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2008 International Water News

 

 

December, 2008

Dead Sea to receive water from Red Sea to save it from drying up

The Dead Sea could be saved from drying up under a groundbreaking plan to flood millions of gallons of seawater in from the Red Sea more than 110 miles away. Funding has been secured for a feasibility study into the ambitious and controversial scheme to reverse falling water levels. The scheme involves a 110-mile long canal, dubbed 'Red To Dead', that would channel roughly five million tonnes of seawater each day into the Dead Sea. The new water is needed to avoid the complete disappearance of the Dead Sea, an event the World Bank warns would represent "an environmental calamity". Overuse by farmers of water from the Jordan River, the only major influx into the Dead Sea, and climate change mean the level of the Dead Sea plunges by about three feet every year. One key aspect of the study is how the arrival of seawater will impact on the unique ecosystem of the Dead Sea. The Telegraph_ 12/25/08

China helps 109 million in rural areas get safe drinking water: Minister

China said on Wednesday that it has spent nearly 24 billion yuan (about U.S. $3.5 billion) in the past two years to give more than 8 percent of its 1.3 billion people safe drinking water. Environmental Protection Minister Zhou Shengxian said in a report to a plenary session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee that more than 109 million rural people benefited from the water investment since 2006. Overall water quality last year was almost the same as in 2006, he said, adding that greater efforts were made to curb pollution in major streams. Xinhua_ 12/24/08

Procter & Gamble and Population Services International respond to cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe with water purification for 10,000 families

Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and global health organization Population Services International (PSI) will provide 10 million liters of safe drinking water to help prevent cholera in Zimbabwe. More than one-thousand people have died from the current cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. Developed by P&G, PURTM Purifier of Water is a powdered water clarification and disinfectant technology that comes in small, easy-to-use packets. Using some of the same ingredients as municipal water systems, the PUR water purification packets remove pollutants and cysts, as well as kill viruses and bacteria, including the bacteria that cause cholera. PSI has the staff, infrastructure and resources to distribute the PUR packets provided by partner non-governmental organization, AmeriCares. The packets will be distributed for free to those living in areas with high cholera outbreaks in and around Harare, Beitbridge and Mudzi, Zimbabwe. Approximately 10,000 families with 40,000 to 60,000 people will be reached with the free distribution of the PUR packets to meet their water treatment needs for three months. News Release/PRNewswire-First Call/CSRwire_ 12/23/08

Ontario says Detroit, Michigan has been taking water from Canada without an OK

Detroit may has been stealing Canadian water for 44 years. It seems the Motor City's drinking-water intake pipe extends about 100 yards across the international boundary in the Detroit River, and it's been siphoning as much as 32 billion gallons a year since 1964 without a water-taking permit. Alerted to the water grab when Detroit conducted a screening under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for maintenance work on its southwest water treatment plant in 2006, the ministry now plans to exempt the city from provincial regulations. AP/Chicago Tribune_ 12/22/08

Ice melting across globe at accelerating rate, NASA says

Between 1.5 trillion and 2 trillion tons of ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted at an accelerating rate since 2003, according to NASA scientists, in the latest signs of what they say is global warming. Using new satellite technology that measures changes in mass in mountain glaciers and ice sheets, NASA geophysicist Scott Luthcke concluded that the losses amounted to enough water to fill the Chesapeake Bay 21 times. Luthcke will present his findings this week at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, California. NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, mission uses two orbiting satellites to measure the "mass balance" of a glacier, or the net annual difference between ice accumulation and ice loss. CNN_ 12/16/08

World's experts brainstorm on drinking water

Water and sanitation experts from the Group of Eight countries gathered Tuesday in Hokkaido to discuss ways to ensure safe drinking water in African and other developing countries. At the onset of the event, Masato Watanabe, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry's International Cooperation Bureau and chairman of the meeting, said he will seek to reach an agreement so the participants can present future strategies to the next summit next year in Italy. Japan Times_ 12/17/08

Trying to stop pollution of the Citarum River, the main source of household water for Jakarta, Indonesia

The Citarum River, which winds its way through West Java past terraced rice paddies and teeming cities, is an assault on the senses. Visitors can smell the river before they see it. The Citarum River basin covers 5,000 square miles. The river, considered by many environmentalists to be among the world’s most polluted, is woven tightly into the lives of the West Javanese. It provides 80 percent of household water for Jakarta’s 14 million people, irrigates farms that supply 5 percent of Indonesia’s rice and is a source of water for more than 2,000 factories, which are responsible for a fifth of the country’s industrial output, according to the Asian Development Bank. Environmentalists blame rapid, and unregulated, industrialization and urbanization over the past 20 years for the degradation of the 5,000-square-mile river basin. New York Times_ 12/13/08

Zimbabwe: Britain, U.S. caused cholera, says government

A Zimbabwean cabinet minister has accused Britain, helped by the United States, of masterminding the country's cholera outbreak in a "biological chemical war, a genocidal onslaught" against the country. The accusation was published in the government-controlled Herald newspaper by Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the information minister in President Robert Mugabe's government. AllAfrca.com_ 12/13/08

Mugabe claims no more cholera in Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe claimed Thursday the end of Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic, but aid agencies argued otherwise, as South Africa declared a disaster on its border due to the disease. "I am happy to say our doctors have been assisted by others, and WHO (the World Health Organization) and they have now arrested cholera," he said in a nationally broadcast speech. He also denounced calls by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President George W. Bush for him to step down, accusing them of plotting an invasion. AFP_ 12/11/08

Cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe spreads rapidly

The United Nations said Wednesday 15,572 cases and 746 cholera deaths were reported n Zimbabwe. A deteriorating health care system and water infrastructure are the reasons why the water-borne disease is rampaging through the impoverished African nation, which last week declared a health emergency, the Associated Press reported. There are also concerns that cholera could be carried into neighboring countries. A large number of Zimbabweans with cholera have sought help in South Africa, which has reported 500 cases of the disease, including nine deaths, the AP reported. AP/USNews and World Report_ 12/10/08

Drought forces Australian state to purchase water
Australia's driest state has been forced to purchase water for the first time to ensure adequate supplies in the midst of a drought, a government official said Friday.  Karlene Maywald, state water security minister, said South Australia has purchased 61 billion gallons (231 gigaliters) of water so that Adelaide, the state capital, will have enough water for 2009 even if the drought continues.  The purchase highlights the dire situation in South Australia, which some experts had predicted would run out of water by the end of the year. The state has suffered through drought for the past five years, and water in Adelaide's storage containers and reservoirs dropped 8 percent in the last year. AP_12/5/08

Zimbabwe declares national health emergency; Lack of water treatment drives cholera epidemic

Zimbabwe has declared a national emergency over its cholera epidemic and the collapse of its health system due the country's economic crisis. "Our central hospitals are literally not functioning," Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa was quoted as saying by the state-run Herald newspaper on Thursday. The United Nations puts deaths from the cholera epidemic at more than 500. The outbreak is blamed on lack of water treatment and broken sewage pipes in a country that once had a sophisticated infrastructure.  AP_12/4/08

Cholera-hit Zimbabwe cuts water supplies to capital

Zimbabwe has cut water supplies to the capital Harare, state media said Monday, as the health minister urged the public to stop shaking hands in a desperate bid to curb a deadly cholera epidemic. The city-wide cut appeared aimed at stopping the flow of untreated water around Harare, which is at the epicentre of the cholera epidemic that has claimed 425 lives since late August -- most in just the last month. The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) stopped pumping because it had failed to obtain chemicals to treat the water supply, the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper said. AFP/AfricaAsia.com_ 12/1/08

November, 2008

Cholera crisis 'tip of iceberg' for Zimbabwe-U.N.

Fast-spreading cholera is "the tip of the iceberg" of what stands to be a major health crisis in Zimbabwe, United Nations agencies said on Friday. Nearly 400 Zimbabweans have died from the disease, which has infected more than 9,400 people and spread to neighbouring South Africa and Botswana. A lack of clean drinking water and adequate toilets are the main triggers of Zimbabwe's epidemic of the preventable and treatable diarrhoeal disease that can be fatal, especially in children, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Reuters_ 11/28/08

Workers at Scottish Water stage 24-hour walkout in pay dispute

Hundreds of workers from Scottish Water walked out today in a dispute over pay which could hit services across the country. Unions leaders expect up to 2,000 staff to take part in the 24-hour strike across Scotland to a 3% pay rise over 15 months they claim is unfair. But Scottish Water said contingency plans were in place to ensure normal services were maintained during the strike. Scotsman_ 11/27/08

Pakistan to go to World Bank for water compensation from India

Pakistan will go to the World Bank (WB) to seek compensation from India for reduced water flow in the Chenab River and design defects in Baglihar Dam, Indus Water Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah said on Wednesday. Shah reiterated that Pakistan had demanded water, not monetary compensation, from India for the losses incurred due to decreased water flow in the Chenab. Daily Times_ 11/20/08

Suspected typhoid fever outbreak in the Philippines

Health authorities on Tuesday advised residents of two towns in Quezon province to boil their drinking water to prevent the further spread of suspected typhoid fever. In an interview on dzBB radio, National Epidemiology Center head Eric Tayag said they are now preparing a team to get to the affected areas to ascertain the cause of the disease that had downed several residents. gmanews_ 11/18/08

Climate changes likely to cause international water shortages: U.S. official

A top U.S. intelligence officer, citing projections from a report on global trends to be made public this week, said global climate change will continue, and current efforts to control it will not bear fruit until around 2030. Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence, said significant water and possibly food shortages could result. Limited water and agricultural land could "add a kind of competition to the international system that we haven't seen for a very long time," Fingar said. Water "will have to be on the agenda" of political leaders. AP_ 11/18/08

'Third of Ireland's water courses polluted'
Almost a third of rivers and streams in the Irish Republic are polluted.  The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on water quality said run-off from waste treatment plants and farms was the main cause of pollution in rivers, lakes and coastal seas. It also found human or animal effluent was detected in more than half of the groundwater locations, such as springs, sampled around the country. The Press Association_11/12/08

Leaders of India's Andhra Pradesh state approve new water policy; drinking water gets top priority

In view of the current trends where the upper riparian states were constructing several projects on Krishna and Godavari rivers and the increasing demand for water supply within the state, the government feels that the demand would outstrip supply by 2025. Hence it announced a state water policy which was approved by the state cabinet on Monday. Information and public relations minister A Ramanarayan Reddy said that the total water resources, (surface and ground water) in the state was estimated to be about 108 billion cubic metres and about 98 per cent is currently supplied for irrigation. According to the draft policy which was placed before the cabinet, the priorities have been reworked. Now drinking water gets top priority followed by irrigation, hydro power, ecology, agro industries and non-agriculture industries, navigation and other uses. The government is yet to work out the quantum of water allocated for each of the priorities, he said. Times of India_ 11/11/08

Drinking water in Qatar meets international standards: Utility

Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) claimed that the quality of its potable water has met International standards. The target rate of water quality in terms of bacteriological characteristics is 99 percent. However, Kahramaa has achieved 100 percent quality standard. This is against World Health Organization’s (WHO) prescribed quality standard of 95 percent, Kahramaa’s 3Q 2008 report said. The Peninsula_ 11/9/08

October, 2008

Mining mess could poison Peru's water
Peru's government said on Wednesday it fears the coming rainy season could cause an environmental mess by destabilizing tailing ponds near a river that provides drinking water to the capital, Lima.  "With the rains, there could be filtration on the hillside and cause a disaster that would affect the central highway, a mining facility, a hydroelectric plant, and the tailings would reach the Rimac River, causing a big disaster of contamination," said Environment Minister Antonio Brack.  Reuters_10/29/08

News report says India and Pakistan resolve Chenab water issue

The Chenab water issue with India will be resolved in accordance with the Indus Basin Treaty, ARY OneWorld quoted Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as saying on Sunday. Qureshi added that India had accepted Pakistan’s stance on the issue. Daily Times_ 10/27/08

Central Asian countries move closer to water deal

Increasing demand for water is making it more likely that Uzbekistan will accept a regional arrangement where all the Central Asian states share in the costs of using the rivers that run through their territories, according to observers with News Briefing Central Asia.  At the October 10 meeting of heads of state of the Eurasian Economic Community, leaders of the Central Asian states reached agreement that Uzbekistan should increase its supply of natural gas to Kyrgyzstan, while Kazakstan will ensure the Kyrgyz receive regular deliveries of oil.  The arrangement will start operating in the first quarter of 2009, and is designed to reduce Kyrgyzstan's need to generate hydroelectricity.  This will allow it to store up more water in its reservoirs, which can then be let out over the spring and summer into the rivers which are crucial to Uzbek and Kazak agricultural irrigation schemes. About 80 percent of Central Asia's water resources come from mountainous parts of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. ENS_10/23/08

EU-Mediterranean conference on water set for October 29
Forty-three countries in Europe and the Mediterranean rim will meet in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort town of Sweimeh next week for a conference on water, the French ecology ministry said on Wednesday.  The talks aim at setting down "the first concrete projects" following a Mediterranean summit, staged in Paris in July under the chairmanship of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also current head of the European Union (EU).  The meeting will also seek to set down guidelines for a long-term strategy for tackling maritime pollution, access to sanitation and management of freshwater resources.  Water scarcity is a worsening problem around the coast of the Mediterranean, driven by population growth, pollution, waste and climate change.  AFP_10/22/08

Pakistan wants India to compensate it for loss of water

Pakistan has said it would seek damages from India for the loss of 0.2 million acre feet of waters due to the alleged blocking of the Chenab river flow to fill the Baglihar dam and threatened to take up the issue with the World Bank again if not compensated. Pakistan's Indus Waters Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah has said he will press for the compensation when he meets his Indian counterpart during an Oct. 18 visit to India. Shah is scheduled to inspect the Baglihar dam in Jammu and Kashmir and participate in a meeting of the Permanent Commission for Indus Waters during the visit. Shah told 'Dawn' newspaper that the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty was between two nations, and not two persons, and should not be taken lightly or violated. PTI_ 10/12/08

Water scarcity and droughts in the EU

The European Union is beginning to realize that unrestricted urban development and deforestation has a significant impact on cross-regional water resources.   In adopting a report on water scarcity and droughts in the European Union, members of the European Parliament have urged Member States to acknowledge that deforestation and unrestrained urban development are contributing to growing water scarcity. The House calls on the Member States and the authorities concerned to pay heed to water-related considerations in their land-use planning. The report was adopted with 594 votes in favour, 45 against and 12 abstentions.  The report stresses that the cross-regional and trans-border nature of river basins can have a serious cross-border impact on upstream and downstream regions, and that it is thus indispensable for the Member States, as well as regional and local authorities, to cooperate on the issue of water scarcity and drought ensuring sustainable and fair use of water resources. The House considers that the specificity of the water scarcity and droughts issue requires coordinated action at EU and Member State level as well as at regional and local government level.  EU News_10/9/08

136 Chinese villagers suffer arsenic poisoning after water supply contaminated

More than a hundred people in southern China have been poisoned after drinking water apparently contaminated with arsenic. The official Xinhua news agency says residents of two villages in Guangxi province began to show symptoms Friday. The symptoms included swelling in the face and eyes, vomiting and blurred eyesight. It says medical tests found excessive amounts of arsenic in the urine of 136 people. Xinhua says the water source was likely polluted by industrial waste from a nearby metallurgy company. Xinhua says the poisoning is not serious and that the villagers will likely recover with treatment. Meanwhile, safe drinking water is being transported to the villages. Canadian Press_ 10/7/08

September, 2008

53 water reservoirs to be built for New Delhi, India, before 2010 Commonwealth Games

As many as 53 under ground water reservoirs will be constructed by the Delhi Government in the national capital to meet water needs before commencement of Commonwealth Games in 2010. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit also said that Delhi Jal Board will accelerate water and sewage laying facilities in unauthorised colonies before commencement of the Games. PTI/The Hindu_ 9/30/08

China to raise Three Gorges Project's water level

China is to begin raising water levels at the Three Gorges Project on Sunday, the developer of the massive water conservancy project announced on Saturday. The water behind the dam would be raised to an unspecified higher level subject to conditions of the Yangtze River, where the project was built, the China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC) announced with approval of the State Council, the cabinet. The Three Gorges Project, launched in 1993 with a budget equivalent to 22.5 billion U.S. dollars, is a multi-functional water control system built at the upper and middle reaches of the country's longest river. People's Daily_ 9/28/08

India, Nepal to discuss plans to harness water resources

Nepal and India will hold a high-level meeting in Kathmandu Monday to chalk out plans to harness water resources between the two neighbours in a comprehensive manner, including hydro-power generation, irrigation, flood control and other water-related cooperation. The meeting between Indian Water Resources Secretary Umesh N. Panjiyar and Nepalese Water Resources Secretary Shanker Prasad Koirala was organised in the wake of Nepal government's plan to generate 10,000 MW power in a decade as declared by Prime Minister Prachanda during his recent visit to India. The talks is likely to pave way for developing Pancheshwor Hydro Power Project with 6,000 MW capacity and Kosi High Dam Project with 3,200 MW capacity whose implementation have the potential to make Nepal a power exporting nation. PTI_ 9/28/08

Galway, Ireland, emergency water supply suspended

Galway city council has suspended deliveries of water to areas of the city affected by lead contamination after it emerged that the deliveries themselves were also contaminated. The City Council said emergency street taps installed this week in Old Mervue containted over four times the acceptable level of lead. The council is arranging for safe drinking water to be delivered from containers. The Irish Times_ 9/27/08

Politicians taken off Australian water task force

The Federal Government has removed all politicians from the task force set up to explore the development of water resources in northern Australia.  The Northern Land and Water Task Force was started by the previous federal government largely to examine how to move agricultural production north, where there is more water.  The six Coalition MPs in the group have been replaced by representatives from business, the Indigenous community and farming groups.  The parliamentary secretary for regional development, Gary Gray, says it will work better the new way.  "We think you'll get a better balance of opinion, a better balance of science and a better balance of agricultural knowledge of water resource knowledge if you go for experts," he said.  "And so as much as it's important for politicians to have a view of these things we thought it best to take off all the politicians [and] remove all the politics." ABC News_9/26/08

Historic' laws for Australia's Murray-Darling Water
Australia's Environment Minister Peter Garrett introduced a bill today that implements agreements between the Commonwealth and affected state and territory governments to rescue Australia's greatest river system.  Broadly, it gives the commonwealth overriding responsibility for the ailing waterway, while the states continue to manage water within their catchments and retain an advisory role on other matters.  The bill transfers the powers of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission to a new body, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Mr Garrett said.  The authority will prepare a basin plan that will set diversion limits on surface and groundwater to ensure the rivers' long-term health and safeguard the needs of the communities that rely on them.  The authority would have enforcement powers.  New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT are to pass complementary legislation. WeeklyTimesNow_9/25/08

Flooding in India's Orissa state leaves thousands without safe drinking water

Flooding in the Mahanadi continued on Sunday causing 61 breaches in river embankments, leaving behind a trail of devastation submerging hundreds of villages. Hundreds of thousands of people were waiting for rescue and relief in the flooded zones. According to State Revenue and Disaster Management (RDM) department, 5,70,000 people in 1,849 villages were marooned owing to floods in Mahanadi and many of its branch rivers. Although helicopters of the Indian Air Force made nine sorties dropping food packets and water pouches in regions cut off by floodwaters, administration was struggling to reach people stranded in inaccessible areas. The Hindu_ 9/22/08

ITT Watermark and Water for People: Internet videos stress water and sanitation needs
WaterWebster.org Staff Report
September 18, 2008
Republish this article at no cost; click here for details

ITT Watermark, the new ITT corporate philanthropy program, is offering a series of Internet videos on projects to increase safe water, sanitation and hygiene at 300 schools in developing nations. The latest video features ITT CEO Steven R. Loranger in conversation with Water for People’s Ned Breslin and Dr. Darren Saywell of the International Water Association discussing ways to initiate successful school sanitation programs. During World Water Week in Sweden in August, ITT announced it is donating $3 million over three years to a partnership between ITT Watermark and Water for People for school projects in Asia and Latin America. Sanitation is a “fundamental and intrinsic area of economic development,” Loranger said in the Sept. 9 video discussion of school sanitation. “Just from a business standpoint, it’s absolutely imperative that we begin at the very root causes of what is creating poverty and try to address these.”

(read the full story)

China taps "emergency" water supplies for Beijing
China's capital started pumping "emergency" water from Hebei, its long-parched neighbouring province, on Thursday, officials said.  Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, will pump 300 million cubic metres of water to the capital from three dams that usually supply nearby farms, towns and cities, the province water office said on its website (www.hebwater.gov.cn). The office did not say whether Beijing was facing a serious water shortfall. But a senior official stressed the importance of getting clean water to the capital and warned against discontent in Hebei, which faces its own water scarcity.  Guardian_9/18/08

Two months later, boil-water advisory may end in Canadian Arctic hamlet

A two-month-old boil-water advisory in Sachs Harbour may be lifted as early as this week, but Northwest Territories health officials say people should still boil their tap water until told otherwise. Residents in the Arctic hamlet of 122 have been under the advisory since July 10, after two faulty chlorine pumps at the water treatment plant caused bacteria to enter the hamlet's water truck.The treatment plant has since been repaired and the staff has been retrained, said Duane Fleming, the N.W.T.'s chief environmental health officer. CBC News_ 9/15/08

South African government talks tough on dirty water

Opening the national Municipal Water Indaba in Johannesburg on Thursday, water affairs minister Lindiwe Hendricks spoke out against the "unacceptable levels of pollution in many of our rivers"."  Deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka also told the 700 delegates it was "outrageous" that children should die from water-borne diseases.  Anyone who polluted rivers - including municipalities - should be punished, she said in apparent reference to the death of nearly 100 children in the Ukhahlamba district of the Eastern Cape earlier this year, apparently after they had drunk disease-contaminated municipal tap water.  Hendricks said on Thursday she would table a report in parliament soon that would suggest that up to 60 percent of the country's municipal waste-water treatment schemes required maintenance or intervention because they did not comply with discharge standards, which required adequate pre-treatment of sewage before it was released into rivers.  Hendricks said South Africa was, in a sense, a victim of its own success. The government had extended piped drinking water supplies and water-borne sewage to millions more South Africans since 1994, yet the treatment and waste-water infrastructure had not been designed to cope with this extra use and demand.  IOL_9/12/08

Iraq reports cholera outbreak
Iraqi officials say at least five people have died during an outbreak of cholera, a waterborne disease believed to be spread through the country's war-battered water and sanitation infrastructure.Health Minister Salih al-Hasnawi said the five are among 36 cases that have been confirmed in Baghdad and provinces of Maysan and Babil south of the capital. There are at least 86 other suspected cases.Al-Hasnawi said many cases are in the Hashimiya area south of Baghdad and in other remote villages not on the water grid. The ailment flared last year in Iraq, mostly in northern provinces and in some cases elsewhere, said the World Health Organization, which counted nearly 4,700 cases and 24 deaths.  CNN_9/12/08

Floods cut off aid in Haiti

Devastation wreaked by tropical storms overwhelmed rescue efforts in Haiti yesterday and left thousands of people stranded with no food or drinking water as another hurricane approached. Aid agencies and United Nations peacekeepers mobilised to help, but submerged roads and bridges cut off an estimated 250,000 people who were becoming increasingly desperate. Flood waters receded as tropical storm Hanna moved north, but the respite will be brief if Hurricane Ike, a category 3 storm, slams into the Caribbean country tomorrow, as some forecasts predict. Hanna was the third storm to hit the impoverished country in three weeks, leaving more than 200 people dead and unleashing what President René Préval called "catastrophe". The UN estimates that 650,000 Haitians have been affected, of which a third are in urgent need of aid. The Guardian_ 9/6/08

Authorities in India already battling a massive deluge face more floods

Water levels have receded slightly in some parts of easter India's Bihar state, which is facing its worst flooding in 50 years, but officials told villagers not to return home from temporary shelters yet. The floods have forced more than three million people from their homes, destroyed 250,000 acres of farmland and killed at least 90 people. But reports suggest the death toll may be much higher after the Kosi river, which originates in Nepal, burst a dam last month and unleashed huge amounts of water downstream in Bihar. Millions are now living on embankments, roads and in overcrowded camps in filthy conditions. Aid agencies said this makes them extremely vulnerable to infections and water-borne diseases in the absence of clean drinking water. Planes are continuing to drop packaged drinking water, bread and tarpaulin sheets for marooned villagers who waved from rooftops to attract attention. ITN_ 9/5/08

$37 billion in Australian water projects on the books

An unprecedented A$30 billion (NZ$37.06b) will be spent on new water infrastructure for cities over the next decade in an effort to put an end to harsh water restrictions in Australia. The Water Services Association of Australia, in its annual report card on the state of cities' water supplies, has found more money is being spent than ever before. The association's executive director Ross Young said the long-term goal of the water supply industry was to put an end to permanent water restrictions by securing new sources of water. Mr Young said that the combination of climate change and population growth was driving a boom in water infrastructure. The atypical rainfall patterns associated with climate change are causing a change in the approach to water supply with large dams playing less of a part in modern city water supply planning. The practice of recycling waste water for human consumption is becoming more popular with the amount of waste water recycled for human consumption more than doubling since 1999. According to the report, much of the country's water infrastructure is over 50 years old and in need of an overhaul. AAP/Stuff.co.nz_ 9/4/08

Call for major work on Dutch water defences

65 billion euros?
A committee charged with conducting a thorough investigation into the effects of sea-level rises on the Netherlands delivered its findings on Wednesday.  It concludes that rising sea and river levels make it imperative that action be taken as soon as possible to provide ten times the present level of safety. Operations should include the pumping of sand onto the North Sea coast and there should be new shipping channels where necessary.  The proposed action programme will cost between 1.2 and 1.6 billion euros per year until 2050. The money will come from a special Delta fund financed by loans and gas revenues to ensure that the project is not affected by political or economic developments. Radio Netherlands Worldwide_9/3/08

UN chief says insufficient progress made on water

One billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water and countries must try harder to reach their goals on sanitation, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said on Monday. "There has been progress towards achieving the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goals, but not enough," Ban said in a speech at the water-themed International Exposition in Zaragoza in northern Spain. The goals, signed by U.N. member countries in 2000, aim to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015. But the fall so far has only been 10 percent, due to population growth and persistent poverty, the UN chief said. About 1.2 billion people have gained access to improved water sources since 1990, while estimates indicate the world population will rise to 9 billion from 6.5 billion by 2050. Reuters_ 9/1/08

 

 

 

August, 2008

UNDP Moldova helps hundreds of families get access to drinking water

About 110 families in Larga Noua village of Cahul district got access to drinking water as part of a community development project implemented within the framework of the Integrated Local Development Program/UNDP Moldova. The villagers did not have access to the centralized drinking water supply system. As many as 105 residents helped extend the water pipeline by more than 2,500 meters and were paid by 1,000 lei on average for their work. “Earlier, the tractor was bringing water in tanks once in 2-3 weeks. Now we have running water at faucets in the court. Soon we will make a bathroom in the house,” said Maria Bohcevan, a resident of Larga Noua. Moldova.org_ 8/29/08

Boil water warning issued for 45,000 in Wales

Welsh Water has warned 45,000 people in north Wales to boil their drinking water because of an increase of bacteria in reservoirs supplying the area. The company said the warning is likely to remain operative for at least two weeks while investigations take place. The water comes from the Mynydd Llandegai water treatment works, which takes supplies from the Marchlyn Bach and Ffynnon Lligwy reservoirs. The bacteria is cryptosporidium, a parasite found in humans and animals which can cause temporary diarrhoeal illness. Its eggs are killed by boiling water. News Wales_ 8/30/08

Water is 'blue gold': Montreal think tank
Large-scale fresh water exports would be a "wealth-creating idea" for Quebec and all of Canada," the Montreal Economic Institute said today. "We should look seriously at developing our blue gold," the think tank said in a study.  The cost of seawater desalination will ultimately determine the commercial value of fresh water and whether the heavy investment in infrastructure would be justified. "Even if the province were to charge a royalty of just 10 per cent on fresh water exports, that would bring in $6.5 billion a year in income, or five times the dividend now being paid by Hydro-Quebec to the Government, said MEI chief economist Marcel Boyer. Montreal Gazette_8/27/08

Landslide cuts water supplies to 30,000 in Ireland's north Kerry

Up to 30,000 people in north Kerry will be without a water supply from today after a landslide of elevated blanket bog in the Stacks Mountains polluted water courses and threatened reservoirs. The slow slide, which began on Friday afternoon, came to a stop late on Saturday night, reaching over two kilometres in length and up to 55m wide in places. The mud seeped into north Kerry's most important water sources as well as angling rivers the Smearlagh and the Feale. Boil-water notices were issued to a number of villages yesterday and Kerry County Council said supplies could be affected for some time. The Council took the decision yesterday to cut off supplies to the reservoirs supplying these areas after the rivers from which they source their water turned brown. The residue from the landslide was "vast" and the rain would probably continue to wash the soil and peat into the rivers, said senior executive engineer with the council Brian Sweeney. Kerry County Council did not speculate on the cause of the landslide, but pointed to recent heavy rainfall as a factor. It was impossible to say when water supplies would return, he added."It's not looking good at this time." Irish Times_ 8/25/08

US $75 million to be invested in Columbia water plan: Official

A total of 140 billion (US$75 million) is expected to be invested in Colombian department Risaralda's water plan over the next four years, the department's governor Víctor Manuel Tamayo told Business News Amearicas. The project will include infrastructure improvements and aims to make potable water, sewerage and waste collection services self-sustainable through institutional improvements, water viceminister, Leyla Rojas said. Over the weekend, President Álvaro Uribe, together with Rojas and other authorities, signed a decree to create the department's new water utility, Empresa Aguas de Risaralda, the departmental government reported in a release. The utility will be responsible for handling potable water, sewerage and basic sanitation services in the department. Business News Americas_ 8/25/08

'Water Mafias' put stranglehold on public water supply

Worldwide corruption driven by mafia-like organizations throughout water industries is forcing the poor to pay more for basic drinking water and sanitation services, according to a new report released this week at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, Sweden.  If bribery, organized crime, embezzlement, and other illegal activities continue, consumers and taxpayers will pay the equivalent of U.S. $20 billion dollars over the next decade, says the report. "The water sector is one of most corrupt after health and education," added Håkan Tropp, chair of the Water Integrity Network (WIN), an advocacy group and report co-author.

Skyrocketing Prices

In developing countries, corruption bumps up household water prices by at least 30 percent, experts say.  In Honduras, for example, residents who either cannot afford connections to centralized water systems or live in places where water is not easily accessible pay 40 percent more for informal water supplies, said TI's Donal O'Leary. In Bangladesh and Ecuador, mafia-like groups often collude with public water officials to prevent access to cheap water services.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that countries such as El Salvador, Jamaica, and Nicaragua spend more than 10 percent of their income on water services, in part due to corruption. In comparison, those in developed nations such as the United States pay approximately 3 percent.  National Geographic News_8/22/08

Wastewater fears for urban farms

Urgent action is needed to remove pollutants from urban wastewater, which is often used in cities to grow food, an international study has warned. Data collected by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) found that 85% of cities discharged the water without any appropriate treatment. With many developing nations swiftly urbanising, the authors said people were at increasing risk of disease. The findings are being presented at an international water summit in Sweden. BBC News_ 8/18/08

download the full IWMI report pdf

Winner of Stockholm Water Prize criticizes biofuels and urges people to eat less meat

The winner of the Stockholm Water Prize criticized the growing use of biofuels Monday and urged people to eat less meat to help cut the amount of water used in food production. British professor John Anthony Allan said the effect of the growing use of biofuels "is too frightening to even begin to realize." Allan, 71, of King's College, London, was awarded the 2008 water prize for his concept of "virtual water," which measures the amount of water used in industrial and food production. He was speaking to the AP on the sidelines of the World Water Week, a conference attended by 2,500 scientists, politicians and officials from 140 countries. Allan will receive the US$150,000 (€95,000) cash award at a ceremony in Stockholm City Hall on Thursday. AP/International Herald Tribune_ 8/18/08

Dam water storage down in Iran

The volume of water stored in dams nationwide in Iran has declined by 46% compared to the amount last year, said deputy minister of energy for water affairs, MNA reported.  Speaking to IRNA, Rasoul Zargar said that the volume of water in dams has decreased from 20 billion cubic meters in the past year to 11.1 billion cubic meters this year.  According to officials with Agriculture Jihad Ministry, the drought has led to a decline in agricultural products by only 15 percent.  Some 2,500 grams of agricultural products are produced in the world for each cubic meter of water, but in Iran the figure stands at between 600 and 800 grams. Iranmania_8/14/08

Phiippines' Maynilad Water seeks to provide water to customers fulltime by 2012

In a statement, Maynilad Water Services Inc. said it had borrowed $365 million to partially fund its program to rehabilitate the pipe network throughout the West Zone and significantly reduce system losses four years from now. Maynilad’s plan involves replacing old pipes and building new water facilities to provide 24 hours of water supply at a good pressure to 100% of the West concession by 2012. Aside from beefing up the investment for pipe rehabilitation and network expansion lined up in the next four years, part of the loan proceeds will be used to bring down the company’s nonrevenue water — or unbilled water due to leaks and illegal connections — to 40% or lower from its current level of 66%. GMA News_ 8/13/08

Australia could import water from Japan
A Japanese company is looking into plans to export water to Australia in large ships for agriculture and industrial use.  Nomura Research Institute is exploring the idea and proposes delivering the water on ships that carry Australian coal to Japan's second-largest steelmaker, JFE Holdings, which has a mill in Kawasaki, near Tokyo.  It said water shipped to Australia would be purified water recycled in Kawasaki after industrial use.  US news agency Bloomberg reported that representatives from Nomura were to come Queensland next month to discuss the plan, as the state looked for ways to boost water supplies.  But a spokesman for Queensland's Minister for Water Craig Wallace said there was no planned deal to import water from Japan.  Japan is the second most water-affluent country behind Canada in the developed world, and is in the process of expanding water exports to take advantage of the growing demand. HeraldSun.com.au_8/7/08

In Yemen, a race for proft is hastening a water crisis

Across the countryside of this nation on the heel of the Arabian Peninsula, the pumps and drills roar. Wildcatters bore as much as 1,000 feet into the earth and draw out the valuable liquid. They pump it into tankers and haul it away to sell to the highest bidder. But soon the reservoirs will run dry. As Yemen's exploding population draws out more and more water from the parched land -- mostly to help feed a voracious appetite for khat, a mildly narcotic plant -- the bone-dry nation's very existence is threatened. At least two-thirds of Yemen's water consumption goes to growing the plant, a social lubricant used by as much as 90% of Yemeni men and a quarter of the women. Los Angeles Times_ 8/3/08

Environmentalists concerned over Red Sea-to-Dead Sea canal plans

Environmental groups have expressed concern about plans to build a canal between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea - transferring water from the former to save the latter. They say not enough research has been done and alternative options have not been checked. "We are concerned about what will happen to the Dead Sea when this amount of marine water is pumped into it," said Gidon Bromberg of Friends of the Earth Middle East, at a 30 July public hearing organised by the World Bank in Herziliya, which followed two others in Ramallah and Amman. The Red-Dead project would take water out of the Red Sea, desalinating some of it for use as drinking water, which would be used for Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians. The rest of the water would go to help save the Dead Sea. The level of the Dead Sea continues to drop at the rate of about one metre per year and has lost about a third of its volume, mainly in the last 30 years. IRIN_ 8/1/08

July, 2008

Canadian residents want to run water commission

Local control vs. big government, consultants
Chris Bell, chairwoman of the Local Service District (LSD) of Cardwell is thrilled Penobsquis residents are getting their water, but she questions why there have been broken promises over who will run it.  Construction has started on a new water system for Penobsquis residents. It could be in service by late November or early December.  Next month will mark five years Chris Bell has had to run her household without her own water. And since that time, fellow representatives on the LSD committee and others in the once-quiet community have been rallying for a new water system to restore what they believe was lost due to big industry intrusion.

Bell is livid, however, that the Department of Local Government will not establish the water commission promised all along to allow the community to set its own water rates and control its own service.  "The LSD has not been involved in any decision-making whatsoever," Bell said.  "It's all been done by the Department of Local Government and (project consultants) ADI. They will decide the residential and industrial user fees, they will decide when the bills come out.  They have been deciding all of it. It's our water, yet we have no say in how it's going to be run." Telegraph Journal_7/31/08

A month after Typhoon Frank, flood-hit communities in the Philippines still have no drinking water

The June 22 flood contaminated almost all of municipalities' water sources—from shallow wells, deep wells and even the facilities of the Metro Iloilo Water District. Water for drinking in badly hit areas is currently sourced from treatment facilities on loan from other government agencies and private organizations. But the water these facilities provide is not enough to meet the needs of the townsfolk. In Pavia, for example, 40 percent of the town's households still have no access to potable water and some residents in interior villages have to go to the town proper to get drinking water or buy bottled water, according to Hisancha. However, potable water may soon be available in water-starved communities in Iloilo, particularly in flood-stricken towns. A water purifier has been developed by the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), one of the research and development institutes of the Department of Science and Technology. Visayas Bureau/Inquirer.net_ 7/27/08

Iganga, Uganda, gets piped water

Water state minister Jennifer Namuyangu has urged residents of Iganga town to effectively use the newly-installed piped water to avoid catching water-borne diseases. “It is a human right to have access to safe water. The National Water and Sewerage Corporation charges for water are affordable. Therefore, I urge you to use piped water because water from wells is exposed to sewage,” she said on Thursday. Namuyangu made the remarks while commissioning a sh13.5b piped-water project at Iganga Town Council Primary School. The minister advised the residents to avoid constructing latrines and instead opt for toilets because they are comfortable and user-friendly. Kigulu South MP Milton Muwuma urged the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) to connect the neighbouring villages to the water supply grid to widen its clientele base. New Vision_ 7/27/08

Turkish firm to begin work on huge Jordanian water project

Thirsty Jordan announced on Sunday that a Turkish firm will begin work next week on a near-billion-dollar project to supply the capital with water from an ancient southern aquifer. Water Minister Raed Abu Soud said GAMA Energy will next Sunday launch the 990-million-dollar plan to extract 100 million cubic metres (3.5 billion cubic feet) of water a year from the 300,000-year-old Disi aquifer 325 kilometres (200 miles) south of Amman. Infrastructure work on the much-delayed project in the desert kingdom is expected to take around four years, the state-run Petra news agency quoted Abu Soud as saying. Jordan's overall population of nearly six million is growing by almost 3.5 percent annually, and it is one of the world's 10 most water-impoverished countries, relying mainly on rainfall to meet its needs. AFP_ 7/27/08

A million Australians in prime agricultural area face drinking water shortage if drought goes another year

A report released Sunday on the state of the nation's largest river system said the situation was critical in the Murray-Darling system, which provides water to Australia's "food bowl", a vast expanse of land almost twice as big as France that runs down the continent's east coast. Australia is in the grip of the worst drought in a century, which has stretched for more than seven years in some areas and has forced restrictions on water usage in the country''s major cities. The report said the Murray-Darling system, accounting for more than 40 percent of the gross value of Australia's agricultural production, should provide enough drinking water for 2008-09. But the report from senior federal and state government officials warned there could be problems supplying drinking water after that if rains did not come. The Murray-Darling Basin stretches from Queensland in the north, through New South Wales to Victoria in the south and South Australia. AFP_ 7/20/08

Northern Cyprus to get water pipeline from Turkey

A 70-mile pipeline will carry drinking water from Turkey to northern Cyprus under a plan announced Saturday by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday. He said construction would begin in June 2009 and the project should be completed within three years. Cyprus is suffering one of its worst droughts in modern history. AFP_ 7/19/08

Greek tanker with much-needed drinking water for Cyprus discards it due to contamination

The ship pumped 40,000 cubic metres of water into the ground rather than a reservoir because delays had made the water unsuitable for consumption. After four years with no substantial winter rainfall, Cypriot water reserves are at their lowest since 1908. The tanker arrived at an offshore pumping station near the port of Limassol at the end of last month, but as it took two weeks to complete pipes to the reservoir, it was deemed unsafe for drinking. BBC News_ 7/16/08

French nuclear leak pollutes water

A nuclear power plant in a tourist region of southern France has been closed after a uranium leak polluted the local water supply. France's nuclear safety authority, ASN, cited a "series of faults and human negligence that is not acceptable" when it ordered the closure of the Tricastin nuclear plant in the Vaucluse region of Provence on Friday following an inspection. The plant is one of 58 in France. During the leak on Monday night, 75 kilograms of untreated liquid uranium spilled into the ground. Residents have been told not to drink water or eat fish from nearby rivers. Swimming, water sports and irrigating crops with the contaminated water are also forbidden. ASN said it would recommend to local councils that they keep precautionary measures in place for at least a week. But site operator Socatri, a subsidiary of French nuclear giant Areva, said it would permanently shut down the plant as part of a previously planned upgrade. Sydney Morning Herald_ 7/13/08

Israel not along in water troubles

Israel's water problems may look grave, with the Kinneret dropping to new lows and the price of water set to rise, but other countries - such as Australia and Jordan - are facing similar, if not worse, crises due to the scarcity of this resource, according to Israeli water experts. Still, the water problem in Israel is "very serious," said Uri Schor, spokesman for the Water Authority, which last Tuesday released a short-term emergency plan to stem the "worst water crisis in the nation's history." The plan will raise prices on water used for gardening to reduce usage and will pump water from tributaries that flow into the Kinneret. "The main concern is to cut down the demand for water," Schor said. In addition, the Water Authority plans to invest NIS 12 billion in infrastructure, desalination, sewage treatment and conservation education over the next five years, the Post reported Tuesday. Jerusalem Post_ 7/12/08

Three meter mistake leaves Cyprus thirsting for water

A week after a ship carrying badly-needed water from Greece arrived off the coast of Cyprus, the thirsty island still is waiting to receive the first drop, thanks to a 3.5-metre (10-foot) miscalculation with the final section of an undersea pipeline. The specially-built 1,320-metre undersea connecting pipe from the ship to the shore is not long enough after experts apparently miscalculated the length. The drought-parched island is in desperate need of additional water supplies from Greece to replenish dwindling reserves, but it now has to wait until the problem is fixed. A Cypriot shipping firm is to ferry a total of eight million cubic metres (280 million cubic feet) of water from Greece to help ease the holiday island's water crisis. The entire deal will cost the government more than 40 million euros (62 million dollars) but still only meets half the island's estimated shortfall of 16 million cubic metres by the end of this year. AFP/Yahoo_ 7/7/08

African Development Bank extends loans and grants to Malawi for water infrastructure

Efforts by Malawi to achieve sustainable development and poverty reduction received a boost on Wednesday in Tunis, where the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group approved a loan and two grants for about US$ 47.24 million, to finance the country's National Water Development Program (NWDP).

The money will be used to provide the country with urban and rural water supply as well as promote resource management and capacity building in the water sector.  The objective of the programme is to ensure the sustainable provision of adequate water and sanitation services to the people of Malawi.  All Africa_7/3/08

Children in China school ill after water poisoned

More than 60 children fell ill after drinking water that may have been deliberately poisoned at a primary school in southern China, state media reported on Tuesday. Thirty-four were still in hospital, suffering from headaches and nausea, and the rest were under observation at their rural school in Guangxi province after drinking the water in their school canteen, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The water in the school's storage tank smelled of pesticide and police found an empty bottle that they suspected of containing the poison, Xinhua said. While the investigation is continuing, local education officials have already accused the school of mismanagement, it added. Reuters_ 7/1/08

June, 2008

Drought-stricken Cyprus gets its first water delivery from Greece

Parched Cyprus took its first delivery of water by ship from Greece on Monday to stave off a drought which has sapped water reserves to critically low levels and triggered emergency rationing. A tanker containing some 40,000 cubic metres of drinking water -- more than double the quantity held in all of the Mediterranean island's 17 main reservoirs -- anchored off Cyprus's southern coast close to midnight (2200 GMT). Its discharge into the island's main water network was expected to commence later this week, contingent on the results of tests for its quality. Cyprus is suffering one of the worst droughts on record, triggering emergency rationing to households, expediting plans for desalination units and sending devout Christians into churches to pray for rain. Reuters_ 6/30/08

Uganda sets 2015 as target date for most of the nation to have clean water

More than 23 million people in Uganda will have access to safe water by 2015, according to the commissioner for water production. Richard Cong said the water ministry's drive to avert water-borne diseases would cost over sh2.6 trillion. Our vision is to make sure 77% of the rural people have safe water by 2015 and 100% in urban centres. New Vision_ 6/29/08

World Health Organization  reports lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene urgent health issues worldwide

In its report, WHO researchers, led by Annette Prüss-Üstün, said about 10% of worldwide diseases could be prevented by improvements related to drinking-water, sanitation, hygiene and water resource management. Among the top water and sanitation-related diseases were diarrhea, malnutrition, intestinal nematode infections, trachoma, infections from contact with sewage, like schistosomiasis, and mosquito-borne diseases like lymphatic filariasis and malaria. WHO_ 6/27/08    download the full report

Source of cryptosporidium in UK's Northamptonshire water supply located

Anglian Water said the bug was found in treatment works at Pitsford Reservoir. The firm had advised 250,000 customers in the Northampton and Daventry area to boil tap water after the discovery of the bacteria in supplies on Wednesday. A spokesman said half of the customers will be able to use tap water as normal by the end of next week, with the remainder back within three weeks. Ultra-violet light is being used at the treatment works to make the bug harmless.  BBC News_ 6/27/08

Asia-Pacific region launches KnowledgeHubs network to solve water problems

Twelve organizations from across the Asia-Pacific region today launched a network to share solutions for improving water management to tackle the region's many pressing water challenges. The network, known as "KnowledgeHubs," (http://www.apwf-knowledgehubs.net/) is an initiative of the Asia-Pacific Water Forum, which was established in 2006 with support from Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to promote leadership and boost investment in the water sector. Some 650 million people in the Asia-Pacific region lack access to clean water and 2 billion are without adequate sanitation, said a news release announcing the regional information network. KnowledgeHubs is supported by ADB, Singapore's national water agency PUB, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. At the launch, Ravi Narayanan, Vice Chair of the forum's Governing Council, introduced the 12 founding members of KnowledgeHubs. They are PUB WaterHub, Singapore; International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management, Japan; National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia; Center for River Basin Organizations and Management, Indonesia; Korea Water Resources Corporation, the Republic of Korea; Center for Hydroinformatics in River Basins at the Yellow River Conservancy Commission, the People's Republic of China; Institute of Water Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore; International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka; Central Asia IWRM Resource Center, Uzbekistan; Pacific IWRM Resource Centre, the Fiji Islands; International Research and Training Center on Erosion and Sedimentation, the People's Republic of China; and the International WaterCentre, Australia. News Release/ACN/NASDAQ_ 6/2708

Report:  Beijing faces collapse due to water crisis
Beijing's water crisis is so critical that the city is facing economic collapse and the need to resettle part of its population in coming decades, a leading Canadian development policy group said Friday.  Experts predict the Chinese capital could run out of water in five to ten years, according to Grainne Ryder, policy director at Probe International.  According to the report, called "Beijing's Water Crisis: 1949-2008 Olympics," Beijing's 200 or so rivers and streams are drying up, and the city's reservoirs are almost empty.
Beijing would potentially have to start shutting down industry, she said, as the city would be incapable of supporting current levels of infrastructure or population. Nine consecutive years of below-average rainfall combined with rapid urban expansion, dumping of wastewater and sewage into Beijing's waterways, and over-pumping of groundwater mean the city of 17 million people is fast exhausting its water supply.  Speaking at the launch of a report on Beijing's water crisis just six weeks before the "Green Olympics" in August, Ryder said authorities had already discussed moving people out of the capital to other cities.  This scenario, while extreme, highlights Beijing's current water crisis.    Click here to download the full report.   AFP and PI_6/27/08

Highly polluted water contaminates the water supply in sections of two states in India

Two days after highly polluted water flowed in Punjab canals, the drinking water supply in five districts of Rajasthan and Muktsar was hit on Saturday. As the water supply and sanitation board (WSSB) stopped taking the water supply from the canals, fearing outbreak of water-borne diseases, it started rationing drinking water to residents. Fearing the worse, the Rajasthan public health department has also started rationing water, providing drinking water to residents on alternate days. In Gidderbaha, Malout and Muktsar, the home district of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, drinking water is being provided once a day against twice a day earlier. But the water crisis is more severe in Rajasthan, where the state public health department has not taken water supply from the Indira Gandhi Canal for the past two days. The water flowing in the canals was even worse than sewage. It was emitting foul smell and dead and rotten fish could be seen floating on the surface, said Dinesh Nagori, executive engineer, public health department in Sriganganagar. Times of India_ 6/22/08

Drought could cause power blackouts in Iran

Iranians must cut their electricity consumption by 10 percent or face daily power cuts because of a severe drought and low production at hydroelectric power plants, officials warned Saturday. News reports inside Iran said in Tehran, the capital, that could mean up to four hours of blackouts each day. Energy Minister Parviz Fattah warned in May that Iran will face severe electricity shortages and power cuts this summer due to "the drought and the lack of water" in dams. AFP_ 6/21/08

Water quality concerns with outflow from China's "quake lake"

A county seat with more than 100,000 residents has stopped drawing water from its original Fujiang River source with the arrival of the runoff from China's main Tangjiashan "quake lake." Tongliang County in Chongqing Municipality had instead resorted to two standby reservoirs. They contained more than 20 million cubic meters of water and could ensure supply for three months, said Zhao Wuqiang, a local government publicity official. The runoff from Tangjiashan, packing mud, sand and flotsam proved difficult for the local water plant to purify. The pollution was not serious, Zhao added. Xinhua_ 6/12/08

China quake lake water surges safely through cities

A huge volume of water Tuesday surged from a lake created by China's massive earthquake, safely plunging downstream through an area where hundreds of thousands had been braced for disaster, officials said. The mammoth effort to drain Tangjiashan lake -- where floodwaters behind a landslide had threatened to burst through the wall of rubble to submerge low-lying towns -- was declared a success by officials who said the crisis was over. But with the risk of man-made drainage channels collapsing under pressure from the water charging through them, there was still a danger of sudden tidal waves. The official Xinhua news agency reported late Tuesday that a crest of flood water, carrying with it trees, TVs, refrigerators and the bodies of earthquake victims, had surged safely past the city of Mianyang in southwestern Sichuan province. CNN_ 6/10/08

China says "quake lake" rising despite drainage

A lake created by the Chinese earthquake which threatens to unleash a devastating flood is still rising despite urgent efforts to drain the waters off safely, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday. Troops fired missiles and used dynamite to help blast out a sluice channel to drain off a huge volume of water which has built up behind the mud-and-rock dam at Tangjiashan. Landslides blocked the Tongkou River in last month's 7.9 magnitude quake, creating the biggest of more than 30 "quake lakes" formed by a disaster which has already killed 69,000 people. Worried that it could burst in a sudden rush, officials have evacuated more than 250,000 people from downstream areas. A strong aftershock hit the region on Sunday evening, shaking the dam for about 20 seconds and causing what a Xinhua reporter described as massive landslides in surrounding mountains. Some 600 armed police and soldiers have worked for six days to dig a 475-metre channel to run off water from the lake in Beichuan County. Reuters_ 6/8/08

Water drains from earthquake-formed lake in China

Water flowed slowly into a manmade spillway Saturday from a swollen lake formed by a landslide in China's devastating earthquake, easing the immediate threat of a flood that had led to the evacuation of more than 250,000 people. Engineers were monitoring bridges and river banks downstream to see if they would hold under the rush of water, and work crews were trying to dig a secondary channel to improve the flow, China Central Television and the Xinhua News Agency reported. The water that had been building behind the landslide for nearly four weeks appeared to stabilize, the State Council, China's Cabinet, said in a report posted on its Web Site. Although experts said the potential for flooding remained, the government seemed relieved and people who have been evacuated to cramped camps for safety anticipated going home. AP_ 6/7/08

India-Pakistan water project talks inconclusive

The second day of the ongoing talks between Pakistan and India on various water projects remained inconclusive on Sunday. Six technical questions were raised by Pakistan before the Indian team, but only four were discussed. “The Indian side has not given satisfactory responses to the queries raised by Pakistan,” Pakistan Indus Water (PIW) Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah said. Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) commissioners of both the counties briefed the media after the talks. PIW Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah briefed the media about Pakistan’s technical reservations over the Kishan Ganga Dam project. He said the remaining two questions would be discussed in a session on Monday (today). Shah said Pakistan had reservations over the storage capacity of the proposed dam, diversion of a river over which the dam was to be constructed and the de-silting process, adding that Pakistan also had reservations on the Indian formula of water storage. Daily Times_ 6/2/08

Troops draining lake created by China earthquake

Fears of a devastating flood from a lake formed by the Sichuan earthquake eased on Sunday after hundreds of soldiers and engineers successfully completed a channel for draining away the rising water. The authorities had evacuated 197,000 people and drawn up plans to move as many as another 1.3 million because of the risks posed by a collapse of the Tangjiashan lake, one of 30 created by landslides touched off by the quake. The official death toll from the May 12 quake rose slightly on Sunday to 69,016, with 18,830 still missing in remote parts of the mountainous southwestern province. More than 15 million have been evacuated from the areas hit by the quake, the government added. Xinhua/AP/International Herald Tribune_ 6/1/08

May 2008

More people being evacuated from swollen lake area in southwest China

Chinese emergency workers are aiming to evacuate another 80,000 people from the area downstream of a swelling earthquake-induced lake by midnight on Tuesday. Altogether 158,000 people will have to move from their homes if Tangjiashan Lake bursts its banks. So far, more than 100,000 people in Mianyang City have been relocated. Two other plans require the relocation of 1.2 million people if half of the lake volume is released, or 1.3 million if the barrier of the quake lake fully opens. On Tuesday, at least 600 engineers and soldiers were working around the clock to dig a sluice for the blockage with the aid of 29 excavators and bulldozers. The evacuation was necessary because the water level in the quake lake has continued to rise and the diversion channel won't be in place until June 5, experts with Mianyang quake relief headquarters said on Tuesday. Tangjiashan, the biggest of 35 lakes formed in the quake, is inaccessible by road and can only be reached by foot or air. Xinhua_ 5/27/08

China preparing to drain swelling quake lake; 100,000 to be evacuated

Rescuers are preparing to dynamite the barrier of a swelling earthquake-induced lake at risk of bursting and threatening thousands of people downstream in southwest China. Experts have proposed a water diversion channel to drain Tangjiashan Lake, formed by landslides that blocked a river known as the Jianhe after the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province. Professionals and materials are airdropped for operations to blow a barrier lake at Tangjiashan, Beichuan County, which was formed by landslides after the May 12 earthquake and now blocks the river Jianhe. Tangjiashan, one of 35 such lakes, is inaccessible by road and can only be reached by foot or air. Liu Ning, Ministry of Water Resources of China chief engineer, who is in Tangjiashan to oversee the diversion, said the lake's water level was 725.3 meters on Monday, only 26 meters below the lowest part of the barrier, he said. "Around 100,000 (people) would be evacuated to ensure the safety according to the current drainage plan," Liu told the Shanghai-based Oriental TV. "It's better for them to complain about the trouble that the evacuation would bring than to shed tears after the possible danger," he added. Xinhua_ 5/26/08

More than 1 million still lack clean water in southwest China after quake

Almost two weeks after a major earthquake hit southwest China, 1.08 million people in the southwestern province of Sichuan still lack sufficient clean drinking water, an official told reporters here on Sunday. Measures would be taken to solve the problem by May 31, according to E Jingping, Vice Minister of Water Resources. The 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 left more than 9 million people without potable water. So far, supplies have resumed in all six provinces that were affected, except for part of Sichuan Province, he said. Xinhua_ 5/25/08

Spain's drought: a glimpse of our future?

Barcelona is a dry city. The Catalan capital's weather can change from one day to the next, but its climate, like that of the whole Mediterranean region, is inexorably warming up and drying out. And in the process this most modern of cities is living through a crisis that offers a disturbing glimpse of metropolitan futures everywhere. Its fountains and beach showers are dry, its ornamental lakes and private swimming pools drained and hosepipes banned. Children are now being taught how to save water as part of their school day. This iconic, avant-garde city is in the grip of the worst drought since records began and is bringing the climate crisis that has blighted cities in Australia and throughout the Third World to Europe. A resource that most Europeans have grown up taking for granted now dominates conversation. Nearly half of Catalans say water is the region's main problem, more worrying than terrorism, economic slowdown or even the populists' favourite – immigration. The political battles now breaking out here could be a foretaste of the water wars that scientists and policymakers have warned us will be commonplace in the coming decades. The Independent_ 5/24/08

Restoring water supply to China's quake areas 'arduous task'

Authorities are facing an arduous task to restore water supplies to areas hit by last Monday's earthquake, an official has said. Shao Yisheng, general secretary of the China Urban Water Association, said 7,800 km water pipes were damaged in the quake, although supplies in the worst-hit areas have been "basically" restored. The association has called on its members across the country to dispatch professional repair teams to disaster areas, some of which have already arrived. The water supply to the 11 million people of Chengdu, the Sichuan capital, was largely unaffected, it said. However, in medium-sized cities such as Dujiangyan, Mianzhu and Shifang, which are close to the quake's epicenter, supplies have been severely affected due to damaged equipment and contamination, the department said. As a result of leaks, the water pressure in those cities is less than a third of its normal level, it said. In areas close to the epicenter, including Beichuan and Wenchuan, water supply facilities have been totally destroyed, the official said. China Daily_ 5/22/08

'Quake lakes' on China river to be fixed; thousands evacuated

Water resources officials working in China's quake-stricken areas said Wednesday they have made plans to repair damage to a river that threatens to burst. The upper stream of the Qianjiang River near Beichuan County was damaged in the May 12 earthquake, forming "quake lakes" as water was shoved from its bed by rock and mud slides sent off by the earthquakes. On Saturday, thousands of people were evacuated from Beichuan as officials warned of flood risks. Officials from the Ministry of Water Resources, the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission, the Hydro-power Plant Branch of the Armed Police and Sichuan provincial officials discussed plans to address the risks in an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Zhu Bing, deputy head of the provincial water resources department, told a news conference on Wednesday that there are about 33 such quake lakes in nine counties in Sichuan. He said plans are being made to repair dams and embankments before the rainy season starts in June. Xinhua_ 5/21/08

Landslides from China earthquake form 21 lakes, 'no danger yet'

Twenty-one lakes have formed after landslides blocked rivers in Sichuan, but they "do not pose a serious danger at the moment", the vice-governor of the province said on Sunday. Expert teams have reached all the lakes to monitor the situation, Li Chengyun told a media briefing, adding that various water projects in the province are basically safe. His remarks came after thousands of people were evacuated from Beichuan county from Friday as a precaution. The government will evacuate people in the downstream areas of the lakes as soon as situation warrants, Li said. Massive landslides following the magnitude-8 earthquake on May 12 have dammed rivers and lakes in several counties, posing a threat to downstream areas. The earthquake and the aftershocks also damaged some water storage facilities in Sichuan Province, though no burst reservoirs were reported. China Daily/Xinhua_ 5/19/08

Water crisis in India's Lucknow area leads to demonstrations

Residents of Babuganj took to streets in protest against the water crisis plaguing their locality for the past several days. They staged a sit-in and threatened a mass protest if water situation did not improve in coming days. The demonstration was led by Mankameshwar ward corporator Ranjeet Yadav, who claimed that despite repeated reminders authorities had failed to lend ears to their woes. Lucknow Jal Sansthan (LJS) officials said that tubewells need to be rebored to ensure water supply to this densely populated area. It was in this context that the state government had recently decided to bore around 60 tube wells to thwart the rising water crisis in the state capital. TimesOfIndia_ 5/19/08


Thousands flee on flooding fears after China quake

Thousands of Chinese fled their homes on Saturday amid fears a lake could burst its banks, hampering rescue efforts after the deadliest earthquake in more than three decades killed about 29,000 people. A paramilitary officer had told Reuters earlier that the likelihood of the lake bursting its banks was "extremely big". Reuters_ 5/17/08

Chinese families trek for days to find quake victims; Fights reported over water

On the buckled road to the epicentre of China's deadliest earthquake in decades, the stream of refugees fleeing collapsed homes and unburied corpses is almost outnumbered by a flow of anxious families trekking in. And hundreds of people desperate for news of their families have decided they can no longer bear the wait, even though they are ill-prepared for dangerous treks of up to 70 km (44 miles). Those leaving warned that people were fighting over food, medicine and water in some of the worst hit towns -- but many hunting for loved ones seemed oblivious to the dangers ahead. "We have enough water for one day, after that we'll just have to see," said Chen Fubin, who had rushed from her home by the coast to try and find her parents in Wenchuan -- at least two days' walk away along a road littered with broken bridges, landslides and rivers swollen by torrential rain. These unofficial search parties are extra work for officials already struggling to provide food, water and shelter to worst-hit areas. But no one wants to turn them away. Reuters_ 5/17/08

UK regulator Ofwat ready to break up water monopolies

Homeowners could eventually choose their water supplier under proposals by Ofwat, the industry regulator. In the second part of its review into the sector, Ofwat calls for the water and sewerage markets to be opened up progressively, starting with small business customers and extending to households. Large water users, such as hospitals and industrial plants, have been able to switch suppliers for more than two years. However, not one of the 2,200 eligible businesses have switched in that time. At present, in England and Wales, water and sewerage companies operate local monopolies, using their own water resources - including rivers and reservoirs - to provide water and sewerage for the businesses and homes in their area.

Times Online_ 5/16/08

Earthquake damage poses flood risk to China's dams

Water Resources Minister Chen Lei said there was evidence of damage to almost 400 dams in the region of Sichuan province. He said there were also "prominent problems in safety and flood prevention" in reservoirs and hydropower stations in the affected areas. The extent of the danger at hydropower stations remains unclear because management systems are "not smooth", he added. Urgent attention is being paid in particular to medium-sized dams close to the town of Wenchuan, after an official warned that problems at the nearby Tulong reservoir. The Zipingku dam is upstream from the Dujiangyan irrigation system, which has supplied water to Sichuan's fertile eastern plains for more than 2,000 years. While the 156m-high (511ft) dam has been declared structurally safe, about 2,000 troops have been sent there to help with emergency repairs. BBC News_ 5/15/08

Power outages slated for Ethiopia capital because of low water levels

The Ethiopian capital faces a lengthy power outage until next month because of reduced water levels in the country's hydro-electric plants, a state-owned generator said Monday. Addis Ababa, a city of 5 million, will have no power for up to three days a week, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation said in a statement. AFP/NASDAQ_ 5/12/08

Single water bill being discussed in Northern Ireland; Charging for water has proved very controversial

Executive ministers are discussing whether consumers will receive a separate water bill next spring, BBC News understands. This would go against an independent review which last year recommended that water charges should be included in a single bill together with the rates. BBC News_ 5/12/08

China turns to algae-gobbling carp, hoping to clear country's fetid lakes

When spring warms into sultry summer, China's Lake Chaohu turns slimy and stinky as algae fed by sewage, farm and factory runoff bloom leave it toxic and undrinkable. Across the country, officials desperate to meet a national goal of restoring China's severely polluted lakes by 2030 are dumping tons of voracious fish into lakes in hopes they'll gobble up the algae infestations. Other countries have tried this in sewage treatment pools or drinking water reservoirs with mixed success, but nowhere else has it been attempted on such a large scale. Workers dumped 1.6 million silver carp fry into Chaohu Lake in February in the largest such project in China. They expect each fish to eat as much as 45 kilograms of algae as they grow, helping to ensure clean drinking water for more than a million people. AP/canoe_ 5/4/08

In rural Pakistan, naturally-occurring fluoride contaminates water supply

The residents of the village of Achhro Thar (White Desert), 80 km from Khipro, District Sanghar, and 50 km from the Indian border, told the Daily Times that in the last three years, at least 17 from the Hajam and Rajar clan have died and dozens have been paralyzed. The Ideal Rural Development Programme (IRDP), a local organization, organized a visit of the area for journalists and the residents shared never-ending stories of their miseries. “Many of those who died were disabled before their death and civil society workers say they died because of the contaminated water,” said Muhammad Hashim Hajam, chieftain of the Thooraho village. The source of the fluoride is likely underground granite mountains. Although granite mountains have been present since ancient times, environmental changes and increasing population are causing the increase in fluoride levels. The increased fluoride levels affect teeth, bone, nervous system, senses and movement, while the increased salts in the body cause increased blood pressure, which damages the kidneys. Daily Times_ 5/4/08

Newly discovered water, oil and gas surveyed in Afghanistan

Policymakers, potential private investors, and the public received valuable new information to help identify fault lines and the potential location of undiscovered water, oil and gas, and non-fuel mineral resources in Afghanistan.  Data were collected by U.S. Geological Survey scientists, who flew over Afghanistan and conducted an airborne geophysical and photographic survey of the country. "Afghanistan has significant natural resource potential, but much of the country's potential remains unknown," said USGS Director Mark Myers. "The geophysical survey provides objective, unbiased information and will enable scientists to better define areas for future exploration and development."  Science Daily_5/1/08

April, 2008

Safe Water? Lessons from Kazakhstan

Despite significant efforts to improve access to safe water and sanitation, a new report co-authored by an expert at The University of Nottingham, argues that much more needs to be done. A major survey in Kazakhstan found that, despite meeting the UN definition of what constitutes safe water, a large number of people reported suffering from illnesses like hepatitis and gastroenteritis. A key United Nations Millennium Development Goal is to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015. This is seen as crucial to reducing poverty and infant mortality. But, as the research shows, the MDG definition is too narrow and can be misleading. If the definition is used, it shows that over 90 per cent of people in Kazakhstan have access to safe water and sanitation. But the definition does not take into account the distribution, supply, quality and reliability of the supply. When these factors are considered, the actual number of people with access to safe water drops to less than 30 per cent. Science Daily_ 4/30/08

Cyprus to import water from Greece to fight worst drought in 100 years

The drought-stricken eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus will begin importing water from neighbouring Greece within the next two months in order to deal with a severe water shortage, reports said on Tuesday. The island's 109 reservoirs have reached dangerously low levels and its two desalination plants are unable to keep up with industry and household demand. Cypriot officials signed a contract with a local company, Ocean Tankers, to import approximately 8 million cm³ over the summer period starting at the end of June. News 24_ 4/22/08

Multi-million dollar plan to pump water to Jordan's capital

Jordan on Sunday announced that a multi-million dollar project would begin in June to supply the capital with water from an ancient southern aquifer 325 kilometres (200 miles) away. "The capital will get water from the aquifer for the coming 100 years," Water Minister Raed Abu Soud told reporters, adding that the project in the desert kingdom was expected to be completed within three and a half years. Jordan, one of the 10 most water-impoverished countries in the world, depends mainly on rain to meet its needs. "GAMA Energy will carry out the project, which costs 702 million dinars (990 million dollars), on a build, operate and transfer basis under a 25-year-concession agreement," Water Minister Raed Abu Soud told reporters. AFP/Yahoo_ 4/20/08

Canada takes steps to ban most plastic baby bottles

The Canadian government moved Friday to ban polycarbonate infant bottles, the most popular variety on the market, after it officially declared one of their chemical ingredients toxic. Nalgene brand water bottles had used bisphenol-a, which some studies in animals linked to hormonal changes. The action, by the departments of health and environment, is the first taken by any government against bisphenol-a, or BPA, a widely used chemical that mimics a human hormone. It has induced long-term changes in animals exposed to it through tests. Also on Friday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said he intended to introduce on Monday a bill that would ban many uses of BPA-related plastics. It would prohibit them in all children’s products, including nonfood items they may put in their mouths, as well as in any product used to contain food or beverages. The toxic designation will allow Canada eventually to ban the manufacture, import or sale of baby bottles made with polycarbonate. Polycarbonate, which dominates the North American baby bottle market, mimics glass but is lighter and shatter-resistant. New York Times_ 4/19/08

Egypt to cut rice planting to save water

Egypt, Africa's largest rice exporter last year, will reduce the land allocated for planting the grain to save water and encourage farmers to grow more corn, Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza said. Egypt plans to cut the area from 1.8 million acres (728,434 hectares) planted to the grain in 2007-08, he said. ``Rice consumes more water and we want to make sure we are using our water in the most efficient manner possible,'' Abaza said in an April 15 interview in New Delhi. ``Our problem is with water shortages and we need to modernize our irrigation system.'' Abaza's decision, combined with the country's ban on rice exports for the next six months, may further reduce global stockpiles that helped push prices to a record. Egypt exported 700,000 metric tons of the grain, a staple food for half the world, this year.  Bloomberg_4/17/08

Middle East water crisis warning

Poor water quality hurt GDP: World Bank
Governments in the Middle East and North Africa need to invest now if they want to avoid severe water shortages in the future, the World Bank has warned.  The amount of water available per person in the arid region will halve by 2050, a report from the bank estimates.  It blames climate change and population growth for new pressures on supplies.  The bank's report suggests agriculture is a key target area.  With 85% of water-use devoted to agriculture, the report suggests countries such as Morocco will have to cut back on irrigation and switch to crops that require less water but earn more money.  According to its figures, declining water quality has already knocked around 1% off gross domestic product in Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, and nearly 3% in Iran. "We've simply got to reduce the amount of water used, especially in agriculture," said Julia Bucknall, natural resource management specialist at the World Bank.  "If we plan for the future, it's a lot simpler than crisis management further down the line," said Ms Bucknall.  BBC_4/11/08

India's Uttar Pradesh government charges nearly 2,000 farmers with stealing water

The state government has booked nearly 2,000 farmers in drought-stricken Bundelkhand on a rare charge — that of stealing water. The move has provoked an outcry from local farmers and politicians who argue that water should be available to all, free of charge — an issue being debated across the globe. “If a single farmer is arrested, we’ll fill the jails with thousands of farmers,” threatened peasant leader Ramratan Gurudev from Mahoba, the district where 12 first information reports have been registered against 1,924 farmers at three police stations. Legal experts said the farmers, if convicted, could be jailed for six months to five years. The FIRs were drawn up after the state irrigation department complained of farmers pumping out water from six canals meant to serve only select areas, Mahoba police chief A.K. Mishra said. The drought has dried up most of the irrigation canals, from which the farmers used to draw water against a tax. The Telegraph India_ 4/6/08

Canadian trade minister affirms prohibition on bulk water exports

There is no need to ban bulk water exports to other countries because such activities are already prohibited, says Canada's federal Trade Minister David Emerson. “There are those who will allege that NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) could require us to export bulk water or face trade remedies. That is in fact not true,” said Emerson, following Question Period. He responded to questions from reporters about calls by the Polaris Institute and other groups to impose a ban and renegotiate aspects of NAFTA concerning water. “Water under NAFTA is acknowledged not to be a traded good," he said. "It‘s not a commodity in the trade sense and indeed there is a clear prohibition in Canada on any removal of water from trans-border water basins including for the purpose of export.” Emerson said his government is working on the issue from an environmental perspective and that imposing a ban on exports of water would implicitly be admitting that it could be traded. “Our whole approach has been to treat water as something that has to be managed in an ecosystem context and it’s not a tradable product,” he said.  Canadian Economic Press_4/3/08

March, 2008

Malawi: Water utility over-stretched and under-maintained

Water cuts that sometimes last up to three days have become a fact of life in Malawi's commercial hub of Blantyre. And, the parastatal Blantyre Water Board (BWB) -- the city's sole water supplier -- has warned that the cuts are likely to persist until 2013 as it replaces dilapidated water pumps with new equipment. The '2007 Malawi Millennium Development Goal Report' indicates that the country is making good progress towards reaching the MDG target which calls for the reduction by half of the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. The report states that access to water has improved significantly, from slightly over 47 percent in 1992 to 75 percent in 2006. But the state of affairs in Blantyre could overshadow this achievement. During a recent media tour of BWB's main intake facility at Walker's Ferry on the Shire River in the southern district of Mwanza, superintendent Clive Bismarck explained that transformers have been breaking down at the point where the water is pumped from river to pipeline. The transformers currently in use were installed in 1963. Bismarck added that the utility has begun repair operations and the installation of new and improved machinery that will ensure a more reliable water supply for Blantyre. Malawi has emerged as one of the fastest urbanising countries in the world with an urban population growth rate of 6.3 percent compared to 0.5 percent in rural areas, according to the United Nations Centre for Human Settlement. Persistent water shortages cause city residents to flush their toilets less frequently and to compromise on other basic elements of household hygiene such as dish washing. As a result, unpleasant odours emanate from houses and the risk of water-borne diseases has become a constant problem. Cholera used to occur mainly in the rainy season when contaminated water entered the distribution system as a result of floods. Now, there are instances of the disease throughout the year, as poor hygiene is conducive to the spread of the Vibrio cholera bacterium. Inter Press Service/allAfrica.com_ 3/29/08

Israeli scientists find prescription drugs in water used for irrigation

Scientists are concerned that pharmaceuticals - including anti-depressants - could seep into the groundwater that is used for drinking water after a variety of medications have been found in the country's treated waste water for irrigation. The disturbing findings came to light in tests conducted over the past year by researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University.  The treated waste water was tested by Dr. Benny Chefetz of Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot and Tel Aviv University's Dr Dror Avisar.  Chefetz's findings indicated anti-depression medication, painkillers and anti-cholesterol drugs, as well as medication to treat epilepsy and heart medication.  "I found a variety of drugs and I am sure that further testing will reveal more types of pharmaceuticals," Chefetz stated. "We have not tested groundwater, but we have found that some of these medications are not held back by soil but move through it rapidly. I have almost no doubt that some could get into the drinking water." Haaretz.com_3/28/08

UN experts focus on water 'footprint'

It's not only our carbon footprint we should worry about, U.N. experts say. They warn about our growing water footprint.  Nearly half the people on Earth, about 2.5 billion, have no access to sanitation, many of them in urban slums. The world's cities are growing by 1 million people a week, and soon their aging water systems will not cope. Farming demand on water is increasing.  The threat of climate change has drawn attention to the carbon footprint, the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity. Now scientists have begun calculating a water footprint, the amount of water needed to produce goods or services.  Engineers are experimenting in a dozen cities from Lima, Peru, to Beijing to find ways to ease the pressure on water resources.  The projects, run by the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization and funded by the European Union, include turning rooftops into gardens, capturing and recycling rain, recharging underground reservoirs with waste water, and swapping traditional flush sanitation for dry toilets.  Associated Press_3/27/08

In Afghanistan, 70 percent lack safe drinking water

About 70 percent of Afghans do not have access to safe drinking water, a government minister said Tuesday at the opening of the first of a chain of hydrological stations to monitor water supply. "Only 30 percent of people have access to the safe drinking water while in rural areas it's only 15 percent," Deputy Minister for Energy and Water Shojaudin Ziaie said at the event at Qargha dam just outside Kabul. The Qargha hydrological station is the first of 174 to be erected across Afghanistan to measure water resources, including rainfall, as well as water quality and levels, Ziaie said. The $6.8 million World Bank funded-project will help scientists collect data about water resources over a period of about two years. AFP/TODAYonline_ 3/26/08

Irretrievable pollution looms at key Israeli water sources

Israel's natural water sources will drop so dangerously low by the end of this year that there is a major risk of some of them becoming irretrievably polluted and thus unusable, according to the shocking new forecast from the Water Authority. "We will definitely fall below the bottom red lines in all three main water sources this year," Water Authority spokesman Uri Shor told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday after the Authority revealed that Israel is facing its most severe water crisis in the past decade. Israel's three main natural water sources are Lake Kinneret, the mountain aquifer and the coastal aquifer. There are also two desalination plants currently at full production; three more are being built, but even the first of these won't be completed until the end of 2009. The risk of pollution is acute at the two aquifers, Shor said, where "falling below the red lines means there is a significant chance the water will become polluted. In the aquifers, that means saltwater mixing with the fresh water." "By the end of the summer, [the water level may be so low that] we may not be able to pump water out of Lake Kinneret at all," he continued. Until the next desalination plant begins working, "we are at the mercy of the heavens." However, experts say it is not only up to the heavens, and that much can be done by the humans on the ground to use water more efficiently, squander less, and raise awareness of the gravity of the problem. Jerusalem Post_ 3/21/08

Greece to supply water to Cyprus

The Greek government has agreed to offer Cyprus eight million cubic metres of water.  However, due to the lack of infrastructure, the water can’t be transported until July.  Cyprus' Agriculture Minister Michalis Polynikis said there will be serious water shortages by the end of 2008. Cyprus has 50 million cubic metres of water to last until the end of the year, well short of the 66.7 million cubic metres it needs.  Polynikis told the committee his Greek counterpart had responded positively to Cyprus’ request for water, however, for the water to be transported, a 400 metre pipe needs to be built at Elefsina in Greece and a four kilometre conveyor in Limassol, one kilometre of which needs to be undersea. “It appears the issue of reducing water consumption is a necessity,” Polynikis said after the meeting. Cyprus Mail_3/21/08

"Water for All" project to cover 80 percent of Angola's population

The "Water for All" project, designed to supply drinking water to rural areas, will benefit about 80 percent of the country’s population, as from 2012. This was said Thursday in Caxito city, northern Bengo province, by the minister of Energy and Water, Botelho de Vasconcelos. The minister who made the announcement during a visit for assessment of the progress of works, said the project will increase annually by 20 percent the supply of drinking water to the population, so that 80 percent of the country’s population gains access to treated water by 2012. According to the official, the steering project of the drinking water abstraction, treatment and distribution system will start functioning next April, and Cabiri commune, in Bengo province, was selected to host the official starting phase of the venture. Angola Press_ 3/15/08

More than 100 million Europeans lack access to safe drinking water: UN

More than 100 million Europeans still lack access to safe drinking water, resulting in the deaths from diarrhoea of nearly 40 children every day, the United Nations reported today, noting that many people across the region do not enjoy the basic human right to healthy water. More than 170,000 cases of water-related diseases – including over 120,000 cases of viral hepatitis A – were reported in 2006. In Eastern Europe, some 16 per cent of the population does not have access to drinking water in their homes, while in rural areas, more than half of all people do not have a reliable supply of safe water and adequate sanitation. A new and independent Compliance Committee has been created to promote the prevention, control and reduction of water-related diseases and to increase the number of Europeans access to adequate sanitation. News Release_ 3/14/08

Ghana: UNICEF and EU team assesses water and saniutation approach to guinea worm eradication in the north

The Head of the European Union Delegation in Ghana Mr. Filiberto Sebregondi and UNICEF Ghana Country Representative, Dr Yasmin Ali Hsque, have paid a two-day visit to the Northern region to assess the oncoming collaborative efforts to improve availability of safe water and sanitation facilities, and the eradication of Guinea Worm. They met with beneficiaries of the ongoing projects and traveled to observe a water filtration system to prevent guinea worm infection. They also visited a containment/treatment centre for guinea worm patients, and a rural community initiative preventing open defecation and building latrines through the Community-Led Total Sanitation project. The project began in June 2007 when UNICEF Ghana received a pledge of Euro 15 million from the Ghana Delegation of the European Commission in response to a project titled "Integrated Approach to Guinea Worm Eradication through Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene in the Northern Region, Ghana". A total of Euro 20 million has been pledged for the project over four years, which includes a Euro 5 million contribution from UNICEF. Developed in consultation with all stakeholders, a key objective of the project is the eradication of guinea worm in the Northern region. Public Agenda/AllAfrica.com_ 3/14/08

Nigeria: Water vendors protest borehole water price increase at Mararaba

At Aso area of Mararaba, vendors shunned boreholes that stuck to the N10 price increase while those that maintained the former price were patronized. A water vendor, Chinedu said those that increase the water prices were been unfair to the vendors. "We have contributed a lot to the growth of some of these boreholes around here and I see no reason for the present increase," he said. One of the borehole owners, Mr Akan said a meeting of all borehole operators in the area is being planned so that all borehole operators would come out with a comprehensive price list that would be binding on all members. Last week, water vendors at Nyanya embarked on a similar protest. The vendors organized some of their members into a monitoring team and harassed their members that were seen selling water around Nyanya. Our reporter noticed members of the monitoring team using clubs and stones on erring members of the association in order to enforce the strike. Daily Trust (Abuja)/allAfrica.com_ 3/14/08

Zamzam water to be distributed among India's Haj pilgrims

The government of Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow India to transport holy zamzam water in bulk in the wake of troubles the Haj pilgrims faced in receiving it this year, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Friday. Admitting that the Haj pilgrims this year had to face some problems due to a "mismatch" in communications, Mukherjee said the government had taken up the matter with Saudi Arabian authorities. "The Saudi Arabian government has agreed to allow India to transport the zamzam water in bulk as a one-time exception. Diplomatic missions will make arrangements to bring it here and it will be distributed to all registered Haj pilgrim centres and then to the registered pilgrims," Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha. The minister pointed out that the airlines do not permit carrying the holy water in bulk. Raising the matter, Ramjilal Suman of the Samajwadi Party said this year several Haj pilgrims had not received the holy zamzam water which they consider as a precious gift from Makkah. Last year, 157,000 Indians performed the Haj while 110,000 of them availed the government facilities. IANS/New Kerala_ 3/14/08

Israel facing worst water crisis in past decade

The past winter's meager rainfalls and sharp rise in domestic water consumption have brought Israel to the most acute water crisis in the past decade. The country's main water sources are expected to drop below the safe minimum levels by the end of the summer, which threatens the water quality. The Water Authority will have to take conservation measures while drilling for water in an effort to increase the supply. Altogether, the past four years' accumulated deficit is almost a billion cubic meters. Last month - the last main winter month - the Hydraulic Service's monitoring stations did not register a single significant rise in any of Israel's streams. Dropping water levels endanger the water quality, mainly in the coast and western mountain aquifers. The lower the fresh water level, the more sea water or salt water enters the aquifers from deep in the ground. Domestic water consumption is expected to reach an estimated 796 million cubic meters by the end of the year, 134 million cubic meters more than it was at the beginning of the decade. This amount is almost equal to the production of the Ashkelon and Palmahim desalination plants, wiping out the two plants' contribution in less that ten years. Haaretz_ 3/11/08

Queen Elizabeth II says water becoming a source of conflict

Competition for fresh water is becoming a potential source of war, Queen Elizabeth II said, urging governments and business to do more to protect the environment and fight global warming. The Nile River illustrates the challenges facing the global environment, the Queen said today in a speech to mark Commonwealth Day. The Commonwealth is an association of 53 nations, most of them former British colonies. Commonwealth leaders last year met at the Nile's source in Lake Victoria to craft a plan to fight climate change. The Queen's comments, published on her Web site, add to remarks last week by the U.K. government's chief scientific adviser, John Beddington, who said that waning food and water security are ``enormous problems'' that are evolving on a faster timescale than climate change, to which they are related. ``Water is going to be a priced commodity'' in the future, Beddington said in a March 6 speech at the Sustainable Development U.K. conference in London. Bloomberg_ 3/10/08

Yemen sleepwalks into water nightmare

Black-clad women trudge across a stony plateau in the Yemeni highlands to haul water in yellow plastic cans from wells that will soon dry up. "We come here three or four times a day," says Adiba Sena, as another woman draws water six metres to the surface and pours it into jerry cans lashed to her grey donkey. "We use it to clean, cook, wash - we have no pipes that reach us." These women are at the sharp end of what Yemen's water and environment minister describes as a collapse of national water resources so severe it cannot be reversed, only delayed at best. Yemen relies on groundwater, which nature cannot recharge fast enough to keep pace with a population of 22.4 million expanding by more than 3 per cent a year. More water is being consumed than resupplied to 19 of the impoverished country's 21 aquifers, Iryani said. Vancouver Sun_ 3/2/08

Egypt: Scientists uncertain about climate change impact on the Nile

Specialists say Egypt is already facing massive water management challenges due to demographic pressures and rising demand for water and electricity, but it is not clear how climate change will affect future Nile flows, and the key vulnerabilities have yet to be assessed. Some experts say that there will be water increase with more rainfall from the Ethiopian plateau, and some say there will be a decrease because of water evaporation. The river Nile supplies 95 percent of Egypt's total water needs for irrigation, and industrial and economic activities. Most of the population is concentrated on the narrow T-shaped strip along the Nile and the delta coast. The delta makes up only 2.5 percent of Egypt's land mass but is home to over a third of the country's population. IRINnews_ 3/2/08

February, 2008

China diverting major river to 'water' Beijing Olympics
Landlocked Beijing has begun tapping a lattice of reservoirs, rivers, and canals across eastern China to provide plentiful water for this summer's Olympic Games.  As part of the initiative, more than 150 million cubic meters (39.6 billion gallons) of water are being diverted from the Yellow River through a network of canals stretching across three provinces to refill a lake south of the historically drought-stricken Chinese capital.  A parallel project is diverting water to the east coast resort of Qingdao, which will host the Olympic sailing competitions.  "Athletes from all over the world will come to China to join the Olympic Games [in August]," said Huang Feng, a researcher at the Yellow River Conservancy Commission, which is in charge of the river's diversion.  "So Beijing is implementing its master plan to provide the very highest quality of water."  The current rerouting is just the precursor to a 60-billion-U.S.-dollar hydro-engineering project expected to see three human-carved rivers carry water from southern China to the arid north. National Geographic News_2/28/08

Local governments take lead in Great Lakes water quality management

A report released Wednesday by the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative suggests that Canadian and US towns and cities bordering the Great Lakes spend about US$15 billion a year on water quality management and ecosystem protection.   Of that, it‘s estimated that Canadian municipalities spend $4.3 billion annually on infrastructure commitments such as management of storm water and waste water, water quality monitoring and residue management.   The report is based on a 2006 poll of municipalities within the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River system.   A joint statement released by the cities initiative board, which includes Thunder Bay Mayor Lynn Peterson, states that “this investment highlights the fact that local governments are on the front lines when it comes to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence.   Toronto Mayor David Miller, founding Canadian chairman of the cities initiative, said “municipalities are carrying almost the entire burden, and of course it‘s not possible to do what needs to be done if it‘s just the cities carrying the load.”   Miller said the federal government has committed $40 million over five years to address areas of concern in the Great Lakes, but does not make guaranteed annual infrastructure commitments for things like management of storm water and waste water, water quality monitoring and residue management.   “Compared to what municipalities invest, it‘s literally almost nothing,” Miller said, adding municipalities are being left to fend for themselves when it comes to things like the distribution and management of drinking water, and the cleanup and maintenance of public beaches. Chronicle Journal_2/28/08

A third of Romanians without running water: minister
A third of Romanians have no access to running water or sewers, Environment Minister Attila Korodi said Wednesday, calling for heavy investment to bring the country in line with the rest of the European Union.  Only 52 percent of Romanians have both running water and access to the sewage system, while 32 percent have neither, the minister said at the launch of a project to modernise infrastructure. The remaining 16 percent have only running water.  He also noted that 47 Romanian towns, including Bucharest, dump untreated sewage into rivers and that out of 1,310 sewage treatment plants in the country, some 63.4 percent do not operate properly.  To solve this problem, Romania will have to invest 9.5 billion euros (14 billion dollars) by 2018, Korodi noted.  AFP_2/27/08

Photo Feature: Inside Israel's National Water Carrier

Journalists were afforded a rare tour inside the huge pipes that supply water to all of Israel last week. The Mekorot (‘Sources’) National Water Company held the tour at the end of large-scale pumping and infrastructure work on one of the segments of the National Water Carrier, near Rosh HaAyin. Israel National News_ 2/26/08

Olympics water diversion threatens millions in China

The diversion of water to Beijing for the Olympics and for big hydropower projects threatens the lives of millions of peasant farmers in China’s north-western provinces, according to a senior Chinese government official. In an interview with the Financial Times, An Qiyuan, a member and former chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee for Shaanxi province and former Communist party chief of Shaanxi, warned of an impending social and environmental disaster because of overuse of scarce water resources. In a critical tone seldom heard from Chinese officials, Mr An called on Beijing to provide compensation to the provinces that have been told to pump their cleanest water to the capital in order to ensure potable supplies during the Olympics. Beijing will need an estimated 300m cubic metres of additional water just to flush out the polluted and stagnant rivers, canals and lakes in its central areas to put on a clean, environmentally-friendly face for Olympic visitors, according to municipal officials. The average annual per capita water supply in China is 348 cubic metres, well below the global average and the United Nations definition of “water shortage”, which is anything below 1,000 cubic metres. Beijing’s supply is even lower, at 235 cubic metres. Many experts say these shortages are exacerbated by artificially low prices set by the government. Financial Times_ 2/26/08

Dow Chemical and International Aid announce partnership to supply 300,000 HydrAid™ BioSand Water Filters worldwide

Dow will supply all of the plastic resin required to manufacture 300,000 HydrAid(TM) BioSand Water Filters, a lightweight water purification device currently being distributed by International Aid and its partners worldwide. At just seven pounds, the HydrAid(TM) filter is viewed as a major design improvement to the traditional, 300-pound concrete BioSand filter. Manufactured by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Cascade Engineering, the injection-molded, non-electric device is far easier to transport, and can provide enough clean, safe water to meet all of a family's daily water needs. "The simplicity, affordability and effectiveness of the HydrAid(TM) water filter hold the promise to make a dramatic impact on the global water crisis," said International Aid President and CEO Myles D. Fish. "We are delighted that Dow is joining with International Aid and our growing number of distribution partners to help bring the HydrAid(TM) filter to the many thousands of communities suffering from lack of clean water worldwide." "As a world leader in chemistry, we are uniquely positioned to use our products and technologies to develop innovative solutions to supply cleaner and safer water to those in need," said David Kepler, Senior Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer for Dow. "Through partnerships with organizations like International Aid, we can increase the global sense of urgency to help solve these world challenges." News Release_ 2/25/08

Drought leaves 250,000 short of drinking water in north China

About 250,000 people in north China’s Hebei Province, which neighbors Beijing, face drinking water shortages as a severe winter drought lingers, government authorities said on Monday. The number could double next month, the provincial water conservancy department said. Some 3.3 million hectares of crops have also been affected. The usable water in provincial reservoirs amounts to 1.9 billion cubic meters, less than one third of capacity and 500 million cubic meters below the long-term average. Some reservoirs have gone dry, according to the department. Xinhua/ChinaView_ 2/25/08

Coal mining plans put South Africa fresh water at risk

Plans to mine for coal in the catchment areas of major rivers present a serious threat to South Africa's fresh water resources. Acid pollution caused by coal mining has already destroyed the Wilge River that flows through the Ezemvelo Reserve near Bronkhorstpruit, Mpumalanga, and has caused mass deaths of fish and crocodiles at the Olifants River inlet to Loskop Dam, between Middelburg and Groblersdal. Now proposals are on the table to mine in an area northwest of Ermelo, where the Vaal River originates. It is called the Spitzkop Greenfields Project and the prospective mining company is Xstrata, which owns several mines in the Mpumalanga highveld coal fields. Professor Terence McCarthy of the school of geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand has written to Xstrata's consultants, warning that if the project goes ahead, it is likely that within a decade the water quality in the upper Vaal will deteriorate to the point where it will no longer be fit for human consumption. The Grootdraai Dam would then no longer be able to supply water for the Gauteng region. IOL_ 2/10/08

UK's Southern Water accepts £20m fine
Regulators have confirmed a £20.3m fine imposed on Southern Water for poor service and reporting misleading data.  Ofwat first announced the fine in November and confirmed it on Friday after a period of consultation.  It said that Southern Water had systematically manipulated information to hide its true service performance.  Ofwat said the fine will not be passed onto customers and, instead, shareholders will have to bear the cost.  The misreporting meant that Southern was able to raise its prices by more than it should have done, Ofwat said.

'Deception'

Southern Water uncovered issues with the reporting of its service standards in October 2005, and reported them to Ofwat and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).  The problems related to response times for billing inquiries and service complaints from customers.

According to Ofwat chief executive Regina Finn:  "Southern Water deliberately misreported its customer service performance to Ofwat and systematically manipulated information to conceal the company's true performance over an extended period of time.  "The company benefited directly from this misreporting at the last two price reviews, meaning Southern was able to increase its prices by more than it should have done," she added.  "Customers received higher than necessary bills because of the company's deception." BBC_2/8/08

New Canadian law would ban water removal on environmental grounds
The issue of how well protected Canada's water is from bulk exports has always been hotly contested.  The federal government has insisted in recent years that foreigners won't be able to get their hands on a resource some have called "blue gold," while environmentalists have been just as adamant that large-scale diversions pose an ever-present threat.  The uncertainty over whether Canada's water is at risk could be ended by tough new federal legislation prohibiting on environmental grounds the transfer of water out of any of the country's five natural drainage basins, says a new report by the University of Toronto's Munk Centre.  The report includes model federal legislation that its authors contend would head off possible NAFTA and World Trade Organization challenges over a Canadian prohibition on bulk exports by making the environmental protection of water resources the key reason for the law.  Globe and Mail_2/6/08

China begins restoring water, power to millions cut off by snow

Chenzhou, a city in the central province of Hunan and the worst hit, was getting its power back after being blacked out for 11 days, Xinhua news agency said. About 1,000 pylons and poles in the region had collapsed under the weight of ice and snow, which means the local grid, that took decades to build, had effectively been destroyed, Xinhua said. Whole cities had had their power and water cut off for more than a week and 11 electricians have been killed trying to reconnect lines or break ice encasing poles and cables. Livestock and crops have been destroyed. The remote township of Wengxiang in the snowy mountains of Guizhou province hadn't had electricity since January 14. Residents also have to negotiate steep, icy paths to fetch water in buckets because pipes are frozen or cracked. Across the country, 170 of more than 2,000 counties had suffered outages. By Wednesday, 169 counties had had their power restored, or partially restored. Reuters_ 2/6/08

January, 2008

EU gives France final warning over waste water treatment
The European Commission said it is sending France a final written warning over its alleged failure to improve its urban waste water treatment after an earlier European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the matter.  The commission said the warning alerts France it will be taken to the ECJ for the second time and possibly face fines unless it quickly brings its urban waste water treatment up to EU standards.  It said France is still not complying with the 1991 EU directive on urban waste water treatment, despite having been condemned by the ECJ for this.  Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said: 'Untreated urban waste water is a threat to European citizens and detrimental to the environmental quality of Europe's rivers, lakes and coastal waters. I urge France to act swiftly otherwise the commission will consider asking the court to impose fines.'  The commission said 140 French settlements - including the city of Paris - continue to discharge waste water into areas deemed 'sensitive'.  It said that France rearranged the 121 settlements previously deemed to be acting against the directive into 164 settlements through boundary changes, resulting in some settlements no longer meeting the threshold level of 10,000 residents at which the directive applies.  The commission said it considers such rearranging of settlements to avoid compliance with the directive unacceptable and calls on France to implement the directive in all settlements covered by the ECJ ruling. Forbes_1/31/08

Scientists warn of looming water supply crisis
Climate change has already dramatically altered the water cycle and these changes signal a looming water supply crisis, according to a prominent group of hydrologists and climatologists writing Thursday in Science magazine.  They argue that radical water cycle changes will be widespread and that past trends can no longer be relied upon when planning future water management.  "Our best current estimates are that water availability will increase substantially in northern Eurasia, Alaska, Canada and some tropical regions, and  decrease substantially in southern Europe, the Middle East, southern Africa and southwestern North America," said lead author Christopher Milly, a research hydrologist with the US Geological Survey.  More frequent droughts can also be expected in drying areas, he added.  "Even with aggressive mitigation, continued warming is very likely given the residence time of atmospheric carbon dioxide and the thermal inertia of the Earth system," the authors concluded.  The article says that new models must be used to prepare for floods or droughts, determine the size of water reservoirs and decide how to allocate for residential, industrial and agricultural uses.  AFP_1/31/08

 

Yellow River water diverted to N China's largest freshwater lake
Lock gates were opened on Friday in eastern China to send water from the Yellow River to the largest freshwater lake in the northern part of the country, Baiyangdian. The lake has been stricken by continuous drought and has to give up its nearest water sources to back up Beijing's water use for the upcoming Olympics.  Water began to run out of the Huanghan Lock Gate in Liaocheng City, Shandong Province, at 70 cubic meters per second. It will take an estimated 120 days to feed 150 million cubic meters through a 400-kilometer diversion route to Baiyangdian, said Liu Jing, a senior engineer at Shandong Yellow River Bureau.  The Yellow River distribution marks the second time that the Yellow River has been diverted to ease the lake's dryness. The first instance was in November 2006, when the lake was hit by the worst drought in 50 years.  China View_1/25/08

UN chief urges world to give looming water crisis priority

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the world on Thursday to put the looming crisis over water shortages at the top of the global agenda this year and take action to prevent conflicts over scarce supplies.  He reminded business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum that the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan was touched off by drought - and he said shortages of water contribute to poverty and social hardship in Somalia, Chad, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Colombia and Kazakhstan.  "Too often, where we need water we find guns instead," Ban said. "Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon."  He said a recent report identified 46 countries with 2.7 billion people where climate change and water-related crises create "a high risk of violent conflict" and a further 56 countries, with 1.2 billion people "are at high risk of violent conflict." The report was by International Alert, an independent peacebuilding organization based in London.  Ban told the VIP audience that he spent 2007 "banging my drum on climate change," an issue the Forum also had as one of its main themes last year. He welcomed the focus on water this year saying the session should be named: "Water is running out."  "We need to adapt to this reality, just as we do to climate change," he said. "There is still enough water for all of us - but only so long as we can keep it clean, use it more wisely, and share it fairly." CNN_1/24/08

Beijing Olympic water scheme drains parched farmers
Dusty villages far from China's capital are paying their own price for the government's plan to stage a postcard-perfect Olympic Games, enduring shrunken crops, drained wells and contention over lost land and homes.  China is rushing to finish canals to pump 300 million cubic metres of "emergency" water to Beijing for its "green" Games, ensuring a lush, sparkling host city greets the world in August.  The 309 km (192 miles) of channels and pipes cut into Hebei province, next to the capital, will take water from farming country already beset by drought and environmental strains.  Villagers watching a frantic "100-day battle" to complete the main canal by a late-April deadline wondered how much of the price of a leafy Beijing they should bear.  "For the country, it's a good thing. It will bring water to Beijing so everything runs smoothly," said Shi Yinzhu, herding sheep near the 100-metre (yard) wide canal in Tang county.  "But for us here, they had to pump away underground water to dig the canal and we've lost a lot of land too ... Sometimes you wonder if they need all the water more than us here."  China is determined to make 2008 a live-to-air affirmation of its economic miracle. But Beijing's plan to draw water from its parched neighbour also dramatises the environmental blowback from the country's explosive, city-skewed growth.  "There have been many basic problems with the geology and local circumstances that just weren't anticipated," Dai Qing, a Beijing environmental activist long critical of government policy, said of the Olympics water project.  "But the fundamental one is they don't have enough water in northern China to begin with. Why should they pay such a heavy price for Beijing?"

Guardian Unlimited_1/23/08

Saudi utility to streamline water, sewerage
Saudi Arabia has set up a water company to oversee privatisation of expensive sewerage services and efforts to save dwindling water resources.  Minister of Water and Electricity Abdullah bin Abdul-Rahman al-Husayen said the National Water Company would be wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund.  It will assume control of all the kingdom's groundwater wells and sewage and desalination plants, which were previously in the hands of various government bodies in a convoluted system.  The new firm also will take charge of privatising urban water and sewerage services. The winner of a tender for Jeddah will be announced in three months, Husayen said, and tenders will be held for Saudi Arabia's other big cities within three years.  Reuters_1/22/08

Zimbabwe water woes deepen as much of Harare remains cut off

Much of the Zimbabwean capital of Harare remained without running water on Wednesday, while suburbs that were well supplied earlier in the week despite the failure of a major water pumping station said their taps have dried up.  Sources contacted in Harare said the outlying district of Hatfield has had no water for a week, while Marlborough and surrounding areas have had no water for two weeks. Glenview has had an erratic supply of water though it flowed for a few hours.  The Harare district of Warren Park had water for one hour, local sources said.  The city center was reported to have had a steady supply of water.  The Zimbabwe National Water Authority could not be reached for comment as calls to cellular and fixed-line numbers of managers did not connect.  Opposition lawmaker Innocent Gonese, a member of the house committee on local government, said the water failure in Harare as in other cities has numerous causes, and the only remedy is to hand control of water systems back to municipalities.  Parliament has handed control of municipal water and sewage systems across the country to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, which has been harshly criticized for failing to maintain the flow of water to gross overbilling of households. Voice of America_1/16/08

Toxic water to be released into Pakistan's drinking water source

The Sindh irrigation department has decided to discharge highly contaminated water from Manchar Lake into the Indus River, despite the fact that the water on the upstream of the Kotri barrage has reached a contamination level 350 parts per million (ppm).  In 2004, when water from Manchar Lake was released into Indus River, 42 people died in Hyderabad and hundreds were taken to hospitals because of water borne diseases. Some irrigation officials, including the provincial secretary of irrigation, the EDO of health in Hyderabad, the DG HDA and others, were dismissed and brought under investigation.  Manchar Lake is the biggest shallow-water natural lake of Pakistan and is situated in district Dadu. It is a vast natural depression that runs besides the Khirthar Hills in the west, the Laki Hills in the south and the Indus River in the east. In 1932, the then British government constructed flood bunds on the northern and northeastern boundaries of the lake to protect the surrounding area from floods.  The lake was a large natural reservoir of fresh water that was used for the arid region. Highly contaminated saline water was later poured into this natural reservoir and it became a drainage pass. Daily Times_1/16/08

Zimbabwe: Harare cuts all water supplies to residents

Residents of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, and Chitungwiza, a dormitory town 35km to the southeast, are to be without water for seven days because of persistent power cuts that have affected bulk water treatment and distribution, the authorities have announced. A spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), the parastatal responsible for national water treatment and distribution, told local media at the weekend that the frequent power failures at Harare's Morton Jaffray Waterworks would mean that "Harare and Chitungwiza will, this whole week, experience a loss of water supplies due to problems beyond our control." An outbreak of more than 400 diarrhoea cases - markedly more than expected for this time of year - in two low-income suburbs, Mabvuku and Tafara, during the recent holiday period were attributed to Harare's already erratic water supplies. ZINWA employees who declined to be identified told IRIN that the water shortages had nothing to do with power cuts, but were because "We have run out of chemicals to treat the water. Water treatment chemicals will be sourced from Zambia and Malawi and, within a week, we hope to have received the chemicals." James Elder, spokesman for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) told IRIN UNICEF was providing water tanks in Harare suburbs affected by outbreaks of diarrhoea and also to Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, in the southeast of the country. The children's fund was also distributing water purification tablets. IRIN/allAfrica.com_ 1/14/08

Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize featured at Singapore Water Week
Thirty-nine nominations from more than 15 countries have been received for the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, to be given out for the first time in 2008 to recognise outstanding contributions in solving water issues.  The award will be the highlight of the inaugural Singapore International Water Week from 23 to 27 June.  The winner will receive S$300,000, an award certificate, and a gold medallion.  The Singapore International Water Week will bring together international policy makers, industry leaders and experts to address challenges in water management and conservation.  The focus will be on best practices, successful case studies and the practical delivery of water solutions and technologies.  Key events during the week will include a Water Leaders Summit, an exhibition and trade show, and a water festival. Channel News Asia_1/10/08

Mufulira, Zambia water contaminated

There was a near riot in Mufulira yesterday following water contamination, which resulted in 10 people being rushed to Malcom Watson Hospital after consuming the commodity pumped from Mopani Copper Mine (MCM) underground source.  Riot police were deployed in three mine townships, the town centre and other strategic areas after word went round that some people had been rushed to the hospital after consuming 'poisoned' water. Some people had mobilised themselves and attempted to march to the civic centre and Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company offices, but police were quickly deployed in strategic areas. Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) chief services officer Passmore Hamukoma also confirmed the incident in an interview.  There are three water plants in Mufulira under Mulonga, namely Kafue, Chibolya, and the Mine Site. The mine site plant is supplied with water from underground as MCM is dewatering the mine area.   MCM was now discharging the water from underground in Mufulira stream, which eventually flows in the Kafue River, another source of water in the town. Mulonga tested the water three times in a day as the commodity was being supplied for consumption. This is the second incident experienced in Mufulira, with the first one having happened in 2005. Residents in affected area were trooping to Ngolo and Zimba areas far beyond Butondo township where they were drawing water from shallow wells and springs.Early last year, Mushishima stream in Chingola was polluted as a result of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) dewatering process. This also affected Kafue River.  The Times of Zambia (Ndola)_1/3/08

Syria presses Turkey over Euphrates water supplies: agency
Visiting Syrian Deputy Premier Abdullah Dardari urged Turkey Wednesday to let more water flow into his country from the Euphrates river, Anatolia news agency reported.  Dardari said after talks with Turkish officials that the recent drought in Syria had hit water supplies, the agency reported.  Syria and Iraq often complain that their northern neighbour Turkey -- with a series of dams built on the Euphrates and Tigris as part of a massive project to irrigate southeast Anatolia -- monopolises the waters of the two rivers.  The Tigris and the Euphrates originate in Turkey and flow south through Syria and Iraq.  Turkish Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu said Turkey too is suffering from drought, but is still letting through an average 500 cubic metres (650 cubic yards) per second of Euphrates water to Syria, under the terms of a 1987 agreement between the two countries.  AFP_1/3/08

 

 

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