Archive for the 'riparian zone' Category

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

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

 

You’re invited to Jenna Cavelle’s lecture “Environmental (In)Justice in Native America: The Case of the Owens Valley Paiute” Thursday, Nov 21st at UC Berkeley!

Environmental (In)Justice in Native America: The Case of the Owens Valley Paiute

Over the past 150-years the expropriation of land and water from aboriginal communities in the Owens Valley have had devastating impacts for both people and the environment. Impacts include but are not limited to; loss of land and water rights, increased air pollution, habitat destruction and water scarcity.  These effects have in turn led to erasure of cultural landscapes and caused enduring historical trauma. While non-Indian communities in the region have experienced similar Environmental Justice (EJ) issues, disproportionate exposures for the native community are due in large part to their exclusion from larger EJ discussions and narratives. This lecture will show how community-based projects can promote an EJ framework within tribes through inclusion, indigenous activism and participant media.

The lecture is from 12:30pm – 2pm at GPB 100 on UC Berkeley campus (across from Pat Brown’s). The lecture will begin with the 30-minute conclusion of the documentary film Mulholland’s Dream followed by a 50-minute talk with 10-minutes of Q&A. Following the lecture is the opening reception of Jenna Cavelle’s exhibition at the Bancroft Library titled Water & Culture: Recovering Owens Valley Paiute History. The reception will last from 2-4pm with Cavelle making remarks at 3pm.  For more information contact: jennacavelle@peakwater.org

Cavelle is a published environmental journalist and researcher with a degree in Conservation and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley and is an entering MFA Candidate in Film at the University of Southern California (Spring 2014). Using a Political Ecology approach, her research examines human-environment interactions throughout the Citarum River Basin in West Java, Indonesia. Here, she explores the ecological, cultural, political, and economic factors that underlie water scarcity, degradation, and conflict with an emphasis on how local systems intersect with global forces to produce changes in access among differing groups.

Currently, Cavelle works with members of the Paiute Indian community of Owens Valley, California on a project that combines education, outreach, and technology to restore cultural memory associated with their ancient irrigation systems. These waterworks are currently in danger of being lost in the Owens Valley landscape through weathering and neglect. In addition, knowledge of the waterworks is also fading from American memory through the loss of culturally transmitted traditional knowledge. Through community engagement, her project works with tribal members to document Paiute irrigation networks and their role in shaping Paiute culture using museum exhibits, cartography and documentary film. While this project has real bearing on tribal customs and interests, it also informs larger local and regional communities.

The Struggle Over Riverbed Mining in India

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“One specific use of  rivers landmasses has increased manifold in India over the last few decades. Mining of sand, gravel, stones and boulders from riverbeds and riverbanks across the country has seen an unprecedented rise. Each day truckloads of sand and gravel are extracted for a variety of reasons. One of the most important factors driving up demand in recent years has been the growth of the real estate and construction industries. Sand is an important ingredient in concrete, which is the mainstay of the construction industry in India today. Without concrete, high rise apartments, big dams, renovation of city buildings, and multi-utility projects would not see light of the day.

Just as large dams affect entire riverine ecosystems and the people who depend on them, the unregulated and large-scale mining of sand, gravel and stones from riverbeds and riverbanks is not devoid of environmental and social impacts. Riverbed mining causes erosion and often leaves the river-plains much more vulnerable to flooding because it allows loose landmass to be washed downstream, especially during monsoons. This type of mining can also cause salinity intrusion into the rivers, damaging riverine ecosystems. According to the Geological Survey of India (GSI), riverbed mining causes several alterations to the physical characteristics of both a river and riverbed. These can severely impact the ecological equilibrium of a river and damage plants, animals and riparian habitats.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

Jenna Cavelle wants to correct ‘Chinatown’

Photo retrieved from: www.tuvaijumemory.org

“If you’ve heard any history of the California desert at all, you’ve likely heard of the Owens Valley Water War.

Here’s the canonical version of that War: The Owens Valley is watered by runoff from the immense snowfall from the Sierra Nevada to its west, much of which runs into the Owens River when it melts. The Owens Valley is an endorrheic basin: it has no outflow. The Owens River never reaches the ocean. Instead, it flows into Owens Lake, in the valley’s lowest point at its south end.

Late in the 19th Century a thriving network of agricultural communities was developing due to the river’s water, growing a vibrant local economy along with their crops. Enter the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, led by engineer William Mulholland. DWP quietly bought up water rights throughout the Owens Valley in a series of deceptive land deals, then built a 223-mile aqueduct to bring Owens River water to Los Angeles. The aqueduct was finished in 1913 — 100 years ago this November — and farms started going out of business in the decade after. Owens Valley farmers dynamited parts of the aqueduct in 1924, but the rebellion was short-lived. Owens Lake, which had been a rich habitat for waterfowl, dried up and is now the single largest point source of particulate matter pollution in the U.S.

As canonical histories go, it’s pretty accurate. Or at least more accurate than the version a lot of people have in their heads due to the film Chinatown, which was based on the Owens Valley story. But it’s a woefully incomplete history nonetheless. The history of the Owens Valley didn’t start in the late 19th Century. Before the first European settlers arrived there were people living in the Owens Valley for thousands of years. The Owens Valley Paiute took advantage of the relatively well-watered landscape by gathering seeds, hunting the Valley’s abundant game, and — though this hardly ever gets mentioned in any of the formal histories — diverting the water of the Owens River and its tributaries to irrigate their crops.”

Read more: Pharyngula

 

Filmmaker bringing story of ‘paya’ to the masses

Photo retrieved from: www.inyoregister.com

“With the 100-year anniversary of the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct looming, a filmmaker is asking for help in her effort to tell an untold portion of the Owens Valley water wars.
Jenna Cavelle has been working on her documentary, “PAYA: The Untold Story of the L.A.-Owens Valley Water War” for the past year-and-a-half, and recently launched a Kick Starter page to help raise the funds needed to complete the project by its proposed release date this summer. “Paya” is the Paiute word for “water.”
“For the past 100 years, the L.A. Owens Valley water story always begins and ends with the L.A. Aqueduct,” Cavelle says in an introduction to her documentary at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jennacavelle/paya-the-untold-story-o…. “But there is a greater story, an untold story that is rich in history and human achievement. A story that is as much a part of American memory as the creation of our great cities. This story is the history of the Paiute Indians, who populated and irrigated the Owens Valley for millennia, long before the aqueduct was built. This project sheds light on the pre-history of America’s longest water war, telling the story of Paiute Native Americans and the vast irrigation systems they engineered.”
Cavelle has more than 10 years of experience working as a published journalist, photographer and researcher, in Mexico, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Cambodia and throughout the United States.
She said she got the idea for a project that would tell the history of the Paiutes’ water use in the Owens Valley when Bishop Tribal Member Harry Williams appeared as a guest speaker in one of her classes at UC Berkeley. During Williams’ lecture, “I was just completely lit up” when hearing about the Paiute’s history in the Owens Valley, and also “… saddened that this knowledge wasn’t being passed on to the younger generation.”
When the idea began, Cavelle had planned to create a museum exhibit, website and oral history about the Paiutes’ traditional uses of water in the Owens Valley, but as she began working on the project, it evolved.
“The film really didn’t come from me, it came from the community – people wanted to tell the story and reach a broader audience,” she said.”

Read more: The Inyo Register

Occupy the Dam: Brazil’s Indigenous Uprising

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“The Belo Monte Dam is the most controversial of dozens of dams planned in the Amazon region and threatens the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Amazonian people, plants, and animals. Situated on the Xingu River, the dam is set to flood roughly 150 square miles of already-stressed rainforest and deprive an estimated 20,000 people of their homes, their incomes, and—for those who succumb to malaria, bilharzia, and other diseases carried by insects and snails that are predicted to breed in the new reservoir—their lives. Moreover, the influx of immigrants will bring massive disruption to the socioeconomic balance of the region. People whose livelihoods have primarily depended on hunting and gathering or farming may suddenly find themselves forced to take jobs as manual laborers, servants, and prostitutes.

History has shown again and again that dams in general wreak havoc in areas where they are built, despite promises to the contrary by developers and governments. Hydroelectric energy is anything but “clean” when measured in terms of the excruciating pain it causes individuals, social institutions, and local ecology.”

Read more: Alternet

Waldo Canyon Fire: 20 Percent Of Soil So Severely Burned It Is Likened To ‘Moonscape’

Photo retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com

“The Waldo Canyon Fire, the most destructive wildfire in state history, burned so hot that wildfire experts say that nearly 20 percent of the total 18,247 acres (29 square miles) consumed by the blaze was burned so severely that no living vegetation was left on the surface nor root systems left below the surface to a depth of about 4 inches, The Associated Press reports.

The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment team determined that 3,375 acres or about 5 square miles was determined to be damaged so badly, left so baren after the blaze ripped through the area that it was likened to moonscape, U.S. Forest Service hydrologist Dana Butler said.

BAER broke the burn severity of the soils and watersheds into three levels, besides the nearly 20 percent severely burned, the group found the remainder of the area to be 41 percent low or unburned severity (7,586 acres) and 40 percent moderate severity (7,286 acres), according to InciWeb.org

Read more: Huffington Post

Amazon Indians Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site

Photo retrieved from: www.earthfirst.wordpress.com

“An estimated 200 indigenous people from Brazil’s Amazon region have occupied a work area at the Belo Monte dam construction site, at least partially halting work on the controversial mega project on the Xingu river.

The indigenous people are from at least four tribes – the Xikrin, Juruna, Parakana and Araras – and are protesting against what they say is the negative effects of the construction.

They say the construction runoff is muddying the waters and drying up parts of the river they use to fish.

They are also upset that mitigation projects or compensation promised to the indigenous people by the builders to minimize effects of the construction have been slow to materialize.

The indigenous people have occupied one of work sites of the dam since last Thursday, making it the longest occupation of its kind on the construction site.

The builders have halted work on the part of the dam that is being occupied by the indigenous people, but say work continues unabated in other areas. (The construction site is so big it’s divided up into multiple work sites).

According to a local federal prosecutor, the builders’ judicial request to have the Indians removed by force by police was rejected by a federal judge over the weekend.”

Read more: Aljazeera

The Belo Monte Dam: An Environmental Crime

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“Meanwhile, three thousand kilometres north, and unbeknownst to most participants at Rio +20, the Brazilian government is carrying out an objectionable project: a series of dams in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The Belo Monte and Madeira Dam complexes are already underway. They are part of a larger scheme known as the Integrated Regional Infrastructure for South America (IIRSA), supported by Brazil’s Accelerated Growth Programme (PAC). The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) has publicly committed to funding up to 80% of the project. The ultimate objective is to create a trans-Brazilian system of waterways to connect through Peru and Bolivia, to transport raw material exports to China, Japan and North America.

On the 16th of June 2012, protesters stormed the construction site of the Belo Monte Dam. They dug a channel through the earth coffer dam, chanting ‘Free the Xingu.’ They lay on the dam, their bodies spelling out the words ‘Pare Belo Monte:’ Stop Belo Monte.

These dams are already impacting the livelihoods of local communities, threatening the cultural identities of indigenous tribes and devastating the environment.

The Madeira Dam complex should serve as a warning of what we can expect from Belo Monte, and the other dams. The Madeira complex will consist of four dams: the Santo Antonio and Jirau which are already under construction, the Cachuela Esperanza Dam on the Beni River near Riberalta, Bolivia which is nearly ready for construction and the Guajará-Mirim Dam on the Madeira River upstream from Abunã, which is in the planning stages. Very little is being admitted publicly about these last two dams.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

Post G-8 Wrap up: How the US Sold Africa to Multinationals Like Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont, PepsiCo and Others

Photo retrieved from: www.earthfirstnews.com

“Across Kenya’s many different ethnic groups, provinces and ecological zones, farmers agree on what they need most, and it isn’t help from Monsanto or Wal-Mart. It’s water. In arid and semi-arid areas, lack of water has always been an issue. But at least the two rainy seasons, the long rains between March and June, and the short rains between October and December, were consistent. During each rainy period, Kenyan farmers would grow a crop that had to last until the next harvest. But, according to farmer Florence Ogendi, the rains changed about five years ago. First the short rains became unreliable, and now they can’t even count on the long rains. In her area, the long rains used to come in late February, but this year they did not arrive until April.

Sometimes, water that used to be shared by all is now taken or polluted by a powerful few. Near Kitengela, an enormous flower farm has drilled wells to irrigate its crops, which are for export. With so much water going to irrigate flowers, the nearby Isinya River now runs dry. Elsewhere, Lake Naivasha suffers the same problem, also due to flower farms. And a day after Nderitu took his goats to graze near a local river, all five goats were dead. The autopsy revealed the deaths were from pesticides. Nderitu blames the enormous Del Monte pineapple plantation just across the river from where his goats grazed.”

Read more: Earth First!