Tag Archive for 'rivers'

How a Big Dam Fuels Landgrabs, Hunger and Conflict in Ethiopia

Hydro dam site at Omo river, Ethiopia

Photo retrieved from: guardian.co.uk

“The Gibe III Dam, which is currently under construction, will disrupt the river’s annual flood cycle and lower the water levels of Lake Turkana. Critics have long feared that once the dam is built, the Ethiopian government will establish plantations in the Omo Valley and use the regulated water flow to irrigate export crops. The government dismissed such fears as baseless, and argued that the dam would not reduce the amount of water in the Omo River and Lake Turkana.

“Now that the dam is being built, the government is showing its true colors. An official map of the Lower Omo Valley delineates three blocks of land with a total of 245,000 hectares (close to 1,000 square miles) that will be turned into sugar plantations, to be managed by a state-owned sugar company. A briefing paper by the Oakland Institute, a research and advocacy organization, suggests that in addition, 11 smaller concessions have been awarded for private cotton plantations.

“Growing thirsty crops such as sugar cane and cotton for the world market does not make sense in a region that is scarce in water and prone to hunger and resource conflicts. The dam and the associated land grabs will turn the Gibe III hydropower project into a social and environmental disaster on several accounts:”

Read more: Huffington Post


Regulation Is Lax for Water From Gas Wells

“The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas.

“The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.

“So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.”

Read more: New York Times

Keeping the waters wild – Paddler challenges run-of-river projects

“For elite-level kayaker Ryan Bayes of Abbotsford, paddling B.C.’s myriad creeks and rivers is as close as he’ll get to heaven on Earth.

““I love the exploration and adventure of not doing the same old thing every day,” said Bayes, 27. “Sometimes, I’ll hike two or three hours to get to a creek that has no road going to it. Sometimes it’s a total waste of time.

““But sometimes I’ll end up in a canyon where no human being has probably been before.”

“These days, Bayes’s paddling pursuit has an added element of urgency. He’s concerned about the proliferation of run-of-river Independent Power Producers (IPPs) – privately operated hydroelectric stations, generally on streams in heavily forested regions of the province.”

Read more: Abottsford News

The Kalamazoo River ‘Mess’ is a Lot More Than That

Retrieved from: swobadaimages.com

If the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is causing us to reconsider deep-sea drilling, then last week’s oil disaster in Michigan should give us pause about constructing new oil pipelines. And taken together, the spills spotlight what’s wrong with our nation’s energy direction.

Patrick D. Daniel, chief executive of Enbridge Inc., apologized last week for “the mess we made.” He was referring to the pipeline rupture that dumped about a million gallons of crude oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Though we’re sure that Daniel genuinely regrets that it was his company’s turn to advertise the obvious dangers of continuing our nation’s dependence on oil, this time, sorry’s not good enough.

The immediate consequences of this particular “mess” are bad enough. Thirty miles of the Kalamazoo River were fouled. Birds, fish and other wildlife were killed or oiled. People had to be evacuated from their homes because of high levels of benzene in the air. When the heavy crude passed through the city of Battle Creek, the Kellogg Co. even had to stop making Corn Flakes.

The Kalamazoo empties directly into Lake Michigan. If oil had reached that lake, it would have been, in the words of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, “a tragedy of historic proportions.” Although the Kalamazoo has come a long way from the days when it was the site for paper mills that dumped chemical waste directly into the river, a stretch of the river is still a Superfund site, and scientists warn that the spilled oil could release pollutants buried in the river’s sediment, unleashing even more toxins.

Read More: LA Times

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

World Water Day – The Big Picture

“Today, March 22nd, is recognized by the United Nations Water Group as “World Water Day”, this year’s theme being “Clean Water for a Healthy World”. Although we live on a water-covered planet, only 1% of the world’s water is available for human use, the rest locked away in oceans, ice, and the atmosphere. The National Geographic Society feels so strongly about the issues around fresh water that they are distributing an interactive version of their April, 2010 magazine for download – free until April 2nd – and will be exhibiting images from the series at theAnnenberg Space for photography. National Geographic was also kind enough to share 15 of their images below, in a collection with other photos from news agencies and NASA – all of water, here at home – Earth. (43 photos total)”

read more: boston.com

Movement against Indian water aggression

“Speaking on the occasion, Saeed said that by constructing illegal dams and diverting water of Pakistani rivers, India has virtually imposed war on Pakistan. He demanded of the government to prepare the nation to counter this aggression. “The government must take practical steps to secure Pakistani water,” he stressed. He said that due to water shortage, not only cultivation of crops would be impossible but drinking water would not be available to Pakistanis. “It is a matter of life and death for Pakistan”, he said.”

read more: The News

Exposed: Chevron’s Cover-up of Gross Environmental Abuses in Ecuador

“In 1964, it started. That was the year they made the first well at Lago Agrio. But we didn’t know that petroleum was a contaminant. It was with the help of the Summer Institute of Linguistics [a missionary group] that we found out that it was a carcinogen and that it would cause different kinds of illnesses. Two of my children died from drinking contaminated water. Since then, we don’t drink any water from the Aguarico River, because it’s completely contaminated with oil, so we don’t even bathe in it. We have to look for a spring or catch rainwater. We’ve gotten exactly three things from the company: pollution, sickness and death; that’s it.”

read more: AlterNet

Unsafe Dams Threaten Communities Nationwide

“Dams across the state are living on borrowed time, and many of our communities are at risk,” Brian Graber, Northeast regional director of river restoration for American Rivers, told the Boston Herald. “These dams were built decades to centuries ago and many of them, perhaps most, no longer serve the function that they were built to provide. Closing our eyes to the problem doesn’t make it disappear. The most cost-effective, permanent way for communities to solve the problems of unsafe dams is to remove them.”

read more: American Rivers

Mekong waters hit record low

“Thailand’s prime minister has said he will seek urgent talks with China after the water level in the Mekong River plunged to its lowest level in 20 years.

“The river, which has its source in China, underpins the livelihoods of more than 60 million people in Southeast Asia.”

read more: Al Jazeera