Photo retrieved from: www.newser.com
“Archaeologists say they’ve stumbled upon a grim page in American history: the site of the 1863 Owens Lake massacre. The Los Angeles Times provides a history lesson: The Paiute Indians occupied land some 200 miles north of LA that proved desirable to an influx of ranchers in the mid 1800s. The Owens Valley Indian War broke out in 1861, but a seminal moment occurred on March 19, 1863: Settlers and soldiers battled with the Paiutes, who tried to flee their attackers by swimming into the lake, but were thwarted by a strong wind; nearly three dozen of them drowned or were shot. The tale of that day remains, but the exact location was lost.
That’s in part because officials diverted the Owens River in 1913 in order to feed LA’s water needs, reports Grist; by the middle of the next decade, Owens Lake was no more. But heavy winds and rains in 2009 may have helped return bullets, buttons, and Native American artifacts to the surface; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power archaeologists found them during a survey last year. But the discovery is spurring a small controversy: The dry lake bed fuels toxic dust storms, and DWP has been charged with mitigating that with shallow flooding—at what is now thought to be the massacre site.”
Read more: Newser
Retrieved from: Washington post
“Najeem Azzoubi, a heavy-set Jordanian in his mid-60s, is upset. Before Syrian refugees began arriving in droves in 2011, water was delivered once a week to his home in the northern Jordanian town of Ramtha.
Then, as more and more Syrians fled their country’s civil war, squeezing into apartments and occupying empty stores in Jordan, water grew scarcer. Now, Azzoubi says, water comes every 14 days and “has stopped being enough”.
Nearly half a million Syrian refugees are living in Jordan, according to official statistics from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). But many Jordanians, officials included, insist that about one million more have taken up residence in cities and towns throughout Jordan, whose population stood at about 6.3 million before the crisis.
The rapid population increase – 1,000 to 2,000 refugees cross into Jordan daily – has left the Jordanian government and local authorities struggling to keep up with the demand for its scant water resources, even as the country is considering drastic solutions to increase its water supply.
Water experts also point out that Jordan’s water sector has long been in need of reform, even before the refugee influx. It remains to be seen whether Jordan’s Syrian “guests” will push Jordan from a shortage to a full-fledged crisis, as so many Jordanians claim.”
Read more: Aljazeera
Retrieved from: IAS"With 62 dead and almost 90,000 displaced by floods, Kenya’s new government is coming under pressure to improve its response to natural disasters.
“Kenya has been experiencing heavy rains since early March. Rivers have burst their banks and flooded villages, washing away homes, crops and bridges. Buildings have collapsed, vehicles been swept away and children buried alive in landslides.
“The semi-arid northern lands, where nomads roam with livestock and some half a million Somalis live in the world’s largest refugee camp, have been worst hit over the last two months. Kenya Red Cross Society says 26,558 people have been displaced in this region, while the coast is the second worst affected, with 24,787 displaced.
“Abbas Gullet, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross Society, lamented the fact that virtually all of the rainwater has poured into the Indian Ocean and Lake Victoria, rather than being stored. During dry seasons, aid agencies spend millions trucking water to many of the same areas that are currently under floodwaters.”
Read more: Trust
Photo retrieved from: www.britannica.com
“Lusitu, Zambia — Indigenous people who were displaced from the Zambezi Valley almost six decades ago for the construction of the Kariba Dam say they have not benefited from the development they made way for.
The building of the Kariba hydroelectric dam was supposed to usher in a bright future for the people of Zambia and Zimbabwe who gave up their land for its construction.
Unfortunately, that future was for others and not the displaced and their descendants. Most of the villages to which some 57,000 people from both southern African nations were relocated are still not electrified.
Sixty-nine-year-old Samson Nyowani was 15 when he was moved from his home in Chipepu, where the Kariba Dam now lies, to Sitikwi village in Zambia’s Lusitu district some 60 kilometres away. Sitikwi village, Nyowani says, still has no electricity, and the soil is infertile.
“We do not have power here in Sitikwi, and the schools and clinic are not electrified, which is a sad situation after what we were made to undergo during the mass relocation,” he tells IPS.”
Read more: All Africa
Retrieved from: The Sierra Web
“Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager announced today that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the Department of Interior (DOI), to continue to work together to reduce by 50 percent the number of tribal homes lacking access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2015. The announcement was made during the 2013 Tribal Utility Summit in Nashville, Tenn. The United South & Eastern Tribes, EPA, IHS, and USDA are co-hosting a workshop titled “The Sustainable Management of Rural and Small Water/Wastewater Systems” during the summit.
“Access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation are vital to maintaining public health. It is a basic human need,” said Tonsager. “However, approximately 12 percent of all American Indian and Alaska Native homes do not have safe water or sanitation facilities. All of the parties to this MOU share a common goal of assisting tribes in improving quality of life by providing modern, reliable and affordable water and waste infrastructure through sustainable practices. We will continue to work together to meet that goal.”
“Today’s MOU announcement renews efforts by federal agencies to address the lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate wastewater service in Indian country, fulfilling commitments the United States made in support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal on access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2000.”
Read more: USDA
Photo retrieved from: www.cbc.ca
“The humanitarian situation in northern Mali is still a source of concern. Displaced persons in the north-east corner of the country lack food and water. The ICRC and the Mali Red Cross are working to help people who have been affected by the conflict.
“The country is facing a difficult humanitarian situation,” said Jean Nicholas Marti, the head of the ICRC regional delegation for Mali and Niger. “In the northern region, access to drinking water is still a big worry for recently displaced people in Tinzawatene, close to the Algerian border and in some other towns such as Ménaka, Timbuktu or Gao.”
Teams of relief workers from the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross have handed out jerrycans and water purification tablets to almost 5,400 displaced persons in Tinzawatene.
They are also repairing wells in the Akharabane and Achibriche areas, which are also near to the Algerian border, where there has been an influx of displaced persons. The situation is particularly worrying because residents are having to share their meagre resources with the newcomers.”
Read more: All Africa
Photo retrieved from: www.inquirer.net
“Jakarta, Indonesia, is one of Asia’s most flood-prone cities. Every year hundreds of thousands of citizens living in the capital of Southeast Asia’s largest economy brace for the loss of business, shelter and livelihoods.
Each year, as the rainy season approaches, the authorities insist they are ready to counter the tides of brown murky water, trash, and even animals, surging downstream. But the annual city-wide submergence continues.
This year’s sustained downpour threatens to prompt the kind of flooding not seen since 2007 when 350,000 people were evacuated from water-logged areas and dozens were killed. Already, at least 100,000 people have been affected. Army personnel have been deployed to some of the city’s poorest parts to clean up – a process likely to take weeks, if not months.
Asia’s monsoon season prompts annual debate about the state of infrastructure and the fundamental mismanagement of vital systems meant to keep some of the world’s biggest cities moving. With a population of 10 million, Jakarta’s latest battle to stem the tide highlights a deeper political and social problem: The government’s inability to remove and rehabilitate low-lying slum areas; an unwillingness on part of thousands of poor people to leave dangerous areas despite the risk to themselves and their families; and the overwhelming problem of waste and dumping, often cited as the biggest hindrance to keeping Indonesia “flood-free”.
Indonesia faces a formidable challenge: The country’s economy is growing at breakneck speed, its population is rising and the pressures on its decaying systems are mounting. The World Bank has stepped in to help save what it describes as a “sinking city”, due to rising sea levels, trash and annual rain. To dig the city out of its mess, the World Bank has invested $200 million to dredge parts of Jakarta.”
Read more: Aljazeera
Photo retrieved from: www.thecaliforniareport.org
“Working on a documentary project in the Owens Valley on land owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) can be a little dicey. A truck zooms by as UC Berkeley scholar Jenna Cavelle and Paiute elder Harry Williams begin one of their mapping expeditions.
“Is this DWP land?” Cavelle asks Williams. “’Cause they’re right there, looking at us.”
DWP is aware of the project, but the two haven’t asked permission to make trips onto department property. Still, Cavelle feels generally secure when she’s with Williams because of a sanctuary agreement between DWP and the natives that allows them to come onto the land.
“This is our homeland. Kick me off, you’re gonna have to drag me,” Williams remarks.
The water wars that drained the Owens Valley 100 years ago to feed the Los Angeles aqueduct are today the stuff of literary and cinematic legend. But the Paiute story has been left out of the tellings. Before the arrival of white settlers, this tribe had a sophisticated water system of their own. This year marks the centennial anniversary of the aqueduct’s construction, and Cavelle and Williams are working to uncover this lost part of California’s water history.”
Read more: The California Report
Photo retrieved from: www.asme.org
“Each year brings new pressures on water. One-third of the world’s people already live in countries with moderate to high water stress. Competition is growing between farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country. Upstream and downstream, and across borders, we need to cooperate for the benefit of all – now and in the future,” “he added.
The General Assembly proclaimed 2013 International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010, following a proposal from Tajikistan. The Year will serve to raise awareness and prompt action on the multiple dimensions of water cooperation, such as sustainable and economic development, climate change and food security.
“Over-exploitation, management, financing of water resources, all of these aspects are incredibly important and cooperation at different levels is therefore critical,” UNESCO Science Specialist Ms. Ana Persic, said during a media briefing to mark the start of the Year at UN Headquarters in New York, USA.
Persic added that the benefits of intensifying cooperation include poverty reduction, equity, economic growth, and the protection of the environment.” “We know water is critical for human life, but it is also critical for life on Earth if we want to protect and sustainably manage the planet we have.”
Read more: All Africa
Photo retrieved from www.guardian.co.uk
Domesticating the Nu? China’s New Leaders Face Big Hydro’s Policy Hazards
by Miles Ten Brinke
Miles, Peak Water columnist and avowed Hydrophilic energy-head, has found his way to Britain where he’s lost his California perma-tan and is studying an Energy Policy MSc at the University of Exeter on a Fulbright.
In this post I’ll revisit a fascinating subject already covered by Peak Water- the Chinese State Council decision to reopen hydroelectric dam development on the Nu river. As will likely often be the case, the coverage I’ve followed most closely on the subject is the Environment coverage of the Guardian and Peak Water’s news aggregation-perfect time for a Lily Victoria shout-out, fantastic work!
This is a particularly exemplary case of the essential tension of policymaking- here, between hydroelectric dam building-as-development and mitigation strategy on the one hand and the potentially devastating socioenvironmental impacts of such massive engineering projects on the other. Government environmental authorities here make the argument that new hydro development across China can help to offset the countries increasing reliance not just on a high proportion of coal in its energy mix but as the fastest growing component and to secure its supply of energy with domestic sources. It is true that this will be one of the greatest challenges in energy, that is the decarbonization of China, in the coming decades. As the economy continues to develop and its middle class grows, so too may demand rise exponentially. Efficiency and overall demand side management in China’s going to be essential, its not inevitable. From the sometimes crude calculation standpoint of policy, this dam building is only justified if the benefits outweigh the damage done. There is an increasing body of evidence that the 2008 Szechwan earthquake which killed 80,000 people may have been caused by the weight of water in the Zipingpu Dam reservoir. A coalition of actors has ensured since 2005 that the efforts have been forestalled. These included the scientists concerned with the southwest’s frequent seismic activity and NGOs dedicated to preserving the river’s biodiversity and indigenous cultures. In fact, that year, Premier Wen Jiabao joined these efforts as he imposed a moratorium on dam building citing geological and ecological concerns. Environmental policy saw its stock rise during the tenure of the last leadership, a greater priority for the public and in a more limited fashion the government. Since the leadership change however, it seems this coalition may be overtaken by a more traditional approach with devastating socioenvironmental costs increasingly ignored or obfuscated.
The 2011-2015 energy sector blueprint calls for 60 new hydro projects. In energy policy analysis we often talk about the degree of centralization of both an energy technology system and the policies which underpin it. Though there are examples to the contrary, hydro-electric dams tend towards titanic civil engineering feats of power and water resource concentration. They lend themselves to a technocratic (as opposed to more open, democratic alternatives) approach to resource management, one historically utilized by policymakers the world over. This is especially so in a state bureaucracy empowered by one-party rule. A return to a stronger technocracy and big hydro seems increasingly likely.
Time will tell the veracity of this assessment.
~ Miles on Water