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January - June, 2006 International Water News


June, 2006

UK water firms 'damaging wetlands'
Water companies are damaging wetland habitats - crucial to birds and other wildlife - because they are pumping too much water out of them, the RSPB says.  It says the firms are taking more water from boreholes than the local ecology can stand, in breach of EU rules.  The water industry says its water abstraction is approved by the Environment Agency.  The agency says it is still collecting the evidence it needs to revoke abstraction licences.  BBC_6/25/06

Pakistan to install more than 6,000 filtration plants

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said the government is committed to providing safe drinking water to the entire population and 6,036 water filtration plants, costing more than Rs7.8 billion, would be installed by December 2007 throughout Pakistan. Presiding over a meeting at the Prime Minister’s House on Monday to review the progress of the programme, ‘Safe Drinking Water for All’ the prime minister said water-borne diseases were one of the major hazards for public health, and providing safe drinking water to all by 2007 was among the top priorities of the government. He said under the first phase of the programme, 500 water purification plants would be operational by the end of 2006; one each at every tehsil and by the end of 2007 every union council would have at least one water purification plant under the programme. Dawn_ 6/27/06

Pakistan and India begin talks on water dispute
Pakistani and Indian officials began two-day talks on Thursday to resolve water disputes over a barrage that India is constructing on river Jhelum in the Kashmir region.  The third round of talks on the Wullar Barrage, also known as Tulbul Navigation project, is being held under the ongoing composite dialogue process the two south Asian rival neighbours started in February 2004 to resolve their outstanding disputes.   Times of India_6/22/06

Clashes over water claims 14 lives in Pakistan
Bloody clashes between rival Pakistani villagers over scarce water supplies ended yesterday when troops were sent to restore order in the region on the Afghan border after 14 people were killed.  Pakistan faces a serious water shortage this year after light rain and snow over the winter. Water rights are a divisive issue in many parts of the country but the clashes in the Kurrum region were the most serious this year over the resource.  Violence erupted on Monday when people of one clan tried to divert water from an irrigation canal to their fields and men from another clan resisted. The rivals battled with rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, said the region’s administrator, Mohamed Salim Khan.  Gulf Times_6/21/06

Continuing National Water Commission strike in Jamaica holds water supply hostage
In the meantime the National Water Commission (NWC) said wide scale water lock-offs will continue across the island for as long as the workers remain on strike.  To compound the problem the company said it cannot provide a schedule outlining when water will be piped or trucked to any community.  Corporate Communications Manager at the NWC, Charles Buchanan, said despite its efforts a large number of its customers could be without piped water Wednesday night.  According to Mr. Buchanan the NWC is getting support from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the police but this is not sufficient to operate its islandwide network.

He said the Commission is also having problems trucking water to affected communities.  And the water disruption forced the early closure of several schools on Wednesday.  Radio Jamaica.com_6/21/06

Stealing water in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, could become expensive

Water authorities in the city are considering a sharp increase in the fines imposed on building owners who install illegal pumping systems to draw more water for their tenants, Al-Watan newspaper reported yesterday. The current fine is SR1,000. The new fine would increase exponentially for each repeat offense. The idea to increase the fine has come as city officials have noticed an increase in the number of incidences of illegal pumping from the water mains. The water supply has been further inconvenienced by the ongoing public works. In an ongoing and massive project, the city is currently replacing its septic tank-based sewage system with sewage lines. Another problem with the city’s water consumption is among immigrant tenants who live in overcrowded conditions. Arab News_ 6/20/06

Heavy clash in Pakistan over water, 12 hurt

Rival Pakistani villagers battled each other for water on Monday, using rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades after one group tried to divert an irrigation canal. Twelve people were wounded in the fighting in the rugged Kurrum region on the Afghan border, said the region's administrator, Mohammad Salim Khan. Villagers said a child and a woman were killed. The fighting broke out when people of the Malikhel clan tried to divert water to their fields, and men from another clan tried to stop them, Khan said. Many of the ethnic Pashtun people who inhabit both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border are well armed. Pakistan has faced a shortage of water this year after light rain and snow over the past winter. Reuters_ 6/19/06

The Jordan River is deep and wide no more

Over-use of water from the southern stretch of the Jordan River threatens to dry it up and devastate one of the world's most important religious sites. The warning comes from conservationists, Christian groups and the heads of local authorities in the region - Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians. Israel, Jordan and Syria are preparing to increase use of the tributaries feeding the southern Jordan - a stretch of the river between Lake Kinneret and the Dead Sea - and there is mounting fear of a natural disaster that would have far-reaching consequences. Until the 1950s, more than a billion cubic meters flowed through the southern Jordan annually, helping to maintain the Dead Sea's water level and a healthy river with a diverse ecological system. Now the flow is only 100 million cubic meters a year. Haaretz_ 6/18/06

UN marks Deserticifation Day suggesting tourism as one answer

The United Nations Environmental Program suggests that one answer to the growing number of deserts in the world is promoting tourists to explore them – so long as it’s not overdone. The idea is to make more citizens aware of the cost of deserts – in human terms UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says there is growing evidence that desert landscapes create regional instability (because of the competition for scarce resources) and more of them are being used for prisons, military training grounds and refugee holding stations. The UNEP’s Monique Barbut says that with careful planning, tour operators could help reverse that by bringing tourists, creating economic benefit. But the organization’s guide book says that the threshold for desert visitors is not high and the number of visitors must be carefully controlled. Tiempo Climate Newswatch_ 6/17/06

China tar spill threatens water for millions
A toxic spill in north China has contaminated water supplies for 50,000 people and poses a threat to a reservoir supplying millions more, state media reported on Friday.  Water pollution has become a major national concern since a blast at a chemical plant in November released a toxic slick into the Songhua river, affecting drinking water supplies to millions in the northeast. Sixty tons of coal tar carried by an overturned lorry spilt into the Dasha river in the northern province of Shanxi on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.  "The spill, moving at about one km per hour, is approaching the Wangkuai reservoir about 70 km from the accident site," Xinhua said, quoted environmental protection officials.  The Wangkuai is one of two key reservoirs supplying water to 10 million people in Baoding, a city in neighbouring Hebei province.  The spill had already reached Hebei's Fuping county on Tuesday, Xinhua said, contaminating water supplies for 50,000 people.  Clean-up efforts, initially delayed by the lorry driver's cover-up of the toxic cargo, had included the building of 51 dams to intercept the coal tar "so as to win time for treating polluted water", Xinhua said.  Reuters_6/16/06

Thai flood aftermath

Dam water released to fight pollution
Irrigation officials have released clean water from two giant dams to dilute contaminated water in the Nan and Yom rivers, which have been polluted by run-off from flood-hit provinces in the North. The Yom river section in Phichit province is too dirty for use in tap water production, while waterworks officials are worried that the polluted water could flow down into the Chao Phraya river and affect tap water production for Bangkok.  Fresh water had been released from Bhumibol dam in Tak province and Sirikit dam in Uttaradit over the past two days to dilute the polluted river water, said Irrigation Department deputy chief Theerawat Tangpanich. This ''natural treatment'' method was necessary as the amount of polluted water was too great to be treated by chemicals, he said.  The dirty water is believed to have come from reservoirs and ponds, which have been polluted with decomposing plants and rubbish brought in by flash floods that hit lower northern provinces late last month. 

Bangkok Post News_6/16/06

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo city council seeks $3,4 trillion for water

The Bulawayo city council, stung by government's delay in implementing the Matabeleland Zambezi Water pipeline, is seeking to raise more than $3,4 trillion to access alternative water sources to supply the city with potable water, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt. The water committee said council needs to embark on three projects if it is to contain water shortages that have persistently dogged the city. The three projects that council need to embark on include connecting Mtshabezi Dam with Umzingwane Dam by pipeline, and to sink 20 new boreholes while rehabilitating a further 44 boreholes at the Nyamandlovu aquifer.

Zimbabwe Independent/AllAfrica.com_ 6/16/06

1,200 in Hungary ill from dirty water

Some 1,200 people in northeastern Hungary have fallen ill from drinking contaminated water, the director of national epidemic affairs said Monday. Flooding caused by heavy spring rainfall contaminated the spring water that flows into the city water system, experts said. On Thursday, residents of the city of Miskolc - some 100 miles northeast of Budapest- began showing first symptoms of bacterial poisoning, falling ill with diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue. The number of sick in Miskolc escalated to 1,200 on Monday with 80 patients treated at a hospital there, said Lajos Ocsai, the epidemic affairs director. Water experts advised all residents to use tap water strictly for cooking and to drink bottled water only. AP/Daily Democrat_ 6/12/06

New water projects outlined as Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, looks to reserves

Abdul Rahman Al-Muhammadi, the director general of the water authority, told a press conference on Sunday that the city would max out its operations to supply residents with their water requirements. Al-Muhammadi promised new water and drainage projects to be commissioned in the near future. In order to boost the consumer supply lines and benefit maximum number of people the lines will be connected directly to the reservoirs at Briman and Quwaiza. Arab News_ 6/13/06

Pakistan likely to enact safe drinking water law this year

It's likely to be enacted this year, would set technical and supply standards for municipal bodies and make them accountable to the general public. The Ministry of Environment has proposed the Act in its National Water Drinking Policy. The Act will declare safe drinking water a fundamental human right and the responsibility of the State. Drinking water is the constitutional responsibility of all the provincial governments and the specific provision has been developed to create agencies in cities, towns and tehsil municipal administrations under the Local Government Ordinance 2001, states the policy document, obtained by Dawn. It has been proposed that all water schemes will be based on the provision of a minimum of 20 litres per capita per day for rural households and 40 litres per capita per household for urban areas. It has also been proposed to provide at least one hand pump or spot source for every 250 persons; to establish district and tehsil levels, water filtration plants by 2007; to establish water treatment plants in all urban areas by 2015; and to ensure that water quality standards are approved and a system of surveillance, testing, monitoring and disseminating information regarding water quality is in place by 2007. Dawn.com_ 6/12/06

Water rules 'to protect cash cows'; Australian water woes continue
Malcolm Turnbull has accused state governments of using their water bodies as cash cows, imposing artificial water restrictions to protect hundreds of millions of dollars in dividends.  As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with special responsibility for water, Mr Turnbull said the states were using restrictions to put off expensive plans to improve water supply with recycling or desalination plants.  He said there was "absolutely no excuse" for coastal cities to be short of water.  "There is no reason why we should be rationing water in our cities any more than we should be rationing electricity," he said.  "We can afford to make as much water as we need (from recycling or desalination). Our prosperity is underpinned by our management of water."  In 2004, capital city water authorities paid more than $750 million in dividends to their respective state governments. Mr Turnbull said the money was directed into general revenue, rather than invested in increasing water supply.  He said water from recycling and desalination plants was more expensive than water from dams, slashing the profit margin authorities could earn from selling water to the public.  That meant water authorities were inclined to impose restrictions in the hope of rain, so they could go back to selling cheaper, more profitable dam water.  The Australian_6/8/06

Wetlands dispute in Korea pits conservationists against economics

A dispute on South Korea’s southwest coast continues, despite a HK$32.8 billion sea wall that was supposed to resolve the dispute. The issue, converting tidal flats to farming land is not unique to Korea. The South Korean government said the project was conceived to alleviate flooding, provide a new sources of clean drinking water and create new farm lands. But, conservationists and fishermen say that it threatens jobs for fishermen and it will decimate migratory shore birds throughout Asia. The effects could reach as far as Alaska and Australia. The Standard_ 6/8/06

Zanzibar, Japan sign water development pact
Tanzania's semiautonomous island of Zanzibar and the Japanese government signed an agreement on Wednesday for a US $13-million three-year water supply project designed to boost provision of the commodity in the island's urban areas.  The Japanese ambassador, Katsuya Ikeda, who signed the agreement on his government's behalf, said boreholes, reservoirs and pipelines would be built under the Zanzibar Urban Water Project Supply Development Project. The principal secretary in the ministry of finance and economic affairs, Khamis Mussa Omar, represented Zanzibar at the signing ceremony, held at the Zanzibar Beach Resort.  The agreement comes a month after Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume assented to a law restricting water use in the island.  Water supply for the majority of Zanzibar's one million people had been free of charge but the government recently amended the Water Act to enable it to charge consumers for water supplied.  Reuters_6/7/06

Australian states to blame for water woes, official says

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has blamed state governments for Australia's growing problems with supplying water to urban areas. A CSIRO study, which is titled Without Water, warns there will be massive increases in the cost of water in major Australian cities unless action is taken. ABC_ 6/6/06

Desert cities living on borrowed time, UN warns

The 500 million people who live in the world's desert regions can expect to find life increasingly unbearable as already high temperatures soar and the available water is used up or turns salty, according to the United Nations. Desert cities in the US and Middle East, such as Phoenix and Riyadh, may be living on borrowed time as water tables drop and supplies become undrinkable, says a report coinciding with today's world environment day. The problem now facing many communities on the fringes of deserts, says the UN environment programme report, is not the physical growth of deserts but that rising water tables beneath irrigated soils are leading to more salinisation - a phenomenon already taking place across large tracts of China, India, Pakistan and Australia. The Tarm river basin in China, it says, has lost more than 5,000 square miles of farmland to salinisation in a period of 30 years. The Guardian_ 6/5/06

English water industry promises to tackle water shortages as south-east faces worst drought in 30 years

Environment Secretary David Miliband held a summit between water companies, regulators and consumer groups. He promised to review hosepipe bans and said drought orders should be used "sensitively and progressively". Firms agreed to "redouble" efforts to repair leaks and to keep customers informed on ways to conserve water. The summit came as two water firms announced huge rises in profits. BBC News_ 6/1/06

Water in Eastern Pakistan leaves 9 dead
Nine people died and more than 19,000 others were sickened after an eastern Pakistani city's water system was contaminated by sewage, officials said Thursday.  Hospitals in the industrial city of Faisalabad have treated thousands of patients for diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting since May 14, said Rana Imran, district health officer for Faisalabad.  Nine people, including five children, have died of gastroenteritis so far, he said. The water system supplying a working-class neighborhood was contaminated with sewage earlier this month, causing the outbreak, said Aslam Chaudhry, general health director for the district of Punjab, where Faisalabad is located.  Houston Chronicle_6/1/06

May, 2006

Is the Yangtze on its death bed?

China's longest river is "cancerous" with pollution and rapidly dying, threatening drinking water supplies in 186 cities along its banks.  Chinese environmental experts fear pollution could kill the Yangtze river -- the world's longest river after the Nile and the Amazon -- in five years.  "Many officials think the pollution is nothing for the Yangtze," said Prof Yuan Aiguo of the China University of Geosciences.  "But the pollution is actually very serious."  Industrial waste, sewage, farm pollution and shipping discharges were to blame for the river's problems, experts said.  Another report said a dustbowl is forming across formerly arable land in northern China triggering massive sandstorms.  Leading environmentalist Lester Brown, of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, said China was far from stopping the problem he blamed on overgrazing and falling water tables in the country, which is one-third desert. – Reuters_5/31/06

Indonesia quake toll tops 5,000; water and other emergency supplies needed

Aid trickled in on Monday for survivors of an earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people on Indonesia's Java island, but tens of thousands of homeless still foraged on their own for food and shelter. The 6.3 magnitude tremor early on Saturday was centered just off the Indian Ocean coast near Yogyakarta, the former Javanese royal capital. Many who lost their homes lack even tents, and government and aid agencies say shelter is a top aid priority, along with clean water. Health and hygiene kits for tens of thousands of people as well as water supply carriages, had reached the hardest-hit area of Bantul, John Budd, UNICEF spokesman in Jakarta, told Reuters. Reuters_ 5/29/06

UK issues three drought orders as South faces water shortage

The U.K. government today issued three drought orders, enabling two companies in southern England to restrict water use by households, corporations and local councils amid the worst rain shortfall in more than 70 years.  One order was granted to Mid Kent Water Plc, allowing it to ban non-essential water use across its supply area, and Southern Water Plc was given two orders, covering its Medway, Thanet and Hastings and Sussex Coast and Sussex North supply areas, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in an e- mailed statement. The companies requested the orders on March 20.  Bloomberg_5/25/06

Contaminated water kills 7 in Pakistan, thousands sick

At least seven people have died and thousands of others have fallen sick after drinking contaminated water in an industrial city in eastern Pakistan, officials said Tuesday. An outbreak of gastroenteritis began May 14 in Faisalabad, a city famous for its textile mills. The last two fatalities happened Sunday, said Rana Imran, district health officer for Faisalabad. About 4,000 people from a working class neighborhood were treated for diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting, and 200 people are still hospitalized, he said. Authorities have begun replacing old pipes that deliver water to the neighborhood because of suspicions that sewage from nearby lines might have seeped into them, said Azam Suleman, a senior municipal official in Faisalabad, about 75 miles southwest of Lahore. Clean water is being trucked in. Nearly half of Pakistan's population — about 160 million — lack access to proper sanitation, and 40% of hospital beds are occupied by victims of waterborne diseases, according to a recent government study. AP/USA Today_ 5/23/06

Londoners avoid stricter water restrictions, Thames Water says

RWE AG's Thames Water won't immediately seek stricter rules on water use in London after demand fell in the last month and reservoir levels increased.  Thames Water and six other southeast England utilities in April banned homeowners from using hoses and sprinklers following an 18-month drought in the region. The company said today it will leave those limits in place without adding more.  Bloomberg_5/19/06

Angola: UN health agency sends in more experts as cholera toll rises to more than 35,700 cases

As Angola's worst cholera outbreak in almost two decades continues to rage on with 546 new cases and 31 deaths reported in the last 24 hours alone, the United Nations has sent six international experts to reinforce the national team in coordination, water and sanitation, logistics and epidemiological surveillance. Cases now number 35,775, deaths 1,298, and the fatality rate is 4 per cent, since the outbreak began in February. The UN World Health Organization (WHO), together with the Angolan Ministry of Health and other partners continue to develop field activities to control the outbreak. The outbreak and quick spread of the epidemic is largely due to poor sanitation and a shortage of safe drinking water in the overcrowded slums of Luanda, the capital, a legacy of the nation's civil war. Only 50 per cent of Angolans have access to safe water. Cholera, an acute intestinal disease caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, causes copious, painless, watery diarrhoea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment, including rehydration, is not given promptly. UN News Service/allAfrica.com_ 5/18/06

Kenya: 10-year safe water plan for poor unveiled

Only 30 per cent of Kenyans have access to safe drinking water. The Government and Swedish and Danish aid agencies had released Sh750 million in the past two years through the State-sponsored Water Services Trust Fund to benefit 102 community projects, said Water minister Mutua Katuku. The Nation/allAfrica.com_ 5/18/06

Save more water, UK minister urges
Early action to save water now can prevent the need for extreme measures like standpipes, UK's Environment Minister Ian Pearson has told MPs.  Mr Pearson is heading the government's efforts on the water shortages which have forced England and Wales' first drought order in 11 years. The Environment Agency has warned that the South East could be on course for its worst drought conditions for a century.  "It's surely right to take early prompt action now and the message to consumers in the South East now to use water responsibly can, I think, make sure we don't need to take more extreme measures at a later stage," he said.  BBC_5/17/06

First UK drought order in 11 years

A drought order has been granted in England and Wales for the first time since 1995, banning the non-essential use of water. Under the six-month order, Sutton and East Surrey Water can ban car washing, the filling of swimming pools and watering of parks and sports grounds. The company supplies water to 650,000 people in the South East. The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has asked the company not to be "gung ho" as it implements the order. Sutton and East Surrey applied for the drought order as the region suffers its driest period for 70 or 80 years. BBC News_ 5/15/06

UK water firms to make £2 billion profit as drought hits Britain

Water companies are set to announce profits of nearly £2 billion (US$3.7 billion) as millions of households across Britain face rising bills and restrictions. The country's biggest water firms will start reporting results this week which are expected to show big increases in profits, and in some cases could exceed levels expected by the regulator, Ofwat, when it agreed to higher consumer bills. The figures, which are predicted to top last year's total profits of nearly £1.7bn, come as ministers are preparing to announce that three companies - Southern, Mid Kent, and Sutton and East Surrey - can impose drought orders. Already 13 million people across the south of England have hosepipe bans in place after two particularly dry winters sent ground water levels fall to historic lows. The Observer/Guardian Unlimited_ 5/14/06

University of California, Berkeley students honored for bringing clean water to poor communities

Three UC Berkeley engineering students have been recognized by campus officials for their efforts to help people in impoverished areas of India, Sri Lanka and Mexico secure clean drinking water and save lives by reducing a potentially devastating threat to public health. In rural Baja California Sur, doctoral student Fermin Reygadas is helping residents install an inexpensive water-decontamination system developed by Cal students. The system is simple: Water from the barrels used by households in the area is circulated through a tube equipped with an ultraviolet light that instantly destroys harmful microorganisms. Undergraduate Erin Inglish is working with doctoral student Ashley Murray to help female community leaders in Bombay, India, improve the quality of their drinking water and their children's health by installing $5 filters than can be used in the home. That such simple but potent tools as water filters, placed in the right hands, could save many lives is no exaggeration: Public health experts estimate a million small children in developing countries die every year because of unsafe water supplies, sanitation and hygiene. San Francisco Chronicle_ 5/13/06

China: Drought threatens drinking water for 14 million in north

Drought is threatening drinking water for 14 million people in northern China, the government said Friday, prompting a call for authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure supplies.   Even the capital, Beijing, could face shortages following seven years in which annual rainfall averaged just 70 percent of normal, the official Xinhua News Agency said.   About 16.3 million hectares (40 million acres) of farmland -more than 12 percent of the nation's total -was stricken by drought, the agency quoted Zhang Zhitong, State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters executive director, as saying.  Drought was also shrinking food and water supplies for about 11.6 million livestock, he said.  "Drinking water supply and safety must be secured and spring plowing and sowing must be guaranteed,'' Zhang was quoted as saying by the report.  It said Zhang's office had ordered that local governments take "all possible'' measures to fight drought.  In some areas of the arid northwestern Ningxia region, land has gone uncultivated for two years or more. Farmers have taken to covering their fields with gravel to seal in moisture, Xinhua said. The Star_5/12/06

Black market in water drying out Spain says WWF
Enough water to supply 58 million people is stolen from Spain's underground reserves each year, drying out already-parched land to feed the lucrative property, tourism and agricultural sectors, a report warned on Thursday.  WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, said there was a hugely profitable black market in water extracted from around 510,000 illegal wells throughout Spain.  Southern Spain is already one of the driest parts of Europe and according to the government, a third of the country is in danger of turning into a desert.  The report called on Spain's national and local governments to crack down on law-breakers and change policies that encourage water-hungry developments and agriculture, which suck up huge amounts of water. The report estimated that around 3,600 cubic hectometres of water are stolen each year -- only 25 percent less than the whole country uses legally.  The Star_ 5/12/06

Toronto - Ontario water report dangerously flawed

Privatization on the horizon
The Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA) is warning Queen’s Park that proposals to create a provincial Water Board, as well as establish local water companies across the province, could ultimately lead to the privatization of Ontario’s publicly owned water infrastructure.  "The private sector could end up owning our water systems if the provincial government adopts these misguided recommendations,” said Rosemary Kelleher-MacLennan, Chair of the OMWA, at the association’s annual meeting. “We’re calling on Queen’s Park to reject these proposals and to enshrine in legislation the fundamental principle that the province’s water systems are to remain publicly owned."  The OMWA was responding to a report by the Water Strategy Expert Panel, established by the provincial government, which has made recommendations to David Caplan, Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal. The OMWA’s members serve the water needs of more than 80 per cent of the population of Ontario.  The report, titled Watertight: The Case for Change in Ontario’s Water and Wastewater Sector, recommends rationalizing the system by requiring counties, single-tier municipalities, and regional municipalities to submit plans to a proposed Ontario Water Board on how they will amalgamate water systems within their boundaries (and even beyond) to achieve greater cost-efficiencies. The Water Board would have the authority to approve or require changes to these plans.  "This would result in control of water assets being transferred from municipalities to so-called corporatized utilities, and we see that as opening the way to dismantling public ownership," Kelleher-MacLennan stated. "Ultimately, our water systems could end up in the hands of private interests."  Community Press_5/11/06

Oil-fire toxins found in UK water supply
Deadly chemicals are polluting the rivers and water supply  of this district 20 miles northwest of London in the toxic aftermath of the December 2005 Buncefield fuel depot explosion, the latest report has revealed.  Traces of lethal perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) used in firefighting foam have been found in the River Ver, the River Red and the River Colne. The chemical is so dangerous that the Government had drawn up legislation last year to ban its import into the country.  Fuel and fire waters have also soaked into the water table and have been detected, along with the PFOS, in boreholes near the Buncefield site in Cherry Tree Lane.  The results of the latest round of surface and ground water testing were published in the third progress report of the Buncefield Investigation.  The Herts Advertiser_5/11/06

Batswanans have access to clean water - within walking distance
Ninety eight per cent of Batswana have access to clean water within a 500 metre walking distance.  Minerals, energy and water resources minister, Charles Tibone, said during a series of kgotla meetings. As a result, he said Botswana has surpassed the Millennium Development Goals target which requires governments to have provided 50 per cent of their citizens with clean water by 2015.  He told residents of Dibete, Mmaphashalala, Dovedale, Kudumatse and Shakwe in the Mahalapye East constituency that governments aim is to provide all citizens with clean water.  Tibone encouraged residents to connect stand pipes in their homes and said most areas in the Mahalapye area do not have a problem as a survey conducted in the area has shown that there is plenty of underground water.  Tibone who is also the MP for Tati West said boreholes with a high yield were drilled in the Mmamabula and Masama areas in the Mahalapye East region. The boreholes, he said have enough water to even supply (the city of ) Gaborone if there was need to do so.  The Daily News_5/9/06

Kenya's water projects tranform lives

NGO and Catholic Diocese spearhead water projects
Over the last ten years water supplies for domestic and irrigation purposes have been greatly improved in the arid region of Kalama division of Machakos District, benefiting thousands of wananchi residents.  However the credit for this goes to a Non-Governmental Organization Poverty Eradication Network (PEN) and the local Catholic Diocese.  In 1996 the Catholic Church started a project to secure water points at the Muthumo springs.  The church then constructed water tanks and introduced pumps to improve the distribution of the commodity into the regions. Motivated by the church the "wananchi" formed the Muthumo-Mumbini harambee group to facilitate the management of the project.  But still the water was not enough for the growing population in the region. In 2003 PEN visited the area and initiated a participatory institutional capacity building project for 18 Kalama Community Self Help Groups.  PEN has also alleviated the suffering of the people of Kyangala and Kola locations through the construction of Kyakilai and Kyaimu sub-surface dams, which store approximately 581.25 cubic metres of water each.   Kenya Times_5/7/06

China eyes potable water for rural residents

China plans to spend 4 billion yuan ($500 million) this year to provide 20 million of the country's rural population with safe drinking water, a vice minister of water resources was quoted on Saturday as saying.  China has 21 percent of the world's population and only 7 percent of its water resources. The leaders of the world's most populous nation have made clean water for the people a top priority.  The central government will treat contaminated water resources from 2006 to 2010 to provide potable water to 100 million rural residents, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Vice Minister Jiao Yong as saying.  He did not elaborate other than saying the water resources of many rural residents were contaminated with fluorine and arsenic.  Washington Post.com_5/6/06

Nearly 100 hurt in Bangladesh water, power protest
At least 100 people were injured and over a dozen vehicles burned as rock-throwing protesters blockaded a highway near the Bangladesh capital on Friday in a protest over shortages of drinking water and electricity. Witnesses said the violence erupted when police tried to break up a demonstration by an estimated 10,000 people who gathered on the highway on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, chanting demands for clean water and uninterrupted power.  Police fired teargas shells and used batons to evict crowds squatting on the highway linking the capital with the main port city of Chittagong, they said.  Friday's protests come after the deaths of 20 people, mostly farmers, in police firing in the country's northwest over the last few months during protests for better supplies of power, diesel and water.  Reuters_ 5/5/06

Russia bans Georgian mineral water Borjomi

Politics alleged
Russia said on Friday it was banning imports of Georgian mineral water Borjomi for health and safety reasons, but Georgia's leaders said it was part of a political campaign to punish them for pro-Western policies. The ban follows a series of clashes between the two ex-Soviet states, including a ban on Georgian wines and spirits and bitter rows earlier in the year when pipeline explosions cut gas supplies to Georgia in the middle of winter.  A rare bright spot in Georgia's struggling economy, Borjomi is one of the country's biggest exports. Russians buy more of the salty-tasting mineral water than anyone else.  "Analyses have shown that 56 inspected shipments of Borjomi mineral water ... do not correspond to safety requirements," said a letter from Gennady Onishchenko, the head of Russia's consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor.  The ban would come into effect from May 7, he said.  Onischchenko's agency had earlier banned imports of wine from Georgia and ex-Soviet Moldova, also on health grounds. Moldova also has a Western-leaning government.  Reuters_5/5/06

Romanian flood evacuees at risk of disease as basic hygiene ignored in temporary tent camps: Health Ministry

The warning comes after the Red Cross said on Tuesday that weeks of flooding around the Danube along with poor sanitary conditions may lead to outbreaks of disease in the country's impoverished southern villages. The Danube has broken defences across the Balkans in the past weeks as melting snow and heavy rains raised water levels to over century highs, flooding large swathes of land and forcing thousands to flee. The ministry said medical teams were deployed in Rast to vaccinate evacuees and disinfect tents and wells as some people ignored water tanks and chemical toilets brought in by the army. Reuters_ 5/3/06

Sudan cholera epidemic spreads to camp in Uganda

The cholera epidemic in southern Sudan has spread to Agoro internally displaced people's (IDP) camp in Kitgum district where 27 cases were reported recently, the LC5 chairman has said. Chris Ocowun reports that Nahaman Ojwee said the epidemic spread to the area through interactions at Agoro camp market. Ojwee said there was fear that the epidemic could spread to other districts through contact with people visiting Agoro. The cholera epidemic has been reported in the towns of Juba, Yei, Torit and Ikotos in Sudan where 340 people have died. New Vision/allAfrica.com_ 5/1/06

April, 2006

Danube bursts more dikes in Romania, hundreds flee

The swollen Danube river burst several waterlogged dikes in Romania on Thursday, swamping new villages and forcing hundreds more people to leave their homes, officials said.   Europe's second-longest river, which flows through a 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) stretch of Romania, has submerged large swathes of land in central and southeastern Europe.  Water levels have started falling in several countries, but Romania, the worst-hit, is still battling cracks in strained flood defences in the Danube delta near the Black Sea and faces the risk of further flooding and evacuations.  Planet Ark_4/28/06

Official: Toronto water system too old
Hundreds of residents were without water or working toilets in Toronto after a water-main break early Wednesday.  Lou Di Gironimo, general manager of Toronto Water, said the pipe that broke -- a 24-inch water main that is one of the larger pipes in the city water system -- was about 50 years old. He said the city`s infrastructure is 'aging' and needs to be replaced, the Toronto Star reported.  Di Gironimo said 468 residential customers near the water-main break were affected. Emergency workers were providing bottled water and setting up temporary toilet facilities for those residents, he said.  M& 4/26/06

China water experts calling for halt to lake project in Jinan  

Water experts yesterday called for a stop to an ongoing project to cover a riverbed with an impermeable plastic cover to create a man-made lake in Jinan to be scrapped. Experts worry the plastic will disrupt the natural process of river water seeping into the ground, which they said would threaten the groundwater supply in the city, the capital of East China's Shandong Province.  The project, conducted by the Western Town Headquarters under the municipal government, got under way in January despite much controversy.  It aims to turn a 2.3-kilometre section of the Beisha River into a man-made lake, adding a "scenic spot" to the newly-built university town.  Professor Zhang Yanzhong, a senior water expert in Jinan, said the section of the river involved was the most important "seep zone" in the west of Jinan, where river water seeps underground to form groundwater.  "If we cannot receive enough groundwater supply from the west, we will have two alternatives: to extract more groundwater in the city proper or to pipe water from the Yellow River into the city," Zhang said. "Both are undesirable."  Dzww.com_4/26/06

Danube dam bursts force 1,500 to flee homes in southern Romania

Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary also have been affected by flooding caused by the swollen Danube. Thousands of hectares of land have been swamped and thousands of homes have been evacuated. Heavy rainfall and melting snow have pushed the Danube to its highest level for more than a century. BBC News_ 4/24/06

Changes to Queensland, Australia water restrictions

The Queensland Government will wrest responsibility for water restrictions from councils under changes to be introduced to state parliament today. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said the sweeping measures would give the newly created Water Commission the power to decide on the frequency and toughness of restrictions. The laws will also pave the way for private companies to build dams, desalination plants and other infrastructure through arrangements with the commission. It is hoped the move will end months of bickering between south-east Queensland councils over water policy. The Australian_ 4/21/06

Shortage of water drains life from the River Jordan
What is left of the River Jordan trickles slowly beneath the three bomb-damaged bridges, not even touching one of the five Ottoman arches it used to fill. Diminished, green and polluted this is the modern River Jordan, in which Jesus was baptised and whose waters, the Book of Joshua records, “overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest”.  Now the Jordan has lost more than 90 per cent of the 1.3 billion cubic metres (1.7 billion cu yds) that used to flow through it each year from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, 100km (62 miles) further south. Worse, environmentalists fear, a newdam being built by Jordan and Syria on its main tributary, the Yarmouk, will cut a further 20 million cubic metres of the Lower Jordan’s fresh water, drying up its flow altogether. Timesonline_4/20/06

Ofwat tells UK water companies not to delay competition
Water services regulation authority Ofwat warned water companies that they must not delay moves by new licensees seeking to compete in the water industry in England and Wales.  Under the water supply licensing (WSL) regime companies who are licensed by Ofwat can compete in the supply of water services to business customers who use at least 50 megalitres of water a year. But before they can do so they need to finalise agreements with appointed water companies over access to their water supply systems and the transfer of customers.  Ofwat said it has been disappointed by the lack of progress made between existing water companies and licensees in finalising these essential arrangements since the WSL regime was launched five months ago. In some cases progress has only been made when Ofwat has intervened. Forbes_4/20/06

Water shut to millions in Malaysia after landfill leak

Water for nearly 2 million people was shut off for hours after a landfill leak contaminated a river, a news report said today. The landfill in Kajang outside Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, leaked contaminants into the Beranang River, leaving ammonia levels in drinking water at 3 1/2 times the permitted level, the official Bernama news agency said. Among the facilities affected was Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Los Angeles Times_ 4/17/06 (logon required)

In Peshawar, Pakistan, don't drink the water

A major water-borne disease epidemic could kill thousands if authorities did not replace damaged underground water pipes immediately, doctors warned on Saturday. More than 65 percent of the patients coming to the three main hospitals and private clinics in Peshawar are reportedly suffering from stomach-related problems, caused by drinking contaminated water, gastroenterologists told Daily Times. This disturbing news comes after the launch of a new water policy by the government and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s recent unveiling of a plan to provide every citizen with potable water by 2015. But experts appeared pessimistic, saying that the problem itself was bigger and far more severe than the government anticipated, and theat it lacked the resolve to tackle the issue effectively. According to the Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), the water supply to most parts of the city was “highly contaminated”. “The water coming into Peshawar itself is pure, but it gets mixed with polluted water in damaged underground supply lines, making it unfit for human consumption. Unfortunately, water supply lines pass right alongside damaged sewers and drains, and contaminated water from the sewerage system gets into the water supply before consumption,” Mumtaz Khan, principal scientific officer at the PSCIR laboratories in Peshawar, told Daily Times. Even bottled water is also not safe to use, the PCSIR report said. Pakistan Daily Times_ 4/16/06

Water warning issued for Thunder Bay, Canada
As Thunder Bay and area continues to enjoy near recording-breaking temperatures, the weather has also accelerated the spring run-off and has led to a warning from the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority.  The LRCA says area rivers and streams are in what they're calling a 'banks full condition'. Water levels are so high, that the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway has been pressed into service, with the excess flow being run through the diversion channel.  TBSource.com_4/13/06

In South East England, ban on hoses and sprinklers has neighbors turning in neighbors
More than 1,600 neighbours have reported each other for breaking hosepipe bans in the South East. It follows water saving measures imposed across the region in the face of severe drought, and appeals to customers to conserve water. Southern Water, which serves two million customers, said 1,533 had reported people for breaking the ban which was imposed last summer. For some parts of the UK, the past winter has been one of the driest since the winter of 1963/64. BBC News_ 4/11/06

Maylaysia proposes whipping, jail and death penalty for water polluters

Anyone who intentionally contaminates the water supply to endanger and cause the loss of lives will be punished with the death penalty or face up to 20 years' jail and whipped. If the contaminant is radioactive or toxic but does not result in death, the offender will be liable to up 10 years in jail, a fine of up to RM500,000 (US$136,000), whipping or all three. For other water contamination offences, the penalty will be up to one year's jail or RM100,000 fine or both. These are among the provisions provided under the Water Services Industry (WSI) Bill 2006, tabled for first reading in Parliament by Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik yesterday. A person caught bathing, releasing waste or throwing rubbish or any creature – dead or alive – into any public water supply system, if convicted can end up paying a fine of up to RM50,000 or serve up to six months in jail or both under the proposed Act. He faces the same sentence if he damages any pipe, channel, conduit, sewer, manhole, reservoir, cistern, pump, hydrant, valve, meter, sub-meter or any part of any public water or sewerage system. The Star_ 4/11/06

Ghana: Water privatisation management team walks out of meeting

A short drama ensued at an arranged meeting last Friday between the National Coalition against the Privatisation of Water (NCAP) and a two-man team from Vitens/Rand Water and the Urban Water Project of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing. Public Agenda has learnt that the management consortium of Vitens/Rand Water which won the contract to manage water in urban Ghana had called the meeting between them and NCAP to discuss issues related to the controversial water management contract. At the meeting, the two-man team led by Enomil Ashong, Communications Director of the Urban Water Project found members of NCAP had invited journalists to attend. Ashong and the other member of Ashong's team, a Dutch protested the presence of reporters and then left the meeting. NCAP says it finds it rather bizarre that, while the Dutch government passed a law in 2004 making it illegal for water privatization in the Netherlands, (whether Lease Contract, Management Contract or Concession) it had allowed its public water company - Vitens to come to Ghana to engage in the privatization of Ghana's water. "If protection is good for the Dutch public, it is equally good for the Ghanaian public", NCAP protested. Public Agenda/AllAfrica.com_ 4/10/06

Egyptian temples endangered by rising water table

Scientists are scrambling to figure out a way to protect ancient temples in Luxor, Egypt -- among the world's most valuable archeological finds. The 4,000-year-old sandstone marvels are crumbling because of a rising water table. Local farmers say they need the water for irrigation. NPR_ 4/7/06

More problems for UK's Severn Trent water company

Water firm Severn Trent has confessed it has given industry regulator Ofwat more false information. The company says it had misreported statistics about the way it handles complaints from customers and enquiries about bills. The admission echoes a similar problem revealed last month at Southern Water, which will lead to a fine for Southern. Severn Trent has already been punished for reporting false data to Ofwat about its income and bad debts. Severn Trent said it did not know how much money was at stake but admitted the problems seemed to stretch back several years. In March, Severn Trent agreed to refund £42m to customers because wrong information about its bad debts and income had led the regulator to agree unnecessarily high prices for the company's customers up to 2009-10. The company is still being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office for also allegedly falsifying its water leakage figures. These problems first came to light in 2004 after complaints by a whistleblower at the company. BBC News_ 4/7/06

In Mexico, protestors leave pumping station in water dispute between farmers and tourism

About 400 farmers who seized a pumping station near the resort city of Acapulco left peaceably after getting commitments from the local government to deal with their complaints. The farmers were protesting plans to build a hydroelectric dam which would have taken over some of the farmers’ land. The local government claims that the dam would assure Acapulco's water supply for the next 50 years, but the farmers believe that the flooding of their land would only benefit the lucrative tourist industry. AP/Environmental News Network_ 4/6/06

Pollution threatens 163 of Scotland's lochs, including Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond and the Clyde are among 163 lochs and rivers at risk from pollution, according to a report by Scotland's environmental watchdog. Water quality analysis by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) found evidence of harmful nutrients from sewers, farms, and salmon cages. Sepa has designated 146 rivers and 17 lochs in 82 areas as being "sensitive" to pollution. Pollution comes from sewage treatment works as well as fertilisers and animal wastes washed off farmland and faeces deposited by fish farms. BBC News_ 4/2/06

March, 2006

New plant to save Cape Town water 
A R30m joint venture between Chevron and Improchem will see the commissioning of a waste-recycling plant that will save enough water to supply about 6000 households in Cape Town S. Africa.  Opening the recycling plant yesterday, Improchem project manager Ian Cohen said the plant, which receives water from the Cape Town City Council, will free up about 6-million litres of water a day for domestic use in Cape Town, which has suffered water shortages recently. Before the project, Chevron, formerly Caltex, refinery used about 5,7-million litres of water a day, the average daily water consumption of about 38000 people. The new plant also has an environmental benefit in that it minimises the amount of treated effluent water discharged by the city’s Potsdam water-treatment plant to the sea via the ecologically sensitive Milnerton Lagoon.  Business Day_3/31/06

Bhopal gas victims in long walk for clean water
More than 20 years after the world's worst industrial disaster, victims of the Bhopal gas leak have stepped up their campaign for clean drinking water with an indefinite sit-down in the Indian capital.  More than 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plant in the central Indian city in December 1984.  Officials say nearly 15,000 people have died since from cancer and other diseases. Activists put the death toll at 33,000 and say toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the site have seeped into the groundwater.  Others died, or are still dying, from polluted drinking water. Activists and survivors say lethal chemicals lying untouched in and around the abandoned pesticide plant are still fouling the groundwater.  Fed up with the failure to clean-up the area, about 50 survivors decided last month to take the matter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  They set off on foot from their modest homes in the bylanes of Bhopal to the corridors of power in New Delhi.    There is no piped water in the area close to the factory compound. At least 20,000 people are forced to use handpumps which draw water from the ground, residents say.  Boston.com_3/29/06

World Water Forum ends with 148 countries urging governments, not private companies, to take the lead in improving public access to safe drinking water

The seven-day forum focused much of its attention on the developing world's growing reliance on bottled water bought from private companies. Worldwide, the industry is now worth about $100 billion per year. Anti-corporate forces and other critics say governments should instead be improving tap water supplies. The forum's declaration, adopted Wednesday, does not specifically mention privatization, but states that "governments have the primary role in promoting improved access to safe drinking water." The declaration also described dams and hydroelectric projects -- opposed by environmentalists for decades -- as important and innovative. AP/CNN_ 3/22/06

Australian PM pledges Tropical Cyclone Larry relief; clean water and sewage are immediate problems

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has announced a multi-million dollar relief package for small businesses and farmers hit by Tropical Cyclone Larry. Meanwhile, health officials have warned the spread of disease and infection poses a new threat to residents. The category five Larry smashed into Queensland on Monday with winds up to 290 km/h (180 mph), tearing off roofs and leaving thousands homeless. About a dozen people sustained minor injuries but no-one was killed. Officials have warned that another storm - Cyclone Wati - is developing out to sea and could reach the Queensland coast later in the week. Sewage systems in Innisfail collapsed after Larry hit and it could be weeks before power supplies are restored across the area. Public health officials have warned of a danger of outbreaks of typhoid, gastroenteritis, hepatitis A and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever. Water remains one of the major concerns despite the fact that a water purification unit has been set up by troops. BBC News_ 3/22/06

Africa's water systems need $20 billion a year for next 20 years: U.N.

The African Development Bank (ADB) says that only 3.8% of the continent's water resources are developed. About 300 million Africans lack access to safe drinking water, and the ADB says money also needs to be spent on irrigation and hydropower. The report was presented at the World Water Forum in Mexico. It calls for an improvement in governance, as well as finance.  BBC News_ 3/20/06

Libya's thirst for 'fossil water:' They call it the 8th wonder of the world

The Great Man-Made River Project has the potential to transform Libyan life in all sorts of ways. Libya is a desert country, and finding fresh water has always been a problem. Coastal aquifers became contaminated with sea water, to such an extent that the water in Benghazi (Libya's second city) was undrinkable. Oil exploration in the 1950s had revealed vast aquifers beneath Libya's southern desert. According to radiocarbon analysis, some of the water in the aquifers was 40,000 years old. Libyans call it "fossil water". After weighing up the relative costs of desalination or transporting water from Europe, Libyan economists decided that the cheapest option was to construct a network of pipelines to transport water from the desert to the coastal cities, where most Libyans live. BBC News_ 3/18/06

At World Water Forum, support erodes for private management of water

In the past decade, according to a private water suppliers trade group, private companies have managed to extend water service to just 10 million people, less than 1 percent of those who need it. Some 1.1 billion people still lack access to clean water, the United Nations says, The reality behind those numbers is sinking in. At the fourth World Water Forum, a six-day conference here of industry, governments and nongovernmental organizations, there is little talk of privatization. Instead, many people here want to return to relying on the local public utilities that still supply 90 percent of the water to those households that have it. New York Times_ 3/20/06 (logon required)

Water Problems May Be Solved in Farms

Farms and their wasteful irrigation systems are a major contributor to water scarcity on the globe, nations at a world water summit in Mexico City said Saturday.  Farming accounts for 70 percent of the water consumed and most of its wasteful use, said representatives of 130 nations at the World Water Forum discussing water management.  One-fifth of the world's population lacks safe drinking water, the United Nations said in a report last week that laid much of the blame on mismanagement of resources.  "Farmers are central to the whole picture. They use the majority of the world's water, and farmers are where most of the world's poverty is concentrated," Patrick McCully, director of International River Network, a non-governmental organization, said at the forum.  North County Times_3/18/06

UK needs extra water reservoirs
Thames Water has determined that a strip of Oxfordshire, south-west of Abingdon, is to be the site for a £900m (E1.3bn, $1.6bn) reservoir that can store enough water to meet London’s growth. Properties there will be submerged.  Reservoirs, along with airport runways and bypasses, are never popular. The messy planning battle for the reservoir will not begin until 2012, with construction intended to be complete by 2020. By then, Thames estimates London’s population will have grown by 800,000 – equivalent to the city of Leeds. And yet Thames’s only proposal for a stop-gap measure – a desalination plant at Beckton – has been blocked by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who objects to its high energy use.  The Businessonline_3/18/06

Protesters say water wars turning deadly
Water is worth fighting for - even to the death, activists holding an "alternate" forum outside the world water summit in Mexico City said Friday. That attitude might seem strange in developed countries, where water flows at the touch of a faucet. But it isn't nearly as accessible in the developing world.  And water wars aren't an apocalyptic vision of the future. They're already starting to happen, the protesters say.  "We've been beaten, we've been jailed, some of us have even been killed, but we're not going to give up," said Marco Suastegui, who marched alongside about 10,000 protesters Thursday outside a convention center where the international Fourth World Water Forum is being held.  Suastegui is leading the battle against a dam being built to supply water for the Pacific coastal resort of Acapulco. Opponents fear the dam will dry up the nearby Papagayo River.  Protesters on Friday organized an alternate forum in Mexico City, miles from the convention site, in which they accused the official summit of serving as cover for companies that want to privatize water services.  "The Fourth World Water Forum doesn't represent us," said Audora Dominguez of the nongovernmental Mexican Committee for the Defense of Water Rights. "It's a forum where you have to pay to speak. It's a forum where the poor aren't included." Forbes_3/17/06

Save a little water for tomorrow
Opinion- World Water Forum

One hundred years ago, William Mulholland introduced the citizens of California to a new concept in state politics: the water grab.  Charged with securing water supplies for a small, thirsty town in a desert, the baron of the Los Angeles Department of Water hit on an imaginative response. He quietly bought up water rights in the Owens Valley, 230 miles to the north, built an aquifer across the blistering Mojave Desert, and took the water to downtown Los Angeles. When local ranchers protested by dynamiting his aquifer, Mulholland declared war, responding with a massive show of armed force. The Mulholland model represents a brutish form of what has been a global approach to water management. Want to urbanize and industrialize at breakneck speed? Then dam and divert your rivers to meet the demand. Want to expand the agricultural frontier? Then mine your aquifers and groundwaters.  This week and next, governments, international agencies and nongovernmental organizations are gathering in Mexico City at the World Water Forum to discuss the legacy of global Mulhollandism in water - and to chart a new course.  Every region of the world has its own variant of the water crisis story.   The International Herald Tribune_3/17/06

Water Forum opens with shortage warnings

An international summit on global water supplies opened Thursday in Mexico City with presidents and princes calling for solutions to shortages and inequalities in the most basic of commodities. Organizers of the weeklong forum said their goal was to improve water supplies for the poor. But opponents claimed their real mission was privatization.  "Water is a public possession that all governments must guarantee," Mexican President Vicente Fox said in his welcoming speech at the Mexico City convention center where 11,000 delegates and representatives of about 130 countries met behind closed doors. But Loic Fauchon, president of the non-governmental World Water Council, told the 4th World Water Forum that the poor often struggle to obtain decent, affordable water.  Associated Press_3/16/06

World Water Forum opens in Mexico

Privatization is focus
Failing public water systems have forced more and more people in poor countries to buy bottled water from private companies, a form of privatization that has created a sharp divide among activists and officials gathered in Mexico City for an international water summit.  As delegates from the 121 countries gather Thursday for the IV World Water Forum, demonstrators plan protests against privatization, dam projects and water extraction from impoverished Indian communities.  The goal of the seven-day forum is improving water access for the poor, an effort that has failed in the past. The poor pay vastly more money to private corporations for their water today than they did when the first global water forum was held in Marrakech, Morocco, in 1997.  Privatization of water systems has been a hard sell since 2000, when thousands of Bolivians protested rate increases in water contracts held by foreign companies. The protests left seven demonstrators dead and forced the companies out of the country.  Bottled water, on the other hand, has earned good profits and little attention.  Houston Chronicle_3/16/06

Pakistan: Majority of city's water contaminated - report
A new report, based on a sample survey conducted during the summer of 2005 by the federal Ministry of Science and Technology, has found 75 percent of water extracted in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore was contaminated.  Samples collected from schools in 18 locations in the city were declared unfit for human consumption. The biggest cause of pollution was the seepage of sewage from decaying waste pipes into the water supply system.  The recently released findings fit with earlier studies on water safety in and around the city. Another survey, conducted a few weeks ago by the Punjab government's epidemiology laboratory at the Institute of Public Health, also found around 80 percent of water supplied to the city was contaminated. This has led the local Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) to order its own survey to determine the precise situation.  Reuters_3/15/06

World's wettest spot lacks water

Cherrapunji village in India's northeast is known as the world's wettest spot with an average annual rainfall of about 1,200 centimetres. Ironically, water is the scarcest commodity here. Perched on the edge of a cliff around 1,290 metres above the sea level, Cherrapunji holds the record for receiving the highest rainfall in a year and also in a month. The southwest monsoon and thunderstorms soak the village from June to September. During the winters, the natural springs and streams dry up and crops suffer. Water tapped from streams and supplied through pipelines to the village is inadequate. The picturesque tribal village that overlooks the plains of Bangladesh has a population of about 150,000 and receives an average annual rainfall of about 1,200 cm, a shade higher than Mount Waileale in Hawaii that gets an estimated 1,168 cm of annual rainfall. New Kerala_ 3/14/06

Thames Water, Britain's biggest water company, bans hosepipes and sprinklers

Thames Water, whose eight million customers will be affected by the ban, says two unusually dry winters have caused "serious" water shortages. The ban is the first in 15 years for the firm, which operates across the Thames Valley, in London, and from Kent to Gloucestershire. Hosepipe bans are already in place throughout much of south-east England, which is experiencing its driest period in more than 80 years. Thames Water's announcement follows decisions by Sutton and East Surrey Water, South East Water, Southern Water, Mid Kent Water, and Cholderton and District Water to ban hosepipes. BBC News_ 3/13/06

Wasteful Mexico City hosts World Water Forum

Mexico City is plagued by an almost diabolical combination of floods and water shortages, rising sewage and sinking water tables. What better place for world leaders to come together to discuss how to better manage water? Many of the 20 million people of this metropolis get by on as little as one hour of running water per week, while almost all the copious rainfall is flushed unused down the sewers, creating a gargantuan flow of wastewater that the city's few treatment plants can't handle. The city would probably flunk in all the five topics to be discussed at the 4th World Water Forum starting Thursday: how water can be harnessed for growth, be provided more efficiently, better benefit the poor, be used environmentally, and be prevented from causing natural disasters. AP/ABC News_ 3/12/06

Clemency offered to catch 'brain' behind Philippine water meter thefts

The Dumaguete City Water District (DCWD) offered to withdraw charges it filed against three arrested suspects if they squealed the "brain" behind the series of water meter thefts in the city. DCWD general manager Esperato Dicen believed a syndicate was behind the mass destruction and theft of water meter reader units. Close to 50 DCWD concessionaires were victimized by the thieves during the first attack last February. Dicen believed that stealing the bronze and copper components of the units was not the sole motive for destroying them. Sun-Star_ 3/12/06

UK water crisis deepens

Britain's biggest water company is expected to announce the first hosepipe ban of the year tomorrow as the country's drought reaches crisis levels. Four more suppliers are thought to be poised to introduce or extend bans, meaning 15 million people would face restrictions. Millions of Thames Water customers will be banned from using hosepipes and sprinklers, and 'non-essential uses' from fountains to the cleaning of trains could be next. It is Thames Water's first ban in 15 years. Two dry winters have left levels of ground water, essential to keep rivers flowing, dangerously low. Last year was the third driest on record; drier than 1976, when water companies had to put standpipes in the streets. The Observer/Guardian Unlimited_ 3/12/06

OPIC funds help supply Kenyans with potable water

Wells will promote good health, reduce water-borne diseases

A U.S. company will use a loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to drill potable water wells in rural areas of Kenya, providing scores of communities with access to clean water, OPIC President Robert Mosbacher Jr. announced March 8.  According to an OPIC press release, the agency will provide a $500,000 loan to Living Water International (LWI), a Texas-based nonprofit organization, for the purchase of equipment -- a high-capacity drilling rig, two supply trucks, an air compressor and two pumping service trucks -- that will enable LWI to drill 70 more wells per year in Kenya and reduce a backlog of 500 requests.  As each borehole is being drilled, LWI crews will provide local inhabitants with instruction on water hygiene.  After drilling is completed, the OPIC press release says, LWI will provide training in well operation and maintenance.

"Living Water International's wells have provided thousands of people in rural areas of Kenya -- among several countries -- access to clean drinking water, in the process promoting good health and reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid," Mosbacher said.  Since its inception in 1991, LWI has drilled more than 2,200 wells in various countries worldwide.  USINFO_3/9/06

Poor water management limits access to safe water: UN report
Almost one-fifth of the world's population lacks access to safe drinking water due to mismanagement, limited resources and environmental damage, according to a UN report.  Water-borne diseases killed more than three million people in 2002, the UN's World Water Development Report found.  Water-related natural disasters are on the rise, according to the UN.  "Water is power and those who control the flow of water in time and space can exercise this power in various ways," the report said.  "It is often claimed that clean water tends to gravitate towards the rich and waste water towards the poor."  CBC News_3/9/06

Coca-Cola blamed for India's water problems
The Coca-Cola Company is embroiled in a bitter legal fight In India over water rights.  Farmers in drought stricken areas of the sub-continent accuse the soft-drink maker of siphoning off badly needed water, but others say the US-based multi-national company may be the target of anti-American sentiments.  Coca-Cola may be the most popular soft drink in the world, but for some in Southern India, clean water is still the drink of choice.  In rural areas from Uttar Pradesh to Kerala, persistent droughts have dried up wells such as this one in the village of Plachimada.  For many of the 30,000 people who live here, the only reliable source of water - is the one that arrives everyday in trucks.  Some say the wells dried up three years ago after the Coke bottling plant came to town. Following several large protests, the local government revoked the company's license late last year and ordered Coca-Cola to shut down its $25 million plant.   Coke officials insist there is no scientific evidence to link the groundwater shortage to the company's operations. Some Indian leaders believe the issue may be less about science and more about the politics of anti-globalization.  Voice of America_3/9/06

Severn Trent Water ordered to cut bills by £42m after overcharging

Industry regulator Ofwat has ordered Severn Trent Water to cut bills by £42m over the next four years after concluding the company had provided regulatory information that was "either deliberately miscalculated or poorly supported". Ofwat's director general Philip Fletcher said he was so concerned about the "poor practices" that led to customers being overcharged that he would impose further penalties. This will mean further reductions in bills. The company will have to wait to find out the extent of the further penalties until a separate investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into the reliability of Severn Trent Water's data on leakage has been concluded.  The Guardian_3/8/06

Iran allows foreign loans to be used for water projects

Iran’s parliament on Saturday allowed the energy ministry to use up to $800 million of foreign loans to finance water projects. The bill must now get the approval of the Guardian Council, Iran’s conservative constitutional watchdog. Most foreign financing in Iran comes from European banks that spread their risks in syndicated loans. HSBC, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Standard Chartered and the Royal Bank of Scotland have all been involved in funding projects in Iran. However, UBS said in January it was stopping business with Iran. Credit Suisse said it would not enter into new business with Iranian clients. Iran has been reported to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions on its disputed nuclear programme. Tehran denies Western accusations it is seeking nuclear arms. Reuters/Pakistan Daily Times_ 3/5/06

China tells government departments to cut water, energy use
China has told its government departments to cut their electricity and water consumption by 20 percent by 2010, state media reported on Saturday. Reuters_ 3/4/06

Scottish Water costs more but gives worse service than all English firms

Scottish Water is the worst water company in Britain, according to a damning new report which criticised it for being inefficient, charging higher prices and providing a poorer service than its counterparts in England and Wales.  Scotland's publicly owned water company is ranked below every one of the 22 privatised water firms south of the Border, according to OFWAT, the body which regulates the industry in England and Wales. OFWAT researchers found that Scottish Water lagged behind companies south of the Border on nine out of ten key indicators of customer service - including the proportion of properties at risk of low water pressure and the time it takes for customers to be connected to an operator when phoning the company.  Scotsman.com_3/2/06

65,000 face compulsory metering of their water in the UK
Compulsory water meters will be forced on 65,000 consumers in the southeast corner of England after a company won the right to insist on their installation.  About a third of customers supplied by the Kent-based Folkestone and Dover Water Services face higher bills after the region was designated an “area of water scarcity” yesterday. The company plans to install meters at the homes of 90 per cent of its customers by 2015. It is feared that large, low- income families will be the hardest hit by the forced transfer from fixed-rate bills, which are linked to the rateable value of properties.   TimesOnline_3/1/06

UK defense secretary warns of potential for international water wars

Across the world, they are coming: the water wars. From Israel to India, from Turkey to Botswana, arguments are going on over disputed water supplies that may soon burst into open conflict. Yesterday, Britain's Defence Secretary, John Reid, pointed to the factor hastening the violent collision between a rising world population and a shrinking world water resource: global warming. In a grim first intervention in the climate-change debate, the Defence Secretary issued a bleak forecast that violence and political conflict would become more likely in the next 20 to 30 years as climate change turned land into desert, melted ice fields and poisoned water supplies. Climate campaigners echoed Mr Reid's warning, and demanded that ministers redouble their efforts to curb carbon emissions. The Independent_ 2/28/06

Alberta, Canada water quality improvements  could cost $1 billion: environment minister
The Alberta government may be willing to spend $1 billion over the next decade to improve drinking water systems across the province, says Environment Minister Guy Boutilier. The comment follows an evaluation of more than 500 water treatment plants. The evaluation found older infrastructure in need of upgrading in some smaller communities. CBC_ 2/27/06

Britain may face water rationing
Britons must use less water or face rationing as the country suffers its worst drought in a century, the head of the country's Environment Agency said on Friday.  In some parts of the southeast, reservoirs are at less than half their capacity at a time when they should be at or near full as the country emerges from the winter.  "We are in a serious situation now, where both the environment and our water supplies are at risk," agency chief Barbara Young said. "Groundwater levels in some areas are the lowest on record."  She called for water companies to bring in hosepipe bans by April at the latest and for non-essential water use such as washing cars and windows to be outlawed.  "If water companies delay introducing hosepipe bans now, extreme steps to manage water supplies over summer may be needed, such as standpipes and rota cuts," she added.  Reuters_2/24/06

U.S. project brings clean drinking water to Albanian village

Embassy, U.S. military donate $99,000 to fix faulty pipeline

An American-funded project has provided clean drinking water for a village of more than 2,000 people in northern Albania, the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania, said February 16.  The U.S. European Command (EUCOM), a military headquarters, contributed $99,000 to fund the project, which rebuilt an existing water distribution system. The existing water pipeline was unusable due to inadequate piping originally installed in 1989, according to media releases by EUCOM and the U.S. embassy. “Four hundred and twenty households of the Gjadër village will now have uninterrupted drinkable water supply,” said Rrok Rrocku, chairman of the commune of Dajç, which includes the village of Gjadër. Rrocku said his municipality had made several requests to governmental and nongovernmental groups, but that “finally it was the U.S. Embassy that gave a positive response.” Rrocku said the donation “has solved the problem of water supply for 2,200 residents of the Gjadër village once and for good.” The project rebuilt the pump station and main water lines, improving sanitation and hygiene of the water supply for the villagers of Gjadër as well as residents of the surrounding area, U.S. officials said.  Press Release_2/23/06

Macao water supplier to grant salinity relief
Macao Water Co. Ltd said Thursday that the monopoly tap water supplier will grant a salinity relief worth 10 million patacas (1.25 million U.S. dollars) to the people in Macao.  A statement issued by the company said the salinity level is expected to hike to 700 mg/l in the region next week, while the World Health Organization defines the standard level for drinking water at 250 mg/l.  Macao, counting the water supply on Xijiang River which is originated in Guangdong province, has long been enduring the salinity crisis caused by the intake of the sea water during the winter season. However, the salinity crisis this year is the worst in history,Franklin Willemyns, executive director of Macao Water Thursday was quoted by Macao Post Daily as saying.  The company though has no plan to ration water in Macao, Willemyns said.  Xinhua_2/23/06

China's water shortage may spur rural unrest, threaten growth

China's burgeoning cities are siphoning water away from farmers, undermining government pledges to improve living standards in the countryside -- home to 70 percent of the nation's 1.3 billion people. Rural water shortages threaten to stoke unrest, cut harvests and slow the expansion of the world's fastest-growing major economy.  Guaranteeing adequate water supplies to rural areas, where household incomes average less than a third of those in cities, is crucial to President Hu Jintao's goals of reducing social inequality and fostering sustainable growth. The government is building a $62 billion project to move water to arid northern provinces from the south and central regions.  Bloomberg_2/23/06

Bird flu fears lead to panic buying of water in Egypt

Health officials on Wednesday sought to reassure the public that Cairo's drinking water supply is safe, after fears of bird flu sparked a panic of buying bottled water.  State television and radio broadcast repeated reports on Wednesday that drinking water in Egypt's capital city was safe, after a rumour that chickens infected with bird flu had been tossed into Cairo's water reservoirs and into the Nile.  The Health Ministry's switchboard was choked by calls from anxious citizens. Bottles of mineral water disappeared from shop shelves, and there was also heavy buying of soft drinks.  The fears came four days after Egypt announced that the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu had been found in chickens and turkeys in Giza, the twin city of Cairo, and in southern provinces. No human cases of bird flu have been diagnosed, however.  The Hindu News_2/22/06

And Related...

'Anti-bird flu' water goes on sale in Prague

Bottled water said to prevent bird flu has gone on sale in a Czech supermarket, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. The water called Fromin Aktium comes in orange, lemon and grapefruit flavour and is made by Czech company Aquamat, regional daily Rovnost reported.  The Czech Republic's chief health officer, Michael Vit, said his office had demanded the firm withdraw the product, describing the marketing as "misleading."  IOL_2/22/06

Water supplies to 28,000 in southern China suspended after toxic wastewater flushed into river

Toxic wastewater was flushed untreated into a river in southern China, prompting the government to cut water supplies to 28,000 people for at least four days, a local official and a Chinese newspaper said Monday. The official China Daily said that a power plant on the upper reaches of the Yuexi River in Sichuan province was to blame for the pollution. A town leader in Guanyin reached by telephone said 28,000 people had been without water since Tuesday evening. Fire trucks were bringing clean water to residents but supplies were short, he said. There were no reports so far of people sickened by the pollution, he said. The incident follows a spate of spills in recent months, the most serious being an explosion at chemical plant in November that dumped chemicals into the Songhua River, the source of drinking water for tens of millions of people living in northeastern China and Russia.

AP/Houston Chronicle_ 2/19/06

UNESCO to lead World Water Day, 2006 on March 22

Each year, a different United Nations (UN) agency is selected to coordinate events surrounding World Water Day (WWD) around the world, and a different theme is chosen to reflect the many facets of freshwater resources. World Water Day 2006 will be guided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under the theme 'Water and Culture.' The theme draws attention to the fact that there are as many ways of viewing, using, and celebrating water as there are cultural traditions across the world. Sacred, water is at the heart of many religions and is used in different rites and ceremonies. Fascinating and ephemeral, water has been represented in art for centuries - in music, painting, writing, cinema - and it is an essential factor in many scientific endeavours as well. UNESCO_ 2/18/06

Hundreds of thousands affected by water shortages in Somalia
Hundreds of thousands of people in drought-hit areas of Somalia are facing dehydration, with some having to drink their own urine as chronic water shortages persist, aid agency Oxfam International said on Thursday.  Reuters_2/16/06

One-third of Africans lack drinking water
A report released at the 13th Congress of the African Water Association (AFWA) in the Algerian capital of Algiers warned that one-third of the African population has no drinking water and almost half of the African people have health problems due to the lack of clean drinking water.  If the current situation can't be improved, at least 17 African countries will suffer from a severe water shortage by 2010. The water shortage could also lead to clashes between some countries in the region, the report warned. Africa has abundant water resources amounting to 5.4 trillion cubic meters, but only 4 percent of them have been developed and utilized because of the lack of funds and facilities. According to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world population suffering from water shortage should be reduced by half. On the African continent alone, at least $12 billion are needed each year to realize the goal.  Noticias_2/15/06

Modernizing water pipes in Bucharest might lead to higher tariffs

French company Apa Nova might invest 26 million euros in the water pipes in Bucharest - higher rates to follow
Modernizing the water pipes in Bucharest might require investments of over 26 million euros, money which will be totally invested by the French water company Apa Nova, said General Mayor Adriean Videanu yesterday.  He added that he cannot say at the moment if such works are to lead to an increase of tariffs.
Videanu explained the company is expected to complete the investment project by the end of this month when a special experts' commission will come to Bucharest to assess the process and mediate the tense relations between the water company and local authorities. Representatives of the French company announced recently that it will contribute with almost eight million euros for repairing and modernizing water pipes in Bucharest. However, according to a release from the company, if the mayor decides that Apa Nova has to cover the whole costs of the modernizing process, and forces the company to invest 26 million euros, water tariffs will increase, as they have to recover the 19 million euros difference.  Bucharest Daily News_2/15/06

Brisbane, Australia to tap water beneath streets to ease growing supply crisis

The move came as The Australian learned that the NSW Labor Government's controversial desalination plant - shelved this week in favour of tapping underground water - would cost the state's taxpayers an extra $100 million a year if it were ever commissioned. With southeast Queensland's dams less than a third full and the state's wet season almost at an end, Brisbane City Council announced yesterday a $5 million project to sink bores around the city in an attempt to add 20 million litres a day to southeast Queensland's dwindling water supplies. The underground water would initially be targeted for irrigation, but if the current supply crisis continued it would be used for drinking water. The Australian_ 2/10/06

Uganda denies secretly draining Lake Victoria to maintain electricity supplies

A report by the International Rivers Network, a US-based environment group, said Uganda was taking more water than agreed from the lake to generate power. This accounted for half of the drop in the lake's levels, which are at their lowest in 80 years, the report said. But Ugandan officials who spoke to the BBC said a prolonged drought was the sole cause of the low water levels. Analysts have warned of conflict, as East African nations compete for water. BBC News_ 2/10/06

Diesel in water at 2,500 UK houses

Thousands of people in Exeter are being warned not to drink their tap water after diesel got into supplies. Diesel fuel from a faulty pump got into the water of about 2,500 properties Sunday evening. It could be several days before normal supplies are back. In the meantime, tankers are bringing in temporary supplies to householders. BBC News_ 2/6/06

Egypt, Niger defeat polio; WHO says 'finish line in sight'

Polio has been stamped out in Egypt and Niger, leaving just four nations in the world where the deadly disease is endemic, the U.N. health agency said. Only Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan are countries where the disease is still classified as endemic - meaning it has always been present there - the World Health Organization said. Polio is still present in eight other countries - including Yemen, Indonesia and Somalia - where it had previously been eradicated before being imported again from one of the endemic countries, the WHO said. The Geneva-based WHO failed to meet its long-standing target of eradicating polio globally by the end of last year, in part because hard-line Islamic clerics in northern Nigeria led an immunization boycott in 2003. The clerics contended the polio vaccine was part of a U.S.-led plot to render Nigeria's Muslims infertile or infect them with AIDS. The Nigerian vaccine boycott was blamed for causing an outbreak that spread the disease across Africa, into the Middle East and then into Indonesia. But the WHO now says the disease can be eradicated almost everywhere in the first six months of this year and stamped out in 2007 in Nigeria. Last year, about 1,880 people were infected with polio around the world, with 727 in Nigeria. AP/Philadelphia Inquirer_ 2/2/06

Editor's Note: The polio virus is spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated by the virus. The virus may also be contracted through direct contact with infected stool or throat secretions.

UK water crisis warning on new homes; More than a million homes are planned for south-east England
The UK will run out of water unless government plans to build more than a million homes in south-east England are changed, the Environment Agency says. Chief executive Barbara Young told BBC News regulations needed to be rewritten to make it compulsory for developers to build more water-efficient homes. The voluntary approach was failing and "dramatic action" was needed, she said. The agency wants all new houses to have to be fitted with water-saving taps, toilets, showers and washing machines. BBC News_2/1/06

Metito chairs Middle East water and wastewater management conference

Desalination and water reuse discussed in Dubai

Metito, the international water treatment, desalination and wastewater treatment company revealed the severity of the fresh water availability for Middle East North Africa region while chairing the first Middle East Water and Wastewater Management Conference taking place in Dubai. The company reassured attendees that this dilemma is being met head-on with significant investment in desalination and water reuse.  Fady Juez, managing director of Metito and conference chairman said, "About 45 million people in MENA region lack safe water and more than 80 million lack safe sanitation. This is increasingly alarming since this region is already the driest region in the world. The good news is that MENA countries are sensing the need to find alternative solutions so they are able to meet the increasing demand for fresh water. Over $120 billion worth of investment is going to be spent on the water and wastewater infrastructure in the region over the next decade with significant expenditure from KSA, Egypt and UAE'.  Juez added: 'The Gulf region remains the largest market for water desalination in the world and local municipalities are seriously examining ways of looking to double existing capacity to meet regional demand. However, it is North Africa that will experience the greatest growth in desalination, Algeria and Libya experiencing a 300% growth'.   AMEinfo_2/1/06

Safe water high on agenda of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Expressing concern over the "woefully" inadequate system to meet the demands of safe and guaranteed drinking water, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the availability of safe drinking water to every habitation would be the key component of the agenda to be delivered in the next four years under the Bharat Nirman programme. Speaking at a conference of State and Union Territory Ministers in charge of rural drinking water supply and rural sanitation, Dr. Singh chalked out a five-point agenda that included the elimination of backlog and the provision of safe water to habitations which were either uncovered or slipped back from full coverage, addressing the problems of water quality, entrusting the responsibility of water supply management, improving the comprehensive management of water supply, strengthening the management of environment and mobilising communities to spread awareness of the linkage between good health and safe water supply. The Hindu_ 2/1/06

January, 2006

After two months, boil water order that affected up to 70,000 in north Wales finally lifted

Health officials announced on Monday that the cryptosporidium outbreak in Anglesey and Gwynedd was over. A total of 231 people whose water came from the Cwellyn reservoir in Snowdonia caught the bug, it was confirmed. Welsh Water customers affected by the outbreak will receive a £25 cheque towards the inconvenience. In a statement, the outbreak control team said: "All the available evidence and expert opinion point to Llyn Cwellyn (reservoir) being the probable source of the outbreak. There is no alternative explanation." BBC News_ 1/30/06

Bangkok event attracts Asian journalists to discuss water issues
The organizers of a large, regional workshop expect about 400 journalists from across Asia to gather and discuss how to cover water issues as important news stories. The event is scheduled for February 5 to 8 in Bangkok, Thailand.  This larger workshop will follow up on a series of national and regional workshops that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has organized over the past three years. Journalists who participated in those previous workshops have been invited to the Bangkok event.  The objectives are to help Asian journalists develop interest in water issues, to give them the opportunity to network, and to inform them about the next World Water Forum, planned for March 16 to 22 in Mexico City.  The ADB is organizing the event in partnership with the Inter Press Service (IPS) and the World Water Forum Secretariat.  International Journalists Network_1/26/06

Water supply disrupted to tens of thousands in Fiji
Many areas of the Fiji capital, Suva, including critical streets are without water this morning following disruptions to the supply in areas outside the city all this week.  Radio Legend reports that many parts of the heavily populated Suva-Nausori corridor, home to tens of thousands of people and many businesses, are also without water as are substantial areas of the adjacent town of Lami and nearby Veisari.  The radio says the Public Works Department has revealed that the water supply was shut down yesterday to carry out urgent repairs to the Tamavua and Waila treatment plants.  Radio New Zealand_1/25/06

More than 100 chemical plants threaten safety of China's rivers

Zhou Shengxian, the country's environment chief, said the plants were surveyed after a chemical spill in November poisoned the Songhua River water supply for millions of people in the north-east. He said the plants identified as unsafe were being investigated, and the findings would be published. He acknowledged that in the past the government valued economic growth above environmental degradation, but that its priorities were now changing. He said the 100 problem plants were part of a total of 21,000 chemical factories had been found to be located along China's rivers and coastline. More than half the plants were found to be located along two of China's most important rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, which are relied upon by millions of people. BBC News_ 1/24/06

India, Pakistan cooperate in cleanup of the highly polluted Hudiara Drain

In a cooperative effort backed by the United Nations and the World Wildlife Federation, Pakistan and India have cooperated in cleaning up the Hudiara drain, a tributary of the river Ravi, which had become a sewer. The canal had high levels of poullution, including cadmium, chromium and copper, all of them thought to be carcinogenic. But the water in the canal was used for irrigating vegetables and by cattle for drinking, which raised the possibility that the chemicals would be passed along for human consumption. IPS_ 1/23/06

UN conference in Tokyo studies the menace of landslides

A United Nations conference in Tokyo has just finished a conference on the world’s the 7th most deadly natural hazard – landslides, often caused by a combination of by heavy rain of the rapid melting of snow and ice. The average slide claims 800 to 1,000 lives. Such disasters usually often occur where there are few trees or vegetation to slow the movement of a landslide or mudslide. The conference was part of the UN’s rogram of risk reduction strategies. UNESCO_ 1/21/06

Uganda government to embard on water harvesting technologies

Under the Integrated Rural Development Strategy (IRDS), Government has asked for proposals describing different water harvesting technologies that farmers can use. The proposals should address practices like water harvesting from roofs, livestock and backyard irrigation, drip irrigation kit for one-acre land, run-off rain water harvesting system for irrigation and for livestock watering and fish farming. Others should address pressurised irrigation systems for over five acres, de-silting of valley, installation of windmills and capacity development on proper use, management and maintenance in the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank ranches. New Vision/AllAfrica.com_ 1/23/06

Source of Wales stomach bug 'unlikely to be found'

Two hundred and thirty one people have been infected with cryptosporidium and tests have continued for months to try and find the outbreak source. The National Public Health Service said it hoped that thousands of affected homes and businesses would be able to stop boiling their water in the next fortnight. The Llyn Cwellyn reservoir in Snowdonia has been under investigation since cases of the bug, which causes stomach upsets and diarrhoea, first emerged in October. After a meeting of the outbreak control team on Wednesday, a statement from the National Public Health Service for Wales said: "All the evidence and expert opinion points to Llyn Cwellyn being the probable source of infection. There is no alternative explanation." But the statement also added: "It remains unlikely that the point source or sources of the outbreak will ever be confirmed." Extra water treatment equipment has now been installed at the lake. BBC News_ 1/21/06

EU allocates 230 mln euros for water projects
The European Commission on Thursday allocated 230 million euros ($278 million) to 97 water projects in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries as part of the European Union's development aid programme. The infrastructure projects will give access to safe drinking water to about 10 million people, a spokesman for European Development Commissionner Louis Michel told reporters. The money, to be distributed mainly to non-governmental organisations, represented the first tranche of a 500 million-euro project announced in 2004. A second tranche worth 178 million euros wil be launched by mid-March.  Reuters_1/19/06

China earmarks 8 bln yuan for clean drinking water in rural areas
The central government will invest 8 billion yuan (1 billion U.S. dollars) in 2006 to tackle drinking water shortages and drinking water safety issues for 20 million Chinese living in rural areas.  "The central government will provide about 4 billion yuan and the local governments will provide the rest," an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said here Tuesday. The Chinese government's comprehensive measures include providing clean water, protecting the environment and giving hygiene education to rural residents. The aim is to ensure the safety of the drinking water supply for Chinese living in rural areas.  China View_1/19/06

$93 million (Aus.) deal to put water into Australia's Murray River

Under the agreement between Victoria and the Federal Government, billions of litres of water will be returned to the Murray River each year. The deal to return 145 gigalitres of water – is the first instalment of the federal-state Living Murray project to restore the river. One gigalitre is equal to 1 billion litres – or enough to fill about 1000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The bulk of the returned water comes from an agreement by Victoria's farmers to give up part of their annual allocation of water for irrigation. In return, the State Government will upgrade dams and irrigation channels and give farmers more legal security over their annual water supplies. The Australian_ 1/18/06

Drinking water in England and Wales bests Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s drinking water is not up to the quality coming through the taps in England and Wales, a new report said today. The Drinking Water Inspectorate’s 2004 report found that compliance at customer’s taps in the North was 98.65%, compared with 99.2% for Wales and 99.94% for England, where more money has been spent on water treatment and supply infrastructure programmes. Last year, 1,519 samples were taken from water treatment works, service reservoirs and customers’ taps and then tested against new rigorous standards that came into effect in January 2004. Some samples failed to meet regulation levels of trihalomethanes, aluminium, lead and iron, but none contained alarming levels of cryptospoidium, the parasitic organism that led to dozens of people being violently ill in north Down and Lisburn in 2001.  Ireland Online_ 1/12/06

Use of Water in Mina Down
Desalinated water for pilgrims

The 2.1 million pilgrims who came to perform Haj this year have consumed 150,000 cubic meters of desalinated water by the second day of Eid Al-Adha in Mina, according to Khaled Badri, the deputy general supervisor in the Directorate General of Water in the Makkah Region.  Badri said that water consumption in Mina decreased substantially compared to last year. The deputy supervisor general attributed this decrease to the installation of water-saving measures in many areas at the holy sites.

In addition to the water-saving techniques, services improved over last year; water was available on a 24-hour basis. Badri said that water distribution efforts were divided into different areas of Mina, each under the supervision of a working group that ensured that water service was maintained in its zone.  Last year the Ministry of Water and Electricity supplied the holy sites with 247,000 cubic meters of desalinated water daily. Of this, 220,000 came from Al-Shuaiba plant, the biggest desalination plant in the Kingdom. Arab News_1/11/06

Water shortage hits Zanzibar
Authorities in Tanzania's semiautonomous island of Zanzibar have prohibited indefinitely the unnecessary use of water, in a move to curb an acute scarcity. "We are now facing a shortage of water because of a prolonged drought; gardeners, car washers and manufactures of building bricks must minimise their use of water," Hemed Salim, director of the Zanzibar Water Department, said on Tuesday.  He said guidelines on the conservative use of water would soon be made public for home and industrial users. Water is already being rationed on Stone Town, the largest urban centre on the island. He said Stone Town's 350,000 residents normally require about 50 million litres of water per day, "but the production is currently very low".  The island's major source of drinking water is from two springs, but it also draws from boreholes and wells. These springs service the island's Urban-West region and Stone Town normally with 14 million litres a day. Now, because of the drought, it provides four million litres a day.  Reuters_1/11/06

Climate fears, water shortages haunt Europe

France and Spain are ringing alarm bells over the climate, fearing a repeat of last year's drought that sparked deadly forest fires, costly crop failures and widespread water rationing in southern Europe. France's environment minister has said three dry years in a row have left the country facing possibly record water shortages this year. The European Environment Agency (EEA) says water shortages and soaring temperatures in southern Europe are becoming the norm, and its climate models suggest much of the continent may start to become drier as deserts advance. Many scientists say emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from cars, power plants and factories are building up in the atmosphere and driving up global temperatures. Reuters_ 1/10/06

China OKs $3 billion to clean up the Songhua River, a key source of drinking water for 10s of millions

The Songhua was polluted in November by a toxic spill that flowed into Russia.The pollution control effort will cover the entire river valley, spanning four provinces that are home to more than 62 million people, the Beijing Youth Daily reported. It will cost the equivalent of $3.28 billion. By 2010, more than 90 percent of the people living in the four provinces should have access to clean drinking water, the paper quoted environmental officials meeting in northern Heilongjian province as saying. A Nov. 13 explosion at a chemical plant spewed benzene into the Songhua, polluting the river and disrupting running water to millions of people in China and Russia, where the toxic slick arrived late last month. AP/Indianapolis Star_ 1/9/06

Seoul reclaims a river that development paved over

Leading the transformation of Seoul, South Korea's capital, is a 6.8-mile river - more a stream or rivulet - and riverbank commercial area that the city finished restoring in October. More than 10 million people have visited the river, the Cheonggyecheon, since it opened, braving Seoul's bitter winter to catch a glimpse of the stream that had symbolized South Korea's determination to catch up economically, without regard for the environment. About four decades ago, the Cheonggyecheon was paved over, and a two-story expressway was built above it. But Seoul's mayor, Lee Myung Bak, decided two years ago to bring back the river that a whole generation of South Koreans had never seen. New York Times_ 1/8/06 (logon required)

Rainfall drop creates hard choices for Ugandan government

The lack of rainfall is creating hard choices in Uganda. The government in Kampala may have to take drastic measures in order to maintain the level of Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater body in Africa. Closing the dams means spending more on thermal energy to generate electricity. Government officials hope that expected rains begin in March in districts which are dependent on raising cattle. AllAfrica.com_ 1/6/06

Afghanistan: ADB to launch integrated water resources project in the west
About 400,000 low-income Afghans stand to benefit from a water management project for country's western basins thanks to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) assistance package totalling US $75 million, the bank said on Wednesday.  The project will help boost agricultural production and rural livelihoods in the Hari Rud River Basin, which includes parts of Herat province and the Murghab River Basin located in Badghis, Ghowr and Herat provinces, the ADB said.  "Given the importance of water to livelihoods in the Hari Rud River Basin, improving integrated water resource management is critical to the area's development," said Thomas Panella, an ADB water specialist from the bank's headquarters in Manila.  Alertnews.org_1//5/06

Artric to Aral: How Much Electicity Would the Pumps Require? Why Save the Aral Sea?
To spend somewhere between 25-50 billion dollars to refill the Aral Sea and turn the Aral Basin into a cornucopia of fishing, agriculture, forestry, a new example to the world of the old adage "water, wealth, contentment, health" does seem like a bargain. And that's about all it would cost to build two canals to drain water from the Volga and Ob rivers and move enough south to refill the Aral Sea in about 25-50 years. But maybe this international effort could yield additional benefits - saving the banks of the Caspian Sea from rising waters, and removing fresh water from the Arctic Ocean to preserve the gulf stream current? Now would it be worth 25-50 billion dollars?  Ecoworld.com_ 1/5/06

Water company wins Yellow River pollution suit
The first lawsuit seeking compensation for pollution of China's second longest river has been successful, a state newspaper said on Wednesday.  Almost three-quarters of the Yellow River, the cradle of early Chinese civilization, was so polluted it was not safe for drinking or swimming, state media said last year.  Three companies in the northern region of Inner Mongolia agreed to pay a total of 2.3 million yuan ($285,100) for polluting more than 400 km (240 miles) of the river in 2004, the China Youth Daily said.  The river, which supplies water to 12 percent of China's 1.3 billion people and 15 percent of its farmland, has been badly tainted by sewage, industrial waste, fertilizer and other pollutants.  The Yellow River, which gets its name for the yellow-brown silt it carries, has long been known as "China's sorrow" because of its legacy of suddenly shifting course and flooding, killing countless people over the ages.  Chinadaily.com_1/5/06

Dirty water plagues Chinese
Government reveals that a third of rural residents suffer pollution.

The disastrous state of China's drinking water has fallen under the spotlight after recent chemical spills and a government assessment of its cleanliness.  According to a 30 December report from Xinhua, China's state news source, 300 million rural residents are drinking water polluted with high levels of fluorine, arsenic, snail fever (a parasitic liver disease), or other toxins1. That's one-third of China's total rural population.  Nature.com_1/04/06

400,000 in western Afghanistan to benefit from integrated water resources project

About 400,000 mostly poor people will benefit from a water resources management project for Afghanistan's western basins backed by an ADB assistance package totaling US$75 million.  The project will help boost agricultural productivity and rural livelihoods in the Hari Rud River Basin, which includes Herat, and the Murghab River Basin located in Badghis, Ghowr and Herat provinces.  The Project will strengthen integrated water resource management, improve irrigation, and promote more efficient agricultural practices to increase productivity in an area that contains some of Afghanistan's most extensive and intensively farmed irrigation areas.  Reliefweb.int_1/04/06

Nepal announces national policy on water resources

Goal to provide 80 percent of population with safe drinking water
It took 10 years for Nepalese planners to complete this plan on water resource. The cost for preparing the plan is estimated at around 10 million rupees. To achieve national target of the plan, the included objectives of the water resource strategies should be fulfilled. To achieve those objectives under the security, consumption and mechanism and other 10 strategic goals were fixed. Some of them were management of water resources, availability of water resources and improvement of regional cooperation on water resources.  Sixty-three important activities have been identified to achieve and maintain strategic goals. In the first phase of plan till 2007, 80 percent of people would have access to safe drinking water, 49 percent of irrigated land would be provided by water for all season, 680 MW water plant should be planted to meet internal consumption of electricity. NewsLineNepal.com_1/04/06


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International Water News January-June 2006
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