Tag Archive for 'Water rights'

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

Feds privatize Canadian water with AbitibiBowater NAFTA settlement

“The record-setting $130-million NAFTA settlement with AbitibiBowater has effectively privatized Canada’s water by allowing foreign investors to assert a proprietary claim to water permits and even water in its natural state, said trade lawyer and Council of Canadians board member Steven Shrybman, in a presentation to Parliament today.

“”It would be difficult to overstate the consequences of such a profound transformation of the right Canadian governments have always had to own and control public natural resources,” said Mr. Shrybman in his presentation to the Standing Committee on International Trade, which is studying the AbitibiBowater NAFTA settlement from last August.

“”Moreover, by recognizing water as private property, the government has gone much further than any international arbitral tribunal has dared to go in recognizing a commercial claim to natural water resources.”

“In 2008, AbitibiBowater, a Canadian firm registered in the United States, closed its pulp and paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor, NL. The company asserted rights to sell its assets, including certain timber harvesting licenses and water use permits. These permits were contingent on production. More importantly, under Canada’s constitution, they are a public trust owned by the Province, not by private firms. So the Newfoundland government moved to re-appropriate them as it has a right to do under Canadian law. AbitibiBowater sidestepped the courts to challenge the Newfoundland government.”

Read more: Public Values

Federal Appeals Court could repeal water deadline; Judges may ask corps to refigure use of Lake Lanier

Photo retrieved from: tinapeacock.files.wordpress.com

“The fate of Lake Lanier as the primary water source for metro Atlanta, including Gainesville, is now in the hands of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

“But at least one observer to a three-hour hearing on the matter Wednesday, Lake Lanier Association attorney Clyde Morris, said he feels “cautiously optimistic” the three-judge panel will rule in Georgia’s favor, based on some of its questions and banter with attorneys.

“”Obviously, there’s a lot of work still to be done by the court before the decision comes out, but it was clear the judges had read the briefs (and) had examined the record in detail,” said Morris, who attended the hearing but did not present any arguments.

“Georgia is asking the court to overturn a July 2009 ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson that gave the state three years to work out an agreement with neighbors Alabama and Florida — foes in the 20-year water dispute — or face not being able to withdraw water from the North Georgia reservoir.”

Read more: Gainesville Times

Aztec, Bloomfield oppose water rights settlement

Photo retrieved from: tripwow.tripadvisor.com

“Fearful of losing water rights to the Navajo Nation, Aztec and Bloomfield have joined forces to oppose sections of the San Juan Navajo Water Rights Settlement before it is brought to the 11th District Judicial Court.

“The two cities are expected to be joined in their litigation by thousands of San Juan County residents, all of whom hope to modify the amount of water granted to the Navajo Nation in a settlement which has been battled since the 1960s.

“”Bloomfield and Aztec aren’t opposed to the settlement. They just want to make sure the settlement amount of water proposed is fair,” said Richard B. Cole, attorney for the cities of Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington.

“The settlement, which was signed in December by former Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr. and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, has been resolved between the state, the United States and the Navajo Nation. It grants approximately 600,000 acre-feet of diversions and 325,670 acre-feet of depletions from the San Juan River to the Navajo Nation. One acre-foot is approximately 43,560 cubic feet.

“The amount of water that Aztec and Bloomfield will contest is undecided, but the goal is to secure the cities’ surplus storage usually used in drought years.”

Read more: The Daily Times

Water in the Desert: Kalahari Bushmen in ‘remarkable’ legal victory

“The Appeal Court judgement is a remarkable victory for the Bushmen.

“Not only has the court upheld their right to water in the Kalahari Desert, but it has criticised the government’s treatment of the bushmen as “degrading”.

“Supporters of the Basarwa Bushmen inside and outside Botswana are greeting the court of appeal’s judgement as a victory for the rule of law.

“Survival International, the London-based organisation which campaigns for the rights of indigenous peoples and has strongly backed the Bushmen’s legal battle, described the appeal court’s decision as “momentous”.”

Read more: BBC News

Water Offsets: Real, Beneficial, and Here

Photo retrieved from: www.triplepundit.com

“Water rights were established to better manage it, where various people, businesses, farmers have an allotted amount of water available to them. But there’s a critical flaw: If you don’t use your allotted water, you lose your rights. Thus, you have no incentive to conserve, even if you want to.

Water Restoration Certificates bridge the gap, by paying those with senior rights to the water to allow it to remain in the body of water, rather then using it. Leave water in, it accumulates. A dry river bed brought back to life.

Eight months ago the WRC program launched, and thus far it has gotten a very positive reception. And why not? The benefit is easy to understand, tangible, and clearly document and certify. The one hurdle they’ve encountered so far is when people want their WRCs to apply to bodies of water in proximity to them. Not every one of them needs help, and adding water wouldn’t make a useful difference.

Who is buying water offsets? Companies that use a lot of water, such as breweries are early adopters. As Harmon demonstrated in his video, one pint of beer takes 100 pints of water to make. While it can certainly take steps to reduce the amount of water used in the factory, beer itself is composed mostly of it. The grains that go into it take a certain essential amount. WRCs provide a way for breweries to restore water, when it cannot reduce further.”

Read more: Triple Pundit

Groundwater is a private property right, Texans say

Photo retrieved from: www.crwr.utexas.edu

“Texas landowner groups have joined forces in an effort to ensure that groundwater continues to be recognized as a vested, real private property right. The groups will host educational forums throughout the state to help the public understand current groundwater ownership issues.

“Groundwater is owned by private landowners,” said Dave Scott, TSCRA president and rancher. “The Texas Constitution and more than 100 years of case law support this. Unfortunately this property right is under attack. Landowners must defend their ownership of groundwater on the legal, regulatory and legislative fronts.”

“There’s no doubt that secure, protectable property rights best assure conservation and stewardship of all resources, including groundwater,” said Texas Wildlife Association President Tina Y. Buford. “The way private landowners, acting as land stewards, manage their property directly influences quantity and quality of groundwater available to all Texans.”

“According to estimates by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), by 2060 Texas’ population will more than double, increasing its water demand by 27 percent. Because groundwater from Texas aquifers supply more than half the water for the state, it is critical that groundwater resources be managed to provide for current and future use.”

read more: Drovers

Ecuador water law sparks protests

“Police in Ecuador have used tear gas and batons in clashes with protesters trying to reach the national assembly in the capital, Quito.

“The clashes on Thursday came as about 1,500 people joined a protest against a proposed new law that would regulate water resources.

“The protesters say the proposed law discriminates against indigenous groups by allowing private companies to divert water that local people have depended on for generations.”

read more: Al Jazeera

Giant Ethiopian dam to make 200,000 go hungry – NGO

“More than 200,000 Ethiopians who rely on fishing and farming could become reliant on aid to survive if the government goes ahead with building Africa’s biggest hydropower dam, an advocacy group said.

“These tribes are self-sufficient but this dam will ruin their economies,” a Survival International representative, who did not wish to be named, said.

“It will end the annual flooding some rely on to make the land they farm fertile, and for tribes who rely on fishing, it will deplete stocks. They will need aid.”

read more: Reuters

Peter Gleik: Water infrastructure, but for whose benefit?

“the debate comes down to the best way to spend our limited public money to improve our water system. And spending $3.3 billion to help a very small number of farmers use water they cannot afford is not the best way. It won’t solve agriculture’s more fundamental challenges. It won’t restore our Delta ecosystems. It won’t satisfy new urban demands. In the end, the massive new infrastructure proposed for public financing would be an expensive distraction from real solutions.”

Read more: sfgate