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July-August, 2006 International Water News


August 2006

Thames Water pulls drought application
Thames Water said on Friday it had withdrawn its application to the government for special powers to limit water usage by its 5 million customers in London after near average rainfall fell in July and August.  The company, owned by German utility RWE, said it no longer needed the extra restrictions on water usage it would have obtained under a drought order.  But it said a ban on households using hosepipes and sprinklers to water their gardens or wash their cars would remain and said it could not rule out seeking a drought order next year.  "The short-term threat has receded enough for us not to need a drought order in 2006, but the underlying situation remains serious," Thames Water's environment director, Richard Aylard, said.  "Two successive dry winters have left groundwater levels in much of the region very low.   "A third successive dry winter would make the situation worse and -- depending on the amount of rain we receive -- could mean that we need to apply again for a drought order early in 2007."  It said its London reservoirs were now at 78 percent of capacity, higher than at the same time in two of the past three years.  Reuters_8/31/06

Rwanda: 40 percent in Rulindo access clean water

The Vice Mayor of Rulindo District in charge of Economic Planning and Development, Deo Nzamwita, has disclosed that out of 200,251 people in the district, only 40% have access to clean water. He said another 10% uses dirty water, with the remaining 50% using 'relatively clean water'.  All Africa_8/31/06

Water shortage shuts Canadian tourist town

Hotels, resorts and other businesses in this burgeoning rainforest tourist town on Vancouver Island have been told to shut down because of a water shortage.  Because of high demand and very little rain since July, the town's main reservoir is so depleted there might not be enough water to fight a fire, Mayor John Fraser said Tuesday.  A notice issued Tuesday said residential water service was being given priority in the town of 1,500 year-round residents.  "The WATER SHORTAGE has become extremely severe," the notice read. "All lodging, food service businesses are asked to shut down PRIOR TO FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2006 until further notice. Other commercial water users must not consume any water whatsoever."  CNN_8/30/06

Sri Lanka accused of killing 17 water and sanitation aid workers

In a searing indictment of the Sri Lankan government, Swedish-led cease-fire monitors today accused government security forces of killing 17 aid workers in the eastern town of Muttur earlier this month, one of the worst attacks against humanitarian workers worldwide in recent years. The 17 employees of the French branch of the international humanitarian agency Action Against Hunger were found dead on Aug. 6 in the agency’s office in Muttur. Fifteen of the employees had been shot in the head. Two had been shot in the back, as though they were trying to escape their attackers, agency officials said at the time. They were all dressed in T-shirts bearing the agency’s name. Action Against Hunger worked on tsunami reconstruction and provided water and sanitation services to people displaced by war. The government has said it would conduct an independent inquiry, but has made no announcements about its own investigation yet. New York Times_ 8/30/06_ (logon required)

Oxfam delivering 1.5 million litres of drinking water each day in Lebanon

Oxfam is tankering 1.5 million litres of vital fresh drinking water every day to war ravaged Lebanon – enough to provide the basic daily needs of 50,000 people. The UN has identified the supply of clean water as one of the major aid priorities. Delivering water to affected villages has been a race against time as water pipes, generators, pumps and electricity supplies have been destroyed or severely damaged in the conflict. Oxfam, working with contractors and partners, is now supplying 1.2 million litres a day to seven villages in south Lebanon and 360,000 litres a day to the heavily bombed southern suburbs of Beirut. Press Release/Scoop_ 8/25/06

Integrated efforts urged to manage Pakistan's water resources

A consultative workshop on water management in Pakistan here on Thursday stressed the need for multi-stakeholder platform which should take up the issue on a broader prospective to develop a national consensus on this vital issue. Organized by the IUCNP, the workshop highlighted the importance of water issue currently being debated and dominated by the big dams which are being considered to be panacea for all water storage problems in the country. Participants of the workshop included experts on environment, professors, engineers and community leadersnoted with concern there was little dialogue within the government and civil society about alternatives to these big dams. They observed that few alternatives to the large dam options have been developed and being put to a debate to assess whether they are viable. These debates termed very emotional as there was little focus on factual information and needs. Dawn_ 8/24/06

Landmark Study Reviewing 50 Years' Practices Calls For Radical Changes In Water Management
One in three people is enduring one form or another of water scarcity, according to new findings released by the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture at World Water Week in Stockholm. These alarming findings totally overrun predictions that this situation would come to pass in 2025.  "Worrisome predictions in 2000 had forecast that one third of the world population would be affected by water scarcity by 2025. Our findings from the just-concluded research show the situation to be even worse," says Frank Rijsberman, Director General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). "Already in 2005, more than a third of the world population is affected by water scarcity. We will have to change business as usual in order to deal with growing scarcity water crisis we see in some countries like India, China, and the Colorado River basin of USA and Mexico." MedicalNewsToday_8/24/06

Middle East conflicts undermine water management: experts
Unrest in Iraq and conflicting security interests between Syria and Turkey suffocate the political dialogue necessary for effective management of water resources, the World Water Week conference in Stockholm has heard.  "Effective water management is subordinated by ... focus on security issues, and national interests, especially in the Middle East and parts of Africa," conference organiser Anders Jaegerskog told AFP Wednesday on the sidelines of a seminar on the prospects of cooperation on water issues in the Middle East.  "Poor political relations between (Syria and Turkey) ... stop these countries from working together on water management," Jaegerskog added.  Turkey's damming of the Tigris and Euphrates have triggered protests from neighboring Iraq and Syria who claim Turkey is monopolising the waters from the rivers, which flow south to their drought-plagued territories.  Political disputes between Turkey and Syria have been detrimental to an effective dialogue on water issues between the two countries, according to Jaegerskog.  Yahoo News_8/23/06

Chinese students win Stockholm Junior Water Prize; 'Originality' in restoring polluted urban river channel cited

Wang Hao, Weng Jie and Xiao Yi from China were awarded the prestigious 2006 Stockholm Junior Water Prize Tuesday night in a formal ceremony in the Stockholm City Conference Centre during the World Water Week in Stockholm. The students from Shanghai Nanyang Model High School received the Prize from the hands of H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria on behalf of the Stockholm Water Foundation. They also received a US $5,000 scholarship and a crystal sculpture. The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is presented each year to a high-school age students for an outstanding water-related project focusing on topics of environmental, scientific, social or technological importance. People's Daily Online_ 8/23/06

New international alliance fights water sector corruption

Water experts and businesses teamed up on Tuesday to fight corruption feared to be siphoning off billions of dollars from projects to supply drinking water to the Third World. The Water Integrity Network (WIN), launched at a meeting of 1,000 water experts in Stockholm, would combat graft in a sector where huge contracts are needed to meet U.N. goals of halving the proportion of people with no access to clean water by 2015. WIN includes non-government groups such as Transparency International, the Stockholm International Water Institute and Aquafed, an industry body that says it represents 200 companies including Suez, Veolia, and U.S. United Water. WIN would seek legal and financial reforms to allow greater competition and insight into contracts, and try to inform the public about how corruption was sapping investments. The network would be open to all. Transparency International's index of the sectors most plagued by bribe payers says construction and public works is worst, ahead of defence and oil and gas. Reuters_ 8/22/06

Women must play greater role in water management: experts

Women in poor countries are often better at managing water resources and should therefore play a bigger role in policy-making to ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, the World Water Week conference in Stockholm heard. A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre of community water and sanitation projects, covering 88 communities in 15 countries, found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women were more sustainable and effective than those that are not. Because women are often in charge of fetching water, they have considerable knowledge about water resources, including location, quality and storage methods. AFP/Yahoo_ 8/22/06

'Water labels' on food could ease shortages - expert

Labelling foods ranging from spaghetti to meat to show how much water is used in their production could help combat mounting pressure on the world's water supplies, a leading expert said on Tuesday. "It's necessary that we raise awareness that food requires a lot of water," Anders Berntell, head of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), told Reuters during a conference hosted by SIWI of more than 1,000 water experts. Reuters_ 8/22/06

Finding clean water one of Lebanon's biggest problems, UN says

United Nations aid agencies say clean water is the number one challenge facing relief efforts in south Lebanon. They say major destruction was done to water and sanitation systems during the month-long conflict. Preliminary assessments in the district of Tyre in southern Lebanon show water and sanitation systems in 42 out of 70 villages have been damaged. U.N. assessments in other war-affected communities, including the capital, come up with similar findings. UNICEF is coordinating a large water and sanitation operation in Lebanon. More than 50 U.N. and non-governmental agencies are involved. VOA_ 8/22/06

China to spend $125 billion to improve water treatment and recycling in effort to fight urban water pollution

The government hopes to lure more foreign technology and investments to such projects, which are crucial because some 278 cities have no sewage treatment plants, said deputy construction minister Qiu Baoxing. Attention to the problem has been heightened by a string of industrial accidents that poisoned major rivers, forcing several cities to shut down their water systems. In addition, portions of central China are suffering this summer from their most severe drought in 50 years. Authorities say lack of rain has left 18 million people without adequate drinking water. China's current water projects include a 500 billion yuan ($60 billion) project to supply its dry north with water from the relatively wet south and renovate 50-year-old water pipe networks, Qiu said. The government also wants to build water systems that would keep the public supplied with drinking water in case of industrial accidents and to desalinate sea water, he said. AP/Houston Chronicle_ 8/22/06

Bill to protect Ontario Canada's drinking water
Opinions about Ontario's new clean water legislation ran hot and cold at government hearings into Bill 43 yesterday.

Environment Minister Laurel Broten said her Clean Water Act will enable communities to identify potential threats to their drinking water systems and develop plans to address them.  "We are well into the largest scientific exercise we have ever undertaken to find out how much water we have and how clean and protected it is," Broten said. "This has never been done before in the history of our province."  The legislation seeks to protect existing and future sources of drinking water -- a response to the Walkerton tainted water tragedy.  The act would require watershed communities to monitor and evaluate threats to water sources.  London Free Press_8/22/06

Fixing leaks can avert world water woes - expert
'Water wars? - baloney'

Fixing leaky pipes in conurbations from Mexico City to New Delhi is a better way to avert water shortages as the world population grows than costly schemes such as dams, a leading expert said on Monday.  "There is no shortage of water in the world, but there is a crisis of management of water supplies," Asit Bitwas, head of the Third World Centre for Water Management in Mexico City, told Reuters during a meeting of 1,000 experts on water in Stockholm.  "There is enough water, even in the Middle East, if we manage our water properly," Bitwas said, disputing the findings of an new international report that said one in three of the world's people lived in areas where water was in short supply.  He said many developing nations often wrongly put priority on expensive schemes to build dams or divert rivers in a bid to increase supplies. He said that the key was in simpler measures like fixing leaks.  "In nearly all the megacities nearly 40 to 60 percent (of water) never reaches the consumer" because of leaks and poor maintenance, he said.  "It is cheaper to fix your leaks, improve your maintenance systems which you can do in a couple of years rather than build a dam 200 kilometres away," he said. India, Mexico, China and Brazil were all among countries that could benefit.  Bitwas, a Canadian citizen born in India, was to receive the conference's annual $150,000 prize for his research. He said that many experts wrongly claimed that crises or even wars over water were looming. "It's baloney," he said.   Reuters_8/21/06

The alarming extent of world water scarcity detail in a map compiled by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

The IWMI's Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture says one third of the world population face some form of water scarcity. The map shows two types of water scarcity. Economic scarcity occurs due to a lack of investment and is characterised by poor infrastructure and unequal distribution of water. Physical scarcity occurs when the water resources cannot meet the demands of the population. Arid regions are most associated with physical water scarcity. But the IWMI says there is an alarming trend in artificially-created scarcity - even in areas where water is apparently abundant. BBC News_ 8/21/06

Food, biofuels could worsen water shortages - report

Surging demand for irrigation to produce food and biofuels is likely to aggravate scarcities of water but the world's supply is not running out, an international report said on Monday. "One in three people is enduring one form or another of water scarcity," the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said in a report compiled by 700 experts and backed by the United Nations and farm research groups. The scarcity figures were higher than previous estimates. Still, the report said that "the world is not 'running out' of water", concluding that there was enough land, water and human capacity to solve the shortages. Reuters_ 8/21/06

Australian national water data pooled
An historic agreement on data sharing will allow, for the first time, the open exchange of water information from disparate sources across the country.  Sixty water data specialists met in Adelaide last week and agreed to recommend water ministers rubber stamp an open exchange of data on the precious fluid.  The ministers will meet in November to discuss the issue.  Water data was currently managed in a very proprietorial way, with the custodians across the country keen to keep it to themselves, National Water Commission head Ken Matthews said. The data management protocols to enable the exchange also will be finalised, based on using the internet to transfer and access the information.  "This is a fundamental change. We are breaking serious new ground in natural resource management," Mr Matthews said.  "Data is vital for good water management, and it has been very hard to get any national picture because of the lack of data exchange." Australian IT_8/21/06

China drought causes water shortages for 18 million
Hot weather and a severe drought have left over 18 million people short of drinking water, damaged millions of hectares of cropland and reduced water supplies for millions of livestock, Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.  The Sichuan basin, including the municipality of Chongqing in southwest China, is suffering its worst drought in over 50 years. Low rainfall and high temperatures have also hit a swath of central China.  By Thursday, 18 million people in fifteen Chinese provinces and regions were suffering drinking water shortages caused by the drought, according to Chinese Ministry of Water Resources. More than 130 million hectares of cropland and more than 17 million livestock were affected.  "The severe drought will not ease up and is very likely to get worse," Xinhua said, quoting a ministry statement.  Reuters_8/19/06

Cost of water shortage: civil unrest, mass migration and economic collapse

Cholera may return to London, the mass migration of Africans could cause civil unrest in Europe and China's economy could crash by 2015 as the supply of fresh water becomes critical to the global economy. That was the bleak assessment yesterday by forecasters from some of the world's leading corporate users of fresh water, 200 of the largest food, oil, water and chemical companies. Analysts working for Shell, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Cargill and other companies which depend heavily on secure water supplies, yesterday suggested the next 20 years would be critical as countries became richer, making heavier demands on scarce water supplies. In three future scenarios, the businesses foresee growing civil unrest, boom and bust economic cycles in Asia and mass migrations to Europe. But they also say scarcity will encourage the development of new water-saving technologies and better management of water by business. The study of future water availability, which the corporations have taken three years to compile, suggests water conflicts are likely to become common in many countries, according to the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, which brought the industrial groups together. The Guardian_ 8/17/06

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warns rich countries face increasing water shortages

A combination of climate change and poor resource management is leading to water shortages in even the most developed countries, the WWF report says. It urges water conservation on a global scale and asks rich states to set an example by repairing ageing water infrastructure and tackling pollution. Its report reveals that some of the world's wealthiest cities - such as Houston or Sydney - are using more water than can be replenished. BBC News_ 8/16/06

Scotland's new underground reservoir built to last 200 years

The £120 million ($227 million) Katrine Water Project will supply water to more than 700,000 Scots. It will be filled with 80 million litres of clean water and sealed to protect the purity. It will begin operation in the fall of 2007. Scotsman_ 8/16/06

Ethiopia's State Water Resources Development Bureau builds and maintains 324 water facilities in the past year

Bureau Public Relations Acting Head Tsegaw Yigzaw told WIC that 194 new water facilities were constructed and 130 maintained with a view to raising the potable water coverage of the state. The cost was 24 million birr and they serve more than 180,000 people. Among the water facilities, 60 were built in settlement sites with over four million birr secured from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the State Food Security Coordination Office, he added. Ethiopian Herald_ 8/13/06

China surveys rural drinking water and hygiene

China has launched a survey of drinking water and hygiene in the rural areas this month, aiming to improve rural environment and living quality of farmers. The survey aims to investigate the current quality of drinking water, renovation of toilets, processing of excrement and wastes and waste water in the rural areas. It expects to help formulate guidelines for improving rural drinking water safety and provide information for renovating rural toilets and curb environmental pollution. At least 300 million rural residents in China have no access to safe and clean drinking water, and only 31 percent of rural toilet reach hygienic standards, according to the Ministry of Health. Xinhua/ 8/13/06

Sri Lankan army to continue operations to secure waterway at center of fighting with Tamil Tiger rebels

The army and rebels have resumed heavy fighting in the area of the disputed Maavilaru waterway in the north-east. Both sides say they are in control of the waterway in Trincomalee, which supplies water to 15,000 families. The UN has demanded an inquiry into the deaths of 17 Sri Lankan aid agency workers killed in the fighting. The aid workers from the Action Against Hunger group (AAH) were shot at close range last weekend in the town of Muttur. The government and the Tigers have blamed each other for the deaths. BBC News_ 8/11/06

Old feud over Lebanese water takes new turn

Israeli bombing has knocked out irrigation canals supplying Litani River water to more than 10,000 acres of farmland and 23 villages in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, prompting accusations in Lebanon that Israel is using its war against Hezbollah to lay claim to Lebanon's prime watersheds. The strikes went largely unnoticed by the outside world in the nearly monthlong air assault targeting Hezbollah guerrilla strongholds in southern Lebanon. But Lebanese point to the extensive damage to their irrigation and drinking water system as evidence that border security and water issues remain intertwined in a region short on both. Los Angeles Times_ 8/10/06 (logon required)

World Bank to put up $3 million for water projects in Uganda

The World Bank will put up a $3m (about sh5.5b) guarantee financing to the private sector to construct and expand water and sewerage systems. The first phase of the programme, codenamed, Out-put Based Aid, is to be piloted in 12 towns starting this month. New Vision_ 8/9/06

European drought verging on 'disaster'

As Europe wilts under a blistering sun, water levels in the region’s rivers and reservoirs are plummeting. The night skies over Spain’s forests glow orange with deadly wildfires. Cracked mud-flats border shrinking waterways. Fish lie stranded on the dry beds of lakes and rivers. Water levels on parts of Italy’s longest and most commercially vital river, the Po – which has stirred awe with the fury of its floods – have dropped to their lowest in living memory. On the Rhine, Europe’s busiest waterway, low waters have forced ships to carry less cargo and make up for lost revenue with surcharges of up to 50 per cent. Spain’s reservoirs were filled to just 45 per cent of capacity as of August 7, and in one case to 13 per cent, approaching the point at which only unusable sludge remains. The drought has exposed some countries’ mismanagement of the little water available. Italy has relatively high rainfall but some experts estimate 40 per cent of supplies are lost through leaking infrastructure. With droughts expected to hit Europe with growing frequency and parts of the Mediterranean region at high risk of desertification, long-term fixes remain elusive. The Spanish government is building 25 desalination plants in a bid to boost supply but the plants are voracious consumers of energy and the water they produce is expensive. Environmentalists say governments must invest in reservoirs, better water canals, alternative energy sources and more efficient irrigation systems. Until they do, they can exhort consumers to turn off the tap – or turn it off themselves. Financial Times_ 8/9/06

Canada draws on study of controversial chemical for new national drinking water guidelines

The guidelines, to be released by the end of the year, will provide direction to the provinces on how to treat drinking water with enough disinfectant to kill deadly bacteria, but not so much as might cause a health risk. The pressure to get it right is immense in the aftermath of the Walkerton disaster in May 2000. Serious flaws in the municipal drinking water system resulted in the breakthrough of a deadly pathogen, causing seven deaths in the southwestern Ontario town. The majority of water treatment plants in Canada use chlorine to purify water and help prevent waterborne diseases, but chlorine dioxide is a much-touted alternative to chlorine and is gaining in popularity in North America. CanWest News Service/Montreal Gazette_ 8/8/06

Killing of water and other aid workers on rise in Darfur

More aid workers in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur have been killed in violence in the past two weeks than in the past two years of conflict there, the United Nations said today. The deepening chaos imperils the effort to help millions of displaced people there, according to aid organizations working in the region. Eight aid workers, all of them Sudanese, were killed in July in attacks across Darfur, the United Nations said. The violence has severely contracted the scope of aid operations, cutting tens of thousands of people off from food handouts, medical care and clean water. About 14,000 aid workers are in Darfur, 1,000 of them foreigners. The spike in violence comes as a peace agreement signed in May has faltered. New York Times_ 8/8/06 (logon required)

South Africa Water Affairs and Forestry Department to honor women in water, sanitation and forestry management

The awards form part of government's year-long activities to commemorate the march thousands of South African women took to the Union Buildings in 1956, against pass laws. They also highlight the key role women play regarding poverty eradication, education and sustainable development in both urban and rural areas. Finalists are judged in the categories of policy development, water management, community development and research. Tshwane/AllAfrica.com_ 8/8/06

Ethiopian flood kills 191 and 300 are missing; thousands need to relocate

As the river waters began to recede, the death toll continued to rise from a flash flood that killed up to 500 people in Ethiopia, according to Ethiopian officials today. The flood hit early Sunday morning in Dire Dawa, in eastern Ethiopia, when many people were still sleeping. Dire Dawa lies on a dry, crumbly desert shelf about 300 miles east of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. Each summer, during the rainy season, the Dechatu and Dire Dawa rivers swell with runoff from Ethiopia’s highlands. Last year, the waters topped their banks and more than 20 people drowned. New York Times_ 8/7/06 (logon required)

Southeast Queensland, Australia, experiencing 'worst drought on record:' Premier Peter Beattie
Beattie says the situation is now even more dire than the 'Federation' drought from 1898 to 1903. "We are now in uncharted waters," Beattie says. "The 2005/06 summer to winter rainy season has ended without producing significant inflows to any of our major dams in the region. According to the government the latest climate models suggest rainfall prospects from now through to summer are normal at best but possibly drier. Queensland Business Review_ 8/7/06

Debating the course of Chile's rivers

With Chile trying to manage both Latin America’s most dynamic economy and a looming energy squeeze, the government has embraced a plan to build a series of dams in the rugged, pristine heart of Patagonia that would flood thousands of acres. The plan, proposed by Endesa, a Spanish-owned electricity company, would harness the rushing rivers of the sparsely populated region known as Aisén, which is dotted with national parks and nature reserves. But environmental groups have condemned the proposal, which they say will damage ranching and tourism. They have mounted an international campaign to block construction.

New York Times_ 8/6/06 (logon required)

Iran lawmaker urges watershed projects to avert severe water crisis

Hedayatollah Mirmorad-Zehi, a member of Majlis Agricultural Commissionsaid here on Saturday that the government must construct dams, harness surface waters and prevent wastage of border rivers' waters in a bid to safeguard underground water reserves, according to the English-language newspaper Iran Daily. He said precipitation remains low in many parts of the country, stressing that if watershed engineering techniques are not employed to control droughts, the country will face a severe water crisis. He further noted that the country lost 1.2 million cubic meters of water from its border rivers last year, adding that statistics indicate that Iran is among 43 countries that will face a water crisis in the future. He said Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan and Yazd provinces are badly suffering from water shortages and drought. Rassoul Zargar, deputy energy minister for water affairs, said last month that some 15 dams will become operational by next March. IRNA_ 8/5/06

Cases of waterborne diseases on the rise in Karachi

Fearing an outbreak of waterborne and food borne diseases in the wake of the ongoing spell of monsoon rains in the city, experts have called for keeping an eye on the quality of water and edibles citizens consume nowadays. A survey of some government and private hospitals revealed that cases of gastroenteritis, including adults and children, had been brought to hospitals during the last couple of days from different localities. DAWN_ 8/4/06

Nigeria: World Bank grants Nigeria's Enugu State $10 Million for water development

Enugu State is to benefit from a World Bank facility worth one hundred and twenty million US dollars for water development in the country. Hassan Kida, leader of the World Bank team on National Urban Water Supply Sector Reform Project, stated that under the project, the State Government would be expected to contribute five per cent of the total amount as its own counterpart fund to the project. He told the Governor that Enugu was one of the three states benefiting from the project, sponsored by the world body and designed to provide adequate water supply to residents of Enugu and Nsukka urban when completed by 2008. The two other states are Kaduna and Ogun.  AllAfrica_8/2/06

Heat wave brings Europe water woes
Water levels in many European rivers and lakes are at record lows and the water is becoming dangerously warm following a near month-long hot spell.  Despite storms that swept across Germany last month, the country had less than 70 percent of the average July rainfall, and in Brandenburg farmers said their wheat yield was down 40 percent to 50 percent, Deutsche Welle reported.

The situation is even worse for farmers in Spain, where in the past year, reservoir levels have dropped to nearly half of their capacity, which scientists say is a clear indicator of drought.  The Dutch meteorological institute reported July was the hottest month in the Netherlands since temperatures were first measured in 1706.  M&C News_8/2/06

In Sri Lanka, Tamil Tigers cut off water

Lankan troops slogged through minefield and mortar fire as they advanced towards a Tamil Tiger-held water supply yesterday, while jets hit rebel positions and a military transport ship was attacked in incidents that look increasingly like open warfare. The government accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of attempted ethnic cleansing through cutting off the water supply to some 65,000 mostly Sinhalese people, but said they were still committed to a fading 2002 ceasefire. The Scotsman_ 8/2/06

July, 2006

Zimbabwe: Water crisis looms in Bindura when water pumps burn out

Bindura residents are likely to face a serious water crisis in the next four weeks following the burning out of two of the three pump motors at its Mazowe River Raw Water pump-house last week. Town clerk Mr Paison Chikeya Mugogo, who attributed the burning out of the motors to powercuts, said the town would be pumping water at a third of its capacity. Last month, two other pump motors burnt out and the town had to pay about $1,4 billion for repairs and it is likely that the town will pay a similar amount towards the repair of the pump motors. The Herald_ 7/31/06

Botswana: Vula Ingae? Where is the water?

Every now and then residents of Magapatona in Tutume wake up in the morning to something sinister."Vula ingae - Where's the water?" they wonder as they find their pipes dry. Sometimes the pipes stay dry for whole months on end. During those times they have no other option but to rush to the Tutume River riverbank, dig in the loose sand and let the muddy leftovers from last season's flows gather in little puddles for collection. Water supplies in the North Eastern parts of Botswana have been erratic in the last decades and Magapatona has not been spared the ravages of the dry spells. Borehole water, because of its high mineral content, usually interferes with the proper functioning of the pipe work. Senior Technical officer in the Water Department in Tutume, Keolopile Mfakose, says the water situation has been stable since his technicians found out that this was the major cause of the problem. Although he would not be drawn into discussing the NEWSP, referring to the Department of Local Government and Development, he says he thinks the project is on schedule and will be completed before the end of the year. The Reporter_ 7/28/06

Special Report

Wells financed by U2 fans bring 'fresh life' to Africa
Women and children in Sub-Saharan Africa walk up to ten miles to obtain a single day’s supply of water for the household. If a safe water source is not available, household water comes from rivers, lakes, ponds – even puddles. Since 2002, the African Well Fund and its partner Africare have repaired wells and improved sanitation systems in Uganda, Angola and now Zimbabwe. Mzee Kompororo is an elderly teacher living in Uganda. The Kikoni Shallow Well, he says, "breathed fresh life in me." For their latest project, the African Well Fund and Africare are bringing safe water and sanitation to 2,000 residents of Zimbabwe. Read Aimee Powell's compelling story in this special report.

UK's Thames Water heads pollution list
Serious environmental damage incidents rose in 2005

Thames Water was fined more than any other firm in England and Wales for pollution last year, the Environment Agency has said.  The company, which received penalties totalling £128,000, was joined by other water giants Southern, Severn Trent and United Utilities in the top 10 list.  Overall, major environmental damage rose 7%, with the waste and farming sectors also among the worst offenders.  BBC News_7/26/06

Liberia gets water after 15 years
People in Liberia's capital have access to pumped water for the first time in 15 years after years of civil war.  Thirty percent of the city's water needs had been addressed so far.  The country's water treatment plant outside Monrovia was destroyed during the civil war that ended in 2003 when in interim government came into power.  The vast majority of the underground pipes pumping water into Monrovia have not been renewed and rehabilitated for decades.  BBC News_7/26/06

Japan to use fish to monitor water supply
Japanese scientists have developed a way of using fish as a warning system in the water supply, much like canaries in a coal mine.  Medaka rice-fish tend to swim in a regular pattern for as long as three minutes. The fishy security plan takes advantage of that habit because fish exposed to toxic substances alter their behavior, the Daily Yomiuri reports.  At water filtration plants, two tanks will be installed and a fish placed in each one, with a computer programmed to look for changes in behavior.  The changes can include swimming close to the surface to get more oxygen, swimming in a smaller area or swimming faster and more erratically, sinking towards the bottom of the tank as death approaches or -- the ultimate behavior change -- dying. Political Gateway_7/25/06

Contamination of drinking water getting worse
Health threats to China's drinking water are increasing because of the serious contamination of many of the country's water sources.  At a symposium on potable water safety and health, a group of Chinese experts on Monday urged the government and enterprises to introduce more high-end technologies to protect people from drinking polluted water.  The symposium is being held concurrently with a national water pollution prevention conference organized by the State Council.  The deterioration of the general water situation on the Chinese mainland means that most of the source water for Chinese waterworks is polluted to some extent.  According to E Xueli, a researcher with China Disease Prevention and Control Center, for economic and other reasons, more than 90 percent of Chinese waterworks are still using outdated technologies developed at the beginning of the 20th century.

"Those waterworks can handle physical and microbial pollution but not chemical pollution," he said.  China Daily_7/25/06

Soweto residents challenge South Africa's water allocation
The residents, who filed papers in the Witwatersrand High Court against the City of Johannesburg and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, are asking that the government’s capped free water allowance as well as prepaid water meters be declared unconstitutional. The residents’ legal team is headed by respected jurist, advocate Wim Trengove SC. Critics have described South Africa’s free basic water strategy as discriminatory against the poor, who have to do without water if they use more than the six kilolitres, or 25 litres a person a day, because they cannot afford to buy more. According to Peter Gleick, a world expert on water rights, international best practice dictates that at least 50 litres should be allocated per person. An average bath for one person consists of 50 to 60 litres, which means just one person taking 10 baths a month would have used up an entire household’s supply of free water. The residents, supported by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University and the Freedom of Expression Institute, also dispute the controversial installation of pre-paid water meters in their suburb, Phiri. Mail & Guardian_ 7/24/06

Arabs need to spend $100 billion on water by 2016: report
Arab states will need to invest a $100 billion on desalination over the next decade if demand for water keeps growing at the current pace, especially in the Gulf region, an energy services firm said on Saturday.  Energy Management Services (EMS) said industry data showed that demand for desalinated water in the Arab world was growing at an annual average of 6 percent, double the global average.  Regional governments have already invested an estimated 10 billion in existing and new projects to boost capacity, EMS said in a statement.  "But with a surging population and large-scale economic diversification across the (Gulf), governments predict a further investment of an estimated $100 billion would be required over the next 10 years to meet escalating demand for water," the statement said.  The company said rapid economic growth in Dubai, commercial hub of the arid Gulf region, was putting an unprecedented strain on the emirates energy and water resources.  Reuters_7/24/06

Canadian conservatives to announce sweeping environmental plan in October

The Conservatives will announce a sweeping environment strategy in October to cut smog, greenhouse emissions and to clean up toxic hot spots, The Canadian Press has learned.  Tentatively dubbed Green Plan II, it will include a Clean Air Act with long-term targets and new money for national parks, sources said.  It's being touted as the most wide-ranging program of its kind since former Tory Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced his $3-billion Green Plan in 1991.  The strategy will include a clean water framework, a clean technology strategy, regulation of toxic chemicals and new measures to clean up contaminated sites, said a source who has been briefed on its contents.  Canada National News_7/20/06

Sofia (Bulgaria) municipal council rejects water tariff hike
The Sofia municipal council has rejected the 3-year business plan of the city's water utility operator Sofiyska Voda and will recommded to the energy and water regulator to do the same.  The main flaw of the business plan, according to the councillors, is that it envisages too much investment in water supply infrastructure and not enough for the expansion of the sewerage system.  The councillors have recommended that the utility extend its services to unseweraged areas.  The company is seeking to hike household supply tariffs by 0.84 levs to 1.44 levs/cu m and offers to install sewerage pipes in only 2 residential districts - Benkovski and Moderno Predgradie.  Some 40 districts and villages in the Sofia area have no central sewerage systems. Dnevnik_7/20/06

Yemen has the poorest water resources, says official

The Chairman of the Technical Secretariat for Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Eng. Anwer Saholy confirmed that water quantity in Yemen is only 10 percent of the per capita share in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and less than 2 percent of the international average and that makes Yemen one of the poorest countries in the world regarding water.  He added that this water crisis will be more dangerous in the future with increasing population and accelerating demands from the agricultural and industrial sectors. The statement came yesterday in the press conference for the international conference: ‘Water Governance in the MENA Region: The Current Situation’. According to Saholy this conference is a significant event, gathering water experts and involving organizations from different countries to exchange experiences and skills to evaluate and solve the water crisis in the region. 

Yemen Times_7/19/06

UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to investigate Southern Water

Thames Water also faces fines

The Serious Fraud Office today announced an investigation into whether Southern Water deliberately misled the water regulator, Ofwat, about its failure to meet customer service standards.  Southern admitted that figures it provided to Ofwat relating to response times for billing inquiries and service complaints from customers were inaccurate. As a result, it may have failed to pay customers compensation, as water utilities are required to do if they fall short of standards under the industry's Guaranteed Standards Scheme.  Separately, Ofwat announced that it planned to fine Thames Water up to £140m for failing to provide an adequate service to its eight million customers in the south-east of England. Thames also failed to pay customers compensation, but there is no suggestion that it deliberately misrepresented itself to Ofwat.  Guardian Unlimited Business_7/19/06

Aftershock sparks fear as Java tsunami toll hits 550

An aftershock in Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged region and a new tremor off the southwestern Java coast sowed fear on Wednesday as the toll from Monday's disaster climbed to 550. Rescuers pulled bodies from the debris and aid trickled into worst-hit Pangandaran town while a search continued for about 275 people still missing after the tsunami smashed into a 300-km stretch of coast along southern Java. Indonesian media questioned why there was no warning ahead of Monday's killer waves despite regional efforts to set up early alert systems after the massive Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. The Star_ 7/19/06

China toll from Tropical Storm Bilis rises to 198; drinking water supplies in some areas threatened

Rainstorms and flooding were on the retreat across most of south China on Tuesday after taking at least 198 lives, officials said, as people coped with water shortages, severed roads and damaged homes. The downpours were brought by Tropical Storm Bilis, which killed dozens in the Philippines and Taiwan before striking heavily populated southern China on Friday. In the far-southern province of Guangdong, where at least 44 were killed, the government was distributing clean water in Shaoguan, a city of half a million that was flooded. "To restore power supply is easier, but it really takes time to get the taps running again though the water has basically retreated," a disaster relief official there told Reuters by telephone. Reuters_ 7/18/06

Java tsunami death toll increases

The death toll from a tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Java has risen to at least 339, health ministry officials say. Another 136 people are reported missing around Pangandaran, the worst-hit area. The tsunami was triggered by a 7.7 magnitude undersea earthquake that struck off Pangandaran on Monday afternoon, causing a 2 meter-high (6.5 foot) wave. Indonesian troops have arrived to help with the search for the missing and assist the hundreds of injured. In addition to the dead, about 450 people have been injured and around 52,700 people have been displaced, a spokesman for Indonesia's health ministry told the French news agency AFP. Hospitals were said to be packed with the injured seeking treatment and people searching for their relatives. Body bags and other essential items have begun to arrive, and relief aid such as tents and food are being sent for the thousands of people who have fled their homes. BBC_ 7/18/06

Tsunami hits Indonesian Java Coast, killing more than 150

A powerful undersea earthquake struck off the south coast of Java, Indonesia, on Monday afternoon, creating a tsunami that killed scores of people. The Indonesian Red Cross put the death toll at 155 as of Tuesday morning, and officials continued to sort through debris looking for bodies. The wave was about six feet high, considerably smaller than those that hit Aceh and elsewhere in the region in December 2004, killing more than 200,000 people. But it carried a tremendous amount of destructive power, and seemed to have hit hardest at Pangandaran, a beach town popular with Indonesians and foreigners. The tsunami was set off by an earthquake that registered 7.7 in magnitude, according to the United States Geological Survey. The quke struck about 3:15 p.m. local time and the epicenter was beneath the seabed of the Indian Ocean 110 miles south of Pangandaran. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued a tsunami warning about 15 minutes after the earthquake hit, but Indonesia has not yet installed a warning system on Java, the most populous of the country’s thousands of islands. New York Times_ 7/17/06 (logon required)

Cameroon: Even in the rainy season, drinking water is in short supply in Buea

Water has become a very scarce commodity in Buea, the Southwest Provincial capital. Even in July, in the heart of the rainy season, it is hard to find a tap flowing uninterruptedly in the average home for up to six hours at any given time. Long cues of children and housewives are seen on most mornings at public stand taps waiting to fetch water in jerry cans, basins or buckets before the supply is suddenly cut. At certain times, some neighbourhoods go for days, even weeks without a single drop of water. They depend on spring water which they trek long distances to scoop. The Post_ 7/14/06

South Africa report on 2000-2001 cholera epidemic says problems remain in rural areas

Distribution of water, reliability of water supply, water storage and vandalism were problems still facing communities hit by a cholera outbreak at the end of 2000, scientists said on Wednesday. A report released by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Durban reveals that proper water supply in South Africa's poorest communities has improved. However, there are still grave risks that could see further outbreaks of water-related diseases such as cholera and typhoid. The outbreak in 2000 claimed the lives of 265 people in five provinces and 120 000 others were infected. sapa/Mail & Guardian_ 7/12/06

Israel not doing enough to ease Gaza water conditions - UN

U.N. aid agencies told Israel on Tuesday it was not doing enough to ease a threatened humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, Western diplomats said. Israel bombed Gaza's main power plant. Generators that power water wells and sewage pumping plants are running low on fuel. The World Health Organization warned over the weekend that the health system was also facing an unprecedented crisis. Reuters_ 7/11/06

Pakistan's government is asked to declare clean water a basic human right

Speakers at a seminar in Islamabad Monday expressed grave concerns over the thousands of deaths caused by contaminated water every year in Pakistan and demanded the government declare clean potable water as the basic human right of every individual. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) had organised a seminar on Killer Water: State's Role and Responsibilities. Water experts asked the government to ensure effective supply of clean drinking water to masses across the board by eliminating rural and urban divide. They said it was a matter of great shame for the country that almost half of the beds in the country's hospitals were being occupied by waterborne disease patients in the 21st century. Dawn_ 7/10/06

Dubai water supplies face threat from development and population growth

According to the Gulf News, UAE University researchers have suggested the emirate should mainly rely on desalinated and wastewater, focusing on aquifers, desalination and treated water. The study has been conducted by Dr Ahmad Ali Abdullah Murad and Hind S Al Nuaimi, from the Department of Geology at UAE University's College of Sciences. They fear that water demand will increase significantly in the future. Trade Arabia.com_ 7/8/06

Residents along Thailand's Prachin Buri and Bang Pakong rivers urge limits on industrial growth to ease water shortages

The call was made during a seminar Sunday on water management of the Prachin Buri and Bang Pakong river basins. Chamroon Suaydee, chairman of a sub-committee studying water use on the Prachin Buri and Bang Pakong rivers, said water demands have increased due to mushrooming industrial estates in the East resulting from government efforts to promote investment in the region. Bangkok Post_ 7/4/06

Nigeria: Only 39 percent of Nigerians have access to potable drinking water - Expert

The increasing incidences of water related diseases in Nigeria, such as amoebic dysentery, diarrheas, cholera, typhoid and paratyphoid have been blamed on the accessibility of only 39 percent of the country's population to potable drinking water. The lecturer at the maiden national sanitation day lecture in Abuja, Dr Ahmed Salami, a former secretary to Lagos State government, identified some measures at solving environmental health problems in the country such as, development of administrative and legal framework, the promotion of socio-cultural and behavioral changes among our people by way of information education and communication including gender mainstreaming and enforcement of laws and regulations. Vanguard/ 7/2/06

Engineers Without Borders brings water to remote villages

Fourteen University of Pennsylvania students began building a water system last month for a village of 225 people in Honduras. It was part of a project for the humanitarian group, Engineers Without Borders. Penn's project is just one of 80 such efforts now under way in 44 countries. Engineers Without Borders has close to 200 professional and student chapters in the United States. Philadelphia Inquirer/KRT/The State_ 7/2/06


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