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January-June 2005 International drinking water news


June, 2005

Scientists simulate tsunami

A research group studying protection measures against tsunamis succeeded in simulating an unprecedented 2.5m tsunami.  During a Japanese experiment, the Port and Airport Research Institute in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, simulated the tsunami using a waterway-shaped device.  It is the first time that researchers have succeeded in simulating a tsunami as high as 2.5m, according to the institute.  Herald Sun _ 6/30/05

Rural China in clean water crisis
China's rapid economic growth has left its rivers polluted and more than 300 million people without clean drinking water, a top lawmaker has said.  The lawmaker, Sheng Huaren, said laws to prevent pollution had failed.  A BBC correspondent in Beijing says more than 90% of urban China already suffers from some degree of water pollution. BBC_6/30/05

Great Lakes diversion limits water down Canada's rights, critics say
A proposal to significantly limit water diversions from the Great Lakes falls far short of protecting Canada's precious fresh water and excludes aboriginal rights to the watershed, critics say.   The tentative deal, to be released June 30 by the Ontario government imposes limits on diversion projects in Ontario, Quebec and seven of the eight Great Lakes states, but fails to protect Canada's sovereignty over the basin.  Environmental lawyer Steven Shrybman said the proposals allow U.S. states to unilaterally license water diversion without the consent of the provinces or Ottawa.  First Nations in the Great Lakes areas are furious at being excluded from the process, and passed a resolution to take "any and all means" to defend their claim.  National Post_6/29/05

Londoners: Save water: don't flush
Mayor says drastic measure is needed if London is to avoid a disaster

London Mayor, Ken  Livingstone has told Londoners not to flush the lavatory after relieving themselves. He said that dramatic action was needed to prevent an acute water shortage and painted a vision of standpipes in the streets if nothing were done.  Mr Livingstone made the comments as he was inaugurating a public education campaign to promote water conservation.  “The quickest and most dramatic impact is, don’t use a sprinkler or hose in the garden, don’t use a hose to wash your car and don’t flush the lavatory if you have just had a pee,” he told a press conference at City Hall.  Times Online_6/29/05

Indian, Pakistani officials hold talks on disputed water project
Officials from India and Pakistan held talks Tuesday to resolve a dispute over India’s plan to dam a lake in the divided region of Kashmir that Pakistan fears will deprive its farmers of vital water supplies.  India began work on the Tulbul Navigation Project on Wular Lake in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir in 1984, but stopped three years later after Islamabad complained the dam would control the course of water into the Jhelum River that flows into Pakistan. Pakistan says the dam violates a 1960 water-sharing pact between the two South Asian neighbors, but New Delhi insists the treaty allows construction intended to ease navigation. Khaleej Times_6/28/05

Australian water costs taken with pinch of salt
Malcolm Turnbull has called on the State Government and Sydney Water to come clean on the cost of supplying Sydney with desalinated water instead of recycled water.  Stepping up his campaign for a major recycling plant for Sydney, the federal MP warned that Sydneysiders had to carefully scrutinise what was being said about a desalination plant.  The State Government last week called for expressions of interest to build a desalination plant capable of producing 100 to 500 megalitres a day of fresh water. But the Government described it as a contingency plan in case the drought is prolonged and dam levels continue to fall. It has has not yet identified a site for the plant. SMH.com_6/28/05 Log On Required

Four water treatment plants costing RM1.2b scheduled to go online in Malaysia

Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said four water treatment plants in Sabah costing RM1.2 billion will be made available under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006-2010).  He said it would be implemented soon as possible in order to reduce the State's water shortage.  However, he said the Sabah Water Department should also look into ways of reducing Non-Revenue Water (NRW).  He said losses from NRW could be due to weaknesses in monitoring the amount of water supply, including broken pipes, pilferage (water thefts) and billing mistake, among others.  Daily Express News_6/28/05

Water at five Taiwan beaches found unsuitable for swimming

In a report released Friday on the quality of Taiwan's coastal waters, the country's Environmental Protection Agency found that the water at five popular beaches had excessive amounts of pathogenic bacteria and warned beachgoers to stay away.  The unusually high amount of bacteria found in the EPA's tests resulted from the torrential rains that pelted Taiwan for more than a week in the middle of June, the environmental agency said.  Taiwan News _6/27/05

Global water experts begin Wisconsin tour
Scientists from around the globe converged on Stevens Point Wisconsin this week to share knowledge of the most successful means used to protect the waterways that keep people, commerce and the environment alive.  For the fourth year, water experts from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point hosted the International Watersheds Management Program to discuss clean water policies and practices. Water managers from China, Uganda, Turkey, Mexico, Israel, Afghanistan, Peru and other nations began a two-week tour of Wisconsin's waterways on June 14.  Most of the visiting scientists were government officials, but others came from non-government organizations working to improve watershed health.  Wausau Daily Herald _6/21/05

Petrochemical imports necessary in Thailand

Cut in water supply to reduce production

Petrochemical manufacturers plan to temporarily import some products to offset a shortfall once a forced cut of up to 40% in water supplies to the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong begins on Monday.  Estimates of a water shortage in the Eastern Seaboard area will result in 360 billion baht in damages over the three-month period during which 60 factories in Rayong must cut their production. The estimate also takes into account the cost of petrochemical imports.  Bangkok Post_ 6/22/05

A perpetual source of water in Australia
A revolutionary new water system that turns grey water blue has just been released for installation in Canberra, Australia enabling householders to drought proof their homes.  Perpetual Water-Home™ treats up to 720L of grey water a day, providing a never-ending source of water for gardens, lawns, laundry, toilets, and more – without damaging the environment.  The brainchild of a Canberra company and developed with the support of the ACT Government, AusIndustry, a chief scientist, chief engineer, and other experts, Perpetual Water treats water to Class A standard, the highest quality of recycled water possible today.  City News _ 6/22/05

Water supply problems hit hundreds of Belgian families

Strawberry farmers eyed as culprits

Hundreds of families in the high-elevation regions of Hageland between Aarschot and Diest have had little or no tap water since Saturday afternoon, it was reported on Monday.  The Aarschot fire brigade has been delivering water by tanker in the suburbs of Aarschot and Tielt-Winge since Sunday afternoon. Residents have been advised to boil the water before drinking it.  A spokesman for water supply company VMW Vlaams-Brabant said the current high demand for water has not been matched in 15 years.  "Without doubt, this is due to the high water use in the horticulture industry because of the persistent dry weather and heat of the past few days," spokesman Eddy Troostens said.  Expatica.com_6/20/05

Derailed train spills heavy fuel into waterways that supply Moscow's drinking water

Some 770 tons of thick, tar-like fuel spilled from more than a dozen tanker cars that went off the tracks Wednesday about 100 miles northwest of Moscow, according to Pavel Plat, a senior official with the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, who spoke to NTV television. The federal weather and environment monitoring service said water samples taken from the tributary revealed an "extremely high contamination" by oil products -- up to 140 times more than the admissible level. It said a strong smell of hydrocarbons could be detected in the area. Russia's Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu sought to play down the threat, saying the spill was being successfully contained and warning the media against "telling horror stories," according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. AP/Los Angeles Times_ 6/17/05 (logon required)

Thailand's oil-producing eastern seaboard faces water crisis

Manufacturers along the Eastern Seaboard, particularly those with petroleum and petrochemical plants, are being forced to reduce or even cease operations after a ``strong suggestion'' by Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate that they cut water consumption by 40% to cope with a critical shortage. The looming water shortage in the hub of petroleum and petrochemical operations poses a grave threat to the industrial operations. To help to combat the shortage, a royal rainmaking unit was established yesterday at Map Ta Phut. It will research whether it can bring rain and help boost the dwindling water supply. Bangkok Post_ 6/17/05

Water demands escalate to violence in India

Five people were killed and 10 in an altercation between police and stone-pelting by protesters who blocked traffic on the Jaipur-Kota National Highway demanding adequate water.  Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Nawdeep Singh said the villagers, staging a sit-in on the Highway in Tonk district, paralysed traffic and when police tried to disperse them, they pelted stones at officers.  India.com_6/13/05

Irish water pollution levels lowest for 15 years
Pollution in Irish waters is at its lowest level for almost 15 years.  A water quality study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned however that households and agricultural discharges continue to pose a threat.  In an overall context, Irish water quality remains of a high standard according to an EPA report which dealt with the period between 2001 to 2003.  Ireland Online_ 6/13/05

U.S. says no El Nino for now, but trend uncertain

The risk of an El Nino weather anomaly striking this summer is minimal, but the longer-term trends are uncertain, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said Thursday in its monthly bulletin. El Nino is an abnormal warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that occurs roughly once every three years. It can wreak havoc on world weather patterns, causing searing drought in Indonesia and Australia and rampant flooding in Ecuador and Chile. Reuters_ 5/9/05

Chile's Copec shuts pulp mill in water pollution scandal

Celulosa Arauco, the wood pulp unit of Chile's top industrial conglomerate, Copec, shut down its $1.2 billion Valdivia plant on Wednesday amid a growing scandal over water contamination. Celulosa Arauco also announced at a news conference that its chief executive, Alejandro Perez, resigned. Alberto Etchegaray, president of the board of directors of Arauco, told reporters the company would lose $1 million a day in revenue while the plant was shut down, and that the closure would also cost the company $120,000 per day. He could not say how long the plant would be closed. Reuters_ 6/8/05

China says water pollution so severe that cities could lack safe supplies
China's booming economy is driving a rapid rise in water pollution so severe that densely crowded cities could be left without adequate supplies, a Cabinet minister said.  The unusually blunt warning came after a separate government report last week said Chinese cities are threatened by rising levels of acid rain from industrial pollution. China Daily_6/7/05

Population caps urged to protect Australian water supplies

Desalination deemed too expensive

Max Boyd, a farmer and an administrator of Tweed Shire Council in northern New South Wales has suggested population caps could help preserve dwindling water supplies.  He says people should not be allowed to move into already heavily populated areas. ABC NewsOnline_6/7/05

China flooding kills 204; 79 missing

Hundreds of thousands of people in southern China have been evacuated. China's rainy season officially began Wednesday. According to government statistics, floods this year already have killed 204 and left 79 missing, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Last year, more than 1,300 people were killed in summer flooding. The government is forecasting heavier rains this summer. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/5/05

Water plant stike in the eastern Congo sparks cholera outbreak

Hundreds of infections have killed at least four people, a health official said. The outbreak in this lakeside town occurred after 55 employees at a government-run purification plant in Goma went on strike because they had not been paid on more than a year, said Dr. Guy Mutombo Ndongala, chief epidemiologist of the North Kivu province. The strike shutdown the plant, forcing many of Goma's 500,000 people to draw drinking water from Lake Kivu, a source of waterborne diseases. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/3/05

China says polluters getting official protection

China handled more than 200 cases of local governments protecting polluters last year as it struggles to balance environmental concerns with development, an official said. The environment had suffered over two decades of economic reform, a condensed form of the problem which developed countries faced over 100 years or so, the State Environmental Protection Administration official said. Nearly three-quarters of the Yellow River, which supplies water to 12 percent of China's 1.3 billion people and 15 percent of its farmland, had been badly tainted by sewage, industrial waste, fertilizer and other pollutants, Xinhua news agency said last week. China is facing a severe water crisis -- 300 million people do not have access to drinkable water -- and the government has been spending heavily to clean major waterways like the Yellow, Huaihe and Yangtze rivers. But those clean-up campaigns have made limited progress because of spotty enforcement and uncooperative industry. Reuters_ 6/2/05

Britain facing water shortage

Drinking water may be rationed in parts of England as the winter just passed brought the lowest rainfall in southern England since the drought year of 1976. The southern county of Sussex has suffered its second driest winter in a century. The 1976 drought saw patrols implemented to monitor household hose-pipe use, and a report in the Daily Express suggests they could be resumed. Supplier Southern Water has warned drinking water may be rationed this summer, while another supplier has sent out 300,000 postcards to customers urging them to save water. Daily Telegraph_ 6/2/05

May, 2005

In Peru, the telephone works and the internet connection is installed, but for one fourth of the population, there is no running water

Only slightly over half of Peru's 28 million people have sewage facilities, a dire situation repeated in poor countries across Africa and Asia where access to water is limited. Reuters_ 5/31/05

Dry Sydney tightens water curbs
Australia's biggest city, Sydney, is introducing its toughest ever water restrictions as a long-standing drought continues to tighten its grip. Dam levels are at record lows, and households and businesses are being urged to do all they can to conserve water. Anyone caught breaching the new restrictions will face hefty fines. Weather forecasters have warned that Australia's drought is likely to get worse. BBC News_ 5/31/05

Water cellars boost rural China living conditions

Octogenarian Ma Baoping has tasted his first green vegetable thanks to a new supply of water in his village in Dongxiang County of Northwest China's Gansu Province.  Prior to his new water catchment cellar, severe shortages meant Ma could spare only enough water to grow potatoes.  But now, thanks to the Mother Water Cellar Programme conducted by the China Women's Development Fund under the All-China Women's Federation, a special cellar has been built in Ma's yard to collect rainwater.  China Daily_ 5/25/05

Australia's thirstiest crop: 21,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of rice
A new study has found that of 135 industries analysed rice was one of Austrialia's most costly product- financially, socially and environmentally.  Australia's 2500 rice farms were found to be 200 times more water intensive than the average industry and to generate four times as much greenhouse gas.  The Australian_5/25/05

Effective Water Management Attracts World Concern
Experts from some 70 countries are discussing effective water management and usage,in the lead-up to the 4th World Forum on water that Mexico will host in 2006.  The meeting began with a closed workshop, Water Usage for Life and Development.  Other areas of discussion include integrated management of water resources, new models for the financing of local initiatives, development of capacities and social learning, establishment of goals, monitoring and evaluation, and risk management.  Prensa  Latina_ 5/24/05

China issues first guideline on water-efficient technology
China has published its first guideline on water-efficient technology to increase public awareness and guide the whole nation in saving water.  To use water efficiently is the fundamental way to ease the shortage of water resources, said a spokesman of the State Development and Reform Commission.  The guideline, which was jointly issued by five ministerial departments, sets the goal for the development of water-efficient technology by 2010.  According to the guideline, China will strive for a slight increase in water use for industrial production and a zero growth in water use for agricultural purpose between 2005 and 2010.  China View_5/23/05

Aussie city almost out of water

The rolling hills around Goulburn were once renowned as some of Australia's best grazing land. After four years of drought they are as bleached and lifeless as old bones.  Goulburn is perilously close to becoming Australia's first major settlement to see its reservoirs run completely out of water as a Big Dry grips much of the nation.  The crisis in Goulburn is a stark warning to Australia's largest city, Sydney, which is just 200 kilometers (125 miles) away and whose reservoirs should be filled by water running off the hills around Goulburn.  CNN 5/20/05

South African government to transfer water, sanitation projects to municipalities by 2006

Government intends to transfer its water supply and sanitation to municipalities by 2006, says Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Buyelwa Sonjica.  In this regard, the funding for water supply and sanitation projects will in future come from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) and local governments' equitable share, helped by municipalities' own revenue.  Ms Sonjica said the restructuring broadly involved establishing catchment management agencies; appropriate institutional arrangements for the management and further development of the national water resource infrastructure and delegating operation and maintenance responsibilities for other government water schemes to water user associations, among others.  All Africa_5/19/05

UK water fiasco is ‘like living in a Third World country’

A series of burst water mains and leaks at the weekend caused a road to collapse and left residents and businesses in Primrose Hill area of London without water.  Thames Water chiefs left stockpiles of bottled water for residents who complained that the collapse of the mains system was like living in a Third World country.  Hampstead and Highgate Express  Editorial_5/20/05

Australian states told to accept federal industrial relations changes or no water fund
The Queensland Government is expressing outrage that the much-hyped $2 billion water fund which the Prime Minister announced last year is now only to be made available to those States which sign off on the Federal Government's controversial industrial relations plans.  ABC online_5/18/05

South African minister says municipalities can't guarantee water quality 
Almost two-thirds of municipalities cannot say whether the water they supply to consumers meets specified standards, Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica told MPs today.  “Many of them may be achieving the standard, but their controls could not show it,” she said, opening debate on her department’s budget vote in the National Assembly.  “I regret to say that 63% of municipalities could not confirm that they met the drinking water quality guidelines,” Sonjica told the House.  Business Day_5/18/05

Wanted: A strategy for water resources

Infrequent reports on the water reserves of Greece and the broader region paint a very bleak picture of the future. Repeated warnings, however, have failed to prompt any action. And no government has braved the political cost of punishing farmers for their excessive use of water which, especially on the Thessaly plain, has reached unnerving proportions. Kathemirini (Opinion)_ 5/17/05

Ontario health units to monitor water safety
Public health units in Ontario will take over responsibility for monitoring drinking-water safety at places such as churches, campgrounds, gas stations and community halls under legislative changes announced May 17.  Current testing requirements, which many smaller operators of non-residential systems complained were too expensive and unnecessary, are also being changed to ease the burden. The existing rules were implemented in the aftermath of the tainted-water tragedy in Walkerton, Ont., five years ago that killed seven people and sickened 2,500 others. The aim is to ensure water safety “without requiring unnecessary tests and treatment systems,” the government said in a release.  The Globe and Mail _5/17/05

Philippine water wars in dry Cebu City barangays
As the temperature soars, so do the tempers of Cebu's mountain barangay residents, as they quarrel over meager water they sourced from drying-up natural springs.  They often end up letting off steam on their barangay officials, who take the heat because the twice-a-week water rations from Cebu City Hall are not enough.  Sun Star_ 5/15/05

Swiss water expert to mediate in dam dispute

The World Bank has named a Swiss, Raymond Lafitte, to mediate in a dispute between Pakistan and India over a dam India is building in Kashmir.  Both sides have welcomed the appointment of Lafitte, who is a civil engineer and a professor at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.  The Baghliar hydropower project under construction on the Chenab river is among a range of issues that the nuclear-armed rivals are discussing in a peace process launched last year.  NZZ Online_5/11/05

Red Sea-to-Dead Sea canal could boost Jordan, Israel and Palestinian drinking water supplies

Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians signed an agreement Monday to study building a canal linking the Red Sea to the Dead Sea to resolve the desert region's serious water shortage. The project, estimated to cost over $3.5 billion, would also generate electricity and prevent the Dead Sea drying up. Jordanian officials said the canal would generate 850 million cubic metres of drinking and agricultural water. Israeli and Jordanian officials said the $20 million feasibility study, to be partly funded by the World Bank, would focus mostly on the project's environmental impact. Water levels in the Dead Sea, which straddles Jordan and Israel, have fallen 27 metres in the last 50 years. Reuters_ 5/9/05

Drought-hit Sydney tackles water crisis

More than 200 years after the first English settlers dropped anchor in Sydney Harbour to take on drinking water, Australia's largest city is running out of the stuff. As one of the country's worst droughts drags on with little hope of relief, capacity at Sydney's main dam is at a record low, with fresh water supplies assured for only about three years. At present consumption levels, the city will face an annual water shortage of 200 billion litres (53 billion gallons) by 2030. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth and Australians are among the world's highest water users. Reuters_ 5/6/05

Millions in Istanbul lose water supply

Nearly half of the European side of the Turkish city will be without fresh running water for up to 40 hours. The water company which supplies the city is currently carrying out repairs to its infrastructure. Istanbul residents are used to power and limited water cuts, but not for some time have so many been affected for such a long period. There was only a few hours' warning of the cut to supply and many will have been caught unaware. BBC News_ 5/3/05

FEATURE: Water shortages threaten Yemen's poverty fight

Water shortages that have long afflicted the country of 19 million people now threaten economic reforms and efforts to fight chronic poverty, the World Bank says. Experts blame poor resource management, declining rainfall and explosive population growth for the crisis which is hitting all parts of the country, including the Yemeni capital of Sanaa which normally enjoys more government attention. Only half of the population has access to potable water. The Arab state on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula is ranked by the World Bank as one of the poorest in the world in terms of water. Yemen has no rivers and depends almost entirely on some 45,000 wells that are being rapidly depleted by poor management and wasteful irrigation methods. Reuters_ 5/1/05

Water guzzlers in Sydney, Australia are residents of modern high-rise buildings, not people in houses with gardens
The surprise finding has raised questions about the focus of the city's water-conservation strategy with level two mandatory restrictions aimed solely at reducing external water use. Academics from the Australian National University and the University of NSW crunched Census data and the water-use records of 29,000 householders over a six-year period to look at per capita usage. The researchers, who will present their findings to a water conference in Brisbane next week, believe water use is high in modern apartment blocks because of the increasing trend towards extra toilets and bathrooms, swimming pools, landscaped gardens and other recreational facilities. Professor Patrick Troy, of the ANU's Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, said high-rise residents might focus less on saving water because many flats did not have individual water meters. Sunday Telegraph_ 5/1/05

April, 2005

Found for pumping water: Unlimited, free energy from little kids having fun

A company in South Africa has found what should be a cheap, inexhaustible source of energy from pumping water out of bore-hole wells: kids riding a playground merry-go-round or a roundabout connected to a pump. According to one of the developers, the device is a positive displacement water pump which uses the energy of the children to pump water to a tank where it is stored for future use. The company claims that the play-pump can produce 1,400 litres of water per hour from a depth of 40 metres. The pump requires an initial investment of 50,000 South African rand or $9,000, but the expense can be earned back by putting advertising signs around the water tank. BBC News_ 4/25/05

90 hospitalized in India after drinking 'contaminated' water

Official sources said 51 from three villages around Mettupalayam near Coimbatore were hospitalised after they complained of diarrhoea and vomiting, while 43 were admitted to hospital as a precautionary measure when they complained of vomiting sensation. Laboratory tests are being conducted to ascertain the cause of the problem, they said. Press Trust of India/Hindustan Times_ 4/24/05

200,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad camps critically short of water

The refugees fled to eastern Chad to escape the fighting in Darfur. In some camps, water supplies to the refugees are already being reduced. With the rains only expected in about six weeks' time, aid agencies are now increasingly worried about how they will keep the refugees supplied. The camps strung out along the Chad Sudan border are swelteringly hot at this time of the year. BBC News_ 4/23/05

Comoros volcano victims return to dirty water

Families who fled a volcanic eruption on the Comoros islands began venturing home on only to find their water supply turned gray by ash that spewed from the crater. There also are growing concerns that Mount Karthala's eruption after more than a decade of silence may have been contaminated water on the largest island in the Indian Ocean Comoros archipelago, a former French colony that lacks the equipment necessary to conduct tests for pollutants like heavy metals. A senior official at the country's utility company said they were concerned that volcanic dust might have seeped into groundwater, threatening to contaminate supplies piped to about 50,000 people living in the capital Moroni. Reuters_ 4/19/05

Mikhail Gorbachev calls on world leaders to adopt clean water and sanitation guarantees

Gorbachev will call for a first-ever international water treaty during an April 21 keynote address to the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. He envisions a binding agreement that makes access to water and basic sanitation a human right, holds nations responsible for providing it, and governs how freshwater resources are managed and shared. Gorbachev, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who led the Soviet Union for six years until its 1991 collapse, founded Green Cross International in 1993 to encourage business, government and non-governmental organizations to collaborate and find solutions to environmental problems. About 2.5 billion people worldwide lack water sanitation services, and 5 million die from waterborne diseases each year, according to Global Green USA, the American arm of Green Cross. Nearly 1.2 billion people do not have clean water to drink. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 4/15/05

Water deal in doubt to revitalize Australia's Murray-Darling river basin

State governments in Australia have been warned that a funding row threatens "catastrophe" for one of the country's most important river systems, which snakes across four southeastern states. Years of excessive irrigation and drought have left the Murray-Darling river basin in crisis. A decision by officials in New South Wales and Victoria not to commit extra money to help its revitalisation has provoked much anger. BBC News_ 4/14/05

Cambodia's southern port city of Sihanoukville introduces water restrictions as kingdom suffers drought

Sihanoukville is among 14 of Cambodia's 24 provinces and municipalities that have been badly hit by the lack of water. The director of Sihanoukville's Industry, Mines and Energy Department, Prak Chan Roeun, says the municipality's three zones have rotating access to the water supply for about five to six hours a day. Radio Australia_ 4/12/05

U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development to set worldwide goals on drinking water, sanitation and housing

Approximately 80 ministers with a broad range of portfolios including finance, trade, development, planning, environment, housing, and health are attending the two-week meeting at U.N. headquarters. They will discuss how to meet goals set five years ago at the Millennium Summit: halving by 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. U.N. Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Jose Antonio Ocampo, said significant progress has been made with more than 1 billion people getting access to clean water and sanitation since 1990. But, an additional 1.5 billion people need access to clean water by 2015 and 1.9 billion need access to sanitation to reach the millennium development goals, Ocampo said. U.S. State Department_ 4/11/05

Cholera toll continues to rise in Senegal

Cholera has killed 61 people and infected 5,700 in Senegal in the past two weeks, the worst outbreak of the water-borne disease in the West African nation since the mid-1990s, an official said. The latest outbreak coincided with an annual Muslim pilgrimage which draws hundreds of thousands of people to Senegal's remote city of Touba, stretching basic health facilities and making it easier for diseases to spread. Reuters_ 4/11/05

Cholera outbreak kills 50 in Senegal, five times more than died from the water-borne disease last year

Public Health Director Babacar Drame said the latest outbreak coincided with an annual Muslim pilgrimage which draws hundreds of thousands of people to Senegal's remote city of Touba, stretching basic health facilities and making it easier for diseases to spread. He said 3,700 cases were recorded in the West African nation between March 28 and April 6. Across Africa, more than 1,600 people died from the disease last year, according to World Health Organization figures. The disease can largely be prevented by washing hands before handling food and avoiding contaminated drinking water. Many of those who die could be saved by a simple mixture of water and rehydration salts. Reuters_ 4/6/05

Israelis plan to dump garbage in West Bank, threatening water supply - paper

Israel's plans to dump garbage in the West Bank's largest quarry is a move that could flout international laws governing occupied territory and imperil Palestinian water supplies, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said. An Israeli firm is preparing Abu Shusha quarry, between the Palestinian city of Nablus and the Jewish settlement of Kedumim, to receive 10,000 tonnes of garbage a month, despite not having received government approval for the project yet, Haaretz said. Israeli and Palestinian officials were not immediately available for comment. The project, being conducted by a settler-owned firm, could also pollute the Mountain Aquifer, one of the largest sources of fresh water for Israel and the West Bank, Haaretz said. Reuters_ 4/4/05

Drought causes nine million Chinese to face drinking water shortage

The China Daily reported on farmers planting rice in southern China and wheat in the north could expect little or no water to irrigate lands already dried out by the worst drought to strike some parts of the country in 50 years. Drought is common in China's arid north, but normally does not hit the south, where flooding following typhoons tearing in from the South China Sea is more common. Reuters_ 4/3/05

World Wide Fund assails World Bank $1.2 billion hydroelectric dam in Laos for disrupting farming and fishing for 130,000

The Swiss-based WWF called for thorough assessment of hydropower projects in the Mekong basin, which has more than 1,300 species of fish, making it a "biodiversity hotspot" and major food source for 50 million people. Wild elephants, already endangered, will be threatened by the flooding of 40 percent of the Nakai Plateau in southern Laos, according to the WWF. Sales to neighbouring Thailand of 95 percent of the power that the dam will generate will be a key income source for landlocked Laos, a country of 5.6 million people with per capita annual income of just $320, according to the World Bank. But WWF said that electricity supply in Thailand currently outstripped demand and even with significantly higher demand over the next decade, additional needs could be met more sustainably through energy efficiency measures and small-scale renewable energy projects. Reuters_ 4/1/05

March, 2005

New French water law could cost utility Electricite de France 290 million to 368 million euros ($476.3 million) a year: Newspaper

The law also could deprive the state-owned electricity company, which is preparing for a partial privatization, of 15 percent of its peak electricity production, the newspaper La Tribune said, citing an internal EDF document. The law aims to restore the quality of water by 2015, it said. EDF had no immediate comment. Reuters_ 3/30/05

Corruption and bribery among public officials in Kenya on the rise, but not in the Nairobi water department

The Kenya Bribery Index Survey compiled by Transparency International also found that 42 per cent of Kenyans — up from 25.2 per cent in 2003 — declined to offer bribes. This points at a society that is slowly stigmatising corruption. According to the index, the police emerged as the worst offender, with 45 per cent — up from 32 per cent in 2003 — of the people interacting with the police reporting that the consequences of declining to bribe were severe. The good news is that some public organisations, including the Nairobi City Council, are finally out of the list of the most corrupt. The council traditionally was ranked among the top most corrupt. But Nairobi City Council has privatised it water services. The Standard_ 3/24/05

China warns that a third of its rural population - an estimated 360 million people - lack access to safe drinking water

They also said that more than 70% of China's rivers and lakes were polluted. It's another sign that China is struggling to deal with the impact of its breakneck economic development. China's waterways are dying, and its rivers are running black from industrial effluent and untreated sewage. An official from the environmental watchdog openly blamed the crisis on improper policies and poor government administration. BBC News_ 3/23/05

UN begins decade of action on water: Does the world care enough?

The decade is aimed at achieving one of the UN's millennium development goals - halving the number of people without clean water supplies by the year 2015. One person in six has no access to clean drinking water and one in three has no access to sanitation. Each year more than three million people die because contaminated and stagnant water delivers deadly typhoid, cholera, malaria and diarrhoea to homes around the world. Great rivers like the Danube, the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates, and the Brahmaputra cross national boundaries, resulting in disputes over priority in the use of their water. BBC News_ 3/22/05

Thai farmers pray for rain as drought bites hard at world's largest rice exporter

The drought is affecting 9.6 million farmers in a country where more than 60 percent of the population depends on agriculture. It has spread to 66 of Thailand's 76 provinces and forced local authorities to stop supplying water for irrigation, on which much dry-season farming depends. Reuters_ 3/17/05

In Sudan's Darfur refugee camps, tensions rise over water

Fighting has broken out over scarce water supplies in Kalma, the largest camp for internally displaced people in Darfur, western Sudan. Organizations working in the area say that fights in several camps were sparked by water shortages during one of Darfur's severest droughts in 50 years. Officials previously described the situation as an "emergency," although round-the-clock efforts have delivered some relief. Darfur is where 70,000 people have been killed and 1.85 million people have fled their homes since fighting first broke out in February 2003. Local African tribes took up arms against the government to protest the lack of development in the region; the government responded by arming militias who have attacked civilians. The US calls it genocide. Currently the African Union has 2,000 troops there monitoring human rights abuses, but the United Nations would like to see that number increased to 10,000. Christian Science Monitor_ 3/15/05

Malaysian states to have final say over water resources, even after federal takeover of water management: Official

Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said although all water supply operators would be required to obtain a licence from the ministry after the takeover, the approval lies with the respective state governments. He said there was a misconception over the control of water resources among state governments and this was the main reason some of them were still reluctant to surrender their water management right to the Federal Government. The Star_ 3/15/05

Himalayan glaciers 'melting fast,' according to a WWF report, and it  could mean water shortages for hundreds of millions of people

In a report, the WWF says India, China and Nepal could experience floods followed by droughts in coming decades. The Himalayas contain the largest store of water outside the polar ice caps, and feed seven great Asian rivers, the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Thanlwin, Yangtze and Yellow. BBC News_ 3/14/05

Bangladesh protests Indian construction of Assam dam

Bangladesh says the proposed dam in northeastern Assam state would dry up downstream tributaries crucial for farmers, according to a report by the private UNB new agency. Bangladesh’s farm-dependent economy relies on water that flows from India during the annual monsoon that sweeps the Subcontinent from June to August. The sharing of water has been a key issue between the countries for decades. Daily Times_ 3/14/05

India increases drive to bring toilets to rural areas

The finance ministry has almost doubled the budget allocation to Rs.6.3 billion ($140 million) to help India achieve the target of having toilets in every village home by 2010. Recognising the health and economic impact of people defecating in the open, the government launched in 1999 the first focused attempt to ensure that all households in 452 of 580 the country's rural districts had toilets. Currently only 30 percent of the country's 575,000-odd village homes have toilets. Though access to drinking water in India has increased, the World Bank estimates 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are water-related. New Kerala_ 3/13/05

River Jordan polluted and 'nearly running dry': Dead Sea also being polluted and drying up

More than 90% of the River Jordan is being diverted by Israel, Jordan and Syria, Friends of the Earth Middle East say and it could be completely dry within two years. The river is also heavily polluted and now contains 20% untreated sewage, the organisation says. The 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty obliges both governments to protect the Jordan "against any pollution, contamination or harm". At a conference on an island on the river this month the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian governments recognised the scale of the problem, but promised no specific action to deal with it. The pollution in the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, which itself is under threat and has shrunk by 30% in the last 50 years. Environmentalists want the United Nations to protect the river - a holy site for Christians, Jews and Muslims - by placing it on the UNESCO World Heritage list. BBC News_ 3/11/05

Bolivia President Carlos Mesa's offer to resign rejected: Water is a key issue

Bolivian lawmakers unanimously rejected Mesa's resignation offer, granting crucial support to his government after days of street protests prompted him to say the country was becoming ungovernable. Recent protests have included demands for an immediate end of operations of the French-owned water utility that supplies the capital and the neighboring city of El Alto. Critics accuse the water company of failing to serve the city's poorer districts, a highly charged political issue in Bolivia that has echoed throughout South America, where governments have experimented with privatizing state services to attract foreign investment. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 3/9/05

Leaking pipes could cause London water shortage within 10 years: Report

The London Assembly blames Thames Water for failing to meet leakage reduction targets over the past five years. A quarter of all the water lost in England and Wales each year comes from the Thames Valley region. Thames Water admits leakage is high, but says it spends £90m per year on finding and mending leaks which should prevent any shortages. The London Assembly report says nearly 1,000 million litres of water were lost in the region in 2003/04. BBC News_ 3/9/05

Bolivian President Carlos Mesa offers to quit amid crisis over control of drinking water and other resources

But government officials said that Mr. Mesa was hoping his announcement serves as a challenge that will be rejected by lawmakers while generating support among Bolivians tired of relentless anti-globalization protests. Congress is expected to meet Tuesday to decide Mr. Mesa's future. One of the issues was demonstrators in the predominantly indigenous city of El Alto who demanded that the authorities immediately close down a French-owned company that runs the waterworks, not gradually close its operations as the government planned since annulling a 20-year contract in January. New York Times_ 3/7/05 (logon required)

Tasmanian Medican Assn. calls for water quality initiative

The Australian Medical Association's public health committee wants water quality treated as a major national public health issue. The Tasmanian president, Dr. Michael Aizen says the AMA is now taking a more active role in a review of drinking water guidelines, an initiative he hopes will be taken up by the association at a federal level. ABCNews_ 3/1/05

February, 2005

Water shortage in Ghana hits Dormaa Secondary School
An acute water shortage has compelled the authorities of Dormaa Secondary School to send the 1,400 students home on an early one-week mid-term holidays. The school had spent about 2.4 million cedis on water for two weeks while students purchased water from a bore hole in the town for 150 cedis a bucket.  Ghanaweb_2/27/05

Orissa-Andhra Pradesh try to resolve river water dispute

Orissa and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh have formed a joint committee to resolve a decade-old dispute over sharing waters of the Vansadhara river that flows through both Indian states.  At the heart of the matter is an irrigation project started by Andhra Pradesh which Orissa says may damage villages in Orissa.  India News_2/26/05

Water woes affect Zimbabwe sugar production

The Zimbabwe Sugar Refineries Corporation (ZSR) said this week that water problems at its Harare refinery are affecting production. The Herald_2/25/05

Red Cross Red Crescent launch 10-year water initiative

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched a 10-year water initiative to meet the chronic global needs of water and sanitation.  Of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals, four have significant water and sanitation elements, of which the most challenging is to "reduce by half those without water and sanitation by 2015."  China View_2/24/05

Ethiopia and Egypt dispute rights to Nile River water

Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile, wants to take more water from it - claiming it could wean itself off food aid if it could irrigate from the river. However, it is bound by a 1929 agreement that gives Egypt most of the Nile's water, and Egypt has said it cannot afford to give up this claim because of the needs of its own booming population. Rising populations, and the spread of the Sahara desert, have placed extra strain on what is available - increasing political tensions across the region. BBC News_ 2/24/05

Cuba calls on citizens to conserve water as dry spell enters second year

Last year, the island received only 69 percent of average rainfall, making 2004 the worst year for rain since 1901, according to Granma, the Communist Party daily newspaper. In January, the island received half its average rainfall for that month, prompting authorities to prepare for the possibility that 2005 will be another dry year, the newspaper said. Of 235 reservoirs across the island, 114 contain less than 25 percent of their capacity. Forty-one of those 114 have dried up and are out of use. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 2/21/05

India's Karnataka Urban Water Sector Improvement Project gets $39.5 million loan from World Bank

The loan will support state government efforts to enhance the efficiency, management and delivery of water supply and sanitation for urban residents. It will also aid investment in the three urban local bodies to improve bulk water supplies and demonstrate the feasibility of continuous and safe water supply in pilot areas. Business Standard_ 2/22/05

Melbourne adopts permanent water saving rules for the first time in its history

Effective March 1, manual watering systems can be used between 8pm and 10am, while automatic watering systems are only to be used between 10pm and 10am. From September 1, all new automatic systems must also be fitted with a rain or soil moisture sensor to prevent over-watering. The Age_ 2/21/05 (logon required)

Thousands in UK see Thames water bills soar by 35% as German-owned company seeks to replace 19th Century pipes

The price increase will hit around 50,000 customers who receive only their water from the company and not sewage services, such as those with septic tanks. Thames Water spokesman Nick Tennant said: 'Most of this year's investment is going to the water side of the business as we need to replace around 850 miles of Victorian pipes in London. A third of London's pipes are over 150 years old and the system is in urgent need of investment.' 2/21/05

Kyoto global warming pact takes effect

Seven years after it was negotiated, the international agreement imposes limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases scientists blame for increasing world temperatures, melting glaciers and rising oceans. The landmark protocol, negotiated in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto in 1997 and ratified by 140 nations, targets carbon dioxide and five other gases that can trap heat in the atmosphere, and are believed to be behind rising global temperatures that many scientists say are disrupting weather patterns. The United States, the world's largest emitter of such gases, has refused to ratify the agreement, saying it would harm the economy and is flawed by the lack of restrictions on emissions by emerging economies China and India. Australia is the only other developed nation not to join. AP/Southwest Florida Herald Tribune_ 2/16/05

Pakistan's torrential rain deaths top 500; UN sends safe water

A week of torrential rain and heavy snow in Pakistan has left more than 500 people dead, including dozens buried under avalanches and more killed when a dam burst. Snow and landslides blocked roads to hard-hit areas and hampered relief efforts in Pakistan's northwest, where 260 people were killed, Relief Commissioner Ghulam Farooq said. Meanwhile, relief efforts continued in southwestern Baluchistan province, where thousands of troops have been mobilized to help displaced villagers, and the United Nations has pledged $100,000 for food, shelter and safe water. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 2/15/05

Australia's Hastings buys Mid-Kent Water
Australia's Hastings Funds Management says it has agreed to buy water company Mid-Kent Water from German bank WestLB for an enterprise value of 241.3 million pounds.


Barter: Israeli water and energy for Palestinian gas
Israili National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon discussed acquiring natural gas from the Gaza coast in exchange for water and electricity services, sources indicated. Jerusalem Post_2/13/05 (logon required)


Thousands take to streets in Northern Ireland in water charges protest

Thousands of people took to the streets of Northern Ireland February 12, to demonstrate their anger at Government plans to introduce household water charges.  Protests were held in Belfast, Londonderry, Enniskillen and Cookstown in what a senior trade unionist called a "ratcheting up" of opposition to the looming "tap tax".   Belfast Telegraph_ 2/12/05

JICA will give $100m for Pakistani air and water monitoring system

With financial assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) worth $100 million dollars, 17 static stations for water monitoring and 13 for air monitoring will be established in the major cities of Pakistan. Pakistan Daily Times_ 2/11/05

2002 UK Legionnaire's Disease: 'Lethal' droplets showered public
A trial into one of the UK's worst outbreaks of Legionnaire's Disease has heard how virus-laden droplets of water showered on people "like rain." Cumbria architect Gillian Beckingworth denies the unlawful deaths of seven victims of the 2002 outbreak in Barrow. Barrow Borough Council denies the same charges, but has admitted breaching health and safety regulations. Preston Crown Court heard from survivors of the outbreak, which affected almost 200 people. The court was told how contaminated water spread from the air conditioning system at the Forum 28 arts centre in Barrow in August 2002. There was so much spray coming from the building and into an alleyway, that survivor Derrick Baker told the court he "actually thought it was raining." Months earlier, a Barrow Borough Council worker cancelled the contract which ensured the air conditioning system at Forum 28 was kept clean and safe, the jury was told. BBC News_ 2/9/05

British Columbia government earmarks $80 million for safe drinking water and waste management

The move is a bid to improve contaminated water systems that cause hundreds of boil water advisories in smaller communities every year. The government will chip in two-thirds of the cost of new projects to improve drinking water and waste management. Local governments will pay the remaining third for a total of $120 million in new projects. Some of the more threatening water-borne illnesses include parasites like the ones that cause beaver fever, E. coli and Hepatitis A. There are about 3,000 small water systems in the province. But many won't have access to the new funding because they are not part of a municipal or regional district. CP/CNews_ 2/5/05

Nile restrictions anger Ethiopia

From its origin in the Ethiopian Highlands, the Blue Nile flows hundreds of miles north into Sudan and then Egypt before eventually flowing into the Mediterranean. Ethiopia's new determination to utilise the Blue Nile to lift itself out of poverty is likely to put it on a collision course with the country which currently makes most use of the water downstream - Egypt. Irrigation projects enabled Egypt to turn desert areas into productive land. BBC News_ 2/3/05

Ex-UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali warns of water wars in Africa and Middle East

In an interview with the BBC, the former UN Secretary General urged the international community to ensure a fair division of water between nations. Mr Boutros Ghali told Radio 4's Today programme that military confrontation between the countries of the Nile basin was almost inevitable. It would only be avoided if they could share water equitably, he said. Mr Boutros Ghali has previously warned that water disputes could cause war in the Middle East.  BBC News_ 2/2/05

January, 2005

More clashes over water access in Kenya

Kenyan police say one person was killed and six injured over the past few days in a renewal of recent ethnic land clashes over access to water. Kenyan police spokesman Jaspher Ombati told VOA Monday security has been beefed up in an area outside of Mai Mahiu township in the Rift Valley, the scene of ethnic land clashes that killed 15 people in the last couple of weeks. The original fighting is believed to have erupted after Maasai herdsmen accused Kikuyu farmers of diverting water from the Ewaso Kedong River to irrigate their farms. Similar fighting is occurring in three other areas in the Rift Valley and northern Kenya. Voice of America_ 1/31/05

UK water poisoning case 17 years ago 'unlikely' to cause delayed or persistent health effects - report

The findings on the north Cornwall case are likely to anger many who claim they suffered ill-effects from chemicals after the Camelford incident. On 6 July 1988, 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate were poured into the wrong tank at the Lowermoor treatment works. Water supplies to 20,000 people in the Camelford area were affected during the Lowermoor incident. The report by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) is considered to be the most comprehensive into the contamination. BBC News_ 1/25/05

Gabon: Privatized water company runs into supply problems

Water supply problems in the Gabonese capital Libreville are going from bad to worse with residents used to drawing water from taps in their own homes forced to queue up with buckets at standpipes in the street. The water shortage appears to be partly connected to the rapid growth of Gabon's urban population. The privatisation of the state water and electricity company SEEG in 1997 and a doubling of capital investment last year by its new French owner Vivendi, has failed to ensure that supply keeps pace with a rapid growth in demand. IRIN/Reuters_ 1/24/05

Thousands flee water clash in Kenya's Rift Valley; At least 15 dead

More police have been sent to the area north-west of the capital, Nairobi, to control the latest clashes between Kenyan farmers and cattle owners over river water rights. The trouble is thought to have started when Maasai herdsmen accused a local Kikuyu politician of diverting a river to irrigate his farm, prompting a water shortage further downstream. The Maasai and Kikuyu communities have fought over access to water and grazing land since the 1960s. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki is this week due to visit another area, Mandera, which has been the scene of similar violence, over the control of water, between rival Kenyan Somali communities. BBC News_ 1/24/05

U.N. aims to get clean water into world's schools

The United Nations is launching a global campaign to ensure every school in the world has clean water and sanitation within a decade, cutting health risks and raising attendance. Access to safe water and sanitation is one of the key Millennium Development Goals to be met by 2015. Studies show that besides safeguarding health, cleaner water helps boost school attendance which in many deprived areas is very low. The campaign, led by UNICEF aims to capitalise on the link and make governments realise that simply providing clean water and toilets in schools will boost attendance and therefore primary education. Millions of children get sick and die each year because of water-borne diseases either from dirty water or from fecal contamination. Reuters_ 1/23/05

New report on 1988 water poisoning of 20,000 in UK's Cornwall prepared
The draft report of the latest investigation will be published by the end of January. On 6 July 1988, 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate were poured into the wrong tank at the Lowermoor treatment works. A group of experts has been gathering evidence on any possible long-term health implications for the thousands who drank the contaminated water. BBC News_ 1/14/05

Up to 10,000 properties in north of England without running water for fourth day after weekend storms

More rain and high winds were forecast in the region and the Environment Agency issued a flood warning for the entire North East coastline and for the Barrow-in-Furness area of Cumbria. Northumbrian Water says it hopes to have supplies restored to about 10,000 properties in Northumberland by Wednesday, although people are being urged to boil water until further notice. Two huge water mains supplying Hexham and surrounding areas were washed away in the storms. So far 175,000 bottles of water have been handed out to householders. BBC News_ 1/11/05

No agreement between India and Pakistan on controversial dam in Indian-administered Kashmir

The talks were part of a series of ongoing peace talks, known as confidence building measures, between the two nuclear rivals. Pakistan's Secretary for Water and Power, Ashfaq Mahmood, told journalists in Delhi that the matter should now be addressed by independent experts "as provided by the Indus Water Treaty". The Baglihar dam dispute centres over the design of the dam being built by India over the Chenab river that flows from Indian-administered Kashmir into Pakistan. Pakistan says the project violates a deal brokered by the World Bank in 1960 for sharing river water between the two countries. India denies the dam will disrupt flows into Pakistan. BBC News_ 1/7/05



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