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2007 International Water News


China begins work on massive water diversion project to aid arid north

The official Xinhua news agency says digging started Friday on a tunnel underneath the Yellow River in the eastern province of Shandong. It is part of a planned $66-billion project that will create a network of canals to divert water, principally from the southern Yangtze River. Building the South-North Water Diversion project, which was approved in 2002, could take 60 years. However, the government says the Yellow River tunnel should be completed in three years. China, especially the northern part, is undergoing a serious water shortage, with 130 cities facing extreme shortages. China supports 21 per cent of the world's population with just seven per cent of its fresh water. Canadian Press_ 12/28/07

Nigeria's corruption fighter reassigned

Nigeria’s top anticorruption official, whose investigations have ensnared some of the country’s wealthiest politicians, is being sent to a year-long course at a remote training institute, according to senior law enforcement officials, provoking criticism from many who described the move as an attempt to sideline him. The official, Nuhu Ribadu, is a police investigator who has risen to become one of the most powerful and feared figures in Nigeria. Late Thursday, the top police official, Mike Okiro, said the decision to send him to study for a year was not an effort to push him aside but part of a routine training exercise for senior officers. To Nigerians, the most serious form of corruption is the malfeasance of government officials that has left Africa’s most populous nation one of the poorest countries on earth despite exporting billions of dollars in oil each year. The evidence of perpetual robbery is everywhere in Nigeria. For example, police officers demand 15 cent bribes from passing cars because their salaries are so low they cannot afford drinking water while on duty. New York Times_ 12/28/07 (logon required)

Drought nationwide problem in China; worst in a decade

Zhang Jiatuan, director of the drought prevention department of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said the drought is the most serious of the decade and is affecting almost the whole country. The lack of rain is mainly due to global warming, experts have said. In recent years, severe drought has also hit Central Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia. The State Council last week issued a notice calling for governments at all levels to strengthen their anti-drought measures. About 30 million people in rural areas and more than 20 million in urban areas face drinking water shortages every year, despite the government investing millions of yuan annually to address the problem. Earlier this year, Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province, the country's largest freshwater lake, was reported to be shrinking fast. Its surface area fell to the smallest on record - less than 50 sq km, from a maximum of several thousand square kilometers. China Daily_ 12/21/07

World Bank gives Kenya $150 mln for safe water, sanitation
The World Bank will lend $150 million to Kenya to help three water service boards improve sanitation and access to safe drinking water.  The bank said in a statement late on Thursday that at present, only 60 percent of the east African nation's 36 million people have access to safe drinking water, and only 80 percent have access to basic sanitation.  "The project is expected to benefit about 9.3 million Kenyans in 27 districts with improved water and sanitation services, including residents of some of Kenya's largest urban informal settlements," the bank said.  The bank said the money will benefit water service boards at the coast, the Lake Victoria region in western Kenya and near Nairobi.  Reuters_12/21/07

China says water supplies exploited by 2030
China will have exploited all available water supplies to the limit by 2030, the government has warned, ordering officials to prepare for worse to come as global warming and economic expansion drain lakes and rivers.As well, a state newspaper warned on Friday that drought next year could hit crops and stoke already heady inflation.  China's surface and underground water supplies are under strain from feverish economic growth and a population passing 1.3 billion. And scarcity will worsen with global warming, the central government warned in a directive.  China has about 7 percent of the planet's water resources to nourish a fifth of the global population, the government has estimated. Scientists have said that by 2030, China's potential grain output could fall by 10 percent, unless crop varieties and practices adapt to climate change.  Reuters_12/14/07

Ghana: Kpalime chief cries for potable water

The Paramount Chief of the Kpalime Traditional Area in the Volta Region, Togbe Agbi Yao VII has expressed concern about the lack of potable drinking water in the area, even though they are surrounded by the Volta Lake. According to him, the area lost many hectares of its rich farmlands to make way for the construction of the Akosombo Dam, but has been denied the clean, treated water drawn from the lake, leaving the people to their fate. Togbe Agbi Yao said this at a durbar to climax the week-long "Kpalikpakpa" festival of the chiefs and people of the Kpalime Traditional Area in the South Dayi District of the Volta Region last Saturday. Ghanaian Chronicle/AllAfrica.com_ 12/11/07

Contaminated water from tubewell kills three children in India

Three children died and 10 others fell seriously ill after drinking poisonous water from a tubewell at Madrasi Colony, the jute mill settlement of Kamarhati. The 10 ailing children, all aged between one and three years, have been admitted in the Kamarhati State General Hospital and Sagar Dutta Memorial Hospital. The tubewells here were installed by jute mill authorities six months ago to allay the prevalent water crisis. They replaced the existing community taps. Mill officials put these tubewells on the water supply pipeline. However, the quality of water was far from satisfactory. Residents complained to the mill authorities and the Kamarhati Municipality about this. A resident of the colony Rakia Khatoon said, “Yesterday, when we pumped out the water, we noticed it was unclear and also had insects floating in it. I decided to get water from a nearby deep tubewell." Residents said the pipeline supplying the water had not been renovated ever since it was constructed 60 years ago. The inner lining of the pipe has rusted, they said. The 80-year-old jute mill colony has 15 tubewells for its 500 families. Express News Service_ 12/11/07

Water becomes the new oil as world runs dry

The midday sun beats down on a phalanx of riot police facing thousands of jeering demonstrators, angry at proposals to put up their water bills by more than a third. Moments later a uniformed officer astride a horse shouts an order and the police charge down the street to embark on a club-wielding melee that leaves dozens of bloodied protesters with broken limbs. It's a description of a real-life event in Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city, where a subsidiary of Bechtel, the US engineering giant, took over the municipal water utility and increased bills to a level that the poorest could not afford. Welcome to a new world, where war and civil strife loom in the wake of chronic water shortages caused by rising population, drought (exacerbated by global warming) and increased demand from the newly affluent middle classes in the emerging economies of Asia and Latin America. At a City briefing by an international bank last week, a senior executive said: 'Today everyone is talking about global warming, but my prediction is that in two years water will move to the top of the geopolitical agenda.' The question for countries as far apart as China and Argentina is whether to unleash market forces by allowing access to private European and American multinationals that have the technological know-how to help bring water to the masses - but at a price that many may be unable, or unwilling, to pay. The Observer_ 12/9/07

Israel President Shimon Peres predicts water will make Indonesia prosper

Despite the lack of formal relations between Israel and Indonesia, a five-member Indonesian peace delegation met with President Shimon Peres on Friday. The delegation spent a week in the country under the joint aegis of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the LibForAll Foundation, which promotes the culture of liberty and tolerance. The broad-ranging conversation covered topics including economics, politics, religion and Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. Peres predicted that because Indonesia is an island republic surrounded by water, it would one day be one of the most prosperous countries in the world. This is because, unlike many other countries, it would not have to import water, merely to desalinate it. Jerusalem Post_ 12/8/07

Climate change dominates Asia-Pacific water summit; delegates hope for clean water for all by 2025

Climate change during the past 17 years caused Himalayan glaciers to melt at an unprecedented rate, restricting water supply and sanitation access for millions of people in Asia, said delegates at the Asia-Pacific Water Forum Summit in Japan. Summit delegates from more than 30 Asian countries called on world leaders now meeting in Bali to consider the relationship between climate change and water shortages as they craft a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. At least 700 million people among Asia-Pacific's 3.7 billion population don't have access to safe and affordable water, and more than 1.9 billion don't have adequate sanitation, according to the United Nations and other agencies. Country representatives hope to reduce those figures by half by 2015, and then to zero by 2025, according to a closing statement released by summit organizers today. Bloomberg_ 12/4/07

Filipinos urged to protect access to water

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Jose "Lito" L. Atienza Jr. urged Filipinos yesterday to protect their access to clean water supply. "There is a looming water crisis and ignoring the warning signs can spell disaster," Atienza said. "The situation must be reversed through concerted action and political will." Atienza said problems in water supply and management, including water disasters, are getting bigger in the region and leaders from 49 Asia-Pacific countries are looking for solutions. Manila Bulletin_ 12/5/07

Asian nations meet to confront water crisis

Asian nations came together Monday for a first "water summit" to plan action amid warnings of a dire situation with water resources shrinking and natural disasters on the rise. The 49-nation conference in Beppu, a southern Japanese town famed for natural hot springs, comes amid growing concern that climate change is aggravating water-related incidents in Asia and elsewhere. Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, known for his studies of water, said Asia was home to 60 percent of the world's people but had only 40 percent of its water resources. "The situation in the Asia-Pacific region does not allow us to be optimistic," said Naruhito, who is honorary president of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's advisory board on water and sanitation. Officials, including several heads of state, will hold two days of talks here on ways to step up cooperation on water-related issues that cross borders. The meeting was set up by last year's World Water Summit in Mexico City. AFP/Yahoo!_ 12/2/07

November, 2007

Asian nations face "unprecedented" water crisis-ADB
Developing countries in Asia could face an "unprecedented" water crisis within a decade due to mismanagement of water resources, the Asian Development Bank said in a report on Thursday.  The effects of climate change, rapid industrialisation and population growth on water resources could lead to health and social issues that could cost billions of dollars annually, it said.  "If the present unsatisfactory trends continue, in one or two decades, Asian developing countries are likely to face and cope with a crisis on water quality management that is unprecedented in human history," Ajit Biswas wrote in the report.  The report, entitled "Asian Water Development Outlook", was submitted to the Asia-Pacific Water Forum in Singapore, which will discuss the issue at a summit in Japan next week.  Reuters_11/29/07

Tunisia to host the first African Water Week (AWW-1) in 2008
The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and the African Development Bank (ADB) are proud to host the First African Water Week (AWW-1) event to be held in Tunis from 26th to 28th of March, 2008. The AWW-1 will take place under the theme “Accelerating the Water Security for Socio-Economic Development of Africa”. Water security is the capacity to provide sufficient and sustainable quantity and quality of water for all types of water services and protect society and the environment from water-related disasters.  The main objective of the First African Water Week (AWW-1) is to create a forum for African water sector professionals, stakeholders and partners to discuss the opportunities and challenges of achieving water security for the socio-economic development of Africa; and to formulate concrete policies, strategies and actions to accelerate water resources development and provision of services taking into consideration the challenges and impacts of climate change and variability.  

The ADVISER_11/28/07

Los of Andes glaciers threatens water supply

El Alto, Peru, and its sister city of La Paz, the world's highest capital, depend on glaciers for at least a third of their water -- more than any other urban sprawl. And those glaciers are rapidly melting because of global warming. Scientists predict that all the glaciers in the tropical Andes will disappear by mid-century. The implications are dire not just for La Paz-El Alto but also for Quito, Ecuador, and Bogota, Colombia. More than 11 million people now live in the burgeoning cities, and El Alto alone is expanding at 5 percent a year. The melting of the glaciers threatens not just drinking water but also crops and the hydroelectric plants on which these cities rely. The affected countries will need hundreds of millions of dollars to build reservoirs, shore up leaky distribution networks and construct gas or oil-fired plants -- money they simply don't have.  AP/CNN_ 11/26/07

Iran President: Water can form friendships among nations

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said different issues, including water, can develop understanding and friendship among nations. According to Presidential Office Media Department report on Saturday, Ahmadinejad in a meeting with participating ministers in the 5th Regional Meeting for Water in Tehran said, "By transferring experiences, developing research and study centers and implementing joint projects, water can turn into an issue for understanding and friendship among nations." Omani Minister for Regional Municipalities and Water Resources Muhammad bin Amor al-Rowas, India's Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz and Afghanistan Minister of Water and Energy Esmaeil Khan in a meeting with President Ahmadinejad, by referring to Iran's valuable achievements and success in the field of water resources management called for using the experiences and knowledge of Iranian experts in this concern. IRNA_ 11/24/07

US Marines airlift water to Bangladesh cyclone victims

The US navy has begun airlifting urgently needed supplies of clean drinking water to thousands of survivors of Bangladesh's devastating Cyclone Sidr, an official said Saturday. More than 3,400 people died and hundreds of thousands left homeless after the powerful storm on November 15 demolished entire villages. Relief efforts have been dogged by problems, leaving villagers desperately short of water, food and medicine more than a week after the killer cyclone struck. Navy personnel from the USS Kearsarge, anchored close to the southern Bangladesh coast, were carrying out medical evacuations and transporting water to some of the worst-affected coastal areas, a US embassy spokesman said. Offers of international help continued to flood in with 470 million dollars' worth of aid pledged by donor countries and agencies, said disaster management ministry official Ayub Mia. AFP/Yahoo!_ 11/24/07

Cyclone victims' quest for clean water
One week after a devastating cyclone hit Bangladesh, thousands of people remain homeless and much needed aid is slow to arrive.  One of the key problems facing the authorities now is distributing clean drinking water.  Some aid agencies warn that unless that and other vital supplies arrive soon, the number of people who will die in the days after the cyclone could exceed the number who perished last Thursday night when the storm struck.  The problem is vividly illustrated by a visit to the village of Tafalbari on the fringes of the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sunderbans, in the south-west of the country.  There are relatively few tube wells here.One major advantage of tube wells, where water is pumped to the surface through a narrow tube, is that they are not prone to being contaminated.  But much of the surface water people are relying on has been contaminated, either by the bodies of dead livestock or - in coastal areas - by high salinity caused by the tidal surge that accompanied the storm.  BBC News_11/22/07

Workers struggle to get water, food to Bangladesh storm victims

Cyclone Sidr has killed more than 3,100 people and may claim more lives. International aid worth about $120 million has been promised, but relief items such as tents, rice and water have been slow to reach most survivors of Thursday's cyclone, the worst to hit Bangladesh in a decade. The American Red Cross said it will provide $1.2 million to help get clean water to the survivors and build emergency shelters. AP/Houston Chronicle_ 11/20/07

Drought leaves 3.2 million Chinese short of drinking water

Severe drought in China had left 3.2 million people short of drinking water by Monday, according to the Office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. Since October, southern China has received 30 percent to 80 percent less rainfall than the average in previous years, the office said. Water levels in the Xiangjiang and Ganjiang rivers, tributaries of China's largest river, the Yangtze, in the two provinces, are at record lows. ChinaView_ 11/19/07

Jordan: Water contamination incidents highlight water shortage problem

Thousands of Jordanians have been rushed to hospitals over the past few months suffering from illnesses related to water contamination in villages and towns across the kingdom. Experts fear the worst is yet to come unless a lasting solution is found to the kingdom's water shortages. Jordan is one of the most water-impoverished countries in the world. An average Jordanian consumes 170 cu. m. a day compared to 1,000 cu. m. used by citizens in water-rich countries. With 92 percent of the land being desert, Jordan relies on rain and underground water to supply its 5.6 million people. In addition to the worn out water network, over-exploitation of some 2,000 wells, half of which were illegally constructed, is exacerbating the problem. The government is implementing a strict water rationing programme, pumping water to households only once or twice a week. IRIN/Alert Net/Reuters_ 11/19/07

Drinking water scarce after Mexico floods

Authorities worked early Monday to deliver badly needed food and water to thousands of residents stranded by devastating floods that have damaged the homes of up to 500,000 people. Since swollen rivers first broke their banks on Oct. 28, flood waters have isolated many Gulf coast communities. Thousands of residents who rescuers haven't been able to reach have run out of food, water and are living with no electricity and no way to flee. "People are fighting over food and water, and the lack of electricity and running water are making life in the city impossible," said Martha Lilia Lopez, who has been handing out food to victims on behalf of a nonprofit foundation she heads. Health authorities reported cases of eye, skin, intestinal and respiratory infections, but no mass outbreak of waterborne diseases that many had feared. AP/ Santa Rosa Press Democrat_ 11/5/07

Warming takes toll on China's water resources: Water Minister

China suffers from a shortfall of nearly 40 billion cubic meters of water a year, largely because of global climate change, Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei said. "The changes have led to a combination of both frequent drought and flooding," Chen told a high-level roundtable conference on China's water resources and water environment protection on Saturday. The country's water demands are shaped by a number of factors including its massive population, a relatively small number of water resources, and disparities between relatively water rich and water poor regions. China is attempting to balance protecting its water resources and the environment with its impressive economic growth and rate of urbanization. China Daily_ 11/5/07

Water supply resumes to 100,000 in southwest China city after one-day cutoff

Water supply to around 100,000 residents in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality resumed early Sunday after more than 24 hours of cutoff due to water plant equipment failure, local sources said. Water supply was cut around 4 p.m. Friday to about 100,000 residents in northern downtown of Chongqing due to a mechanical failure of the electricity facilities of Liangtuo Water Plant, according to a source with Chongqing Water Supply Group. Fire-fighting vehicles were mobilized to send water to residents during the cutoff. People's Daily Online_ 11/5/07

Mines threatening Sydney, Australia's water, inquiry hears

Environmentalists say it may be too late to repair serious damage to Sydney's water catchment, caused by longwall mining in the coalfields south of the city. The New South Wales Government is yet to receive the findings of the independent inquiry into the effects of mining in the southern coalfields, but submissions to the panel raise concerns about possible long-term damage to Sydney's catchment. A former scientist from the Sydney Catchment Authority, Jeff Angel, says the long-term sustainability of the city's water supply has been put at risk by longwall mining. But the chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council, Dr Nikki Williams, says there is no evidence to suggest the mining has threatened Sydney's water supply. ABC News_ 11/5/07

In Australia, Victoria water 'secretly traded' for New South Wales rice

Water meant to protect Victoria's electricity supplies has been traded off to NSW rice growers in secret multimillion-dollar deals with the Snowy Hydro corporation. Snowy Hydro Ltd and the NSW Department of Water and Energy have been accused of jeopardising the future of electricity outputs, the livelihoods of other irrigators and environmental flows to the Snowy and Murray rivers for short-term profits, Fairfax newspapers report. The revelation of the secret sales comes as a cross-state deal on the Snowy River made by two former premiers threatens to tear apart the already frayed relations between the states' current premiers. Former Snowy Mountains engineers estimate Snowy Hydro benefited - by about $160 million - from the special irrigation-deal payments and by bringing forward release revenues. Sunday Times/ 11/3/07

October, 2007

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte launches water fund for poor nations

"No one can remain indifferent when we know that at least every eight seconds, a child dies from a disease caused by drinking contaminated water," Laliberte said as he announced the One Drop foundation. Laliberte said he would contribute 100 million Canadian dollars (104 million US) over the next 25 years to the foundation, which will fund projects to rebuild water wells and provide drinking water in poor countries. AFP/Yahoo!_ 10/29/07

In China, a lake's champion imperils himself

Lake Tai, the center of China’s ancient “land of fish and rice,” succumbed this year to floods of industrial and agricultural waste. Toxic cyanobacteria, commonly referred to as pond scum, turned the big lake fluorescent green. The stench of decay choked anyone who came within a mile of its shores. At least two million people who live amid the canals, rice paddies and chemical plants around the lake had to stop drinking or cooking with their main source of water. The outbreak confirmed the claims of a crusading peasant, Wu Lihong, who protested for more than a decade that the region’s thriving chemical industry, and its powerful friends in the local government, were destroying one of China’s ecological treasures. Mr. Wu, however, bore silent witness. Shortly before the algae crisis erupted in May, the authorities in Zhoutie, his hometown arrested him. In mid-August, with a fetid smell still wafting off the lake, a local court sentenced him to three years on an alchemy of charges that smacked of official retribution. Pollution has reached epidemic proportions in China, in part because the ruling Communist Party still treats environmental advocates as bigger threats than the degradation of air, water and soil that prompts them to speak out. New York Times_ 10/14/07 (logon required)

Biofuel plans to hit water supplies in China, India: study
The ambitious plans of India and China to ramp up biofuel production will deplete their water reserves and seriously impact their ability to meet food demands, a new study said.  China and India, expected to account for nearly 70 percent of global oil demand between now and 2030, are using cheaper biofuels derived from crops to help power their economies, the International Water Management Institute said.  "But to grow biofuel crops you need to use more water and land," Charlotte de Fraiture, a scientist at the institute and lead author of the biofuels study, told AFP.  India and China, which both have over one billion people, "suffer from water shortages which will only get worse as their food demand keeps pace with a growing population, their rising income and their diversifying diets."  The two Asian giants "are already struggling to find enough water to grow the food they need," the study by the Sri Lanka-based institute noted.  AFP_10/11/07


Water woes persist in Jeddah

Women, children line up for hours

Different rules for Saudis and non Saudis

Scarce pipeline water has residents of all social classes streaming in from different city districts to the water distribution center to arrange for water truck delivery.  Different city districts, according to residents, go without pipeline water for periods ranging from 12 to 20 days.  “Since the beginning of Ramadan, we get tap water every 15 days,” said Hassan Ahmad, a Saudi in his early 30s from the Hera district. “We’re totally dependent on the water we get from the Water Distribution Center, twice if not three times a week. ... The situation is worse now because we’re fasting and with the different Ramadan schedule, time is tight — getting water from the center is really hard whether it’s while you’re fasting during the day or after you break your fast.” Arab News_10/11/07

New Zealand lawmakers pass clean water bill

New laws have been passed aimed at protecting and promoting the public's right to clean drinking water. MPs have passed the Health Amendment Bill which intends to put a risk management approach on water supply. The legislation also comes with $150 million worth of funding to help water companies and local councils ensure people can access clean water supplies. According to the government over half a million New Zealanders currently receive water that doesn't comply with New Zealand drinking water standards. TVNZ_ 10/10/07

Manila to study its water quality

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim yesterday ordered the city government’s health chief to conduct an independent study of the quality of water in Manila after an environmental group claimed that it contained harmful substances. Greenpeace reported the other day that samples of tap and bottled water it had taken from some areas in Metro Manila—specifically Manila, Caloocan and Quezon City—showed traces of hazardous chemicals and high levels of metals. “Greenpeace said the metal content was high but (water concessionaires) Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water Co. said the water supply was safe. To be certain, we will request the University of the Philippines experts or the Bureau of Food and Drugs to conduct a separate investigation,” Lim said. Maynilad supplies water to the western zone of Metro Manila while Manila Water services the eastern section. Among the chemicals reportedly discovered in the tap water samples were trihalomethanes, tricholorethene and dichloropropene. "The quality of Metro-Manila water even surpasses the standards of the World Health Organization,” said Frankie Arellano, senior vice president for Quality, Environment, Safety and Health of Maynilad Water Services Inc. Inquirer.net_ 10/10/07

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo residents refuse polluted water

Bulawayo residents have spurned moves by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to draw the city's water supplies from the heavily polluted Khami dam. The country's second largest city is in the throes of a seven month water crisis following the drying up of all but two of its main water reservoirs. To compound the situation, government and the Bulawayo city council are tussling for control of the city's water management, with the state-run authority, ZINWA, insisting it has the answer to the problems. Bulawayo city elders have however, flatly rejected ZINWA's proposals to source water from Khami dam which they argue has been stockpiling raw sewerage "everyday for the past 19 years". The dam, which has a capacity of only 3 420 000 cubic metres of water, was decommissioned in 1988 after the Southern Area Sewerage Treatment (SAST) began emptying raw sewerage into the dam. Bulawayo is facing a critical shortage of water and is relying on only two major dams, Insiza and Inyankuni, following the decommissioning of other supply dams. SWRadioAfrica_ 10/9/07

Natural water sources won't cover Israel's needs: Water Authority

The level of natural water sources has dropped significantly in the last year, Israel's Water Authority reported on Monday. The Water Authority reported that the country's natural water sources would not be able to cover the public's water needs, and Israel would therefore need to continue advancing work on desalination plants. Jerusalem Post_ 10/8/07

Australia's Murray-Darling water report gives 'bleak' outlook

A new report by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission reveals that current water availability is the lowest it has been in 116 years of modelling.  The report shows low rainfall and high temperatures for August and September have caused water levels to drop by 150 gigalitres in one month.  The Bureau of Meteorology has reported this is the first time in their records that an El Nino drought in the basin has not been followed by above-average rainfall.  The Commission's chief executive, Wendy Craik, says the report shows climate change is transforming the river system. "The Bureau is saying today that the rainfall in September is the lowest September rainfall they've got for the basin in their records since 1900. We haven't had the expected wet that follows the El Nino, inflows again are coming down - they're around 13 per cent of long-term average. Storages are at record lows, and we're really having to run the river in a way that we never have before. It's getting really bleak," she said.  Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the latest report on the availability of water in the Murray-Darling Basin makes for grim reading.  He says it is a very grave situation that every Australian should be concerned about.  ABC News_10/5/07

September, 2007

Ontario's decrepit systems wasting water
Ontario's aging and crumbling water mains are in such a poor state of repair that they leak as much as 30 per cent of the drinking water they're supposed to be carrying, a report released yesterday says.  The estimate, made in a report commissioned by the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association, an industry group, was based on losses found at a representative sample of six municipalities with a total population of 1.1 million.  Losses of the magnitude found are unusual for a developed country and are more typical of the leakage rates reported in poor or developing countries.  The report says that if the experience of these municipalities is typical of other water systems across the province, the value of water lost each year would be about $164-million.  Globe and Mail_9/27/07

Australia's Warrego River water auction postponed indefinitely

Eight thousand megalitres of water from the Warrego River which was to be auctioned last week will be reserved indefinitely. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced last night that the sale of the unallocated water from the Warrego catchment will not be rescheduled. The State Government was forced to abandon auctions at Charleville and Cunnamulla last week when Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull withdrew his support in the face of opposition from New South Wales farmers. Australian Broadcasting Corporation_ 9/25/07

Dwindling farm water threatens Turkish disaster

An environmental catastrophe is threatening central Turkey, once the country's breadbasket, where farmers are depleting the water table after the hottest summer in living memory. On the Konya plain – an area more than twice the size of Wales that stretches south from Ankara almost all the way to the Mediterranean – water is the region's biggest problem. Devoid of rivers, hemmed in by mountains on all sides, the plain has no source of water other than groundwater. For the past 40 years, farmers have sucked it up faster than rain can replenish it. The result is a water table that is sinking fast. Many farmers are aware that what they are doing isn't sustainable, but believe they have no choice. 9/24/07


WaterWebster Special Report  

Water is Key

Former Los Angeles prosecutor photgraphs the hope clean water brings to West Africa

The three teens should have been in school. Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti watched them in frustration. Instead of learning to read and write, the girls filled five-gallon water containers. Then, carefully balancing the heavy jugs on their heads, they and a younger girl, probably no more than 11, hiked the dusty route from pond to village, vigilantly bearing their precious burden. The scene Garcetti photographed in 2006 is repeated daily throughout much of West Africa. Girls and young women sacrifice education to haul enormous loads of water, day-after-day. Their villages depend on them. Without their labor, there would be no drinking water or water for cooking. And that stark fact is the centerpiece of the former prosecutor’s latest book, Water is Key, striking photographs that combine art, grace and simple humanity in an effort to tell the story of water. Sixty-two of Garcetti’s images are on display at UCLA’s Fowler Museum in an exhibit titled “Women, Water and Wells: Photographs of West Africa by Gil Garcetti.” The exhibit runs through Nov. 25, 2007.

Full story, with photos

Quick download, text only version



China targets "fake" drinking water before Olympics

China will attach electronic identification labels to every barrel of drinking water in its capital, state media said on Monday, after a report that almost half of water used in coolers across Beijing could be tainted. The Beijing Times said in July that almost half the barrelled water sold in the capital, host of the 2008 Olympics, could be "fake", or not as pure as its manufacturers claim. The bogus water was either tap water or purified water of miscellaneous small brands poured into empty barrels sealed with quality standard marks. Now a code will be printed beneath a label on the mouth of every barrel to ensure quality, the China Daily said. Reuters_ 9/17/07

Robert Mugabe uses city's water as weapon in Zimbabwe: Critics

Mugabe is using water as a tool of repression in Bulawayo, the largest urban area in Zimbabwe controlled by a council of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the President's critics say. In the early summer heat of the semi-arid western provinces of Matabeleland, the city of about 800,000 people is fast running out of water. Three of five main reservoirs in Zimbabwe's second city have dried up. The fourth is expected to be empty next month and the last one will be able to supply only 16per cent of the city's already tightly rationed needs. "If we have even a mediocre rainy season this summer, we are faced with the spectre of Bulawayo literally shutting down," said David Coltart, MP of theMovement for Democratic Change. "The problem is political," said the Reverend Kevin Thomson, a leading figure in Churches In Bulawayo, an alliance of the city's churches which has begun an emergency water supply operation in the townships. "They don't want to fix the problem. Just as they control the supply of food for political purposes, water has become another area for controlling people." Most homes get a few hours' water for two days a week - at not much more than a trickle. Showers are a luxury, baths unheard of. Large trees in gardens are dying. In the city's crowded townships, water distribution has become the predominant activity, with people carrying heavy 25-litre plastic drums on their heads, in wheelbarrows and on two-wheeled carts drawn by donkeys. Residents start queueing at midnight at the big hand pumps that pull water from boreholes drilled by the city council. The Australian_ 9/17/07

Water restrictions in Sydney, Australia to last forever: Premier Iemma

Water restrictions in Sydney will become permanent because of climate change, NSW Premier Morris Iemma says. Daytime use of sprinklers, watering systems and the hosing down of driveways will be banned forever, The Sunday Telegraph reports. Mr Iemma said the decision had been made on the basis of scientific evidence on the future impact of global warming on rainfall over Sydney. The permanent restrictions, together with recycling and desalination, were necessary to ensure the city never ran low on drinking water again. Sunday Telegraph/AAP/Canberra Times_ 9/16/07

Arctic ice melt opens Northwest Passage

Arctic ice has shrunk to the lowest level on record, new satellite images show, raising the possibility that the Northwest Passage that eluded famous explorers will become an open shipping lane. The European Space Agency said nearly 200 satellite photos this month taken together showed an ice-free passage along northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, and ice retreating to its lowest level since such images were first taken in 1978. The waters are exposing unexplored resources, and vessels could trim thousands of miles from Europe to Asia by bypassing the Panama Canal. The seasonal ebb and flow of ice levels has already opened up a slim summer window for ships. A U.N. panel on climate change has predicted that polar regions could be virtually free of ice by the summer of 2070 because of rising temperatures and sea ice decline, ESA noted. Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States are among countries in a race to secure rights to the Arctic that heated up last month when Russia sent two small submarines to plant its national flag under the North Pole. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 9/15/07

Make farmers in India pay for power to stop water overuse: Prime Minister

Highlighting drawbacks in providing free power to farmers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday argued for economic pricing of power to conserve ground water. “Providing free power to farmers has encouraged excessive use of pump sets and excessive drawing of ground water. If there is economic pricing of power, there would be some incentive for conserving ground water,” he said, inaugurating the National Congress on Ground Water in New Delhi. Water conservation and management could be better served through appropriate incentives and penalties, Singh said. Indian Express_ 9/11/07

UK warnings on fake Zam Zam water 'working'

Environmental health officers carried out on-the-spot inspections at about 50 stores to ensure fraudulent Zam Zam water was not being sold. They said the water was known to contain high levels of nitrates and arsenic. Westminster City Council said no fake Zam Zam was found during the operation ahead of Ramadan. The water is advertised as coming from the sacred well of Zam Zam in Mecca, the most holy city in Islam, and demand increases during Ramadan. Councillor Audrey Lewis was concerned Muslims may be exploited into buying counterfeit Zam Zam during the holy month of Ramadan. She said: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia forbids the commercial export of genuine Zam Zam, so we have no idea of the true source of the water which ends up on the streets of the UK." BBC News_ 9/10/07

2007 around-the-world Blue Planet Run for safe drinking water ends in New York City

An historic around-the-world relay run reached its finish line today in New York City,
marking the completion of an unprecedented three-month athletic endeavor that is raising funds to deliver safe drinking water to some of the 1.1 billion people who currently live without it. The inaugural 2007 Blue Planet Run was made possible by the generous support of The Dow Chemical Company. The 95-day, 15,200-mile expedition through 16 countries was completed by the 20 original Blue Planet Run team members. Two alternates joined the journey along the way. Beginning from the United Nations in New York City on June 1, the Blue Planet Run team has run relay-style 24 hours a day, seven days a week across Europe, Russia, Asia, Canada and the United States. News Release/PRNewswire_ 9/4/07

August, 2007

Middle East water scarcity 'will hamper tourism growth'

Flourishing tourism in Oman and the rest of the Arab region is challenged by the scarcity of water resources, warned a top official at the water department in Oman. The warning came during the opening speech at the two-day International Workshop on Water Demand Management in Urban Areas in the Light of Tourism Development, which opened on Monday. Earlier, the UN World Tourism Organisation had predicted more than seven per cent annual growth in tourism industry in the Middle East. gulfnews.com_ 8/27/07

Some communities in Canada's Northwest Territories flunk water testing requirements: report

The territory's first report on drinking water quality reveals that less than half of communities are conducting monthly tests of their treated water for bacteria. About half of communities are doing the required annual testing for various chemicals. Although current territorial water testing requirements call for communities to test their treated drinking water at least 52 times a year for bacteria, some communities did as few as four tests last year. Communities are also required to test their treated water for various chemicals once a year. About 40 per cent of communities in the territory did not do that lest last year, the report found. CBC News_ 8/26/07

As China roars, pollution reaches deadly extremes

Just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut. Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Officials blame fetid air and water for thousands of episodes of social unrest. Health care costs have climbed sharply. Severe water shortages could turn more farmland into desert. China’s leaders recognize that they must change course. They are vowing to overhaul the growth-first philosophy of the Deng Xiaoping era and embrace a new model that allows for steady growth while protecting the environment. New York Times_ 8/26/07 (logon required)

At least 18 die in south Somalia when water pump fails

A generator-powered well used by thousands of people in a semi-desert region broke down, elders said on Thursday. Some of the dead had drunk contaminated water after the electric-powered pump bringing clean supplies from deep underground stopped working. Others, left with no water at all, died of thirst. "We need urgent help," Suldan Abdi Ali, an elder from Dif district, said by telephone from the area which borders Kenya. Somalia has had no functioning central government since clan-based warlords overthrew military ruler Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, plunging the Horn of Africa country into anarchy. Reuters_ 8/23/07

Lybia opens world's second largest water reservoir
"Saif al-Islam Opened yesterday Reservoir of Omar Mukhtar at the green basic people’s conference in Benghazi .  Omar Mukhtar reservoir boasts a total capacity of (24 million cubic meters) of water GMMRP which is is claimed to be the second largest water reservoir in the world.  Ljbc.net_8/23/07

Iraq moves to secure water resources
Iraq has called for a treaty with its neighbors that share the rivers Tigris and Euphrates in a bid to avoid water crisis in the future.  The two great rivers join in Iraq and are its main water resource. Both flow south from Turkey, the Euphrates first winding through Syria while the Tigris passes directly into northern Iraq.  "The problem is growing and we need an agreement. There is speculation that the next regional war will be about water, but more conflict does not achieve anything," Water Resources Minister Abdul Latif Rasheed told reporters in the Syrian capital.  Rasheed said the looming danger came from Turkey, which has been damming the Euphrates.  Rasheed said talks with Turkey have started after the US led invasion. But Iraq still lacked information on the scope of Turkish plans upstream and the expansion of cultivated land.  Turkey has repeatedly stated that its neighbors have no right to question what Ankara does with rivers rising within its borders.  Water resources have long been the centre of disputes between Turkey and the downstream countries, especially after the completion of the Ataturk dam in the 1990s. PressTV 8/23/07

Water shortages cause diarrhoea outbreaks in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare: Report

Water shortages in the Zimbabwean capital Harare have led to worsening outbreaks of diarrhoea with health centres treating around 900 cases per day, it was reported Monday. Water supplies in some suburbs of Harare, once known as the Sunshine City, have been erratic for at least two years. Residents have to make do with buying water from those lucky enough to have wells or using untreated sources of the commodity. Broken sewerage systems which often lie unfixed for months are compounding the problem. Water supply in Zimbabwe’s cities has been mired in controversy since President Robert Mugabe’s government ordered that water management be transferred from city councils - some of them controlled by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - to the state-controlled ZINWA water authority. The move led to an outcry from many residents, who also have to contend with shortages of power, fuel, medicine and basic commodities like bread and meat. Environment Minister Francis Nhema admitted Zimbabwe had “messed up” the environment. “People now realise that we messed up our environment and even the underground water which used to be safe to drink is no longer safe because we have killed the water table flows with our actions,” said Nhema, who currently chairs the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development. 8/20/07

Quake death toll climbs in Peru; areas lack water and power
A day after a powerful earthquake devastated cities along Peru's southern coast, government officials put the death toll at 437, with at least 17,000 people displaced and with wide areas without power, telephone service or road access on Thursday night. At least 300 of the dead were in Pisco, a port city about 125 miles south of Lima, and more were thought to be buried in rubble, local officials said. The mayor of Pisco, Juan Mendoza Uribe, said the quake had destroyed as much as 70 percent of the city, about 125 miles south of Lima. Power and water service were still out in Pisco on Thursday night. Officials with the United States Geological Survey on Thursday raised their initial estimate of the strength of the earthquake to a magnitude of 8.0, making it one of the biggest quakes to strike Peru in decades. The president of the Peruvian Congress, Luis Gonzales Posada, called on large companies to donate water, food, blankets and even coffins to aid in the rescue and reconstruction efforts. It was one of the worst earthquake tolls recorded in Peru, which is no stranger to the disasters given the major fault line running off its coast. In 2001, a magnitude 8.4 quake struck at Arequipa, killing 138 people. In 1868, a magnitude 9 quake struck and was followed by a tsunami that killed several thousand more people, creating the worst disaster in Peru's history. "There are corpses all over the place," Luis García, a reporter for El Comercio de Lima, said in a telephone interview from Pisco. He added: "The people need help to remove the rubble. They need tents, water and food, because there is nothing; everything is blocked off, destroyed." International Herald Tribune_ 8/16/07

Millions face compulsory water metering

Compulsory water meters could be installed within three years in millions of households across southern England under new government plans.  Twelve water companies, serving 23 million people, have been designated as areas of "serious water stress" and can now consider metering as a weapon in their attempt to conserve water.  But the utilities were told they would only be allowed to impose metering if they could convince the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, that the measure was essential.  Water companies welcomed the plans and said metering had already helped cut annual bills by more than £100 for the average family. But consumer groups expressed concern that it could leave poorer households out of pocket.  Telegraph_8/16/07

UN-HABITAT launches global alliance of public water operators
The United Nations agency tasked with promoting socially and environmentally sustainable housing has launched a new worldwide alliance with water operators that aims to improve to clean water and basic sanitation in impoverished communities.  The new Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance is designed to strengthen the capacities of the public water operators that provide more than 90 per cent of water and sanitation services in developing nations.  The operators will be able to share information more easily with each other and draw on professional capacity and other resources provided by governments and donor agencies, the UN Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) said in a press statement released yesterday.  The Alliance is expected to cost $7 million to run in its first three years, with UN-HABITAT to provide $1.8 million of that and Alliance partners to contribute the rest.  UN News Service_8/16/07

Zimbabwe suspends two senior water managers

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority has suspended two senior managers responsible for water management in Harare because of rampant water shortages and frequent machinery breakdowns.  The suspension came at a time the city's water problems worsened over the just ended Heroes and Defence Forces holidays.  Long queues filled with women carrying buckets were the order of the day in the majority of the western and southern suburbs over the long weekend.  Sources said the problems at the water authority were largely to do with personality clashes and failure by former Harare City Council workers and those originally with Zinwa to fully integrate.  The sources added that it seemed some of the replacement machinery being purchased was either of the wrong type or inferior quality as it broke soon after installation, costing Zinwa billions of dollars in replacement costs. AllAfrica_8/16/07

U.S. finalizes $48.5 Million Palestinian water project
U.S. Consul General Jacob Walles attended the opening ceremony of a U.S. Government funded water project in Bani Naim village near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on Wednesday.  This $48.5 million project will provide clean water for more than half a million Palestinians in the Hebron district, the largest in Palestine.  “This important initiative will ensure reliable water service for 600,000 Palestinians who are currently subject to significant water supply disruptions. The project affirms our support of the Palestinian Authority and its efforts to build a stable and economically viable Palestinian state,” US Consul General Walles stated in his remarks.  The final stage of the project will install water pumps, motors, and other electromechanical equipment, a press release by the U.S. Consulate stated.  Previously, USAID funded additional infra-structure improvements in Hebron communities: the construction and installation of 21 miles of pipeline, two water pumping stations, two groundwater wells, three storage reservoirs, and 14 miles of high-voltage power lines. Transportation between Eastern Hebron communities has also been significantly improved by the USAID funded paving of 21 miles of dirt road.  The American people have spent more than $1.7 billion in the West Bank and Gaza since 1993 to combat poverty, create jobs, improve education, build roads and water systems, construct and equip medical clinics, and promote good governance.  IMEMC_8/16/07

Singapore wins international award for water management
Singapore has won the prestigious "Stockholm Industry Water Awardan international award for its sustainable water management.  The Environment & Water Resources Minister, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said the latest international recognition for Singapore's water management policies will spur the country to push the boundaries.  Dr Yaacob added that having won the award, Singapore hopes to attract the world's best players so that it can set itself as a global hydrohub.  The Stockholm Industry Water Award is a prestigious prize which recognises innovative corporate development of water and wastewater process technologies.  It also recognises contributions to environmental improvement through advanced production methods. Channelnewsasia_8/15/07

Jordan faces major water shortage

Jordan's second-largest city, Irbid, is without any piped water. And in the capital Amman, water flows through city pipes only a few hours per week. Jordan is blaming the problem on neighboring Syria, which controls the flow of the Yarmouk River, Jordan's main source for water. NPR_ 8/14/07 (listen to audio report)

Melbourne Water fights against releasing documents on Australia water crisis

Melbourne Water is using thousands of taxpayer dollars in a legal fight to block the release of cabinet briefings on the state's water crisis. The Age requested access to the documents this year under freedom-of-information laws, after sources close to the water authority claimed that they would show the Government had withheld important information for political reasons. But the water authority refused the request, arguing the documents may cause "unnecessary debate" about the drought and Melbourne's water supplies. The State Opposition lodged a similar FoI application and, along with The Age, is appealing against the refusal to hand over the documents. The battle will go before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal later this year. The Age_ 8/13/07

Water plant chlorine vapour leak injures three UK workers

Three workers at a South West Water (SWW) treatment works in Devon are in hospital after breathing in a cloud of chlorine vapour. The chemical had leaked from a holding tank at the Bovey Cross Water Treatment Works near Moretonhampstead. SWW said there was no affect to the public water supply and it was not thought that the three workers were seriously injured. BBC News_ 8/10/07

Mayor of Ankara, Turkey under fire in water crisis

The mayor of Turkey's capital Ankara is facing growing calls for his resignation and for government intervention after a fourth day without water in the city of four million people. Ankara began water rationing nine days ago after levels in reservoirs feeding the city fell to just 4 percent of capacity. This means there is only water for two more months. The municipality then had to turn off the taps completely after a major pipe burst earlier this week. It now says water will be flowing again to the whole city by Friday. Newspapers asked Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who was a popular mayor of Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, in the 1990s, to intervene in the crisis. Ankara's Mayor Melih Gokcek belongs to Erdogan's centre-right, Islamist-rooted AK Party and has been in office 13 years. Gokcek has blamed the water shortage on global warming, but his critics say he failed to invest in new dams over the years despite repeated warnings from experts. Much of Turkey is suffering one of its driest years on record, but the capital, located in the sunbaked, dry interior, has been especially hard hit. Reuters_ 8/9/07

East Africa: Nile Basin MPs call for more cooperation on water resources

Parliamentarians from three Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) countries on Tuesday urged their respective governments to do more on utilizing the Nile water resources for the mutual benefits of the people. The Parliamentarians also expressed the need for enhanced cooperation among the countries for the effective exploitation of the natural riches of the Nile river. Parliamentarians from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt that are in the Joint Multipurpose Program (JMP) of the Eastern Nile Investment Program (ENSAP) are holding their JMP regional parliamentary committee first exchange visit to Ethiopia. ENSAP is a program which the three countries implement to develop the water resources of the Eastern Nile Basin in a sustainable and equitable way. Ambassador Mohammed Ali of Ethiopia, Salwa Bayoumi of Egypt and Elamin Dafa Alla of Sudan said there was a need to enhance the existing cooperation among the NBI countries and to invest more in research and ICT to better utilize water resources among the three countries. Daily Monitor/AllAfrica.com_ 8/9/07

UK company that left homes without water is losing 500 million litres a day

Water companies in England and Wales are losing 3.4 billion litres a day to leaks, according to an Ofwat report released yesterday. Severn Trent Water, which was forced to close a flooded water treatment plant in Gloucestershire last month, lost more than 500 million litres every day, and was the only company to miss the industry regulator’s targets. The company cut leaks by just nine million litres daily, missing the 17 million-litre target. The watchdog also criticised Severn Trent for interrupting the water supply and underinvesting in security. Severn Trent is the subject of a Serious Fraud Office investigation for allegedly misreporting leakage figures, and the company, which reported pretax profits of £252 million, pledged an extra £45 million to meet targets over the next three years. It also promised to cut charges by £12 million. The company, which serves 3.7 million households and businesses, was forced to evacuate the Mythe water treatment works near Tewkesbury last month after the River Avon and the River Severn burst their banks. The closure left 140,000 households in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire without running water for more than a week, and Severn Trent estimates the total cost of dealing with the flooding at between £25 million and £35 million. The report, covering the year ending in March, shows that leakages from all water companies in England and Wales fell by 100 million litres a day. But despite beating targets by 20 million litres daily, Thames Water, Britain’s largest water company, had the highest daily leakage rate, at 790 million litres. Thames Water is in the process of replacing 228 miles of ageing pipes at a cost of about £150 million. Times Online_ 8/10/07

Fecal coliform found in 18 Virac water sources

A non-government organization has recommended that the Virac municipal government undertake measures to monitor water quality after half of 33 wells and water sources in five barangays were found positive for fecal coliform contamination.  In its Water Quality Surveillance Report, the Pampanga Disaster Response Network Inc. (PDRN) urged municipal leaders to consider the creation of a Municipal Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Committee to oversee the operation of water systems and the quality of water produced and distributed by them.Catanduanes Tribune_8/8/07

Drought affects 7.5 million in China

While much of the country has been inundated by the worst rains of the year, widespread and prolonged drought is plaguing the northern, northeastern and southern regions. By the weekend, it had left at least 7.5 million people and 5 million head of livestock short of drinking water, according to figures from the Office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters (SFDH). Cheng Dianlong, deputy director of the SFDH, said the worst-hit regions were Heilongjiang and Jilin in the northeast, Inner Mongolia in the north, Jiangxi in the east, Guangxi in the south and Hunan in Central China. In Jiangxi Province, where more than 1 million people face drinking water shortages, 47 counties have carried out a total of 335 artificial rainfall operations, bringing almost 500 million cu m of rain, according to a Xinhua report. Cheng attributed the widespread drought to "continuous hot weather and insufficient rainfall". The SFDH predicted the drought would worsen as no significant rainfall was forecast for the next 10 days. China Daily/ China Economic Net_ 8/6/07

Disease fears rise as South Asia floods kill 320

Fears grew on Sunday that epidemics would strike the millions marooned or forced from their homes by South Asia's catastrophic floods as the death toll climbed to 320 and criticism of relief efforts spread. In the eastern Indian state of Assam, where up to 3 million people took refuge in emergency camps or were cut off in their villages, receding waters and soaring temperatures fed concerns of malaria and encephalitis outbreaks. The last fortnight has seen some of the worst floods in living memory affecting about 35 million people in the region, 10 million of them made homeless or left stranded. Valuable crops have been destroyed as rivers burst their banks. Much of eastern India and two-thirds of Bangladesh's 64 districts are inundated. Health workers already struggling to cope with large numbers of fever and dysentery cases fear that, as many people return to rebuild their homes, stagnant water and mud will provide ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Floods have also inundated part of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, forcing many to take shelter with relatives and friends. Meanwhile, shortages of food, safe drinking water and medicines have triggered outbreaks of diarrhoea, dysentery and other waterborne diseases in the flood shelters. Reuters_ 8/5/07

Bulgaria invests in water infrastructure
The Bulgarian Government is to start working on projects in the water sector worth more than 200 million leva.  Funding for the projects has been provided by the World Bank (WB), which granted Bulgaria a loan totalling 109 million euro, the Regional Development and Public Works Ministry said, as quoted by  The projects envision several dams including Neikovtsi near Tryavna and Luda Yana near Panagyurishte.  The rehabilitation of Studena dam near Pernik will be done through the same programme.  Implementation of the projects will start in April 2008.  Sophia Echo_8/1/07

July, 2007

Jordan's health and water ministers resign over water scandal

Jordan's health and water ministers resigned on Sunday following the outbreak of hundreds of cases of water-borne diarrhoea and fever in the north of the country, Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit said. "Responsibility in this case was two-fold -- moral and technical. And because the two ministers concerned have a moral obligation they tendered their resignation today," Bakhit told a news conference. But Bakhit also praised Saad al-Kharabshe (health) and Zafer al-Aalem (water). The two former ministers "worked sincerely" during the crisis this month when hundreds of people in the town of Manshiyet Bani Hassan in the northern governorate of Mafraq fell ill with diarrhoea and high fever after apparently drinking tainted water. Last week a government-commissioned probe showed that the outbreak had been caused by a non-fatal parasite known as cryptosporidium. The government has meanwhile pledged to revamp the aging water network in the affected region and has been been supplying fresh water by truck to the area. The premier also announced the creation of a ministerial committee to investigate the water problem and pledged "to punish whoever failed in his duties." AFP/Yahoo_ 7/29/07

Water supplies returning to homes in England's Gloucestershire, but don't drink it yet

Water supplies will begin returning to thousands of homes in Gloucestershire within hours, after engineers battled to repair a flooded treatment works. But Severn Trent Water - which plans to phase in supplies over a week - warned that the water would not initially be fit for drinking, even if boiled. About 140,000 Gloucestershire homes lost running water supplies after the floods first hit more than a week ago, putting the Mythe treatment plant, near Tewkesbury, out of action. Severn Trent said it hoped to restore the water supply to all homes in the region by Thursday. Newly restored water must not be used for preparing food, making ice or brushing teeth, it added. Director of water services Andy Smith said 1,200 miles of water pipes still needed to be re-filled. BBC News_ 7/29/07

Italy's lakes have 'sick water'
There is nothing wrong with the appearance of Italy's magnificent lakes. The water of Como, surrounded by high peaks, is deep blue and as clear as if it has just come tumbling out of the Alps. The village of Laglio, on the west shore of the lake's south-westerly fork, has been enjoying a boom since the actor George Clooney bought two villas there. Visitors crowd the little beach, too, families squashed on to towels enjoying the heatwave, children gambolling in and out of the water. There is a sign that says "No Bathing", but no one pays any attention. What possible harm could lurk in this sparkling water?  Plenty, according to Legambiente, Italy's most prominent environmental organisation. The "no bathing" sign is there for an excellent reason. The water is sick. And not just slightly under the weather. The latest snapshot of pollution in Italy's lakes indicates Laglio is one of the worst-polluted lake beaches in the country. Bacteria is measured in terms of "colony-forming units"(cfu), a measure of viable bacterial numbers per 100 millilitres of water. The upper permitted limit of cfu for lake water that is safe to bathe in is 100. But at Laglio the figure is 6,800 - 68 times too high.  The shocking figures, repeated right across the Italian Lakes region and in two of the biggest lakes in Umbria, emerge from a second year of spot checks by Legambiente. "We started to monitor the lakes last year," said Stefano Ciafani, the scientific director of the organisation, "and we found a level of pollution equal to that of 20 years ago. The problem of purification has not been resolved, and this applies to all the municipalities that border the lake, and also those at some distance from it, which use the rivers that discharge into the lake as sewage pipes."  The Independent_ 7/27/07

Pakistan's water network map not updated for 20 years

The Water and Sanitation Agency has not updated the database of its water distribution network for the last 20 years which is resulting in the loss of water pressure in various localities due to double and triple piping, sources told The News.  According to Wasa sources, the Wasa is yet to carry out a new study of its water distribution network and it is operating its huge water distribution network without mapping. They said the agency has also not implemented the Geographical Information System to monitor its underground water distribution system. The GIS is in place in a majority of countries, they added.  A senior Wasa official requesting anonymity said absence of mapping resulted in decreased water pressure for users. He said double and triple piping was a serious issue especially in central Lahore, Shahdara and Gulberg. He said the agency was also unable to maintain its water distribution system due to the absence of mapping. He said loss of positive pressure and lack of maintenance also led to bacterial contamination of water.  The International News_7/26/07

Emergency water supplies in UK run low
Water company bosses have asked the British government for urgent help in providing clean supplies to flood-hit Gloucester, amid fears they are running out.  Severn Trent Water says 350,000 people are without tap water and it could be two weeks before supplies are restored.  Many residents say they have struggled to find any mobile street dispensers - known as bowsers - with water in them.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who had earlier pledged £46m for flood-hit councils, promised that more water supplies were coming.  BBC_7/25/07

Privatization the way forward in Saudi Arabia, says water minister

Water privatization through the process of public private partnerships (PPPs) is a step closer to becoming the reality of water production and distribution in Saudi Arabia. The process of reform in the water industry recently took a major step with the formation of the National Water Company (NWC) and approval of its bylaws by the Supreme Economic Council (SEC). The plan intends to achieve a separation (unbundling) of water and wastewater operations on a city-by-city basis and offer wastewater treatment plants to the private sector on contract terms yet to be finalized. Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah Al-Hussayen laid out candidly the facts that have driven the decision toward PPPs forming the basis for the Kingdom’s industrial and domestic water industry. Saudi Arabia has limited water resources — in terms of ground and fossil water — and the minister described the current level of performance in the industry as “below the generally accepted standards." Coupled with that were the current water tariff — which is one of the lowest in the world — and the transport and production costs — which are among the highest. Arab News_ 7/25/07

'Once-in-a-Century' rains displace millions in China

After a month of heavy rains, flood warnings are being issued in many parts of China as more heavy rain is forecast for the southwestern, central and eastern regions over the next few days. Chinese President Hu Jintao directed local officials to provide enough meals, clothes, accommodation, medication and clean water to the public, and to spare no effort to rebuild roads and recover drinking water and electricity services. Since mid-June, more than 100 million Chinese have been affected by the rains and flooding. Officials say 425 people have died, while 110 are missing. An estimated 3.6 million people have been forced from their homes. According to statistics on China's Ministry of Health website, 980 counties in 23 Chinese regions have been affected by various rainstorms and floods since the middle of May. The Red Cross Society of China, RCSC, is also responding to the immediate needs of flood victims in 13 provinces, providing supplies worth over 10 million yuan (US$1.4 million). In Anhui alone, more than 300,000 people are facing shortages of clean water. ENS_ 7/23/07

Thousands in England without fresh water as floods bring chaos

More than 350,000 people are facing days without fresh water supplies and a clean-up operation lasting months as devastating floods this weekend left communities cut off across central and southern England. Last night waters were still rising in several parts of the country as the Severn and Thames threatened to burst their banks in Gloucester and Oxford, bringing more chaos to a region where hundreds of people have been evacuated after downpours which began on Friday and swept the country over the weekend. Severn Trent Water said 150,000 homes are without water in Gloucestershire and about 250,000 more residents of Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury could be without clean water for the next 72 hours after a treatment plant was flooded. People began panic-buying water in Gloucestershire yesterday. The town was cut off, with police using six boats to ferry people in and out, and the hospital was evacuated. Shona Arora, director of public health for Gloucestershire, advised people to conserve water and not to panic buy. She asked people not to take baths or try to clean up flood damage, as that would use up the water supply from the mains system. The Guardian_ 7/23/07

Uganda: Arivu gets tap water

ARIVU sub-county in Arua district commissioned the first tap water system on Sunday, July 15. The gravity-flow system covers over 6km, with 13 tap stands. It is expected to serve over 5,000 people. The senior assistant water engineer, Albert Orijabo, said the project was initiated in 2003 after identifying a safe water catchment area.  The resident district commissioner, Ibrahim Abiriga, who commissioned the scheme, asked the water department to identify more upland rivers or springs that can be developed to increase the water coverage, which stands at 74.9%.  All Africa_7/19/07

India-Bangladesh talks on water likely in August

India and Bangladesh are likely to hold talks in New Delhi next month to finalise the recommendation for striking an interim deal on Teesta water sharing. The water resources secretaries of India and Bangladesh will hold the meeting in the Indian capital from August 7-9, subject to New Delhi's confirmation of the schedule, media reports said. The secretary-level meeting of the Joint River Commission, supposed to take place every six months alternately in the two capitals, has remained stalled for about three years after its seventh meeting in Dhaka in September, 2004. The joint committee of experts, led by the water resources secretaries of the two countries, is assigned for reviewing the flows of seven major common rivers out of 52 that fall into the Bay of Bengal through Bangladesh territory, and to make their recommendations for sharing of water. PTI/The Hindu_ 7/15/07

Putrid puddle only drinking water for many in Egypt's Brulus area of the Nile Delta

Anger and desperation brought residents to the streets, blocking the local highway in protest at what they say is the Egyptian government's indifference to the crisis. The UN estimates that tens of thousands of people die each year in Egypt from water borne diseases or dehydration. Government opposition parties say bureaucratic red tape is delaying the building of a purified water network in the area, with priority being given to more affluent and tourist-drawing areas. People must often walk many kilometres to get cleaner water, or in some cases they end up fighting each other for what little water they get here. Aljazeera.net_ 7/15/07

Chlorine gas from water plant kills three in Nigeria

At least three people were killed when chlorine gas being used at a water treatment plant in Nigeria's southeastern Cross River state escaped into nearby homes, residents and state officials said. New Netim, a small community in the Odukpani district of the state, adjoining the water treatment plant belonging to the Cross River State Water Board, was enveloped by clouds of chlorine gas on 5 July, leading to the death of three people, said resident Ufot James. Uma Echeghe, an official of the water board, said the gas escaped from one of 24 chlorine cylinders being used to treat water at the water-pumping station following a sudden power failure. But the official said only one death had been reported to the water board. UN Integrated Regional Information Networks/AllAfrica.com_ 7/10/07

Ghana: U.S. $1.5 billion needed to meet Millennium Development Goals for water

The Community Mobilization Manager of World Vision, Mrs. Cecilia Ama Anderson says Ghana needs US$1.5 billion to meet its target of urban and rural supply of water. Mrs. Anderson said data on the Ghana water supply systems as at 1990 to 2000 reveal that out of the 8.3 million people living in the urban areas only 40% households have access to pipe borne water. She further revealed that unaccountable water due to illegal connections and other factors was estimated at 19% and it represents almost 50% of the given total output. She said a survey conducted in the three most endemic guinea worm regions- the Northern, Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions- by the Ministry of Works and Housing revealed that the main causes to this water-borne disease were the breakdowns in water systems like boreholes and total lack of potable water in certain communities. Public Agenda/AllAfrica.com_ 7/9/07

South Africa: Cape Town's new dam to increase water supply

The anticipated completion of a new dam on the Berg River at Franschhoek is expected to substantially increase water supply in Cape Town. The Berg Water Project, to be completed in the next few weeks, was implemented by the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority on behalf of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. According to Paul Rhode, head of resource and infrastructure planning in the Water and Sanitation Department of the City of Cape Town, the new dam will provide an additional 81 million cubic meters of water annually. Tshwane_ 7/9/07

Water level in Philippines' Angat Dam drops, crisis looms

Despite the onslaught of the rainy season, an impending water crisis looms as water level continues to drop at critical point at the giant Angat Dam reservoir, officials said Saturday. As the impending water crisis looms, he said the National Water Resources Board's (NWRB) technical working group is now studying the possible reduction of water supply to Metro Manila. To make things worse, water supply for irrigation of farmlands also needs to be addressed. The government is studying the possibility of constructing a dam at the Candaba Swamp in Pampanga, Balintingo Dam and the Leyban Dam in Nueva Ecija. Asia Pulse/Yahoo_ 7/9/07

China starts digging water tunnels beneath Yellow River

A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Sunday as construction began on a pair of tunnels -- part of the massive south-to-north water diversion project -- that will traverse the Yellow River and bring Yangtze River water all the way to Beijing. In 2002, the Chinese government approved the south-to-north water diversion project which aims to relieve severe water shortages in parched northern areas. The project will divert water from the Yangtze River, China's longest river, to the thirsty north of the country. Three routes are planned -- eastern, middle and western. Construction has already begun on the eastern and middle routes, with a total investment of 200 billion yuan (US$26 billion). Xinhua_ 7/8/07

Stiffer penalties for China's water polluters
The proposed amendment to the current water pollution law will feature stiffer penalties and more protection of drinking water sources, an insider said yesterday.  The suggested new content includes tighter limits on total discharge levels, a permit system for pollution discharge and the setting up of an emergency plan, an official from the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), who asked not to be named, said.  The draft amendment was approved on Wednesday at the State Council's executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiaobao.  It is now awaiting reviews by the State legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, submitted by the State Council.  Zhou Shengxian, the minister of the environmental watchdog, had earlier vowed to use an "iron fist" to tackle the growing water crises.  Chinadaily_7/6/07

200,000 people affected by water pollution in east China city

Water pollution in Shuyang County, east China's Jiangsu Province, has caused close of the county's water supply system in urban area since Monday, affecting 200,000 local residents, government sources said on Tuesday. Harmful substance in the county's water supply plant was detected at 3:00 p.m. Monday. The substance was identified as ammonia and azote and the amount is 28 mg per cubic meter. This is much higher than the standard for drinking water, according to local environment watchdog. Initiate investigation shows that the pollution was caused by industrial waste water of a chemical plant located on the upper reaches of a local river. In a bid to provide drinking water for the residents, the local government has put into use of 33 wells, which fetch water from unpolluted ground water sources. Meanwhile, the county has poured water from Hongze Lake into local water sources to dilute the pollution substance. Further efforts and investigation on the accident is still under way. Xinhua_ 7/4/07

Singapore to host inaugural International Water Week
Singapore will host an inaugural international event to showcase new water technologies and solutions.  6,000 delegates will convene at Suntec Singapore 23-27 June 2008, for the five-day Singapore International Water Week.  A Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, with a kitty of S$1.5 million over five years, will also be awarded at the event.  The Singapore meeting is set to complement the well-known World Water Week, held in Stockholm annually.  Says Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, Environment & Water Industry Devt Council, "We want to create an event for the water industry that really would be a global event that would attract water leaders and water experts…every year…  "…this will be differentiated and complementary to other international water events, in that we will focus on technologies…application…successful solutions, and …the Asia Pacific area in which we operate."  One of the highlights of the event is the award of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize - worth S$300,000, a gold medallion and a certificate.  The international water award recognises individuals and organisations for their outstanding contribution to solving the world's water problems, through implementation of policies or application of innovative technologies.  ChannelNewsAsia.com_7/2/07

Beijing tells residents water safe straight from the tap

Residents of China's capital have been assured that their tap water is "drinkable even without being boiled", state media reported, a breakthrough of sorts in a country where boiling drinking water is second nature. The Beijing Waterworks Group said the 2008 Olympic host city's water had passed 106 tests for contaminants set down in new national standards, the Xinhua news agency reported late on Sunday. "This is a blessing for Beijing residents," said the China news agency. "For many years now, owing to a host of environmental factors, the quality of Beijing water has been doubted by the outside world." Many of the city's near 16-million dwellers might need convincing. China has been beset by scares over pollution menacing cities' drinking water, most recently in Wuxi in the country's east, where an algae outbreak left much of nearby Taihu Lake putrid and shut down supplies to many residents. Chinese drinking water suppliers across the country must meet the new standards set by the Ministry of Health no later than 2012. Reuters_ 7/1/07

June, 2007

Tainted seafood risks China's stake in U.S.;Water quality at issue

In less then a decade China's booming seafood trade has put tremendous pressure on local water supplies across the nation.   When local water supplies could not keep pace and fish began dying from contamination, many fish farmers resorted to antibiotics and other chemicals.  In trying to protect their business, China's fish farmers may have fueled a far larger problem: China's seafood industry, the world's largest source of farmed fish, is the latest casualty in a wave of scrutiny that threatens to undermine the nation's reputation as the superstore to the world. The case highlights a vulnerability in China's economy: the government's challenge to keep pace with growth to ensure that exporters meet health and safety standards in markets around the globe.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday moved to block the sale of five types of Chinese farm-raised seafood found to be contaminated by unapproved drugs and additives.  The seafood crackdown could be particularly troublesome for China, experts say because China is the largest foreign source of U.S. seafood—contributing more than a fifth of imports.

Thursday's import alert affecting Chinese catfish, shrimp, dace, eel and a catfish-related fish called basa comes after investigators and U.S. lobbyists raised questions about Chinese seafood.  In repeated tests over the past seven months, the FDA found residues of unapproved drugs and food additives in Chinese seafood exports. Thursday's order was issued, the FDA said, because the agency found that the problem "is endemic throughout a country."  Chicago Tribune_6/30/07

China to raise water quality standards: officials
China said it would raise drinking water standards and establish a national inspection network to monitor quality, in the wake of algae outbreaks that cut off water supplies to millions of people.  Some 71 new standards, including limits on microbe content, organic matter and disinfectants, would come into effect from July 1, health officials said at a news conference on Friday.  "From that time, people in urban and rural areas will have the same water hygiene standards," said Zhang Chengyu, vice secretary of the Regulation Department of Ministry of Health.  Zhang said China would soon establish a national network to inspect water quality, and had already rolled out a pilot monitoring scheme in seven provinces from May this year.  Reuters_6/29/07

Contaminated water: Pakistan's WASA to shut down 30 plants before July

Up to 30 water-filtration plants will be shut down before July as they are delivering contaminated water, WASA Managing Director Islamul Haq told Daily Times on Wednesday.  Haq said that WASA had found contamination in water samples taken from the 30 plants during a survey.  Closing down the faulty plants would help stop outbreaks of diseases, said Haq, adding that WASA was unable to repair the plants, which would cost Rs 6-7 million, because of the shortage of funds.  He said the water samples were found unfit for human consumption, adding that bacteria were the main source of contamination.  He said the plants had developed faults due not to ill maintenance but to the use of substandard materials.   Daily Times_6/27/07

Turkey needs 730 more dams to avoid water shortage in the future

Deeply affected by global warming and passing through one of its driest periods, Turkey is now motivated to seek out long term measures against water scarcity, which is rearing its ugly head particularly in metropolitan areas.  With the discovery that Turkey has adequate water resources that are simply not being effectively utilized, the State Waterworks Authority (DS?) has developed a project for better usage of these resources.  To this end, the DS? has decided to implement projects that will facilitate easy transfer of water among different regions. In this respect, Japanese and Canadian models will be taken as basis. Regulatory depots will be built along large water transmission channels and projects for transferring water between water basins will be implemented.  The DS? has conducted studies in order to find out what must be done in order to fend off any water scarcity problem for the next 30 years and found that Turkey has to build 730 dams to this end. However, Turkey will need $128 million for 730 dams.  Today's Zaman_6/27/07

Darfur's roots in a war for water
Decades of drought helped trigger Darfur's violence as rival groups fought over scarce water and arable land.
Now, experts fear the war and its refugee crisis are making the environment even worse, leaving the land increasingly uninhabitable and intensifying tensions with no end to the drought in sight.  Darfur's tragedy could be repeated in much of North Africa and the Middle East, where growing populations are straining a very limited water supply. Data show rainfall steadily declining in the region. “The consciousness of the world on the issue of climate change has to change fast,” said Muawia Shaddad of the Sudan Environment Conservation Society. “Darfur is just an early warning.”  Darfur's ethnic African farmers and tribes of mostly Arab nomads had long been competing for the region's meager water and land resources.  But the severe droughts of the 1980s and meager rainfall since then sharpened the conflict between the two populations, and when African tribes took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated government in 2003, the Arabs in Darfur were willing allies of the government – they already were competing with the farmers for water. OC Register_6/21/07

Welsh water company prosecuted over bug
Dwr Cymru Welsh Water is facing charges of supplying water unfit for human consumption after a stomach bug left hundreds ill in north Wales.  The bug cryptosporidium affected more than 230 who drank water from a Snowdonia reservoir in November 2005.  The Drinking Water Inspectorate is bringing the prosecution against the company, which faces five charges.  About 70,000 homes in parts of Gwynedd and Anglesey whose water was supplied from the Llyn Cwellyn reservoir at Rhyd-ddu, were told to boil their drinking water for two months after the outbreak.  A total of 231 people fell ill with the bug which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.  Health experts said at the time that the likely source was the Llyn Cwellyn reservoir, although tests at the lake always proved negative.  Since the outbreak, the water company has installed new ultra-violet treatment to kill the bug.  BBC News_6/21/07

Water temporarily shut off to about 80,000 in Quebec

About 80,000 people in several communities southeast of Montreal had their water temporarily shut off Friday, after a filtration plant shut down and emergency generators failed to kick in. Residents had no or little water from about 6:45 a.m. until around 9 a.m. Workers are still trying to determine what happened at the Richelieu Valley inter-municipal water works filtration plant. Residents are being told they can use water for showers, flushing toilets and cooking, provided it is first boiled. That order is expected to stand until Monday or Tuesday at the earliest. CTV_ 6/15/07

Malaysia's long-delayed inter-state water project to be opened for tender later this year

The RM9bil Selangor-Pahang inter-state water project would ease the water shortage problem in Selangor by transporting fresh water from Pahang. Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB) chief executive officer Teo Yen Hua said PAAB was currently finalising details with the Negri Sembilan government on the corporatisation of the state’s water supply department. The corporatisation involved PAAB taking over the state government's loan in exchange for water assets, Teo said at the third annual Malaysia private funding initiative (PFI) programme conference yesterday. He hopes the success of the deal with the Negri Sembilan government would pave the way for similar arrangements in other states. Investment analysts expect the Selangor-Pahang water project to spin off many contracts for water pipe suppliers and engineering firms. The Star_ 6/13/07

Water pressure: the race is on to plug the leaks and quench London's thirst

It's hard to imagine 780 million litres of water. It's even harder to imagine that this is how much - give or take the odd million litre here or there - Thames Water leaked every day on average between April and March of this year. That means that for every four litres of water that make it to a Thames customer's tap, more than one litre is lost en route. Yet this staggering amount of leakage still represents a huge improvement for the UK's largest - and most maligned - water company. It will be the first time since 2000 that Thames has met its targets in this respect. Last year, the second worst drought in the UK in a century forced Thames to impose a hosepipe ban on its eight million residential customers. But the water company earned opprobrium from consumer groups, MPs and the media alike when it was found still to be missing its own leakage targets - at the same time as telling consumers to use less water. The Independent on Sunday_ 6/10/07

May, 2007

Russia - Georgia water dispute becomes political

The Russian Foreign Ministry, on May 31, accused Tbilisi of playing “political games” with the water supply to the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali.  A water pipeline, which crosses Georgian-controlled territory to the north of Tskhinvali, was damaged by local residents, who use the water for irrigation purposes. This is not unusual, but this time, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Georgian side is preventing Ossetian workers from repairing the damaged pipeline.  “Tbilisi is demanding that they first seek permission from the Tbilisi-loyal [Dimitri] Sanakoev [head of South Ossetian provisional administration], who is based [in the Georgian village of] Kurta. The South Ossetian authorities consider any contact with him [Sanakoev] unacceptable. By doing so, Tbilisi has actually turned residents of Tskhinvali and Georgian villages into hostages of its political games,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.  Meanwhile, officials in Tbilisi have claimed that the South Ossetians themselves are responsible for the water shortage, because they allegedly cut water supply from a pumping station in Java, a town in the north of the breakaway region.  South Ossetian secessionist leader Eduard Kokoity has warned that water supply to Georgian villages in the region would be cut if supply to Tskhinvali were not immediately restored.  Civil Georgia_5/31/07

Bill to protect Great Lakes water passes final vote in Ontario legislature
A bill to protect Great Lakes water from being sold or shipped across the continent passed its final hurdle in the Ontario legislature Thursday, as all three parties voted unanimously to pass it into law.  Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay called it "a very important accomplishment," as Ontario has taken a step toward implementing a deal signed with Quebec and eight U.S. states to institute stronger protections for Great Lakes water.  The international agreement seeks to ban transfers of water outside the Great Lakes basin to protect against other jurisdictions trying to access the resource.  Canada.com_5/31/07

Canada's MPPs can't drink the water

Welcome to the Ontario Legislature, but be careful what you drink.

As MPPs voted on a new law to protect drinking water yesterday, they learned that lead has been detected in the tap water of the 114-year-old building.  Staff and hundreds of tourists and schoolchildren who visit daily are being told not to drink its tap water.

"We are posting notices in all places, like the washrooms," said Speaker Mike Brown, who is responsible for administration of the building.  The tests were done in the past two days when a firm measuring indoor air quality was asked to check the water.

The move followed last week's announcement from Environment Minister Laurel Broten that tap water in 36 cities, including Toronto, will be tested for lead contamination after Ontario's chief water inspector found high levels of lead in drinking water in London, Hamilton, Owen Sound and Sarnia.  "It is a poignant reminder for us all about the importance of drinking water," Broten said yesterday, after the Legislature tests were revealed.  The Star_5/31/07

Fast-spreading algae smothers lake, contaminates drinking water for millions of Chinese
Fast-spreading, foul-smelling blue-green algae smothered a lake in eastern China, contaminating the drinking water for millions of people and sparking panic-buying of bottled water, state media said Thursday.  The algae bloom in Lake Tai, a famous but long-polluted tourist attraction in Jiangsu province, formed because water levels are at their lowest in 50 years, leading to excess nutrients in the water, Xinhua said.  Officials in Wuxi, a city along the banks of the lake, called an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss measures to deal with the situation and allay public fears, said a posting on the local government's Web site.  "The government calls for the residents facing the natural disaster to help each other to deal with the difficulties," the notice said, advising people to boil the water before drinking it.  The International Herald Tribune_5/31/07

Ontario Canada's water safe: medical officer; concerns raised over lead in pipes

The area medical officer of health is confident the city's water supply is safe - but he's applauding the province's call to test residential tap water for lead.  "It is safe to drink," said Dr. Garry Humphreys. "I think the Ministry (of the Environment) has done the right thing by doing a survey across Ontario to see how extensive the problem is."  The province has ordered at least 35 municipalities - including Peterborough - to test tap water for lead. Chief drinking water inspector Jim Smith wrote municipalities in April and recommended they test tap water. The order came after concerns with high lead levels in drinking water surfaced in London.  Few municipalities have submitted test results so mandatory orders are being issued. The Peterborough Examiner_5/24/07

Kathmandu drinking water project runs dry

Maoists alter management direction

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to withdraw its assistance from the Melamchi Drinking Water Project (MDWP) after the government failed to fulfill the international agency's demand of giving the contract of supplying water to a foreign company.  According to a high-level government source, the ABD headquarters has written an email to Finance Minister Ram Saran Mahat informing him that it will stop all assistance to the project from the end of June.  With the withdrawal of ADB (the largest and most important donor) investment, the future of the MDWP seems uncertain.  The MDWP, which is worth 340 million dollars, owes ADB 140 million dollars. Therefore, it can be said that the project could go “out of our hands," the official said.  This situation arose after Minister for Physical Planning and Works Hisila Yami telephoned the ADB office and informed them that the government would not give the contract of managing the drinking water in the capital to the foreign company—Severn Trent Water International. An agreement was supposed to be signed with Severn Trent regarding the management contract this Tuesday.  Earlier, the former government had decided to sign an agreement with the foreign company on April 30. However, after the Maoists joined the interim government, Yami has extended that date to May 15. But instead of holding a meeting and signing the agreement, Yami telephoned the ADB and informed that they were looking for a substitute for Severn Trent.  eKantipur.com_5/17/07

EU funds Ugandan water project
The European Union (EU) has earmarked sh65b to supply clean water to the northern region of Uganda. The programme will help the internally displaced persons in Kitgum and the neighbouring districts to access water as they return home.  Commissioning the sh8b water supply system in Mubende town on Friday, the head of the EU delegation, Vincent De Visscher, said the EU was committed to helping Ugandans access clean water. The project was funded by the EU and the Government.  De Visscher appealed to the government and the Directorate of Water Development to charge low prices for water in rural areas. He encouraged the public to pay water bills promptly to maintain the project. The New Vision_5/16/07

UK concludes inquiry into 1988 Cornish town's poisoned water; findings not yet public

No findings have yet been published about the incident when 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate entered water supplies in Camelford. Up to 20,000 people in and around the town were affected in 1988. The report on whether exposure to chemicals resulted in ill-health will be reviewed by the Food Standards Agency's Committee on Toxicity. It will then be passed onto the Health and Environment ministers. The aluminium sulphate entered the water supply after it was delivered into the wrong tank at the former South West Water Authority (SWWA) water treatment works at Lowermoor. A 2005 draft inquiry report said it was unlikely that the chemicals involved in the incident would have caused any persistent or delayed health effects but recommended further research. People across a large area of north Cornwall were exposed to levels of aluminium 500 to 3,000 times the acceptable limit defined by the European Union. BBC News_ 5/14/07

Africa still lacks safe water despite strong growth

Access to safe drinking water has not improved in Africa, especially the sub-Saharan region, despite several years of strong economic growth, the African Development Bank said on Sunday. The bank forecast Africa's economy would grow 5.9 percent this year, but even so Africa was unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goal of providing safe drinking water for 78 percent of the population by 2015. In sub-Saharan Africa only 56 percent of the people have access to what the bank calls "improved" drinking water; that leaves 332 million people without such access, a number expected to increase by 47 million by 2015. Water resources are hugely variable across Africa, but the bank said it was poor management that was taking the greatest toll on availability. Reuters_ 5/14/07

Olympic adventure: water drinking
Avoid drinking tap water during the 2008 Olympics — unless you‘re living in the Olympic Village. That was the advice from a high-ranking Beijing official on Wednesday, explaining the city‘s attempt to "guarantee water safety" for the Olympics.  "The quality of the water provided by the water plants is safe enough," said Bi Xiaogang, vice director general of the Beijing Water Management Bureau.  The lack of potable tap water, chronic traffic jams and filthy air are major problems facing Beijing officials as they try to give the Chinese capital a complete facelift with about 500,000 foreign visitors expected for the 17-day Olympics.

Despite upgrading water plants and urging conservation, Beijing faces severe water problems. The city has no major rivers and relies on rainfall, underground supplies "and support from surrounding provinces and cities," Bi said.  Bi said a canal that will divert water from river-rich central China to the arid north will be ready in April 2008, taking the pressure off Beijing‘s limited supply.  "It is continuing on schedule," Bi said. "It will be able to divert water from full reservoirs in Hubei (central China) province to Beijing to alleviate the shortage of water and ensure water security for the Olympic Games ."  The Kindred Times_5/10/07

Greens skeptical of gov't plans to boost fresh water in Israel's Yarkon River

The chance that clean water will once again flow in Israel's streams instead of purified waste seems so unlikely that even the recent promise of a governmental body to do exactly this in the case of the Yarkon has not persuaded the bodies involved in rehabilitating the river. These groups are concerned over the increased use of fresh water in times of drought and prefer to base the water supply to the Yarkon on purified waste water.  The Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority (INNPPA) wants to see fresh water flow through the Yarkon, as was recently proposed by experts in the National Water Authority. However, the Yarkon Stream Authority (YSA) wants to stick to the plan of using purified waste water in the river. It says this is the only practicable plan, and is in keeping with a cabinet decision to channel mostly purified waste water into the stream. Haaretz.com_5/9/07

Somalia cholera death fears grow

An escalation in violence in Somalia has left many too frightened to seek treatment for cholera, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has warned. It says there could be a "humanitarian crisis" as people flee fighting between Ethiopian-backed troops and Islamist insurgents in the capital Mogadishu. MSF has called on those fighting to respect the work of aid agencies. Just over 1,200 patients have reached the cholera treatment centre - but MSF say this is the "tip of the iceberg". Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria - and is often linked to contaminated supplies of drinking water. BBC News_ 5/2/07

April, 2007

England's South West Water rules out restrictions on summer water use; No drought in that area

Droughts have affected the South East over the past two years but for the 11th straight year no water restrictions are needed in the South West. Its reservoirs are 90% full, 6% higher than at this time last year and 40% higher than last November. Nearly 60% of households are now on a water meter. BBC News_ 4/23/07

Scotland's water is dearer and dirtier than England's
Scottish Water provides the worst, least efficient and costliest service in Britain, according to a damning report released yesterday.  The publicly-owned authority performed worse than the 22 privately-owned water companies in England and Wales on almost every indicator, according to the industry watchdog, Ofwat.  Water quality was found to be particularly bad, with substandard samples found ten times as often in Scottish supplies, reservoirs and treatment works compared with England and Wales.  On measures of bacteria - coliforms - the Scottish figures were twice as high as in England, and Scotland also performed poorly on water colour, the presence of lead and level of sediment in the water.  Ofwat compared the performance of water companies from all over the world from the latest figures available, from 2004-5, and although Scottish Water did relatively well against foreign counterparts, it suffered against English and Welsh companies. News_4/20/07

Singapore and Queensland to share water expertise

Singapore and Queensland have agreed to collaborate on new research and development on water recycling, desalination and urban water management, Queensland Water Minister Craig Wallace announced today.  Mr Wallace said Singapores Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, and he had agreed to collaborate on water issues after talks in Singapore.  Mr Wallace last week represented Queensland at the inaugural Desalination and Water Reuse Leadership Summit in Singapore.  The summit was attended by water experts from 17 countries, many of which are facing the same water and climate change challenges as Queensland.  This is about the SmartState and the IslandState sharing water ideas and innovations, Mr Wallace said.  Singapore has shown leadership and made great progress with water recycling, desalination and urban water management, he said.  Press Release_4/18/07

China moves to save Dongting Lake, the nation's second largest body of fresh water

China has issued a document called Dongting Lake Protection Principles to try to counter the shrinkage and pollution of the country's second largest freshwater lake in Hunan Province. The principles were issued at the second Yangtze River Forum which opened on Sunday in Changsha, capital city of Hunan in central China, on the theme of "protection, rehabilitation and development of the Yangtze River and Dongting Lake". A recent study by the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission showed that cities along the river discharge at least 14.2 billion tons of polluted water every year, 42 percent of China's total. Pollution in the 2,800 sq km Dongting Lake, which flows into the Yangtze River, the country's longest waterway, has decimated marine life and spread diseases like schistosomiasis -- caught by swimming or wading in water where there are parasitic worms. "About 70 percent of China's rivers are polluted and 96 percent of rural villages do not have adequate sewage plants," according to Yang Dongping, vice president of Friends of Nature and chief editor of the Green Book of the Environment. Xinhua/Chinawater.net_ 4/17/07

Water institute could help solve Central Asian disputes

A proposal by Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ednan Karabaev to establish a regional research institute for water and energy could help end the persistent political wrangling over cross-border water use in Central Asia.  During a meeting between European Union delegates and foreign ministers from all five central Asian states in Astana on March 28, held to consult on the new EU strategy for the region, the Kyrgyz foreign minister put forward a proposal to set up a Water and Energy Academy in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, with the EU's support.  The new institute would train experts from all the Central Asian countries on hydroelectric power, while undertaking research that will benefit the region, Karabaev said.  Central Asia's largest rivers have their sources in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. These two countries use the water flow mainly to generate electricity, whereas Uzbekistan and Kazakstan further downstream rely on the water for crop irrigation.  Although numerous mechanisms and plans have been produced to manage water use, the upstream and downstream countries have failed to agree on terms that would be acceptable to all.  Political and water analysts in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan say developing a regional-level academic centre for water management could help Central Asia reach a common view of how the resource should be distributed.  ENS Newswire_4/5/07

River pollution stops water supply in SW China
A section of the Honghe River in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has been polluted by lead, and water supply suspended, local authorities confirmed on Thursday.  Excessive lead and other heavy metals were detected in a 100-kilometer section of the Honghe River between the Longtan power station and the Du'anhe River in Dahua Yao Autonomous County. Tests on pollutant levels are underway, and the cause of the pollution is being investigated.  The Yantan water plant has stopped supplying water to local people, who now rely on water from a local power plant. The impact on six other water plants in the area is not yet known.  About 150,000 people are potentially affected.  China View_4/6/07

New Zealand's water pollution record slammed in international report

The OECD Environmental Performance Review of New Zealand said better protection of surface and ground waters was needed because pollution was affecting rivers, streams and lakes. Irrigation was also taking a toll.  It said regulations on water quality or economic measures would avoid problems.  Environment Minister David Benson-Pope said last month that the Government was very clear that water was a public resource which the Government and local authorities continued to manage on behalf of all New Zealanders.  The Government had no intention of privatising water, or establishing water markets for trading water rights.  The report said climate protection policy needed to be strengthened. It criticised the dropping on carbon tax plans in 2005 -- a decision Labour made because of political opposition. The report said the decision had impacted on New Zealand's ability to meet its Kyoto target. The report also recommended other measures like emission trading.  New Zealand Herald_4/5/07


Higher water bills in Australia's Victoria state won't reduce consumption, critics warn

Charging householders more for water is unlikely to reduce consumption in Victoria and could have a severe impact on the poor, according to warnings from State Government departments, authorities and lobby groups. Diminishing supplies have prompted both major political parties to warn of higher water bills in Victoria when the Essential Services Commission announces a new water pricing structure in early 2008. In addition to recent warnings from Water Minister John Thwaites and Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu, at least one State Government department has expressed deep concerns about the impact of price rises. In its submission to the commission's water pricing review, the Department of Human Services warned that water use was typically linked to income, with wealthier homes the biggest water consumers. The warnings were supported by the Consumer Action Law Centre, which said there was little evidence that higher prices would lead Melburnians to save water. Recent research showed the average Melbourne household spent $413 per year on water — making the city the second cheapest Australian capital for water behind Hobart. The Government is conducting feasibility studies into three major projects — desalination, harvesting water from the Yarra at Dights Falls, and water recycling on the eastern fringe of Melbourne — and Melbourne Water noted that approval for any of them would have "a significant impact on customer bills". The Age_ 4/2/07

March, 2007

Asia-Pacific nations to meet in Japan on water issues
Member states of the Asia-Pacific region were committed on Thursday to secure safe drinking water access and cooperate in improving management of water-related disasters.  The working group committee members of the Asia-Pacific Water Summit met in Tokyo to prepare for the first conference scheduled December 3-4 in the southern Japanese city of Beppu.  At the December summit, participants from 49 nations and territories are expected to discuss financial plans to develop infrastructure for safe water, management of water-related disasters and development of ecosystem to sustain sufficient water resources.  The committee members plan to produce a Beppu declaration at the end of the two-day meeting in December. Monsters and Critics.com_3/29/07

Malaysia plans water collection law
Malaysia is drafting new laws to require homes and buildings to collect rainwater in a bid to conserve water supplies, reports said Wednesday.  Newspapers quoted Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi saying the move was part of an energy efficiency drive to save costs and to minimise the use of treated water for human consumption only.  "It is a sheer waste for treated water to be used to wash cars or water plants when it should be used for bathing, for instance," Abdullah was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times.  Abdullah also said the government through its water resources council had decided on a study to identify underground water resources.  Concern has been growing over the state of Malaysia's rivers, which are suffering increasing pollution from industrial activities and development.  france24_3/28/07

Water quality monitoring network planned for rural Pakistan

The Ministry of Science and Technology is in process of establishing a permanent water quality monitoring network in rural areas to monitor changes in drinking water and groundwater levels. On the basis of available information about quality of drinking water, water conditioning and filtration unit will be designed and installed for the provision of safe drinking water in problem areas, said an official of the Ministry here on Sunday. The official said the safe availability of water would help reduce incidents of water-borne diseases and extra expenditure in health sector, resulting in overall improvement in socio-economic of the country. He said the water monitoring system has been successfully established in the urban areas and now it has been extended to the rural areas, holding about 65 per cent population of the country, he added. The News_ 3/27/07

Water supply still scarce in south Lebanon

Water supply to hundreds of thousands of people across southern Lebanon remains the priority development issue, say officials, seven months after Israel’s bombardment of the area severely damaged an already inadequate water and sanitation system. The UN Children’s Agency, UNICEF, is implementing a series of projects across Lebanon to improve water supply, through its Water, Environment, Sanitation and Hygiene (WESH) unit. According to WESH figures, only 56 percent of Lebanese are connected to the mains water supply, which in poorer rural areas sometimes only works one day a week. Nearly one in three Lebanese buy drinking water while average leakages of 50 percent from pipes leave an annual water shortfall of around 40 per cent, largely supplemented by mobile water trucks. Middle East Online_ 3/24/07

Chandigarh, India to be nation's first city to close and cap dump to protect groundwater

Chandigarh would develop a sanitary landfill for future dumping of the entire city garbage. A spokesman said flossing and capping of 25 acres of the present dumping ground near Dadumajra and development of sanitary landfill would be undertaken according to specifications laid by the Union ministry of environment and forests. The project is a joint venture of Central Pollution Control Board, municipal corporation and UT administration. The total project cost is approximately Rs 8.28 crore. For this purpose, about one lakh cubic metre earth is required. The earth will be taken from Sukhna Lake which will also help desalt it. Closing and capping of the existing dumping ground will prevent groundwater contamination, air pollution, fly menace, bird menace, foul smell and emanation of gases. There would be a proper high-contaminated water collection system to avoid any kind of groundwater contamination. Times of India_ 3/24/07


London's £2bn Sewage tunnel will push up water bills

A giant tunnel costing £2bn will be built beneath London to bail out the capital's overloaded Victorian sewer system, ministers announced yesterday. The project will see a seven-metre wide tunnel stretching 20 miles from Hammersmith in the west to Beckton in the east, to intercept sewage and rainwater discharges.  Thames Water said it would have to put annual bills up by £37 to meet the cost, but one water watchdog warned that the new project could help push up water charges by 50% over the next decade.  London's existing sewer system carries untreated sewage and rainwater together, and is designed to pour both into the river Thames after heavy rain to stop it backing up into streets and houses. The new tunnel will take it away for treatment.  The tunnel will be dug up to 80 metres beneath the surface to clear the tangle of existing sewers and transport links under the city. Thames Water said the work would cause "some disruption" but added that it would work with local authorities and agencies to minimise it.  The Guardian_3/23/07

E-coli water warning for Ireland

Ireland faces EU fines over its failure to clean up drinking water supplies, a 'significant number' of which still contain e-coli, despite earlier warnings.  Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "I am concerned that, more than four years after a court ruling, and despite substantial Government investments, a significant number of local authority and private water supplies still show a presence of e.coli. This needs to be resolved without further delay."  The EU warned Ireland about the presence of e-coli in water supplies, which breaches European Drinking Water Directive standards, back in 2002.  Despite government investment, by 2005 more than half of private group water supplies across six Irish counties still contained e-coli. "A significant number of local authority and private water supplies still show a presence of e.coli" today, the EU said. edie news centre_3/22/07

Row brews over who owns NZ's water
The Maori Party claimed yesterday that the Government was unfairly claiming ownership of fresh water in an attempt to extinguish Maori customary rights without negotiation or compensation.  The party's stance has raised the possibility it will use the issue as a new rallying point and could also prompt some iwi to take legal action to test who owns the water in rivers, lakes and streams.  Similar action to test the ownership of the foreshore and seabed saw the Government forced to legislate for Crown ownership, a move that led to the birth of the Maori Party.

Turkey preps to host next water forum

Delegates from 50 countries met in Istanbul on Tuesday to work on the agenda of the next World Water Forum on how to manage the Earth's water resources.  Turkey, which will host the next forum in March 2009, was taking over the chairmanship of the conference from Mexico, which held the forum last year.  On Monday, the conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature issued a report warning that pollution, dams and climate change could destroy some of the world's most important rivers in coming decades, causing severe water shortages and the extinction of a number of fish and other species.  About 300 delegates in Istanbul were working on an agenda that is expected to focus on ways to improve management of water resources and improve communication between developed and developing regions, the organizers said.  MSN Money_3/20/07

Bejing vows safe drinking water for Olympics

Beijing authorities are replacing hundreds of kilometres of old and rusting water pipes to ensure ensure tap water at the 2008 Olympics sites is safe to drink, state media reported on Friday. The China Daily newspaper said the Olympics would place "enormous pressure on the already parched city," which is in the grip of a long drought. The Beijing Water Works Group, responsible for ensuring the city's water supply, has earmarked $256 million to upgrade the city's water system to guarantee sufficient supplies during the games next August, and a further $22 million to repair leaky water pipes, it said. State media said recently that there was only enough water in Beijing to adequately supply a little over 14 million people in 2005, but at the end of last year the city had some 15 million permanent residents and four million migrant workers. AFP/Yahoo_ 3/15/07

Fresh water from US to Bahrain?

A US group is in talks to establish a regional office in Bahrain that will ship fresh water from America, it was revealed yesterday. Discussions are underway between Green Technology

Group (GTG) and Bahraini officials to ship in water for household, drinking and agricultural needs.  "The cost would range between $1 (378 fils) and $1.5 (567 fils) per cubic metre," said GTG chief executive director Layth Dwairi.  "The cost is considered low compared to the cost of seawater distilling units that cost around $1 billion (BD378m) each; even the quality of natural fresh water is higher."  The concept is to ship clean, fresh water to Bahrain from a freshwater river in Southern Carolina, US. "Fresh water would be shipped by giant vessels to very large pre-set containers at destination," Mr Dwairi explained.  Founded in 1996, GTG is a US-Jordanian joint venture mining and processing company.  Gulf Daily News_3/15/07

Lebanon: Water supply to the south a priority

Water supply to hundreds of thousands of people across southern Lebanon remains the priority development issue, say officials, seven months after Israel’s bombardment of the area severely damaged an already inadequate water and sanitation system. The UN Children’s Agency, UNICEF, is implementing a series of projects across Lebanon to improve water supply, through its Water, Environment, Sanitation and Hygiene (WESH) unit. According to WESH figures, only 56 percent of Lebanese are connected to the mains water supply, which in poorer rural areas sometimes only works one day a week. Nearly one in three Lebanese buy drinking water while average leakages of 50 percent from pipes leave an annual water shortfall of around 40 per cent, largely supplemented by mobile water trucks. Until two years ago, Lebanon’s water system was managed by 22 separate institutions. Those have now been reduced to four, but cost recovery on supplying water to the public remains at just 60 percent, according to UNICEF. A fixed annual water bill of US $120 and an absence of water meters in homes perpetuates disparities of water access for rich and poor. A lack of urban planning by central government means homeowners often connect their houses to the mains water supply by themselves. IRIN_ 3/12/07

Middle East, Africa need water reform: World Bank

The World Bank urged governments in the Middle East and North Africa on Sunday to speed up improvements to water resources and said water availability per person in the region was set to drop by half by 2050. The World Bank said in a report that many countries in the area already faced full-blown crises in meeting water demand, and that was likely to worsen without reform. The region is already the most water-scarce in the world, and uses more of its renewable water resources than anywhere else. One in three people worldwide live in water-scarce regions. In the Middle East and Africa, leaders have regularly warned water shortages caused by surging populations and climate change could trigger future conflicts. Reuters_ 3/11/07

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Talks in Kazakhstan stall over future of Central Asian water basin

The conference convened to address the fate of an ecologically threatened Central Asian water basin the size of California has ended in stalemate between the two countries most reliant on the sprawling ecosystem, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The heart of the basin is Lake Balkhash, tucked in the southeast corner of Kazakhstan and the third- largest fresh water lake on earth. More than 20 percent of Kazakhstan's population draws on the lake for its drinking water. Rivers flowing through neighboring Kyrgyzstan and China replenish water in the lake and adjacent wetlands. Decades of water diversion to nearby factories and farms threaten Lake Balkhash with "the same fate as the notorious Aral Sea," according to conference documents. The Aral, located in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, is widely considered one of the worst human-created ecological disasters in history. At this week's Kazakhstan conference, China spurned Kazakhstan's proposal to send China large stocks of free or heavily subsidized foodstuffs over 10 years in exchange for a commitment from China to allow unimpeded river water into Lake Balkhash. As part of its "Go West" policy, China has begun a massive state-sponsored population migration into its western Xinjiang territory, which includes a large swatch of the basin area. Chinese state authorities have said the currently sparsely populated region may bulge with as many as 40 million new inhabitants. Environmental organizations have been highly critical of China's Three Gorges Dam on the country's Yellow River, and a dam or a reversal of current on China's Ili River that feeds Lake Balkhash would quickly empty the lake of most of its water. International Herald Tribune_ 3/7/07

February, 2007

Six million Chinese face water shortages
A severe drought in southwestern China is threatening the water supplies of six million people in the crowded metropolis of Chongqing, Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.  The city faces an acute water shortage in early March due to a continuing drought along the Yangtze River, the agency said citing a local meteorological expert.  "The city will be lacking at least 500 million cubic metres of drinking and irrigation water and about six million people will be thirsty," Xinhua quoted the local meteorologist as saying.  Official figures show that the amount of water stored in Chongqing's reservoirs is around 1.17 billion cubic meters, less than half the normal storage, it said.  The southern province of Guangdong said it was considering rationing water to industry, farms and residents to ease a drought there.  Last summer's drought was the worst to hit southwest China in more than a century, when temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius (104F) and about 18 million people faced water shortages.  Some parts of Chongqing -- home to some 30 million people -- had started limiting water supplies to residents and were drilling new wells to find underground sources, Xinhua reported earlier.  Reuters_2/28/07

Water management the biggest challenge facing Asia Pacific

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Wednesday said a coherent strategy is needed to deal with the issues of water, democracy, migration and global poverty.  “The clock is ticking. As if poverty, hunger and diseases were not enough to haunt the world, water scarcity and pollution are now adding to our woes, demanding immediate attention,” Aziz said while opening the first session of the 13th General Assembly of Asia Pacific Parliamentarians Conference on Environment and Development (APPCED). Delegates from twenty countries participated in the conference, in which water issues and suggestions to tackle the challenges of water conservation and environment protection were specially discussed.  The conference aims to continue global efforts to achieve sustainable development, proper utilization of natural resources, reduction in environmental pollution and maintenance of ecological balance in Asia Pacific.Daily Times_2/28/07

All Australian states but Victoria sign off on water deal

And it's not about the money

All states except Victoria have agreed to the Federal Government's plan for the future of the Murray-Darling basin, Prime Minister John Howard has said.  Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT have signed on to the plan, giving up their rights over water allocation to the Federal Government as part of a $10 billion package put forward by the Prime Minister last month.  Mr Howard has told a news conference that Victoria's Water Minister John Thwaites will meet his federal counterpart Malcolm Turnbull next week to seal a deal.  Mr Howard has said he would not elaborate on what those talks would focus on, but said it was "not about more money".  Victoria had put forward its own alternative plan, while Queensland and South Australia had floated a joint plan earlier in the negotiating process.  NSW had been an early supporter of the federal plan.

Asian water forum urges regional action

A regional forum of international experts urged Asia-Pacific leaders Thursday in Papau, New Guinea to put better management of water resources and dealing with water-caused disasters on top of their national agendas.  The low priority given to water issues had led to mismanagement, pollution and a lack of access to water for drinking, sanitation and other purposes, the governing council of the Asia Pacific Water Forum said after a two-day meeting here.  It has also led to inadequate preparation in preventing disasters and dealing with the aftermath of calamities like recent deadly floods in Jakarta, the council said.  The forum, which includes experts from the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is preparing its position ahead of an inaugural Asia Pacific Water Summit in Japan in early December.   KE Seetharam, a water and sanitation specialist at the ADB, said the Manila-based lender has doubled to two billion dollars its annual assistance to help countries improve the delivery of water services over the next five years.   But he said the ADB “looks forward” to the support of government leaders and decision-makers to increase investments in water infrastructure.   The National_2/22/07

Australia's water more important than meeting with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, says PM

This week's water summit with the premiers is more important than meeting US Vice-President Dick Cheney, Prime Minister John Howard said today. Mr Cheney arrives in Sydney on Thursday night but will not meet Mr Howard until Saturday morning. While the Vice-President gives a major address on Australian-US relations in Sydney on Friday, Mr Howard will be in Canberra hammering out his $10 billion, 10-year water security plan with state and territory leaders. Mr Howard denied that the Saturday morning meeting was an attempt to play down Mr Cheney's visit given the unpopularity of the Iraq war. AAP/ 2/20/07

Antarctic water world uncovered
Giant "blisters" containing water that rapidly expand and contract have been mapped beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.  Fed by a complex network of rivers, the subglacial reservoirs force the overlying ice to rise and fall.  By tracking these changes with Nasa's Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) scientists were able to map the extent of the subglacial plumbing.   The results, published in the journal Science, show that some areas fell by up to 9m (30ft) over just two years.  "We didn't realise that the water under these ice streams was moving in such large quantities, and on such short time scales," said Dr Helen Fricker of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California and one of the authors of the paper.  "We thought these changes took place over years and decades, but we are seeing large changes over months."  The results are important for understanding how the Antarctic Ice sheet, which contains nearly 90% of the world's ice, may respond to global warming and how much it may contribute to sea level rise.  BBC News_2/15/07

Time for Europe to tackle looming water crisis: environment agency
European countries must start planning now to cope with climate change, as shifting rain- and snowfall patterns will inflict water stress whose effects will ripple across the social and economic spectrum, the European Environment Agency (EEA) warned.
"Changes in precipitation, combined with rising temperatures and reduced snow cover, will have impacts on water quality and quantity, requiring water managers to incorporate climate change in their planning and investment decisions," the EEA said.
"While uncertainties remain about the level and extent of changes in precipitation in specific locations, enough is known for action."  The new EEA report, Climate Change and Water Adaptation Issues, draws on the latest research on global warming, including the just-published first volume of a global assessment by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  These are among the potential impacts, according to the EAA report:

  • Annual precipitation in northern Europe is likely to rise by as much as two percent per decade, although summers will be drier. But in southern Europe, there will be a fall in annual precipitation, especially in summer when rainfall will decrease by around five percent.
  • Flooding will become a more frequent risk over all of Europe. Northern Europe will run a higher risk of drought in the summer; southern Europe faces the risk of more droughts in all seasons.
  • Climate change will strongly affect natural habitat and biodiversity.
    For example, loss of groundwater may badly affect dunes and wetlands in the Netherlands; streams and lakes in Austria that are fed by glacial meltwater could dry up; and new diseases, pests and species that thrive in an altered climate could threaten native species in Britain.
  • Water supplies for human consumption will also come under severe challenge, because at present, reservoirs and use of groundwater stocks are designed for a long recharge season.

The report adds that the cost of these impacts could be very high.  Less rainfall will affect which crops can be grown and the availability of water for coastland tourist resorts and golf courses. It could also lead to worse quality of drinking water. And lower water levels in rivers and waterways will also affect electricity generation by hydropower and impede navigation.  France24_2/14/07

Strike over water sharing agreement shuts down Bangalore, India's high-tech hub

A general strike in Bangalore prompted by a long-running water dispute closed software firms and schools and prompted the postponement of an international women's tennis tournament. The 12-hour stoppage in the southern state of Karnataka, whose capital, Bangalore, is India's technology hub, came a week after a federal tribunal ruled the state would get less water from the Cauvery River than neighboring Tamil Nadu state. The Cauvery has been a bone of contention and a hugely emotive issue in the region for nearly a century. In 1991, an interim court order for Karnataka to release 7,000 billion liters, or 205 billion cubic feet, of water to Tamil Nadu sparked riots against minority Tamils in Bangalore, leaving 18 people dead. On Monday, most of the 6 million residents in Bangalore — home to more than 1,500 information technology and outsourcing firms — stayed indoors with many fearing a repeat of the 1991 riots. "The manufacturing loss for the industry will be about $225 million," said R.C. Purohit, president of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industries. Reuters/International Herald Tribune_ 2/12/07

Australia's New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma firm on no recycled water despite poll

An ACNielsen poll, published in Fairfax newspapers today, shows 78 per cent of Australians would support the introduction of recycled water. In NSW, the figure was 80 per cent. However, Iemma told Southern Cross Broadcasting he did not believe the poll warranted a change in the state's water policy. He said introducing recycled water into the drinking supply would lead to an increase in water bills, cost more to construct and take longer to implement. Mr Iemma said the four to five years it would take to build a recycling plant did not compare well with the 26 months it would take to construct a desalination plant. AAP/ The Australian_ 2/12/07

EU funds three Serbian water management projects
Serbia's Water Directorate announced that it will implement three new projects worth 5.3 million euros.  The projects will relate to water management and environmental protection and will be implemented by the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management and the European Reconstruction Agency (EAR), the government said in a statement.  Water Directorate head Nikola Marjanovi?  told reporters that the project entitled "Preparation of the Water Management Information System", worth 2 million euros, will be implemented in two stages in the course of the next two years. Sweden’s Eptisa has been contracted for the projects implementation.  The project is designed to enable better access to data on water resources, as well as to stimulate interdisciplinary exchange of data in this sector and increase water management efficiency.  A total of 2.8 million euros has been allocated to the project "Preparation of Strategic Master Plan for Collecting and Processing Wastewater in Juzna Morava", Marjanovi? said. He added that the project will take two years to implement and will help increase investment into wastewater processing. It will be implemented by the Danish company COWI A/S.  The third project, "Preparation of Action Plans for Remediation of Three Severely Polluted Locations" is worth 550,000 euros and will enable the drafting of a remediation plan for three most polluted locations, the government statement says. The company in charge of implementation will be Denmark’s Niras. B92 News_2/8/07

No deal on latest Australian water, irrigation plan

Prime Minister John Howard has failed to reach agreement with the states on an historic water security plan, but the premiers appear to have won concessions on the $10 billion package.  The federal government is under pressure to pump even more money into the plan which would see the commonwealth assume control of the parched Murray-Darling basin, having already provided a string of guarantees to try to win over the premiers at a meeting in Canberra on Thursday.  Mr Howard insists a deal can still be reached on the package to rescue the Murray-Darling basin and deliver the biggest upgrade of irrigation infrastructure ever seen in Australia.  The summit at Parliament House in Canberra broke up after two hours without result, with the premiers to return for another meeting in a fortnight.  Wimmera_2/8/07

New lines drawn for sharing India's Cauvery River

After sixteen years of wait and intermittent rioting over who deserves more of Cauvery's flow, the tribunal working on the division of the water today gave its final verdict, drawing new battle lines between a "shocked" Karnataka and a satisfied Tamil Nadu. Today's order supersedes the agreements of 1892 and 1924 between the then governments of Madras and Mysore. The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal awarded 419 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) to Tamil Nadu, a substantial jump over the 205 tmcft it got in a 1991 interim order, whereas Karnataka was granted 270 tmcft. In real terms, Karnataka will have to release only 192 tmcft of the 740 tmcft available in the river basin. But the state, which had demanded 465 tmcft, immediately disputed the allocation made to it and decided to file a review petition. There was palpable tension in Bangalore after the verdict as fears of a repeat of the 1991 violence saw schools, offices and business establishments shutting down early. Bus services to Tamil Nadu were suspended for fear of violence on the way. Indian Express/Yahoo_ 2/6/07

Report:  New Zealand water quality questioned

How safe is New Zealand's drinking-water?

  • In 2005 102,000 people were served by registered supplies with water containing unacceptable levels of E. coli.
  • 84,000 were exposed to greater risk of disease as the supplier did not take immediate steps to correct the problem once E. coli was found.
  • In 111 schools the water supply was contaminated with E. coli during 2005.

These are just three of the findings of the Ministry of Health's Annual Review of the Microbiological and Chemical Quality of Drinking Water in New Zealand. The document covers the 2005 year and was published on 30 January 2007.  The review measures water quality against the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand: 2000.  The standards give top priority to microbiological quality because bacteria and protozoa can cause rapid and major outbreaks of illness. The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) is used as an indicator that the water has been contaminated by human, bird or animal faeces and water providers are required to check for its presence.  Approximately 76 percent of New Zealanders received water that has been shown to meet the requirements for protection against E. coli, and 71 percent received water that met the requirements for cryptosporidium. Most large communities - towns with more than 5,000 people - had water supplies which met these requirements, but many smaller communities were supplied with water which was not microbiologically safe.

Water stress in England mapped

The UK's Environment Agency has identified the parts of England it wants to target with water saving measures like compulsory metering in a consultation launched on Wednesday.  The EA wants to target water saving efforts at water-stress areas.  Eleven water company areas were labelled as "water-stressed" based on current and future supply and demand. The EA would like to see water meters rolled out across these areas by 2015, chief executive Barbara Young said.  The future effects of climate change and population growth were taken into account when classifying water stress in water company areas as serious, moderate or low.  Barbara Young said: "If we are to meet the long-term needs of society and the economy without overexploiting our environment, we need to understand how to target our water saving efforts and make better use of the water we have now."  She also expressed her support for water metering, which she said had "unchallengeable" benefits as a water-saving tool.  "There is a need for meters to be installed quickly in areas where water resources are stressed. In the south east we would like much of this to be achieved by 2015 - as long as social safeguards are in place to protect low income and vulnerable households," she said.  "Serious water stress" areas, where the EA wants to concentrate its water saving efforts, include Essex & Suffolk, Folkestone & Dover, Southern, Thames, Three Valleys, Mid Kent, Portsmouth, Sutton & East Surrey, Bournemouth & West Hampshire, Cambridge and South East water company supply areas. edie.net_2/1/07



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