Archive for the 'floods' Category

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Rescuers can’t reach people stranded by Colorado flooding

Boulder, Colorado (CNN) — An entire community cut off, firefighters huddled on the side of a mountain after water swept their truck away, and — with rescue helicopters grounded — no way to reach them.

This is the scene facing authorities Thursday in Boulder County, Colorado, in the wake of what S called a “devastating storm” that dumped more than half a foot of rain on the region during a 19-hour period.

The widespread flash flooding washed out roads, pushed dams to their limits and beyond and killed at least three people along Colorado’s Rocky Mountain range, from Boulder south to Colorado Springs. 8 stunning Colorado flooding Twitter photos

The worst of the reported damage has come in Boulder County, where the National Weather Service reported that a 20-foot wall of water roared down a mountain canyon north of the city, temporarily trapping a firefighter in a tree. Although injured, the firefighter made it to a nearby home, sheriff’s Cmdr. Heidi Prentup said.



Are we responsible for the Uttarakhand disaster? World Bank report says global warming is making Indian Monsoon unpredictable

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“India’s summer monsoon will become highly unpredictable if the world’s average temperature rises by two degree Celsius in the next two-three decades, a scientific report commissioned by the World Bank says.

The report released here on Wednesday evaluates at the likely impacts of warming between two degree Celsius and four degree Celsius on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.

Coastal cities like Kolkata and Mumbai are “potential impact hotspots” threatened by extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures, the report ‘Turn down the heat: Climate extremes, regional impacts and the case for resilience’ says.

Depicting life in a not-too-distant future shaped by already present warming trends, the new report warns that by the 2040s, India will see a significant reduction in crop yields because of extreme heat.

It says shifting rain patterns will leave some areas under water and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation or, in some cases, for even drinking.

“An extreme wet monsoon that currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century,” the report says.

The warming will impact significant reduction in crop yields and some 63 million people may no longer be able to meet their caloric demand. Decreasing food availability can also lead to significant health problems, it warns.”

Read more: India Today

Can Jakarta ever root out the problems that cause so much destruction after every monsoon season?

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“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


Domesticating the Nu? China’s New Leaders Face Big Hydro’s Policy Hazards

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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



Between Drought and Floods – A Year of Extremes in Sri Lanka

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“Between Dec. 17 and 26, cyclone-level rains left 34 dead, nine unaccounted for and 328,000 stranded. Over 8,000 homes were damaged and roughly 4,000 were completely destroyed.

“No one expected this much rain,” Lal Kumara, deputy director at the government’s Disaster Management Centre (DMC), the main public body tasked with early warnings and post-disaster relief efforts in Sri Lanka, told IPS.

But someone should have expected the rains, based on the extreme weather events that ripped through the country in 2012, forcing Sri Lankans to come face to face with the disastrous impact of changing climate patterns. The end-of-year torrential rains were not the first time the country experienced unexpected floods, nor will it be the last, experts say.

In the first week of November, sudden rains brought on by Cyclone Nisha left over 200,000 people stranded, 15,000 displaced and nine dead. Over 5,000 homes were also destroyed.

Just prior to the November rains, much of the country had been hit by a 10-month-long drought. Close to a million people were affected, according to the International Federation of Red Cross Societies (IFRC), which recently launched a million-dollar international appeal to assist over 125,000 drought-affected people in Sri Lanka.”

Read more: IPS


The children risking their lives on the way to school: Pupils use aqueduct just inches wide to avoid three-mile walk

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“Children in Indonesia are risking their lives everyday just to get to school.

They use an aqueduct, suspended hundreds of metres above the ground as a shortcut, even though it was not built for people to walk on.

It is meant to transport water, but the wooden structure links Suro Village and Plempungan Village in Java.

Children cycle along a wooden planks in the middle in their school uniform while local adults use it to transport food and material between the two villages.

Earlier this year a group of Indonesian children were filmed crossing a collapsed suspension bridge over a swollen river to reach their school after three suspension bridges in the district of Lebak collapsed due to flooding.

Despite the poor transport links the Indonesian island has a population of 137 million, meaning it is the world’s most populous island, and one of the most densely-populated places on the globe.”

Read more: Daily Mail

NYT: Laos Presses Ahead With Mekong Dam Project

Retrieved From: International Rivers

BANGKOK — Ignoring criticism that a huge hydroelectric dam could irreparably damage the ecology of the Mekong River, the government of Laos said on Tuesday that it was pushing ahead with the multibillion-dollar project, the first dam to be built on the lower portion of the iconic river.

“I would say I’m 100 percent sure it’s going ahead,” Daovong Phonekeo, deputy director general of the Laotian Department of Electricity, said by telephone on Tuesday.

Laotian government officials and executives of a Thai construction company that is to build the dam are to officially inaugurate the project at a ceremony on Wednesday in Xayaburi, the remote province in northwestern Laos where the dam is to be situated.

The electricity from the project will be sold to Thailand and will provide billions of dollars of revenue to Laos, one of the poorest countries in Asia. But the project has been criticized by scientists who are concerned that the dam may disturb spawning patterns and lead to the extinction of many species of fish that have for centuries been the main source of protein for millions of people along the river’s banks.

Read More: New York Times


Deluge of water protests hit India

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“Flooded farmers in central India have submerged themselves neck-deep in water – some for as long as 17 days – to protest a state government’s dam project that has inundated their lands.

The concept of demonstration by submersion appears to be spreading in India. Hundreds took to the waters of the Bay of Bengal in Tamil Nadu state on Thursday to protest what they say are the dangers from a nuclear power plant.

About 100 police in central Madhya Pradesh state arrested hundreds of water-logged demonstrators who live along the Narmada River on Wednesday. They were demanding the government adjust levels of a local dam to halt flooding.

The protesters in Harda district – where more than 240 villages have been inundated - had also asked for land and agriculture-loss compensation.

The villagers began underwater demonstrations in late August with a jal satyagraha - as the protest is called. Jalmeans water and satyagrah is a form of nonviolent resistance popularised by Mahatma Gandhi.”

Read more: Aljazeera


Floods submerge most of Philippine capital

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“Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated from the capital of the Philippines as floods devastate the city.

About 80 per cent of Manila, a sprawling metropolis of about 12 million people, remained inundated on Wednesday, Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency, told Reuters news agency.

“The roads in some areas are like rivers. People have to use boats to move around. All the roads and alleys are flooded,” Ramos told AFP news agency.

Emergency workers and troops have rushed food, water and clothes to nearly 800,000 people displaced and marooned from deadly floods spawned by more than a week of southwest monsoon rains that soaked the Philippine capital and nearby provinces.

“We’re still on a rescue mode. Floods are receding in many areas but people are still trapped on their roofs,” Ramos said.”

Read more: Aljazeera

North Korea Flood Toll Reaches 119

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“Tens of thousands of flood-hit North Korean families urgently need clean drinking water to prevent disease outbreaks, UN agencies said Thursday.

The agencies and other aid groups reported their assessment a day after state media reported a total of 119 deaths and major crop damage in recent weeks in the food-scarce nation.

The UN said wells have been contaminated by overflowing latrines, creating a high risk of a diarrhoea outbreak, while floods had damaged water sources and pumping stations.

Citing government figures, it said about 50,000 families in six badly-hit counties would need purification tablets or other help to secure clean water.”

Read more: SBS World News