And Let the Fish be Dammed

Last modified on 2012-05-29 18:30:05 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The bountiful rivers throughout this South-east Asian country have allowed Cambodians to be self-reliant for generations. But concerned environmentalists envision a future where this vital food supply will no longer provide enough protein to feed the country on its own.

The Mekong system is the most productive freshwater fishery in the world. It represents a key source of animal protein for the countries along the Lower Mekong – Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

No country is more dependent on this than Cambodia, where most of the nation’s protein intake comes from its inland fisheries.

Environmentalists are warning, however, that a series of hydropower dams proposed for the Lower Mekong’s mainstream river pose a grave threat to the region’s food supply. The message, they say, is particularly resonant ahead of June’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20.”

“One of the most significant threats to the sustainable development of the region is the Mekong mainstream dams,” says Ame Trandem, the South-east Asia programme director for the advocacy group International Rivers. “It would be irresponsible of the region’s governments to allow the Mekong River to be dammed.”

Read more: IPS

Ripples that may last

Last modified on 2012-05-27 16:09:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“According to the study recent data reveals that the rainfall pattern in India is changing significantly and a major reason for this changing pattern is climate change. The frequency and magnitude of high rainfall events is increasing while the number of rainy days is decreasing. This raises the possibility of increased frequency and intensity of floods. The onset of monsoon and the gap between rainfall events is becoming irregular.

These changes are likely to have a massive impact on all farmers, particularly rain-fed farmers. Adaptation will be helped if we make rainwater harvesting and groundwater change the top priority in our water resources policy and programmes.

Groundwater is India’s lifeline and to protect it a three-point strategy is advocated. Firstly, ensure the sustenance of existing groundwater recharge systems including local water systems and their catchments. Secondly, give top priority to the creation of more such systems. Thirdly, put in place a credible, legally enforceable, community led regulation. At the same time, the government should promote greater access of groundwater to the underprivileged, particularly the Dalit communities.

The study also advocates organic farming as increased organic matter in the soil will also increase water security for rain-fed farmers by enhancing the moisture holding capacity of the soil. Water-saving, high-yielding and low-input requiring practices like the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) should be promoted. Water intensive crops and GM crops should be discouraged.”

Read more: The Hindu


Selangor govt must clean up its act

Last modified on 2012-05-27 15:58:32 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“When toxic wastes are land disposed, leachates may leak from the waste and contaminated the ground- water. This can poison the soil and our rivers.

Take the case of the Citarum River near the Indonesian city of Bandung. Many years ago, the river was a clean waterway where villagers earned their living cultivating rice and selling fish.

Today, it is choked with plastic, filled with chemicals and human waste.

The villagers no longer make money from fishing any more. Instead, they scour the river, looking for discarded items that can be recovered and sold for cash.

Rapid industrialisation since the 1980s has spawned the growth of more than 500 textile factories along the river, many of them discharging hazardous chemicals into the river.

Malaysia currently produces more than 23,000 tonnes of solid waste per day, with less than five per cent of the waste being recycled.

In Selangor alone, the amount of solid waste could rise to 6,000 tonnes by 2017. More than 19 per cent of waste end up in our drains, which then causes flash floods and other health problems.”

Read more: New Straits Times

Tapping Into Safer Water Access

Last modified on 2012-05-25 06:12:40 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“New standards will improve quality but concerns still remain, report Wu Wencong and Zheng Jinran.

New standards for drinking water will come into force in China on July 1, with the number of quality indicators rising to 106 from 35. While that’s almost on par with standards used in the European Union, some experts have raised concerns about the feasibility of the new system.

“There are about 3,000 water companies in China, “said Li Fuxing, director of the Beijing Institute of Public Health and Drinking Water.”

“Judging by their production technology and quality-testing facilities, most still have a long way to go before they can meet the new standards.”

Meanwhile, Fu Tao, director of Tsinghua University’s Water Policy Research Center, said that the number of cities with facilities to test all 106 indicators covers a very small portion of the area served by the industry.”

Read more: China Daily

Ancient River Valley Reclaimed: Saudi’s Sweet Success Story

Last modified on 2012-05-23 18:35:58 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“For hundreds of years, Saudi’s Wadi Hanifah River carved out a scenic valley extending from sand dunes and agricultural land pocked with date plantations into the heart of Riyadh before it seeped underground. But the city’s expansion into a thumping metropolis of 7 million people brought the 4500 sq km catchment area close to extinction as sewage and construction waste was dumped in the river.

As a result, the Arriyadh Development Authority commissioned the Canadian architecture and planning firm Moriyama & Teshima and Buro Happold – a UK engineering firm – to submit a Master Plan and Restoration Program to restore the area’s ecological health. One decade later and the Wadi is once again a thriving desert oasis.

This massive reclamation project involved various stages. First it was necessary to clean up the river waste, which involved removing 1.5 million cubic meters of debris ranging from construction waste to dead animals.

The riverbed hand to be cleared and a nearby tannery that was releasing toxic chemicals into the river was shut down.”

Read more: Green Prophet

Fresh water demand driving sea-level rise faster than glacier melt

Last modified on 2012-05-22 19:25:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Trillions of tonnes of water have been pumped up from deep underground reservoirs in every part of the world and then channelled into fields and pipes to keep communities fed and watered. The water then flows into the oceans, but far more quickly than the ancient aquifers are replenished by rains. The global tide would be rising even more quickly but for the fact that man-made reservoirs have, until now, held back the flow by storing huge amounts of water on land.

“The water being taken from deep wells is geologically old – there is no replenishment and so it is a one way transfer into the ocean,” said sea level expert Prof Robert Nicholls, at the University of Southampton. “In the long run, I would still be more concerned about the impact of climate change, but this work shows that even if we stabilise the climate, we might still get sea level rise due to how we use water.” He said the sea level would rise 10 metres or more if all the world’s groundwater was pumped out, though he said removing every drop was unlikely because some aquifers contain salt water. The sea level is predicted to rise by 30-100cm by 2100, putting many coasts at risk, by increasing the number of storm surges that swamp cities.”

Read more: Guardian


Afghanistan: Flash Flood Kills At Least 27 In Northern Province

Last modified on 2012-05-11 16:44:13 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“KABUL, Afghanistan — A flash flood swept through villages in a mountainous area of northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 17 people, authorities said.

It was the second major flood reported this week in the north.

Abdul Jabar Taqwa, the governor of Takhar province, said flood waters broke through a dam early Friday, washed down a valley and damaged several villages in Ishkamish district.

“It was a very powerful flood. It hit around midnight,” Taqwa said. “Dozens of villages have been hit. I’m worried that the death toll will go up.”

Taqwa said 17 people were killed in the flooding. Earlier, the governor had received reports of 27 deaths.”

Read more: Huffington Post


Recipe For Safer Drinking Water? Add Sun, Salt And Lime

Last modified on 2012-05-09 18:04:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“In many developing countries, the only source of water is contaminated with viruses and bacteria. In fact, the United Nations estimates that 1 in 6 people don’t have access to enough fresh drinking water.

Pouring water into clear plastic bottles and placing them in the sun can kill disease causing organisms in about six hours. It’s a simple and cheap method that’s been around forever, and it helps. (Who says sun tea isn’t safe?)

But there’s a hitch – the water has to be clear enough for the sun’s rays to penetrate – and much of the world’s water supply is murky from the clay soils in riverbeds and lake bottoms that mix with the water. Enter the scientists.

“Basically, you need to be able to read a newspaper through it. That means it’s clear enough for the UV radiation to penetrate and kill the pathogens. If you can’t see through it, it just won’t work,” explains Joshua Pierce, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Tech.”

Read more: NPR


MENA Changing Drastically & NASA Has The Pictures To Prove It

Last modified on 2012-05-07 18:37:25 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Lake shrinkage in Iran

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Left: August 1985. Right: August 2010.

Iran’s Lake Oroumeih (also spelled Urmia) is the largest lake in the Middle East and the third largest saltwater lake on Earth. But dams on feeder streams, expanded use of ground water, and a decades-long drought have reduced it to 60 percent of the size it was in the 1980s. Light blue tones in the 2010 image represent shallow water and salt deposits. Increased salinity has led to an absence of fish and habitat for migratory waterfowl. At the current rate, the lake will be completely dry by the end of 2013.

Urban Growth in Morocco

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Left: July 2, 1985. Right: June 24, 2011.

The Moroccan cities of Agadir, Inezgane and Tikiouine are close to the Atlantic coastline (seen in blue in the images), and stretch into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Agadir was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in 1960. Reconstruction has focused on tourism, turning this area into a winter destination. The 1985 image shows the area 25 years into the rebuilding. By 2011, the urban areas reach into the Sahara Desert. Growth has been influenced by the expanding fishing industry and modern commercial ports.”

Read more: Green Prophet

Beckoning war on water

Last modified on 2012-05-07 01:39:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“India’s feverish pursuit of building dams on the rivers allocated to Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) has received the attention of the International Crisis Group (ICG) whose objective is to evaluate the consequences of a developing situation for peace in the world and give early warnings of eruption of conflicts unless they are resolved well in time. The ICG rightly foresees the outbreak of war between the two countries if India resorts to stopping water from flowing into Pakistan, which according the IWT is its share, and that creates a dangerous situation for Pakistan. The ICG also draws attention to a report of last year released by the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Congress wherein it was stated that New Delhi was building three dams on Chenab and Sutlej. By virtue of these dams, the reports said, India would come into a position to divert water way from Pakistan right at the time it badly needed it for the crops, thus putting a question mark on the relevance of the IWT.

The ICG’s foreboding or the US Congress’s apprehensions are not something that should come as a surprise to experts in the field or even the general public in Pakistan who are aware of the fact that the headwaters of these rivers fall in the Indian occupied part of the disputed state of Kashmir and are also familiar with the Indian designs against the existence of Pakistan. Thus, there has been a lot of hue and cry not only among the farming community that is directly affected, but also the people and the media. Only the political circles, the ruling coalition and to a large degree also the opposition, are turning a blind eye to New Delhi persistent manoeuvres to hold Pakistan by its jugular vein when it deems fit to do so.”

Read more: The Nation


Water Shortage Pushing Leopards Into ‘Man’s Territory’-Mumbai

Last modified on 2012-05-05 15:15:12 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Explaining the reason behind leopards abandoning their natural habitat and encroaching upon ‘man’s territory,’ Vijay Hinge, district forest officer (planning), says the Western Ghats — where Nashik is located — are surrounded by dams and water bodies. The ample supply of water in the 4km-stretch around canals and rivers fed by the dams gives rise to natural vegetation. At Nashik, the Godavari river has helped in the growth of sugarcane and orchid fields. Since they can find easy prey like foxes, birds, rabbits and frogs in sugarcane fields, leopards make them their home. But in times of water shortage and when sugarcane has been harvested — as is the case now — leopards have no option but to venture out of their new habitat in search of food and water.

Leopard sightings in residential areas have been on the rise in recent years. From 2004 to March 2012, Nashik residents have had at least 10 confrontations with leopards. Sightings and attacks in sugarcane fields or at the borders of the jungles have been more frequent.”

Read more: DNA


Salt Threatens Massive Mangrove Forest

Last modified on 2012-05-05 15:09:57 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“However, as a recent report by Dr. Md. Mizanur Rahman warns, these mangroves are in trouble. They face rising temperature, rising seas, silt and pollution washing down from deforested areas in the Himalaya, and pressures from aquaculture activities around the Sundarbans.

They are also being assaulted by rising salinity, brought by the formerly fresh rivers and streams that feed them. As agriculture increases in the region, water levels drop, minerals accumulate, and salinity rises. Brackish water is also expanding underground.

“Predictions from Sundarbans territory show that salinity may be double over the next few decades posing risks for survival of flora in Sundarbans,” writes Rahman.

He continued, “Natural vegetations of such areas are being destructed causing major changes in landscapes and biodiversity. Destruction of remaining natural habitats in core areas, buffer zones and corridors are also occurring. Most of the coastal districts already face severe salinity problems, with saline water pushing up to 250 km inward during the dry season.”

According to Rahman, Sundari trees and nypa palms are declining, changing the makeup of the ecosystem.”

Read more: National Geographic


It’s Raining, Again: Britain Endures Damp Drought

Last modified on 2012-05-04 16:14:12 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Sodden fields. Deep puddles. Flash floods. This is what drought looks like in Britain.

Last month, water authorities banned 20 million U.K. homeowners from using hoses to water their lawns or wash their cars, saying two exceptionally dry winters had plunged much of Britain into drought.

Since then, the rain has hardly let up. Official figures show that April was both cooler than average and the wettest in a century, leaving a trail of flooded properties, canceled events and grumpy residents.

But officials insist the drought and the watering ban remain — to the bafflement of many Britons.

In eastern England, Daniel Allen noted with irony that he’s been told he can’t water the lush foliage in the grounds of his riverside pub, the Rushbrooke Arms — “which is incredible as I had a river running through it yesterday.”

The River Lark usually runs past the thatched pub in Sicklesmere village as a trickle.”

Read more: NPR


Big Changes in Ocean Salinity Intensifying Water Cycle

Last modified on 2012-05-03 14:33:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Satellite image shows the distribution of water vapor over Africa and the Atlantic Ocean on 2 Sept 2010. Retrieved from:

“A paper in Science today finds rapidly changing ocean salinities as a result of a warming atmosphere have intensified the global water cycle (evaporation and precipitation) by an incredible 4 percent between 1950 and 2000. That’s twice the rate predicted by models.

These same models have long forecast that dry areas of Earth will become drier and wet areas wetter in a warming climate—an intensification of the water cycle driven mostly by the capacity of warmer air to hold and redistribute more moisture in the form of water vapor.

But the rate of intensification of the global water cycle is happening far faster than imagined: at about 8 percent per degree Celsius of ocean warming since 1950.

At this rate, the authors calculate:

  • The global water cycle will intensify by a whopping 16 percent in a 2°C warmer world
  • The global water cycle will intensify by a frightening 24 percent in a 3°C warmer world”

Read more: Mother Jones

China’s Looming Conflict Between Energy and Water

Last modified on 2012-05-02 16:19:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Yet, in expanding coal-industry bases in west China, one crucial challenge has so far received far less attention than it deserves: Coal-based industries are massively water-intensive (in fact, coal mining, coal-based power generation, and petrochemical processing together account for more than one-fifth of China’s total water usage). And much of western China is already short on water — think Gobi desert and camels, as opposed to Pearl River Delta rice paddies. “The west of China is an environmentally fragile area,” says Professor Wang Xiujun, who conducts research on climate and precipitation jointly for the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography and the University of Maryland. “There’s not much water to spare.”

When new industry comes to town, water is secured by tapping local lakes and rivers, pumping groundwater, and constructing reservoirs to capture rainwater, which diverts its normal flow and reabsorption into the soil. All three have unintended environmental consequences, says Sun Qingwei, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace China and a former government scientist based in western Gansu province.”

Read more: Yale Environment 360

INDONESIA: Living with dirty water

Last modified on 2012-04-30 22:09:15 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Heavy pollution of river water by household and industrial waste in the Indonesian province of West Java is threatening the health of at least five million people living on the riverbanks, say government officials and water experts.

Poor sanitation and hygiene cause 50,000 deaths annually in Indonesia, with untreated sewage resulting in over six million tons of human waste being released into inland water bodies, according to an ongoing study by the World Bank.

Ibu Sutria, 53, lives in a wooden shack on the banks of West Java’s Krukut River, which runs approximately 20km south from the capital, Jakarta, to the city of Depok. “Sometimes the river is clean, sometimes it’s dirty,” she said. Sutria suffers from regular bouts of stomach ache and diarrhoea, and says the river is constantly flooded.

“People use the river for a toilet and children play in it because they have nowhere else to swim.” She and others in her community use nearby ground water to wash themselves because they think it is cleaner than river water.

Pak Jumari, 35, is a leader of a community group living along the Ciliwung River, which runs north for 97km from the West Java city of Bogor. Since 2010 he has been using a boat to keep his own section of the Ciliwung clean by scooping out rubbish. “We find many detergents and soaps in the river, “he said. “We no longer use it for washing or drinking.”

Fishermen on the Ciliwung use “blast fishing” – bombs made of kerosene and fertilizer to kill fish so they are easier to catch – which has worsened pollution. Nevertheless, his community still fishes in the river, with few reported ill effects, he said.”

Read more: IRIN

Groups to raise awareness against water privatisation

Last modified on 2012-04-29 15:35:37 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Various groups of citizens of Mangalore will raise awareness among people on the proposed move of the State government to privatise water supply in the city.

At a meeting here on Saturday, the groups took note of the decision of the Mysore City Corporation asking Jamshedpur utilities and services company (JUSCO) to stop water supply in that city. “The same company was slated to take up the supply in Mangalore. We cannot allow it here,” said Vidya Dinaker of the Citizens Forum of Mangalore. “We now have better understanding of the ills associated with privatisation of water supply,” she said.

T.R. Bhat, a retired bank official, said that people had to dispel the impression that privatisation of water supply would ensure 24-hour water. “We need to be concerned about how the increase in water charges will affect the poor. We are not sure of the hidden charges that these private water supply companies will impose,” he said. Absence of necessary personnel and water leakage cannot be a reason to hand over the supply to private agencies, he said.”

Read more: The Hindu


Drought Causes Water Shortage, Parches Crops

Last modified on 2012-04-29 15:28:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“BEIJING – Lingering drought has left more than 8.57 million people short of drinking water and huge areas of farmland parched in China, the nation’s top drought-relief authority said Friday.

As of Friday, droughts have affected 3.64 million hectares of farmland, mostly in the provinces of Yunnan, Shanxi, Hubei, Sichuan and Gansu, according to the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

The amount of farmland and number of people affected by the droughts are both below the average figures registered in previous years, said the office.

Since mid-April, arid regions in the south have seen rounds of scattered rainfall, but the rains have been too weak to ease regional droughts, the office said.”

Read more: China Daily

Tribal women in forefront of the war against drought and water scarcity

Last modified on 2012-04-26 20:58:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Today, however, all that is changing thanks to a water management revolution led by ordinary village women, a majority of them tribals.

“The magic has been worked through our Self Help Group’s (SHGs) water management programme,” says Sadmoni Hembram, 39, of Tilaboni village, who proudly informs that she has a multi-crop land that yields two vegetable and one paddy crop in a year these days.

In an area where development has been stunted due to a weak government machinery and increasing Maoist influence, SHGs like Sadmoni’s ‘Petre Madwa’ have spearheaded developmental initiatives like the Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) under the government’s Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojna (SGSY). Of course, this has been achieved with guidance from Pradan, an NGO working on creating sustainable livelihood in the region.”

Read more: The Weekend Leader


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