 200,000 properties – worth up to £1.7 billion to the UK economy.

EA officials are now encouraging businesses to sign up to receive flood warnings and make a plan so they are well prepared as part of its annual Flood Awareness Campaign.”

Read more: The Guardian

India firms up its strategy at the threat of China’s Brahmaputra water diversion

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:53 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“India and China have been engaged in a dispute over the diversion of the Brahmaputra river, which originates in Tibet. Even while India is still exploring a diplomatic option, it has initiated an action plan that would give it user rights. In the first of a three-part series,Mint chronicles the government efforts to accelerate hydroelectric projects in Arunachal Pradesh, a key element of the multi-pronged strategy.
Even as India seems to be playing down the potential problems associated with China’s plans to divert river waters that flow into the Brahmaputra, it is simultaneously working on a detailed strategy involving several key government departments—racing to pre-empt Chinese threats.
According to documents reviewed by Mint, a technical expert group (TEG) entrusted with devising India’s game plan has made a slew of recommendations, including expeditiously allotting at least one major hydropower project each in strategically located Subansiri, Lohit and Siang basins in Arunachal Pradesh as close to the international border as possible in order to establish ‘existing user rights’.”
Read more: Live mint

In Ireland, Water Will No Longer Be Free

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: National geographic

“Ireland is surely one of the greenest countries in the world, but its management of freshwater in recent times has been anything but green.

Some 41 percent of the nation’s drinking water leaks out of delivery pipes – twice the UK average. That’s a costly loss given the expense of treating and pumping that water to the nation’s 4.6 million people.

Household water demand per person is estimated to average 102 gallons (386 liters) per day,double or triple that in other European countries and about the same as in the United States, where national usage is driven up by irrigation of large suburban lawns, especially in the drier west.

And with Dublin now running short of water, most of the talk about filling the gap focuses on capturing more supply from the Shannon River or other sources.  There’s been relatively little mention of conservation or curbing demand.

Much of this excess and waste traces back to a simple and perhaps startling fact:  In Ireland, households do not pay for water.  It is free, no matter how much is used.  And no one knows how much any particular household uses, because Ireland – alone among European countries – does not meter water usage.”

Read more: National geographic

UN’s Challenge: The 638 Million in India Who Go Outdoors

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Teak door

“About 638 million people in India, or more than half of those residing in the second-most populous nation on Earth, defecate in the open.

Remedying the dearth of toilets, its toll on children from diarrhea and other diseases related to dirty water and sanitation, and the lack of a safe clean place to go is the challenge facing India and others on the first World Toilet Day.

On a planet where one in three don’t have access to proper sanitation, toilets are out of reach for 53 percent of India’s 1.2 billion residents left with little choice but to go outdoors, according to UNICEF.

“Having access to a toilet is still an alien concept in India,” said Subramanya Kusnur, chairman and chief executive officer of Aquakraft Projects Ltd., a company that’s setting up water vending machines in rural India.

The good news is that the figure for those lacking a toilet in India is an improvement from 63.6 percent in 2001. According to the United Nations, 1.8 billion people in a world of 7 billion have gained access to sanitation since 1990 though 15 percent of the globe still practices open defecation.”

Read more: Bloomberg

Protecting Rivers, Reducing Climate Vulnerability

Last modified on 2013-11-11 17:21:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“The mountain valleys of the North Indian state of Uttarakhand have been heavily developed with hydropower projects, tourism resorts and other infrastructure. When a cloudburst hit the state in June 2013, the choked rivers were unable to cope with the ravaging floods. Flashfloods washed away hundreds of buildings, bridges and dams, claimed more than 5,000 lives and caused an estimated damage of $50 billion.

Climate change will bring more extreme weather events such as droughts and the cloudburst experienced in Uttarakhand. Healthy rivers and their floodplains act as natural buffers that protect us from the worst vagaries of a changing climate. Free-flowing rivers build the deltas and mangrove belts that protect our coastlines, preserve fisheries and forests, and recharge the groundwater reserves that sustain our water supply and agriculture. Floodplains, marshes, dunes, reefs and mangrove forests – often referred to as green infrastructure or bioshields – are vital to making our societies more climate resilient.

Climate change is water change. Learning from earlier flood disasters and preparing for climate change, governments, scientists and environmental organizations have started to remove levees and recreate floodplains on rivers such as the Rhine, the lower Yangtze and the lower Danube. Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change is being promoted by forward-looking tools such as the EU Water Framework Directive and the UNECE Water Convention.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

Fukushima Water Radiation Doubles Overnight

Last modified on 2013-10-24 17:20:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Water radiation levels at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant more than doubled in the span of one night to levels 14,000 times the maximum level for safe drinking water, owner TEPCO admitted Thursday, setting new records for drainage ditch contamination as toxic spills and heavy rains continue to ravage the crippled facility.

Water samples taken on Wednesday from a drainage ditch near tanks storing contaminated water found beta radiation levels of 140,000 becquerels per liter. This is more than double the 59,000 becquerels measurement taken Tuesday at the exact same location, TEPCO announced in an email statement reported by Bloomberg.

The spike in radiation appears to be widespread. Water samples from another ditch measured at 15,000 becquerels, as compared to 2,200 becquerels in an Oct. 1 sample from the same location.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

India, China ink key accord on river information

Last modified on 2013-10-24 17:12:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.ooskanews.com

“The Memorandum of Understanding on trans-border rivers was inked after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the Great Hall of the People here.

According to sources, the agreement is a “major diplomatic achievement” as it is the first time that China has agreed to acknowledge India’s rights as a lower riparian state.

India’s consistent raising of the issue of China’s dam building activities on the Brahmaputra river, known as Yarlang Tsangpo in China, has helped in Beijing becoming more accommodating this time, they said.

This time the agreement takes into account the environmental concerns of India on the Brahmaputra, including the damage to flora and fauna due to China’s dam building upstream. Beijing says its dams are run of the river dams.

According to the agreement, the two sides “recognized that trans-border rivers and related natural resources and the environment are assets of immense value to the socio-economic development of all riparian countries”.

Both sides also agreed to flood-time exchange of hydrological data on 15 more days – from “May 15 instead of June 1 to Oct 15th”.

Advancing the date by 15 days, at a time when the melted glacier ice of the Tibetan plateau begins to flow downstream, is also a major achievement, the sources said.

“The two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation on trans-border rivers, cooperate through the existing Expert Level Mechanism on provision of flood-season hydrological data and emergency management, and exchange views on other issues of mutual interest,” the agreement states.

Read more: Daily News

 

Residents Living on Citarum Riverbank Request to Be Relocated

Last modified on 2013-10-24 16:55:49 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.beritajakarta.com

“The residents living there are willing to be controlled as long as the government relocates them to somewhere else.

Chief of RW 01 Cideng, Dadang Suherman, said that the residents hope the government would relocate them if theirbuildings were demolished. But, the relocation place must be clear, such as to flats. “There has been socialization for thenormalization of water channels in RT 17 and 18 RW 01, but until now there is no relocation from the governmentrelated to demolishment of residents’ buildings,” he stated, Wednesday (10/23).
Meanwhile, Head of Gambir Sub-District, Henri Perez, told that today, Wednesday (10/23), is the deadline for residentsto demolish their buildings themselves. Previously, his party has sent warning letter for three times. “We have sent themthree warning letters to demolish their buildings,” he uttered.
According to Perez, there are 200 illegal buildings standing on Citarum riverbank. Later, his party will demolish thosebuildings using two excavators and also deploy a dump truck. After that, Central Jakarta Water Channels ManagementPublic Works Dub-Department will do the normalization. “We’ll demolish all of the buildings today. Then, thenormalization of Citarum River will be directly carried out,” he asserted.”
Read more: Berita Jakarta

Last modified on GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Spain’s Desalination Ambitions Unravel

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: NY times

“In the arid Spanish Mediterranean city of Torrevieja, Europe’s biggest desalination plant stands idle six years after construction began. The plant is finished; it just needs a power hookup to operate at full capacity. But it has few buyers for its water and would cost too much to run.

It was part of an ambitious government plan conceived in 2004 to more than double the availability of desalinated seawater by adding 2 million cubic meters of water per day of capacity. The plan anticipated a surge in water demand along Spain’s Mediterranean coast to supply sprawling apartment complexes, golf courses and a tourism-driven economic boom.

Instead, Spain’s construction bubble burst in 2007, dragging the country into an economic downturn from which it has still to recover.

Yet the desalination construction program continued. Now, after nearly a decade, the result is a graveyard of part-built or idled plants, while completed plants are operating below capacity. Actual water output is less than 20 percent of the volumes originally envisioned.

“The desalination plants were a big mistake from the get-go,” said Enrique Cabrera, director of the water technology institute at Valencia Polytechnic University. “They were not needed.” ”

Read more: NY times

Disaster Spiraling Out of Control at Fukushima as Japan’s Prime Minister Asks for Global Help

Last modified on 2013-10-15 17:55:40 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Japan’s pro-nuclear Prime Minister has finally asked for global help at Fukushima. It probably hasn’t hurt that more than 100,000 people have  signed petitions calling for a global takeover; more than 8,000 have viewed a  new YouTube on it.

Massive quantities of heavily contaminated water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean, dousing workers along the way. Hundreds of huge, flimsy tanks are leaking untold tons of highly radioactive fluids.

At Unit #4, more than 1300 fuel rods, with more than 400 tons of extremely radioactive material, containing potential cesium fallout comparable to 14,000 Hiroshima bombs,  are stranded 100 feet in the air.

All this more than 30 months after the earthquake/tsunami led to three melt-downs and at least four explosions.

“Our country needs your knowledge and expertise” he has said to the world community.  “We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem.”

But is he serious?

“I am aware of three US companies with state of the art technology that have been to Japan repeatedly and have been rebuffed by the Japanese government,” says Arnie Gundersen, a Vermont-based nuclear engineer focused on Fukushima.”

Read more: Alternet

 

China must manage the conflict between coal and water

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: qzprod

“In July 2012 China proposed building 363 new coal-fired power plants, 23% of which would sit in areas with “high water stress”.

China faces a serious conundrum. The country, already the world’s largest coal consumer, wants to significantly increase its coal electricity generating capacity in order to expand its economy. But this introduces a critical resource concern: more than half of the proposed plants will depend on water resources that are under high or extremely high stress.

These 363 plants would have a combined generating capacity exceeding 557 gigawatts, an almost 75% increase on current capacity.”

Read more: WaterSISW

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In the Shadow of Glacial Lakes, Pakistan’s Mountain Communities Look to Climate Adaptation

Last modified on 2015-01-16 19:04:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Landslides, floods and soil erosion have become increasingly frequent, disrupting channels that carry fresh water from upstream springs into farmlands, and depriving communities of their only source of fresh water.

“Things were becoming very difficult for my family,” Zaman told IPS. “I began to think that farming was no longer viable, and was considering abandoning it and migrating to nearby Chitral [a town about 60 km away] in search of labour.”

He was not alone in his desperation. Azam Mir, an elderly wheat farmer from the Drongagh village in Bindo Gol, recalled a devastating landslide in 2008 that wiped out two of the most ancient water channels in the area, forcing scores of farmers to abandon agriculture and relocate to nearby villages.

“Those who could not migrate out of the village suffered from water-borne diseases and hunger,” he told IPS.

Now, thanks to a public-private sector climate adaptation partnership aimed at reducing the risk of disasters like glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), residents of the northern valleys are gradually regaining their livelihoods and their hopes for a future in the mountains.

Bursting at the seams

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), there were some 2,400 potentially hazardous glacial lakes in the country’s remotest mountain valleys in 2010, a number that has now increased to over 3,000.

Chitral district alone is home to 549 glaciers, of which 132 have been declared ‘dangerous’.

Climatologists say that rising temperatures are threatening the delicate ecosystem here, and unless mitigation measures are taken immediately, the lives and livelihoods of millions will continue to be at risk.

One of the most successful initiatives underway is a four-year, 7.6-million-dollar project backed by the U.N. Adaptation Fund, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Pakistan.

Signed into existence in 2010, its main focus, according to Field Manager Hamid Ahmed Mir, has been protection of lives, livelihoods, existing water channels and the construction of flood control infrastructure including check dams, erosion control structures and gabion walls.”

Read more: IPS News

 

Can We Forecast Where Water Conflicts Are Likely to Occur?

Last modified on 2014-10-27 14:50:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.newsecuritybeat.org

“The scientific literature on international water politics offers a wealth of case studies on individual river basins, but also an increasing number of larger-scale comparisons of many international freshwater catchments.

The latter work in particular offers a reasonably good basis for moving one step further, that is, from explanations of international water conflict in the past to predictions about which areas of the world are most prone to water conflicts in the future.

Basins at Risks

Building on new data on international river basins and conflict events, we revisited earlier research on the basins at risk of conflict and developed a prediction and forecasting approach for international river basin conflicts.

Whereas an earlier study by Yoffe, Wolf, and colleagues identified 29 basins at risk, our work, recently published in Global Environmental Politics, identifies 44 such river basins (see map). Only six basins simultaneously appear in the earlier and the new list: the Asi/Orontes, Cross, Han, Indus, Ob, and Tigris-Euphrates.

Note, however, that none of the river basins identified are likely to experience a “water war,” in the sense of an armed conflict over water. Instead, we expect conflicts to materialize primarily in the form of political tensions.”

Read more: New Security Beat

 

Gaza water network malfunctioning due to Israel war

Last modified on 2014-09-28 16:37:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.middleeastmonitor.com

“Palestinians in Gaza are suffering from water shortage with a Gaza resident telling Press TV that the drinking water is not suitable for use.

Reports say the damage to the sewerage system has led to the contamination of drinking water, making residents vulnerable to waterborne diseases.

More than 90 percent of the drinking water is reportedly contaminated.

“The water is very scarce and very salty and it is almost the same as sewage water,” said a Palestinian woman.

The Israeli military aggression has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Palestinians in the enclave are in desperate need for additional desalination plants.

“The devastation has created massive needs for more desalination plants,” a Palestinian desalination plant owner said.

Water pollution has also increased the death rate among the children in Gaza.

Experts say it would cost over USD 7 billion to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction said on September 4 that the reconstruction process would take” “five years if Israel removed its blockade on Gaza entirely.”

Read more: PressTV

 

Struggling to Find Water in the Vast Pacific

Last modified on 2014-09-10 15:34:11 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Pacific Island states are surrounded by the largest ocean in the world, but inadequate fresh water sources, poor infrastructure and climate change are leaving some communities without enough water to meet basic needs.

Laisene Nafatali lives in Lotofaga village, home to 5,000 people on the south coast of Upolu, the main island of Samoa, a Polynesian island state located northeast of Fiji in the central South Pacific region.

Like many on the island, she is dependent on rainfall and surface water for household needs. But without a nearby water source, such as a stream or waterfall, or a rainwater tank, she struggles with sanitation, washing, cooking and drinking.

“We only have one-gallon buckets, so if it is going to rain the whole week most of the water is lost,” Nafatali told IPS, adding that many people are unable to collect a sufficient amount of rainwater in such small containers.

 

“We have one bucket to store the water for the toilet, but that’s not enough for the whole family,” she added.

The wet season finished in March and now, in the dry season, it rains just two to four times per month.

Water for drinking and cooking is a priority. “If there is no rain the whole week, we pay for a truck. We put all our containers on the truck and we go to find families that have pipes and then we ask for some water. But that only [lasts] for two to three days, then we have to go again,” she said.

For washing, Nafatali and her family of six walk to the beach, which takes half an hour, and when the tide is low, they dig into the sand to find fresh water.”

Read more: IPS

 

 

Preventing crises over shared water resources requires stronger foreign policy engagement

Last modified on 2014-09-03 16:11:44 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.trust.org

“Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Gaza. With such crises in the headlines, it is easy to forget about the structural challenges that threaten to become the foreign policy crises of the future. Among these, access to fresh water stands out. It is already contributing to many conflicts around the world, and demand is growing fast while supplies are limited (and, in the case of groundwater, being exhausted at unsustainable rates). Simultaneously, about 60 percent of the volume of global river flow is shared by two or more states.

Many shared basins – among them the Nile, the Indus, the Ganges, the Euphrates-Tigris, the Orontes, the Jordan, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, and the Mekong – overlap with regions characterised by substantial interstate and intrastate tensions. Population and economic growth increase demand for water. Climate change is concurrently leading to changes in regional and seasonal water variability. The resulting scarcity and extreme weather events, both floods and droughts, threaten long-term regional stability.

Yet shared waters do not have to be flashpoints of conflict, and can even build bridges in the midst of conflicts. For example, the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty has survived three wars between India and Pakistan. Water has also served as a crucial means for strengthening cooperation in Southern Africa. And the negotiations over shared waters between Israel and its neighbours have not only come much further than negotiations over other issues, but have also helped to establish informal means of cooperation in an otherwise highly conflictive region.”

Read more: Reuters

 

Water rights of Ireland and Jordan

Last modified on 2014-09-03 16:03:16 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com

“Parts of this country receive up to 4 meters of rain each year. But Ireland was running out of water so its government recently brought in water charges. Here is why.

Jordan is one of the world’s driest countries, with desert comprising 75 percent of its land area. The entire country averages only about 160mm of annual rainfall and 41 percent of its land receives fewer than 50mm of rain each year.

Ireland receives an average of 1000mm of annual rainfall and parts of its Atlantic coastline receive nearly 4000mm (4 meters) of rain each year. Ireland’s driest recorded year was 1887 when only 356.6 mm of rain fell, more than twice Jordan’s average rainfall. With such a plentiful source of freshwater, Ireland never had to pay for huge reservoirsdesalinization plants, waste-water reclamation systems or Red to Dead sea projects.

In fact, in 1997, the government of Ireland decided that water should be a basic human right. So domestic water charges were abolished. Ireland did this thirteen years before the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 64/292 in July 2010 which also “Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

Water, they argued, shouldn’t be a commodity. Water should be a human right.

Irish residents took full advantage of this basic right. They washed their cars, dishes, clothes, bathed, showered and drank the free water. They could even water their golf courses and gardens during rainstorms and let their faucets drip 24 hours per day, 365 days per year– all for free because there was no such thing as a water meter!”

Read more: Green Prophet

 

 

‘State of the World’s Rivers’ Project Documents Decline in Rivers From Dams

Last modified on 2014-08-29 17:03:10 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“Many of the world’s great river basins have been dammed to the point of serious decline, including the Mississippi, Yangtze, Paraná and Danube.

“The evidence we’ve compiled of planetary-scale impacts from river change is strong enough to warrant a major international focus on understanding the thresholds for ‘river change’ in the world’s major basins, and for the planet as a whole system,” said Jason Rainey, Executive Director of International Rivers.

For example, in the Middle East, decades of dam building in the Tigris-Euphrates basin have made it one of the most fragmented basins in the world. As a result, the basin’s flooded grassland marshes have significantly decreased, leading to the disappearance of salt-tolerant vegetation that helped protect coastal areas, and a reduction in the plankton-rich waters that fertilize surrounding soils. Habitat has decreased for 52 native fish species, migratory bird species, and mammals such as the water buffalo, antelopes and gazelles, and the jerboa.

Meanwhile, some of the lesser-dammed basins, which are still relatively healthy at this point, are being targeted for major damming. For example, the most biodiverse basin in the world, the Amazon, still provides habitat for roughly 14,000 species of mammals, 2,200 fish species, 1,500 bird species, and more than 1,000 amphibian species, like the Amazon River Dolphin, the Amazonian Manatee, and the Giant Otter.

When all dam sizes are counted, an astonishing 412 dams are planned or under construction in the Paraná basin, and 254 in the Amazon basin. In Asia, China plans to continue to dam the Yangtze basin with at least another 94 planned large dams, while an additional 73 are under construction. At least 153 more dams are planned or already being built in the Mekong basin.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

Jihadists Rout Kurds in North and Seize Strategic Iraqi Dam

Last modified on 2014-08-08 15:36:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

 

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“The crisis gripping Iraq escalated rapidly on Thursday with a re-energized Islamic State in Iraq and Syria storming new towns in the north and seizing a strategic dam as Iraq’s most formidable military force, the Kurdish pesh merga, was routed in the face of the onslaught.

The loss of the Mosul Dam, the largest in Iraq, to the insurgents was the most dramatic consequence of a militant offensive in the north, which has sent tens of thousands of refugees, many from the Yazidi minority, fleeing into a vast mountainous landscape.

In one captured town, Sinjar, ISIS executed dozens of Yazidi men, and kept the dead men’s wives for unmarried jihadi fighters. Panic on Thursday spread even to the Kurdish capital of Erbil, long considered a safe haven, with civilians flooding the airport in a futile attempt to buy tickets to Baghdad.”

Read more: NY Times

 

The Right to Water in Gaza

Last modified on 2014-07-29 15:43:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“After almost three weeks of bombing, the death toll in Gaza rose to more than 1,030 on Sunday. The Palestinian poet Jehan Bseiso writes, “There’s more blood than water today in Gaza.”

Haaretz notes, “After two and a half weeks of bombardments from the air and ground, roughly two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s inhabitants — 1.2 million people — are suffering from severe disruptions to the water and sewage systems, according to Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene, a coalition of around 40 humanitarian groups operating in the occupied territories. In addition to the damage of the central pipeline and the reservoirs — which affects cities and villages throughout Gaza — home pipes and water containers on roofs have been damaged by the bombardments.”

Beyond water shortages, Gazans are now paying more to get what scarce water there is.

The Associated Press reports, “Electricity and water have become luxury items [in Gaza]. …Gaza gets its electricity from Israeli and Egyptian lines — for payment — and from a power plant in Gaza. The Israeli lines have been damaged in the fighting, leaving only supplies from Egypt and the power plant, says the local electricity distribution company’s official, Jamal al-Dardasawi. …Without power to run pumps, there is no water, especially in Gaza’s high-rise buildings. Rawan Taha, a 39-year-old housewife, lives in such an apartment tower. She says she last showered three days ago. When the water is on, she fills her bathtub, pots and empty bottles. Gaza’s tap water is not drinkable, and her family pays 20 shekels ($6) each day for drinking water.”

Al Jazeera adds, “In Khan Younis, a burned-out crater leaves a gaping hole on the main road, the aftermath of an Israeli F16 missile strike. The residents of nearby Khuzaa, which was under heavy Israeli bombardment, are sleeping on the streets. Access to water is extremely difficult; a man who generally sells water tanks for $4 is now asking for $29.”

And there is another water crisis just around the corner.

The Haaretz article highlights, “Gaza’s water supply was in crisis even before the current conflict. According to the United Nations, the section of coastal aquifer that serves Gaza will be unusable in 2016 because of the overpumping of groundwater.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Drought and Misuse Behind Lebanon’s Water Scarcity

Last modified on 2014-07-29 15:36:01 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“In a normal year, the water trucks do not appear until September, but this year they have started working even before summer because of the severe drought currently affecting Lebanon.

This comes on top of the increased pressure on the existing water supply due to the presence of more than one million Syrian refugees fleeing the war, exacerbating a situation which may lead to food insecurity and public health problems.

Rains were scarce last winter. While the annual average in recent decades was above 800 mm, this year it was around 400 mm, making it one of the worst rainfall seasons in the last sixty years.

The paradox is that Lebanon should not suffer from water scarcity. Annual precipitation is about 8,600 million cubic metres while normal water demand ranges between 1,473 and 1,530 million cubic metres per year, according to the Impact of Population Growth and Climate Change on Water Scarcity, Agricultural Output and Food Securityreport published in April by the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) at the American University of Beirut.

However, as Nadim Farajalla, Research Director of IFI’s Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World Programme, explains, the country’s inability to store water efficiently, water pollution and its misuse both in agriculture and for domestic purposes, have put great pressure on the resource.

According to Bruno Minjauw, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative ad interim in the country as well as Resilience Officer, Lebanon” “has always been a very wet country. Therefore, the production system has never looked so much at the problem of water.”

Read more: IPS

 

 

Water supply key to outcome of conflicts in Iraq and Syria

Last modified on 2014-07-06 15:54:36 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.grist.org

“Rivers, canals, dams, sewage, and desalination plants are now all military targets in the semi-arid region that regularly experiences extreme water shortages, says Michael Stephen, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute think tank in Qatar, speaking from Baghdad.

“Control of water supplies gives strategic control over both cities and countryside. We are seeing a battle for control of water. Water is now the major strategic objective of all groups in Iraq. It’s life or death. If you control water in Iraq, you have a grip on Baghdad, and you can cause major problems. Water is essential in this conflict,” he said.

ISIS Islamic rebels now control most of the key upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates, the two great rivers that flow from Turkey in the north to the Gulf in the south and on which all Iraq and much of Syria depends for food, water, and industry.

“Rebel forces are targeting water installations to cut off supplies to the largely Shia south of Iraq,” says Matthew Machowski, a Middle East security researcher at the U.K. houses of parliament and Queen Mary University of London.

In April, ISIS fighters in Fallujah captured the smaller Nuaimiyah Dam on the Euphrates and deliberately diverted its water to “drown” government forces in the surrounding area. Millions of people in the cities of Karbala, Najaf, Babylon, and Nasiriyah had their water cut off but the town of Abu Ghraib was catastrophically flooded along with farms and villages over 200 square miles. According to the U.N., around 12,000 families lost their homes.

Earlier this year, Kurdish forces reportedly diverted water supplies from the Mosul Dam. Equally, Turkey has been accused of reducing flows to the giant Lake Assad, Syria’s largest body of fresh water, to cut off supplies to Aleppo, and ISIS forces have reportedly targeted water supplies in the refugee camps set up for internally displaced people.”

Read more: Grist

 

 

As Violence Grips Iraq, Fears of Pre-Emptive Flooding Arise

Last modified on 2014-06-28 14:59:51 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Regardless of which side might open the floodgates, it is the civilian population who would suffer in such an event, Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, an organization that works to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them,explained to Common Dreams.

“Dams have been used as weapons of mass destruction through the ages,” Bosshard continued. “In the first recorded water war, the army of Umma, a Sumerian city state, drained irrigation canals against their enemies of Lagash in present-day Iraq, not far from Haditha Dam, 4,500 years ago. In the most infamous case, the nationalist army of Chian Kai Shek destroyed the dikes of the Yellow River in 1937 to slow the advancing Japanese army, thereby flooding hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land and killing at least 800,000 of its own people,” he added.

Khalid Salman, head of the Haditha local council, told the Washington Post that ISIS would want take over the dam not to unleash flooding but to control the power plant powered by it, thus being able to provide a service to the local population.

“Of course they want to control the dam, which is very important, not only for Anbar, but for all of Iraq,” the Post quotes Salman as saying.

Meanwhile, violence continues to erupt in the country. Reuters reports that on Thursday battles were “raging” in the city of Tikrit, where Iraqi forces are launching a counter-attack on Sunni militant forces.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

A Push to Save Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake

Last modified on 2014-06-11 17:20:33 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“Every year, the lake yields about 300,000 tons of fish, making it one of the world’s most productive freshwater ecosystems. That and the floods that pulse through it in monsoon season, swelling it to as much as five times its dry-season size, have earned the lake the nickname “Cambodia’s beating heart.”

But the Tonle Sap is in trouble — from overfishing to feed a fast-growing population, from the cutting of mangrove forests that shelter young fish, from hydroelectric dams upstream, and from the dry seasons that are expected to grow hotter and longer with climate change.

Keo Mao, a 42-year-old fisherman from Akol, says he hopes his five children can find a way out of the life that has sustained his family for generations. “The lake now is not really so good,” he said. “There are too many people.”

Now an international team of researchers has joined local fishermen in an ambitious project to save the Tonle Sap. The scientists are building an intricate computer model that aims to track the vast array of connections between human activity and natural systems as they change over time. Begun in 2012, the model will take several years to complete, while threats to the Tonle Sap continue to mount.

But the hope is to peer into the lake’s future to predict how different developmental, economic and regulatory choices may ripple through this interconnected and fast-changing ecosystem, and to plan a sustainable way forward.

Charting a Changing Cambodia

Henri Mouhot, the 19th-century French explorer who crossed the Tonle Sap on his way to Angkor Wat, said the lake resembled a violin lying diagonally across Cambodia. At its neck, a tributary flows southeast to the Mekong River. On the laptop of Roel Boumans, an ecologist who helped develop the modeling project, the lake and its flood plain are divided into 16 watersheds that he fills with shades of green, yellow and brown, based on vegetation and land-use data from satellite images.”

Read more: The New York Times

 

 

Climate change could lead to China-India water conflict

Last modified on 2014-06-11 17:07:19 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.rtcc.org

“Based on latest research by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the study has been published by the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change and Cambridge University.

“There are concerns that tensions will increase due to climate driven water variability in the Trans-boundary drainage systems linked to the vast Tibetan plateau in central Asia, where rivers supply more than one billion people with water,” it says.

Around 40% of the world’s population rely on water from the plateau for survival. It is the source of some of the world’s great rivers, including the Indus, Ganges, Irrawaddy, Mekong and Yangtze.

Speaking to RTCC, former Royal Navy Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, who reviewed parts of the report, said water shortages would increase the risk of instability in the region.

“If the glaciers melt as a result of the increase in temperatures, after an initial burst of too much water there’s going to be a shortage, and it’s going to compound the problem,” he said.

“Clearly there is a politics in that part of the world which needs to be taken into account when looking at those risks.”

Emerging powers

China-India troop clashes over the past five decades has caused deep mistrust on both sides, while memories of a short but brutal war in 1962 are fresh in the minds of many older politicians.”

Read more: RTCC

Rain Holds Key to Thirsty Summers

Last modified on 2014-06-02 18:45:38 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.gsmroofing.com

“BANGALORE: Rainwater harvesting is a win-win situation for all – borewells are full, the quality of water is better and the city gains, declares David Saldanha, a resident of Residency Road.

Faced with dipping water level in the two borewells in the area in 2010, Saldanha did not throw up his hands. Instead, he opted for rainwater harvesting to recharge the borewells. Estimating the annual rainfall in Bangalore at 1,000 mm, he says he is able to harvest 1 million litres of rainwater annually and also breathe life back into the borewells.

“The water level in the two borewells ran lower than 100 metres deep, and the yield was low. The advantage is continuous water supply and les power consumption to pump up water. I’m thrilled with the result. The water yield has gone up and its quality is much better too,” says Saldanha.

Saldanha’s success story deserves to be emulated across the city, especially with the monsoon around the corner. Experts say one-third of the city’s water demand can be met through RWH.

Experts term rainwater harvesting one of the best ways of conservation, more so at a time when Bangalore faces acute water scarcity. Harvesting in urban areas is the process of collecting, filtering and using rainwater which falls on roofs and on porticos, and is channeled in three ways: recharging borewells, replenishing groundwater and collecting rainwater for re-use later.”

Read more: Times of India

Jerusalem’s water contamination scare hits both Arabs and Jews

Last modified on 2014-05-08 15:09:39 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com

“Residents of Jerusalem were told yesterday to boil their water for two minutes until further notice. High levels of treated sewage water had leaked into the main drinking water system. The neighborhoods affected include Arab and Jewish regions alike: Baka, Abu Tor, Talpiot, Tsur Baher, Silwan, Ras el-Amud, the Old City, Mamilla and Musrara.

Even by this morning the Health Ministry said people should still boil their water and not use water from the tap for brushing teeth or for any matters involving food.

The issue affects an estimated 130,000 people. Early this morning helicopters with missiles attached to them were spotted and cited by Jerusalem residents. One on Facebook connected the sighting to the water contamination and a possible terror attack. Though no comment was made like this in the mainstream news.

Hagihon, the company that tests the water started getting calls on Tuesday, the local newspaper the Jerusalem Post reports.

First samples showed decreased levels of chlorine, pointing the finger at contamination.

The city has taken the issue so seriously that they have set up a situation room, including the mayor’s presence, in order to deal with the problem.

I took a tour of one of Jerusalem’s largest water repositories way back when and it was like looking inside a football field-sized pond covered with cement. With high levels of security, it’s hard to see how infiltrators could get in, but this is always on the minds of the people who protect Israel’s drinking water.”

Read more: Green Prophet

Hundreds of dead pigs fished from Shanghai river

Last modified on 2014-04-21 18:02:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: www.yourhealth.asiaone.com

“At least 2,800 dead pigs have been fished from a Shanghai river since Friday, but authorities insist that tap water in the city is still safe to drink.

State news agency Xinhua said labels tagged to the pigs’ ears indicated they came from the upper waters of the Huangpu River, which flows through the center of Shanghai and is a source of the city’s drinking water.

It’s not clear why the pigs had been dumped in the river, though local media reported earlier this month that a disease had killed thousands of pigs in a village south of Shanghai.

“We will continue to trace the source, investigate the cause, co-operate with neighboring areas and take measures to stop the dumping of pigs into rivers,” the Shanghai Municipal Agricultural Commission said in a statement posted on their website on Monday.

As of Sunday, water quality on the Songjiang section of the river, where most of the pigs were found, remained normal and the incident has had “no significant effect on tap water supply,” the commission added.”

Read more: CNN

 

China Rivers at the Brink of Collapse

Last modified on 2014-03-26 19:33:45 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com

“China’s rulers have traditionally derived their legitimacy from controlling water. The country ranks only sixth in terms of annual river runoff, but counts half the planet’s large dams within its borders. A new report warns that dam building has brought China’s river ecosystems to the point of collapse.

Since the 1950s, China has dammed, straightened, diverted and polluted its rivers in a rapid quest for industrialization. Many of these projects had disastrous environmental, social and economic impacts. The Sanmenxia Dam on the Yellow River for example flooded 660 square kilometers of fertile land and displaced 410,000 people. Yet because it silted up rapidly, the project only generates power at one sixth of its projected capacity.

In the new millennium, the Chinese government realized that its ruthless dam building program threatened to undermine the country’s long-term prosperity and stability. In 2004, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao suspended dam construction on the Nu (Salween) and the Jinsha (upper Yangtze) rivers, including a project on the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge. The government created fisheries reserves and strengthened environmental guidelines. In 2011, it even acknowledged the “urgent environmental problems” of Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, the world’s largest hydropower project.”

Read more: Huffington Post

 

Debunking some myths about Israel’s water politics

Last modified on 2014-03-12 14:50:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com

“In his speech to Israel’s Parliament on February 12, Martin Schultz, president of the European Parliament, spoke of our shared responsibility to stand up for freedom and dignity at all times. He acknowledged Israel’s success at realising a dream shared by many people: To live “in freedom and dignity” in “a homeland of their own”, noting that Palestinians also have the right to “self-determination and justice”.

He then addressed Palestinian suffering and in doing so, highlighted the glaring discrepancy in access to water between the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza on the one hand, and Israelis – inside the “Green Line” and on settlements in the West Bank – on the other.

AIPAC did not remain silent. In a New York Times article AIPAC’s Seth Siegel suggests that the Arabs should stop viewing Israel as “the problem”. Without any mention of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, he calls upon Arabs to reach out to Israel and benefit from its superior know-how.

Israel could save them from water scarcity and reconciliation could ensue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke likewise in his address to AIPAC on March 4: The Arabs need to recognise Israel as a Jewish state; then there would be peace and the deserts would bloom.”

Read more: Aljazeera

 

Citarum polluters more than 71 companies: Deputy governor

Last modified on 2014-02-27 16:03:26 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.planetforward.ca

“West Java Deputy Governor Deddy Mizwar has said more than 71 companies were thought to be involved in environmental pollution in the Citarum River basin.

“Based on our data, the number of industrial players polluting the Citarum River is far higher than that stated in the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) report. The BPK earlier reported there were 17 companies. It’s not 17, it’s more than 71 companies,” said Deddy in Bandung on Wednesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Speaking to journalists after attending a plenary meeting at the West Java Legislative Council (DPRD), Deddy said if only 17 companies were polluting the Citarum as stated in the BPK report on the audit, which was carried out in 2012-2013, damage to the river basin would not be as severe it was.

He acknowledged that the budget allocated by the government to tackle pollution in the Citarum River was quite substantial. “We have spent a lot of money over time, but there have been no significant results,” said Deddy.

In 2013, environmental organization Green Cross Switzerland and international nonprofit organization Blacksmith Institute named the Citarum River among the world’s 10 most polluted places.”

Read more: Jakarta Post

 

Drought-hit Malaysian state rations water

Last modified on 2014-02-25 17:59:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.channelnewsasia.com

“KUALA LUMPUR: Authorities began rationing water to thousands of households in Malaysia’s most populous state on Tuesday, as a dry spell depletes reservoirs across a country normally known for its steady tropical downpours.

Much of Malaysia has been under bone-dry conditions for a month and high temperatures have left some reservoirs at “critical” levels, sparking an increase in bushfires and leading to protests in at least one hard-hit community near the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia does tend to experience dry weather early in the year, but the current dry spell has been unusually long.

The lack of significant rainfall has caused increasing alarm, particularly in the state of Selangor, which surrounds Kuala Lumpur, and adjacent areas, as meteorologists have warned the dry patch could last another month.

Selangor is Malaysia’s most populous state and its economic and industrial hub.

Water rationing in the state will affect an estimated 60,000 households, according to the Selangor’s private water company.

A Selangor local government spokeswoman said the state was reducing the flow to four water treatment plants “until the weather improves”.

“The reduction of water will start today,” she told AFP. “What we need now is the rain.”

Authorities have said planes are on standby to conduct cloud-seeding, but the spokeswoman said the effort has been hampered by inadequate cloud formation.”

Read more: Channel NewsAsia

 

River Thames Bursts Banks, Flooding Homes Near London

Last modified on 2014-02-11 16:46:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.online.wsj.com

“As of late Monday, the Environment Agency had severe flood warnings—meaning there is a danger to life—for 14 areas in the southeast of England and two in the southwest, one of the hardest hit regions. It also warned that flooding was expected and immediate action required for 131 further areas across England and Wales, with the highest risk seen in the Midlands, southeast and southwest of the country, and flooding was also possible in a further 216 areas.

The Thames Barrier, one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world, closed Monday morning and would be closed again later until early hours of Tuesday, the agency said. Since the beginning of January 2014 the barrier, designed to protect 125 square kilometers of central London from flooding caused by tidal surges, has been closed 29 times.

“Extreme weather will continue to threaten communities this week, with further severe flooding expected Monday evening into Tuesday along the Thames in [the counties of] Berkshire and Surrey,” Paul Leinster, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, said in a statement. “River levels are high across southwest, central and southern England and further rain has the potential to cause significant flooding.”

Significant groundwater flooding was also expected in the southeast, including parts of London, the agency said.”

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

 

Glacier Hazards and Risk Mitigation

Last modified on 2014-01-31 17:38:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Pakistan is located at the junction of the world’s three largest mountain ranges— Karakorum, Himalayas and Hindu Kush. The region has a total coverage area of 3500 sq.km and Pakistan hosts 8 out of 14 highest peaks of the world. A large part of the area remains covered by piles of snow round the year. Scientists and climate advocators call the region the Third Pole outside of the polar region.

An inventory study conducted by International Center for Integrated Mountain Development(ICIMOD) in the five Hindu Kush-Himalayan(HKH) countries of Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, has identified a total of 15,003 glaciers, covering an area of about 33,344 sq.km, and 8,790 glacial lakes, of which 203 have been identified as potentially dangerous

 

Baltoro Glacier, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, retrieved from DeviantArt

In 2005 water Resource Research Institute (WRSI) of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) in collaboration with ICIMOD prepared a glacial inventory, identifying 5218 glaciers with an average coverage area of 15041 sq.km. The study has recorded 2420 glacial lakes of which 52 were identified as potentially dangerous.

Outburst floods of such glacial lakes pose great threat to the downstream low lying areas. The northern and north western parts of Pakistan, mostly Chitral in KPK district and Gilgit Baltistan are hosting these larger glaciers. As climate change intensifies, risk and frequency of Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods (GLOF) is expected to increase in future. Many other research papers have also indicated that the glaciers in Karakorum and Himalayas which also have a regional sharing with central Asian region is susceptible to climate change, and these glacier are going through rapid changes.”

Read more: Dardistan Times

China’s water squeeze worsens as wetlands shrink 9 pct

Last modified on 2014-01-15 17:02:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.reuters.com

“China’s wetlands have shrunk nearly 9 percent since 2003, forestry officials said on Monday, aggravating water scarcity in a country where food production, energy output and industrial activity are already under pressure from water shortages.

China has more than a fifth of the world’s population but only 6 percent of its freshwater resources, and large swathes of the nation, especially in the north, face severe water distress.

Since 2003, wetlands sprawling across 340,000 sq. km. – an area larger than the Netherlands – have disappeared, officials of China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) told reporters.

“The investigation shows that China is facing various problems with wetlands protections,” Zhang Yongli, vice director of the forestry body, told a news conference, adding that loopholes in protection laws imperil the shrinking wetlands.

The lost wetland areas have been converted to agricultural lands, swallowed by large infrastructure projects or degraded by climate change, the forestry administration said.

Wetlands lost to infrastructure projects have increased tenfold since the government’s last survey in 2003, Zhang added.”

Read more: Reuters

 

Fukushima Ghost Towns Struggle to Recover Amid High Radiation Levels

Last modified on 2014-01-02 18:41:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Namie is nobody’s town now. Nobody lives here, and nobody visits for long. Even the looters have stopped bothering, and no one knows exactly when the inhabitants may be allowed to return permanently – or whether they will want to.

The 2011 catastrophe faded from world headlines long ago, but in Namie, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and other blighted towns in the 20-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant,  it is a disaster that never ends.

At the plant itself, recent leaks of contaminated water into the sea and a fraught operation to remove fuel rods from one of the damaged reactors have shown how critical the situation still is – and will remain during a decommissioning process that could take up to 40 years.

For Fukushima’s displaced population, the effects of the disaster continue to be deeply felt. The evacuation area was subdivided earlier this year into three zones of higher or lower radiation risk. In the worst affected zone, return will not be allowed before 2017 at the earliest.

In other areas, families and businesses face difficult decisions about whether or not to go back. At present,  no one is even allowed to stay overnight. Locals say that whatever happens, many younger people will not return.”

Read more: AlterNet

 

Growing a Glacier

Last modified on 2013-12-15 16:31:14 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

This year has been a fascinating one for glaciology.  Dozens, if not hundreds, of important discoveries have been made, and are rampant within academic literature. However, the bulk of glaciological developments are often too complex for wider dissemination. Consequently, I relish glaciological tales that manage to permeate more mainstream channels. My favourite exposé this year was The Economist’s article ‘Do-it-yourself glaciers: The iceman cometh’, a re-emergence of National Geographic’s 2001 article ‘”Artificial Glaciers” aid farmers in Himalayas.

In the high Himalaya, glacial and snowmelt are essential to the continued survival of montane peoples. Thus regional ice is critical to sustaining high altitude communities. Well over a billion people, more than 20% of Earth’s population, living in the shadows of the Himalayas are reliant on such meltwater. Bafflingly, little action has been taken to prevent their total disappearance, which is speculated to be imminent unless rising temperatures and other changing climatic variables are abated. Already, 600 glaciers are known to have disappeared throughout the world.

Dr Walter Immerzeel, of the Dutch Utrecht University, led a research team looking into the stability and security of the ‘Asian Water Towers’. They determined that the major Asian river basins, comprising the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, are experiencing a generalised trend of ice wastage. Meltwater is a significant contributor to all these rivers, especially for the Indus and Ganges, with 40% directly feeding in from glaciers. This pattern is expected to persist, with these rivers facing extreme, consistent reductions in peak discharges, during the height of seasonal meltwater influx, by 2046-2065. Resultantly, it is reckoned that the diminishing meltwater supplies will threaten the food security of 4.5% of the peoples within these Asian basins within 50 years. Potentially, 70.3 million face a bleak future of malnourishment and starvation, over and above the present figures of 563 million. This additional 70 million is up to four times the number exterminated by famine during Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forwards’, between 1958-1960, acknowledged as ‘the worst in world history’…so far.

Despite these utterly demoralising statistics, there are, thankfully, truly inspirational innovators leading a sortie from the mountains. Engineer Chewang “The Ice Man” Norphel of Ladakh has pioneered an incredible and novel method for replacing glaciers; the ‘Do-it-yourself’ approach to glacier growth. Mr Norphel has led the charge to install glaciers throughout his home-province since 1987, seeking to replace many that have already disappeared. As of summer 2013, he had emplaced twelve.

His largest glacier thus far is 300 metres long, 45m wide, and averages 1m deep. This amounts to potentially 13.5 million litres (~3.6 million gallons). This ice-mass sustains 700 people in the village Phuktsey. Per person, the allotment allows an estimated annual stipend of 19,285 litres, sourced from the home-grown glaciers, and is utilised in agriculture, drinking, sanitation, and other essential practices. In comparison, the USGS estimates that the average American utilises 300-380 litres per day. The Ladakhi survive on 13-17% of that, using it sparingly for far more than daily ablutions. To bring this further into perspective, the entire annual allotment of Phuktsey equals 29%, less than a third, of that utilised by The Bellagio’s dancing fountains, in Las Vegas.

High-altitude Himalayan agriculturalists have historically been reliant upon small (approximately 1km2) cirque glaciers, which form as precipitation gathers in depressions on shaded, north-facing mountain slopes. Based upon these prerequisite conditions, Mr Norphel formulated his DIY plan. Small streams were diverted towards a series of tiered ponds and channels, where the water is slowed, desilted and then pools in the shade. During the winter months, November to December, the water freezes. Come April, it begins to thaw, and release the stored resource. This cycle is critical to local farming, as the regional agricultural systems evolved to periodically rely upon meltwater, with seed-sowing beginning in April. It is estimated that 80% of Ladakh’s villagers are dependant on glacial meltwaters.

However, the water shortages faced by the villages of Stokmo, Changla, Phuktsey, and other settlements rescued by the Messianic “Ice Man”, are destined to further permeate the Himalayas. In 2010, Croat Valentina Radić and German Regine Hock, of the Universities of British Columbia and Alaska respectively, published findings on the potential of small glaciers to contribute 12cm to sea level rise. They estimated that half of Earth’s smaller ice glaciers (under 5km2) are fated to disappear by 2100, with obviously far-reaching consequences. As a whole ‘High Mountain Asia’, including the Himalayas, is projected to face volumetric reductions of approximately 10%. Between 1975 and 2008, Ladakhi glaciers were found to have variably retreated by 60m (1975-1992), 89m (1992-2002), and 52m (2002-2006).

Ladakh is an area of ~117,000km2, supporting 274,289 (c. 2011). To meet the demands of this population, should all source glaciers waste away, potentially 5.3 billion litres of water would have to be transferred to the region (assuming consumption to be broadly homogenous throughout the region). To address this need locally, more than 390 of the largest artificial glaciers would need to be created. At US$2,000 (~£1,228) per scheme, deployment costs for all of Ladakh could be as little as $780,000 (~£478,000).

In light of this, it is blatant that growing a glacier is a clever stopgap. However, it is by no means the solution to glacier retreat, and the subsequent, seemingly inevitable disappearance. Nor can it prevent the imminent water shortages, and subsequent widespread ripple effect. I applaud Mr Norphel’s efforts, for he is among a handful to successfully implement effective adaptive glaciological schemes. Nevertheless, the slow rate of deployment, relatively limited scale of their impacts, and limited acceptance of the severity of the situation, are likely to prevent their proliferation.

 

World Rivers Review – Dec. 2013: Focus on Arts and Activism

Last modified on 2013-12-11 20:26:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Protecting rivers and communities from the ravages of large dams tends to involve brainy pursuits: there’s often a heavy focus on policy and political issues, and on designing strategic campaigns to stop destructive river projects and promote better options. While these efforts play a very important role in countering the powerful forces that threaten our rivers, the global river protection movement is also working to change hearts as well as minds. Around the world, groups are using the arts to reach people’s hearts and to promote a vision of water and energy for everyone, and a respect for rivers and the life, livelihoods and traditions tied to them. As one artist told us, “Art is a megaphone to project our side of the story.”

In this issue we hear from a wide range of groups who are using creativity to educate and build community for healthy rivers. This special issue ofWorld Rivers Review includes interviews, art works and essays by artist-activists using art, music, poetry and film to create social change.

To Learn More and Download the December Issue Click Here: International Rivers

 

Water – Making It Personal: Communicating A Sustainable Future

Last modified on 2013-12-11 20:20:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Throughout history, journalism and storytelling have defined civilization. Journalists are the first responders to global crises, the pointers to important trends and the translators between disciplines. Good journalists seek out knowledge, ask thoughtful questions, listen carefully and tell unforgettable stories. The art of the story, well-told, is a powerful force because it compels the resilience and connectedness of humanity.

In China, we have one of the richest, most complicated stories unfolding that the planet has ever seen. The country is the second largest economy after the US, and its economy tripled between 2000 and 2010. China’s GDP is expected to grow by more than 7% each year over the next 10 years.166

Yet our reporting found that the priceless energy beneath Wu Yun’s family grasslands may be trapped. China faces severe constraints to its GDP growth because it may not be able to continue to mine and process its coal at current rates. 167 Mines use copious amounts of water to extract and process coal, and as water supplies dwindle, production will slow.

Just as the account of Wu Yun’s life and choices framed the reporting that introduced the existence of water and energy stresses in Inner Mongolia and China, lives of people offer keen insight into the challenges and opportunities of sustainability, consumption and the dreams that drive them.”

Read More: Circle of Blue

Uprising Grows Against Fracking in a Surprising Part of Europe

Last modified on 2013-12-10 18:02:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Do you think they’re about to have sex?”, one of the group whispers. I’m in Transylvania, crouched in the bushes with a bunch of activists in balaclavas, taking turns to speculate why a car has crept to a halt close to where we are hiding out. “No, it must be the cops, you can see the light from the mobile phone”, another one says. Time to move on.

It has been over an hour since the group started trashing equipment owned by the gas exploration company Prospectiuni, playing an edgy game of cat and mouse as we struggle to stay one step ahead of the security teams and police vehicles that are now sweeping the hilltops looking for us.

Another light tears round the bend on the road and the shout goes through the team to hide. I throw myself down, stretched out once again in the cool damp grass of a Transylvanian meadow. It’s going to be a long night.

In recent weeks the sleepy Saxon communities and protected forests of Sibiu county in Transylvania, have become an unlikely front for a new battleground, pitting gas exploration companies, the Romanian government and international investment firms, against a small band of environmental activists from across Romania, who are working side by side with local farmers to resist gas and oil exploration that they claim is taking place illegally on their land.

Read More: Alternet

 

Jordan, the PA and Israel trade water from the Red and Sea of Galilee

Last modified on 2013-12-10 17:47:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Some good news out of the Middle East region for a change: It was announced at the Israel Business Forum that Israel has signed an historic water-sharing agreement with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. But not all parties are happy with political manoeuvrings around the announcement.

The new project will include a new desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan, at the northern tip of the Red Sea in order to provide Jordan and Israel with a new source of drinking water. As per the agreement, Israel would release some of its water from Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee), further north, to flow to Jordan, and at the same time provide desalinated water to the Palestinians to use in the West Bank.

In a later phase of the project a 180km pipeline system might transport brine produced in the desalination plant form the Red Sea north to the Dead Sea, but officials on the ground say they don’t have information that it would be part of Monday’s agreement.

Read More: Green Prophet

 

Saudi Arabia: Largest solar-powered desalination plant announcement

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:53 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Revolve magazine

“The world’s largest solar-powered seawater desalination plant will soon be established in Ras Al Khaimah to produce more than 22 million gallons of potable water per day and 20MW of solar power.

The announcement of the plans for the new plant was made by Utico Middle East, the GCC’s largest private full-service utility and solutions provider, at the second Global IWPP (independent water and power projects) Summit, being held in Ras Al Khaimah.

Richard Menezes, Executive Vice-Chairman of Utico Middle East, said that the project would set the new benchmark for the desalination business model and will be the world’s greenest desalination plant with the least CO2 emissions. Utico earlier this month released the prequalification tender inviting bids for the IWP project, which will be co-developed by Utico and the winning bidder.

The new project will implement the most advanced reverse osmosis and filtration technologies and when operational, will push unit production rates down drastically. The reverse osmosis process forces seawater through a polymer membrane using pressure to filter out salt. “The GCC has an abundance of sunshine throughout the year and our aim will be to harness this free energy and channel it to UAE residents at extremely low cost,” Menezes said.”

Read more: Albawaba

Sustainability Out of Necessity: One Country’s Water Solutions

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:56 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Algemeiner

“Israelis will be the first to tell you that they look to create opportunity out of adversity. As a developed country with a relatively high standard of living, situated in an arid part of the world, Israel has focused on harnessing and conserving water for years. With water scarcity becoming an increasingly recurring theme in the United States, we would do well to learn to do the same. Here are a few innovative water management sustainability projects that are worth learning from:

Irrigation

Go anywhere in Tel Aviv and you will see drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is a system of valves and pipes that delivers water directly to the root of the plant, with almost no evaporation or surface runoff. The system uses 30 percent to 50 percent less water than conventional sprinkling. In Israel, drip irrigation makes up 95 percent of watering applications.

Drinking Water

Drinking water is another challenge, which Israel has addressed by focusing on desalination. The Israeli Water Authority estimates that 80 percent of its water will be desalinated by 2014. Issues with desalination aside, the next challenge is getting Israelis to drink the desalinated water. While I thought the water tasted fine and better than in some states in the US, Israelis seem to prefer their water filtered.

Education

Finally, education, as in anything, is key. The Israelis understand the importance of education in promoting a sustainable way of living. At the David Yellin College’s Education for Sustainability Development (ESD) Institute, they consider water “blue gold”. One project ESD has undertaken involves storing water from air conditioning condensation in a cistern. This is used in part to water plants, and the rest is sent to a pond downstream.

Kibbutz Lotan reuses water from the bathroom sinks and composting toilets, also known as black water, via constructed wetlands pools that process the water. The pools work like a septic system but instead of the water going from the leach field into the ground, it is cleaned from organic load then used to water the fig, date and olive trees.”

Read more: Huffington post

Flooding cost the UK £600m in 2012

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: The Guardian

“Last year’s flooding could have cost the UK economy up to £600 million, according to research.

The Environment Agency said the estimated damage to all property totalled about £277 million while the impact on businesses in England was up to £200 million, including some £84 million in property damage.

Other indirect impacts – such as lost working days – hit companies and local economies by around £33 million, the EA found, and disruption to transport, communications and utility links cost up to £82 million.

While a quarter of days were officially in drought in 2012, with 20 million people affected by hosepipe bans, flooding occurred one in every five days, affecting more than 7,000 properties.

Every affected business suffered an average of £60,000 in setbacks, the latest figures showed, but flood defences protected 200,000 properties – worth up to £1.7 billion to the UK economy.

EA officials are now encouraging businesses to sign up to receive flood warnings and make a plan so they are well prepared as part of its annual Flood Awareness Campaign.”

Read more: The Guardian

India firms up its strategy at the threat of China’s Brahmaputra water diversion

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:53 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“India and China have been engaged in a dispute over the diversion of the Brahmaputra river, which originates in Tibet. Even while India is still exploring a diplomatic option, it has initiated an action plan that would give it user rights. In the first of a three-part series,Mint chronicles the government efforts to accelerate hydroelectric projects in Arunachal Pradesh, a key element of the multi-pronged strategy.
Even as India seems to be playing down the potential problems associated with China’s plans to divert river waters that flow into the Brahmaputra, it is simultaneously working on a detailed strategy involving several key government departments—racing to pre-empt Chinese threats.
According to documents reviewed by Mint, a technical expert group (TEG) entrusted with devising India’s game plan has made a slew of recommendations, including expeditiously allotting at least one major hydropower project each in strategically located Subansiri, Lohit and Siang basins in Arunachal Pradesh as close to the international border as possible in order to establish ‘existing user rights’.”
Read more: Live mint

In Ireland, Water Will No Longer Be Free

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: National geographic

“Ireland is surely one of the greenest countries in the world, but its management of freshwater in recent times has been anything but green.

Some 41 percent of the nation’s drinking water leaks out of delivery pipes – twice the UK average. That’s a costly loss given the expense of treating and pumping that water to the nation’s 4.6 million people.

Household water demand per person is estimated to average 102 gallons (386 liters) per day,double or triple that in other European countries and about the same as in the United States, where national usage is driven up by irrigation of large suburban lawns, especially in the drier west.

And with Dublin now running short of water, most of the talk about filling the gap focuses on capturing more supply from the Shannon River or other sources.  There’s been relatively little mention of conservation or curbing demand.

Much of this excess and waste traces back to a simple and perhaps startling fact:  In Ireland, households do not pay for water.  It is free, no matter how much is used.  And no one knows how much any particular household uses, because Ireland – alone among European countries – does not meter water usage.”

Read more: National geographic

UN’s Challenge: The 638 Million in India Who Go Outdoors

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Teak door

“About 638 million people in India, or more than half of those residing in the second-most populous nation on Earth, defecate in the open.

Remedying the dearth of toilets, its toll on children from diarrhea and other diseases related to dirty water and sanitation, and the lack of a safe clean place to go is the challenge facing India and others on the first World Toilet Day.

On a planet where one in three don’t have access to proper sanitation, toilets are out of reach for 53 percent of India’s 1.2 billion residents left with little choice but to go outdoors, according to UNICEF.

“Having access to a toilet is still an alien concept in India,” said Subramanya Kusnur, chairman and chief executive officer of Aquakraft Projects Ltd., a company that’s setting up water vending machines in rural India.

The good news is that the figure for those lacking a toilet in India is an improvement from 63.6 percent in 2001. According to the United Nations, 1.8 billion people in a world of 7 billion have gained access to sanitation since 1990 though 15 percent of the globe still practices open defecation.”

Read more: Bloomberg

Protecting Rivers, Reducing Climate Vulnerability

Last modified on 2013-11-11 17:21:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“The mountain valleys of the North Indian state of Uttarakhand have been heavily developed with hydropower projects, tourism resorts and other infrastructure. When a cloudburst hit the state in June 2013, the choked rivers were unable to cope with the ravaging floods. Flashfloods washed away hundreds of buildings, bridges and dams, claimed more than 5,000 lives and caused an estimated damage of $50 billion.

Climate change will bring more extreme weather events such as droughts and the cloudburst experienced in Uttarakhand. Healthy rivers and their floodplains act as natural buffers that protect us from the worst vagaries of a changing climate. Free-flowing rivers build the deltas and mangrove belts that protect our coastlines, preserve fisheries and forests, and recharge the groundwater reserves that sustain our water supply and agriculture. Floodplains, marshes, dunes, reefs and mangrove forests – often referred to as green infrastructure or bioshields – are vital to making our societies more climate resilient.

Climate change is water change. Learning from earlier flood disasters and preparing for climate change, governments, scientists and environmental organizations have started to remove levees and recreate floodplains on rivers such as the Rhine, the lower Yangtze and the lower Danube. Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change is being promoted by forward-looking tools such as the EU Water Framework Directive and the UNECE Water Convention.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

Fukushima Water Radiation Doubles Overnight

Last modified on 2013-10-24 17:20:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Water radiation levels at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant more than doubled in the span of one night to levels 14,000 times the maximum level for safe drinking water, owner TEPCO admitted Thursday, setting new records for drainage ditch contamination as toxic spills and heavy rains continue to ravage the crippled facility.

Water samples taken on Wednesday from a drainage ditch near tanks storing contaminated water found beta radiation levels of 140,000 becquerels per liter. This is more than double the 59,000 becquerels measurement taken Tuesday at the exact same location, TEPCO announced in an email statement reported by Bloomberg.

The spike in radiation appears to be widespread. Water samples from another ditch measured at 15,000 becquerels, as compared to 2,200 becquerels in an Oct. 1 sample from the same location.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

India, China ink key accord on river information

Last modified on 2013-10-24 17:12:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.ooskanews.com

“The Memorandum of Understanding on trans-border rivers was inked after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the Great Hall of the People here.

According to sources, the agreement is a “major diplomatic achievement” as it is the first time that China has agreed to acknowledge India’s rights as a lower riparian state.

India’s consistent raising of the issue of China’s dam building activities on the Brahmaputra river, known as Yarlang Tsangpo in China, has helped in Beijing becoming more accommodating this time, they said.

This time the agreement takes into account the environmental concerns of India on the Brahmaputra, including the damage to flora and fauna due to China’s dam building upstream. Beijing says its dams are run of the river dams.

According to the agreement, the two sides “recognized that trans-border rivers and related natural resources and the environment are assets of immense value to the socio-economic development of all riparian countries”.

Both sides also agreed to flood-time exchange of hydrological data on 15 more days – from “May 15 instead of June 1 to Oct 15th”.

Advancing the date by 15 days, at a time when the melted glacier ice of the Tibetan plateau begins to flow downstream, is also a major achievement, the sources said.

“The two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation on trans-border rivers, cooperate through the existing Expert Level Mechanism on provision of flood-season hydrological data and emergency management, and exchange views on other issues of mutual interest,” the agreement states.

Read more: Daily News

 

Residents Living on Citarum Riverbank Request to Be Relocated

Last modified on 2013-10-24 16:55:49 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.beritajakarta.com

“The residents living there are willing to be controlled as long as the government relocates them to somewhere else.

Chief of RW 01 Cideng, Dadang Suherman, said that the residents hope the government would relocate them if theirbuildings were demolished. But, the relocation place must be clear, such as to flats. “There has been socialization for thenormalization of water channels in RT 17 and 18 RW 01, but until now there is no relocation from the governmentrelated to demolishment of residents’ buildings,” he stated, Wednesday (10/23).
Meanwhile, Head of Gambir Sub-District, Henri Perez, told that today, Wednesday (10/23), is the deadline for residentsto demolish their buildings themselves. Previously, his party has sent warning letter for three times. “We have sent themthree warning letters to demolish their buildings,” he uttered.
According to Perez, there are 200 illegal buildings standing on Citarum riverbank. Later, his party will demolish thosebuildings using two excavators and also deploy a dump truck. After that, Central Jakarta Water Channels ManagementPublic Works Dub-Department will do the normalization. “We’ll demolish all of the buildings today. Then, thenormalization of Citarum River will be directly carried out,” he asserted.”
Read more: Berita Jakarta

Last modified on GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Spain’s Desalination Ambitions Unravel

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: NY times

“In the arid Spanish Mediterranean city of Torrevieja, Europe’s biggest desalination plant stands idle six years after construction began. The plant is finished; it just needs a power hookup to operate at full capacity. But it has few buyers for its water and would cost too much to run.

It was part of an ambitious government plan conceived in 2004 to more than double the availability of desalinated seawater by adding 2 million cubic meters of water per day of capacity. The plan anticipated a surge in water demand along Spain’s Mediterranean coast to supply sprawling apartment complexes, golf courses and a tourism-driven economic boom.

Instead, Spain’s construction bubble burst in 2007, dragging the country into an economic downturn from which it has still to recover.

Yet the desalination construction program continued. Now, after nearly a decade, the result is a graveyard of part-built or idled plants, while completed plants are operating below capacity. Actual water output is less than 20 percent of the volumes originally envisioned.

“The desalination plants were a big mistake from the get-go,” said Enrique Cabrera, director of the water technology institute at Valencia Polytechnic University. “They were not needed.” ”

Read more: NY times

Disaster Spiraling Out of Control at Fukushima as Japan’s Prime Minister Asks for Global Help

Last modified on 2013-10-15 17:55:40 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Japan’s pro-nuclear Prime Minister has finally asked for global help at Fukushima. It probably hasn’t hurt that more than 100,000 people have  signed petitions calling for a global takeover; more than 8,000 have viewed a  new YouTube on it.

Massive quantities of heavily contaminated water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean, dousing workers along the way. Hundreds of huge, flimsy tanks are leaking untold tons of highly radioactive fluids.

At Unit #4, more than 1300 fuel rods, with more than 400 tons of extremely radioactive material, containing potential cesium fallout comparable to 14,000 Hiroshima bombs,  are stranded 100 feet in the air.

All this more than 30 months after the earthquake/tsunami led to three melt-downs and at least four explosions.

“Our country needs your knowledge and expertise” he has said to the world community.  “We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem.”

But is he serious?

“I am aware of three US companies with state of the art technology that have been to Japan repeatedly and have been rebuffed by the Japanese government,” says Arnie Gundersen, a Vermont-based nuclear engineer focused on Fukushima.”

Read more: Alternet

 

China must manage the conflict between coal and water

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: qzprod

“In July 2012 China proposed building 363 new coal-fired power plants, 23% of which would sit in areas with “high water stress”.

China faces a serious conundrum. The country, already the world’s largest coal consumer, wants to significantly increase its coal electricity generating capacity in order to expand its economy. But this introduces a critical resource concern: more than half of the proposed plants will depend on water resources that are under high or extremely high stress.

These 363 plants would have a combined generating capacity exceeding 557 gigawatts, an almost 75% increase on current capacity.”

Read more: WaterSISW

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