Tag Archive for 'dams'

Research Confirms Hydroelectric Dams Not Environmentally Friendly After All

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“A new study by University of East Anglia researchers confirms what numerous Indigenous communities have long charged: gigantic hydroelectric dam construction projects are not environmentally friendly, as proponents claim, but in fact pose a profound threat to biodiversity and life in the Amazon.

Widespread Forest Vertebrate Extinctions Induced by a Mega Hydroelectric Dam in Lowland Amazonia was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. The paper examines the environmental impact of Brazil’s Balbina Dam—which is located near the city of Manaus in the Amazonas state and is one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world.

The construction of the dam in the 1980s transformed what used to be a lush rainforest forest landscape into an “artificial archipelago of 3,546 islands,” explains a summary of the research.

Not surprisingly, when hundreds of square miles of jungle were flooded with water, the wildlife who called that forest home—including mammals, birds, and tortoises—suffered dramatic population loss, with large vertebrates completely disappearing from almost all of the artificial islands, the report concludes.”

Furthermore, the summary explains, “Of the 3,546 islands created, only 25 are now likely to harbour at least four fifths of all 35 target species surveyed in the study.”

“Hydroelectric dams have been thought to be an environmentally friendly source of renewable power—and in recent years they have been built to supply the burgeoning energy demands of emergent tropical countries,” lead author Dr. Maíra Benchimol said in a press statement. “Our research adds evidence that forest biodiversity also pays a heavy price when large dams are built.”

Read more: Common Dreams

Learning from Elwha: Mistakes of the Past are Lessons for the Future

“This weekend was a big milestone for the environment. The Department of the Interior officially began the nation’s largest river restoration project on the Elwha River in Washington’s Olympic National Park with the removal of the Glines Canyon and Elwha dams. When the dams on the Elwha River were created 100 years ago, its builders cut corners by neither building fish passages nor securing the dams to bedrock, which caused significant long term damage to the surrounding ecosystems, from the river to the estuary to the coast.

“The Elwha River Restoration Project is of great interest to active members of the conservation and fishery communities and local residents who have been advocating for the dam’s removal for many years. Not only will the dam removal provide substantial economic benefit, the environmental impact of removing it is profound. Sediment will be redistributed, waterways will be restored, and five salmon species are expected to return to their natural migration route that has been dormant since the dams were erected in 1911. The project also provides a tremendous educational opportunity for the next generation to learn from the past by providing a clear picture of how our actions impact the environment.”

Read more: Huffington Post

China risks civil strife with support for foreign dams: activists

“Chinese support for controversial dam-building schemes around the world risks a backlash from affected communities and even violence due to a lack of transparency and the ignoring of residents’ wishes, activists said on Wednesday.

“Chinese companies and banks are becoming deeply involved in such projects in Africa and Asia, and despite a growing awareness they have to be more transparent and accountable, this frequently does not happen, the activists said.

“”We are dismayed to see a reckless role of many companies,” Peter Bosshard, policy director of California-based International Rivers, told the Foreign Correspondents Club of China.

“”There is still often a complete lack of transparency and consultation, particularly with civil society groups in the host countries,” he added.

“Beijing says that Chinese companies operating abroad have to comply with relevant national laws and that they must respect people there and the environment.

“Rights groups say this frequently does not happen.

“In Myanmar, Chinese companies are building or funding some particularly divisive dam schemes, Bosshard said.

“”If such huge infrastructure projects go forward, the (Myanmar) army takes over and occupies the villages,” he said.

“”There’s no question that the indigenous populations are very unhappy with these projects which they see as an extension of military rule in Burma, and that this will lead to serious conflict.”"

Read more: Reuter

Big victory for the Moke: Conservation groups win EBMUD lawsuit

Photo retrieved from: wikipedia.org

“Conservation groups win decisive legal victory in challenging Pardee Reservoir expansion.

“On Monday, April 11, 2011, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley ruled in favor of the Foothill Conservancy, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and Friends of the River in their lawsuit challenging the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s 2040 water plan. The groups originally filed suit in November 2009.

““This is a big victory for protecting the Mokelumne River from EBMUD’s proposed Pardee Reservoir expansion, which would destroy nearly two miles of beautiful, free-flowing river eligible for National Wild and Scenic River designation,” said Chris Wright, Foothill Conservancy executive director. “Judge Frawley agreed with us that EBMUD didn’t sufficiently analyze or mitigate impacts to the river’s cultural and recreational resources or the safety issues caused by removing the historic 1912 Middle Bar Bridge. He also agreed that EBMUD violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to consider the expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir as one of its water supply alternatives. Los Vaqueros is right in EBMUD’s back yard, yet they refused to even take a look at it.

““We’re pretty excited,” said Wright. “The expansion of Pardee Reservoir was strongly opposed by countless foothill and East Bay residents and local governments, historical and tribal groups, local businesses, riverside property owners, federal agencies, PG&E and a broad range of conservation and recreation groups. We took on this fight for them.”

“The proposed expansion of Pardee Reservoir would inundate nearly two miles of the Mokelumne River near Jackson, including a section known as the Middle Bar Run. The reach is significant for its many cultural and historical resources as well as its recreational uses. In his ruling, Judge Frawley noted that the Middle Bar Run was a significant recreational resource that would be eliminated by the Pardee expansion, yet, “… the EIR does not acknowledge the Middle Bar Run even exists.””

Read more: Foothill Conservancy

Riots over forced migration at Chinese dam project leave 50 hurt

Photo retrieved from: treehugger.com

“Thousands of people clashed with police in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province over compensation for being forced to resettle for a dam project, a human rights watchdog and the government confirmed Wednesday.

“The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said thousands of people blocked major traffic routes in Suijiang County from Friday until Tuesday when 1,500 paramilitary police, led by an armored vehicle, forcibly dispersed the crowd, leaving 30 protesters and 20 police injured.

“The Hong Kong-based center said an ambulance was wrecked after paramedics in it took care of injured police and ignored protesters.

“About 100,000 people in the region are to be moved to make way for the construction of a dam and power plant on the Jinsha River, but disputes over payment for grave removal and resettlement remain unresolved.

“The center said the government offered people 1,000 yuan ($152) for grave removal that cost more than 5,000 yuan and that the people are dissatisfied with the quality of resettlement houses that are located in an earthquake zone.”

Read more: iStockAnalyst

Ethiopia: Kenyan protests could compromise mega electric project?

“After massive protests in Nairobi, Kenya, last weekend, against the construction of Ethiopia’s mega hydro electric dam, Gilgel Gibe III, calling on China to stop financing it, Ethiopia has announced that at least 41 percent of the dam’s construction works has been completed.

“Azeb Asnake, Engineer and manager of the project, appeared on Ethiopian state television last Monday to give details on the completion of the 243-meter high dam. Its 211 km2 reservoir is expected to be the first in Africa in terms of capacity.

“A group of International and Kenyan NGOs, since the inauguration of the project three years ago, have been lobbying international financial institutions and donors to hold their financial support of the hydropower dam arguing that it will significantly impact the water level of Lake Turkana. The activists say the outcome will negatively affect the livelihoods of herdsmen in the region.”

Read more: Afrik-News

Suit over Pardee Reservoir expansion goes to court

“The fight over an East Bay water utility’s bid to expand a picturesque reservoir and flood up to 1,200 acres in the Sierra Nevada foothills will head into a Sacramento courtroom this week.

“While the East Bay Municipal Utility District will argue that a bigger reservoir could be an important source for slaking the thirst of hundreds of thousands of new customers in coming decades, a coalition of conservation and fishing groups says the project is an environmental disaster in the making.

“In approving a 30-year plan to provide water for large swaths of Alameda and Contra Costa counties in 2009, EBMUD reversed its previous position on the Pardee Reservoir, located on the Amador-Calaveras line, according to agency opponents.”

Jordan River could die by 2011: report

“The once mighty Jordan River, where Christians believe Jesus was baptised, is now little more than a polluted stream that could die next year unless the decay is halted, environmentalists said on Monday.

“More than 98 percent of the river’s flow has been diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan over the years.

“The remaining flow consists primarily of sewage, fish pond water, agricultural run-off and saline water,” the  from Israel, Jordan and the West Bank said in the report to be presented in Amman on Monday.

“Without concrete action, the LJR (lower Jordan River) is expected to run dry at the end of 2011.”

read more: PhysOrg

China rejects Mekong drying blame

“While nations around the Mekong meet in Thailand to discuss the drying up of the river, China insists the current problems emanate from an act of nature.

“Millions of dollars worth of Chinese cargo are stranded in barges along the Mekong, due to the low water levels.

“Chinese dams along the Mekong have been blamed for disrupting the water supply, but the Chinese foreign ministry blames drought for water scarcity in the Mekong region.

“China has built, or is planning to build, eight dams along the river. The Southeast Asian countries that blame Chinese construction have eleven dams of their own.

“Al Jazeera’s Melissa Chan reports from Yunnan province in China.”

Cambodians hit as Mekong dries up

“Nations around the Mekong are meeting in Thailand to discuss the vital river’s low water levels. The once mighty Mekong is at a 50-year low in parts of Thailand and Laos.

“Chinese companies have started construction on two hydroelectric dams in Cambodia, one on a tributary of the river.

“However, the Cambodia government has much to lose by being too critical of China, which continues to pump billions of dollars into the country’s infrastructure.

“Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay reports from northern Cambodia, where the lack of water is affecting people’s livelihoods.”