Archive for the 'riparian zone' Category

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Native title granted over Australia’s Lake Eyre


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“An indigenous group has been granted native title over Lake Eyre, Australia’s largest lake when full, ending a 14-year legal battle.

The Arabana people will have unconditional access to the 69,000 sq km land for hunting, fishing, camping and traditional ceremonies.

In return, they gave up their claim to the land on which a small outback town was built, said local media.

The Lake Eyre site is believed to be sacred in indigenous culture.

The vast area is reportedly one-and-a-half times the size of Switzerland.

The well-known lake in South Australia is popular with tourists for boating and fishing, especially when the water is high – as it currently is.

Some local residents fear the court ruling will lead to these activities being stopped.”

Read more: BBC


Belo Monte Insurer Dropped from Sustainability Index

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“The construction of the Belo Monte dam in the Amazon region of Brazil has come under heavy criticism because of the impact the dam may have on the environment and local residents. Experts anticipate that it will have adverse effects on the Amazon rainforest, particularly on species diversity, and hence also on the livelihoods of the indigenous inhabitants. Due to its involvement in this project, Munich Re has been excluded from the Global Challenges Index (GCX). By agreeing to provide cover for the construction phase of the project, the reinsurer violated the GCX’s strict environmental regulations.

Investors in general have started to realize that large dams in the Amazon are so destructive, so high-risk, that even lavish public subsidies and huge insurance policies can’t cover up what is clearly a bad investment.  In fact, investments in massive dams such as Belo Monte may actually be drawing investment away from other sectors which could really benefit the public, reported this Bloomberg Markets Magazine story in April.

Investing in mega-dams in the Amazon is not only weakening Brazil’s standing as a player in international environmental sustainability and threatening the government’s compliance with international covenants such as ILO169.”

Read more: International Rivers

Salmon revival in sight as Elwha River dams fall in U.S. Northwest

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“The two dams, about 80 miles northwest of Seattle, blocked migratory routes of salmon and steelhead trout to some 70 miles of tributary habitat, in the process robbing Native Americans of income by halting a treaty-guaranteed reservation fishery.

The river teemed with thrashing pink salmon before the Elwha Dam was built to generate electricity for the nearby mill town of Port Angeles, with a current population of around 19,000, and later, to a naval shipyard in Bremerton, about 80 miles away.

The Elwha Dam’s removal, completed in late March, was hailed by Governor Christine Gregoire as a significant environmental milestone that “shows what happens, when against many odds, a river is restored to its natural beauty.”

Supporters of the dam’s destruction say the benefits to the environment of tearing it down outweigh the loss of its aging power-generating station.

The destruction of the Glines should be finished in about a year to 18 months, ending the biggest dam demolition in U.S. history.

The removal of the two dams – ordered by a 1992 law signed by then-President George H.W. Bush – is aimed at restoring the natural habitat of more than 300,000 salmon. Economic and environmental impact analyses delayed the project’s start.”

Read more: Reuters


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“The Obama Administration recognizes that water is a sacred and valuable resource for Indian people and therefore has re-energized the Federal Government’s commitment to addressing the water needs of Native American communities through Indian water rights settlements. Water settlements not only secure tribal water rights but also help fulfill the United States’ promise to tribes that Indian reservations would provide their people with permanent homelands. Indian water settlements help achieve that goal, while at the same time ending decades of controversy and contention among tribes and neighboring communities over water. Indian water settlements provide certainty, which fosters cooperation in the management of water resources.

In the last Congress, this Administration supported four Indian water rights settlements for seven tribes at a total Federal cost of more than $1 billion. All told, these settlements resolved well over a century of litigation and bitter disputes. These settlements were enacted into law in the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-291 (Dec. 9, 2010). Support for four Indian water rights settlements that were ultimately enacted during one Congress is an unprecedented achievement. This Administration’s active involvement in the negotiations of these settlements led to both significant improvements in the terms of the settlements and reduction in their Federal costs, which ultimately led to our support for them.”

Read more: Indian Affairs


Scientists Warn of Catastrophe for Food Security in the Mekong

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“So far 51 dams have been built or are being built on tributaries to the Mekong River, mostly in Laos. At least 27 more could begin construction between 2015 and 2030. The PNAS study found that “the completion of 78 dams on tributaries, which have not previously been subject to strategic analysis, would have catastrophic impacts on fish productivity and biodiversity.” Many of these dams are not being discussed or monitored at the regional level.

89 dams appear, 100 fish species disappear

The Mekong River Basin is home to 65 million people. Dr. Guy Ziv, the lead author of the PNAS study and an environmental scientist now at Stanford University, told Nature that “Most of the people are poor and get 81% of their protein from subsistence fisheries.” As a result, the fates of the Mekong’s fish and people are closely intertwined. The study warned that if all of the proposed dams are built, fish productivity would drop by 51% and 100 fish species would become critically endangered.

Ziv and his colleagues highlighted the Lower Sesan 2 Dam in Cambodia, which will soon begin construction. The dam will block fish migrations on two of the major tributaries of the Mekong River, the Sesan and Srepok rivers. The impacts will likely be more serious than some of the dams proposed for the mainstream river. The PNAS study found that the Lower Sesan 2 Dam alone would cause a 9.3% drop in fish biomass for the entire river basin. Projects like this are not just a local concern, but a regional concern.”

Read more: International Rivers


Fracking Could Cause a New Global Water Crisis

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“Numerous communities where fracking has occurred in the U.S. have had their public water resources contaminated as a result of fracking. One community the report highlights is Dimock, Pennsylvania:

In 2009, Pennsylvania regulators ordered the Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation to cease all fracking in Susquehanna County after three spills at one well within a week polluted a wetland and caused a fishkill in a local creek. The spills leaked 8,420 gallons of fracking fluid containing a Halliburton-manufactured lubricant that is a potential carcinogen. Fracking had so polluted water wells that some families could no longer drink from their taps. Pennsylvania fined Cabot more than $240,000, but it cost more than $10 million to transport safe water to the affected homeowners. In December 2010, Cabot paid $4.1 million to 19 families that contended that Cabot’s fracking had contaminated their groundwater with methane. In 2012, the U.S. EPA began providing clean drinking water to these families after Cabot had been released of its obligation to do so by the state of Pennsylvania.”

Read more: Common Dreams

Egypt Must Ratify Nile Water Agreement

Nile river. Retrieved from:

“The impact of climate change is likely to exacerbate the water scarcity in Nile Basin in which most of its members have already been identified as water deficient countries. If such phenomena is not addressed it might lead to a regional conflict over water.

Without an agreeable water allocation mechanism and with realisation that the status quo on the Nile water usage is unsustainable, the ten riparian states: Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eriteria, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda established the Nile Basin Initiative in February 1999.

They agreed on shared vision” “to achieve sustainable socio-economic development through equitable utilisation of and benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources”.

Read more: Business Daily


Is Nevada Coal Plant an Example of Environmental Injustice?

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“For almost 50 years, the Moapa Piaute Band has been living near one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation, getting exposed to dangerous levels of noxious gases, coal ash, and water pollution. However, they haven’t seen the economic benefits they were promised – or any of the electricity.

In the 60’s, when the project developer needed support from the local Piautes to build the Reid Gardner power plant, a contract was drafted promising to hire members of the tribe. But today, no Piautes are employed at the plant, even while asthma rates, thyroid problems and cancer rates increase, according to the tribe.

A local television station, KLAS recently investigated the dispute:

The agreement only obligates the company to “try” to find spots for Paiutes. Some have worked at the plant over the years, yet today, no one from the reservation is employed by NV Energy.”

Read more: Think Progress


Africa land grabs ‘could cause conflicts’

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“ILC zeroed in on West Africa, where it said land acquisitions by foreign entities were causing major environmental and agricultural damage along the River Niger, at 2,265 miles the third longest river in Africa after the Nile and the Congo.

“The siphoning of water for huge areas of farmland will worsen the already low water levels of the Niger,” it said. The result was a “50 percent diminution of the delta flood plain’s land area.”

It concluded, “Given that social conflict over resources between farmers and pastoralists has always been a feature of the Niger Basin, the Coalition suggests that large-scale irrigation could heighten tension between local and downstream water users.”

On Jan. 20, two Liberian land campaigners wrote in The New York Times that the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, was likely” “sowing the seeds of future conflict by handing over huge tracts of land to foreign investors and dispossessing rural Liberians.”
Read more: UPI

The Real Cost Of Brazil’s Dam

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“Until a few months ago, the future of the Belo Monte dam seemed in doubt. The project faced a wave of legal battles and opposition from indigenous groups and environmental organisations around the world.

About 400 square kilometres of the Amazon forest will be flooded to make way for the reservoirs.

The dam is being built in Brazil’s northern Para state, home to large parts of the Amazon Rainforest.

Some 25,000 indigenous people live along the banks of the Xingu River.

One indigenous group – the Paquicamba – live downstream from the main dam. If the dam is built, the normal flow of the river would shrink significantly. The Paquicamba say their fish stocks would be severely depleted.”

Read more: Aljazeera