Water Crisis Results From Years of Inaction

March 1, 2014 in Climate Change, Water by activist360

Feb. 21, 2014

Today’s announcement by the federal Central Valley Project that it will deliver no water to most of its farm customers highlights the lack of investment California has made in new water supplies, according to the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. CFBF President Paul Wenger said the state has failed to insulate itself from the effects of drought.

“As the saying goes, you reap what you sow, and our state and federal governments have failed miserably at providing the resources and infrastructure to adapt to changing climatic conditions,” Wenger said.

“Make no mistake, our current water crisis is not caused by two years of below normal rainfall, followed by the record dry year we’re having right now,” Wenger said. “This crisis is the direct result of 20-plus years of inaction by politicians and policy-makers, who have failed to take the steps required to shield California from drought.

“We are living the future that we have predicted for at least the last two decades. Without the creation of additional water storage, California is unprepared for extended drought. Because of the increased demands from population growth and an inflexible commitment to the protection of endangered species and habitat, our water system has been drained of its flexibility to provide water in times of drought,” he said.

Wenger pointed out that with both the state and federal water systems announcing “zero” allocations for their customers, the effects on the people and the economy of California will be severe, calling the cutbacks “just the tip of the iceberg of devastation” that will face farmers, ranchers and consumers throughout California.

“All people in California will suffer because of the state’s inaction, but those in rural California will suffer worst of all. The extensive investments farmers and urban residents have made to increase water efficiency have not shielded us from this disaster, despite 20-plus years of assurances from environmental activists that all we needed to do was to conserve,” Wenger said.

“The only good that will result from this crisis is if it opens the eyes of our elected leaders and leads to actions that recognize California needs to muster all the tools at its disposal,” he said. “That includes water recycling, desalination, efficiency improvements and, yes, new reservoirs—to avoid more years of loss and damage to both our economy and our environment.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 78,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

Phone: 916/561-5550

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

The Worst Places in the World

January 26, 2014 in Human Rights, Pollution, Transparency, Water by activist360

Produced By Online Masters in Public Health

Pennsylvania, Other States Confirm Water Pollution From Natural Gas Drilling

January 12, 2014 in Pollution, Water by activist360

In at least four states that have nurtured the nation’s energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen.

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Nagare Barro Blanco

April 4, 2013 in Human Rights, Water by Katy Yan

Nagare Barro Blanco from Intercontinental Cry on Vimeo.

“We are ready to confront them and defend this resource, this right, this conservation, and we are going to continue doing so for future generations…”
Italo Jimenez, President of the 10th April Movement

The indigenous Ngabe and campesino communities living on the banks of the Tabasará river in western Panama are facing imminent disaster due to the illegal activities of Honduran-owned company, Generadora del Istmo (Genisa).

In less than two months, the 28.85 megawatt Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam will cut off the flow of the river and create a 258 hectare reservoir, flooding numerous homes, precious gallery forests, schools, churches, cemeteries, archaeological sites, and fertile agricultural land that the communities rely upon for subsistence agriculture – these facts have been confirmed by a recent UN field study. The dam will also exterminate vital fish species which form a staple of local diets.

Genisa denies it is taking food out of the mouths of Panama’s poorest people, yet it has never consulted any of the affected communities, and the project contravenes international and national laws. Nonetheless, the Panamanian government continues to side with the company and are currently militarising the area with heavily armed SENAFRONT police troops. Recent clashes with riot squads have left some Ngabe protesters with injuries and the situation remains tense.

Nagare Barro Blanco was filmed in the indigenous and campesino settlements of Kia, Nuevo Palomar, and Calabacito in February 2013. It explores the endangered culture of the Tabasará communities, their fierce resistance to dam development, and their willingness to protect their natural resources and way of life at any cost.

by Juan

Global Warming is Making the Arid Middle East Even Drier, Threatening Water Wars

March 24, 2013 in Climate Change, Middle East, Water by Juan

Middle East is getting drier because of climate change, impelling people to replace lost rain water with underground fossil or aquifer water that cannot be replaced. From 2003-2009, enough of this aquifer water was permanently drained off to meet the needs of 100 million people. Some Middle East specialists are afraid that wars over water are the next big thing in the region.

AlJazeera English reports:

by andrea

Water Treatment Contaminants: Forgotten Toxics in American Water

February 27, 2013 in Climate Change, Pollution, Water by andrea

Water treatment plants along the East Coast are struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy, whose torrential rains washed tens of millions of gallons of raw or partially treated sewage into waterways.

The less dramatic but equally urgent story: inside those waterworks, and others across the nation, chlorine, added as a disinfectant to kill diseasecausing microganisms in dirty source water, is reacting with rotting organic matter like sewage, manure from livestock, dead animals and fallen leaves to form toxic chemicals that are potentially harmful to people.

This unintended side effect of chlorinating water to meet federal drinking water regulations creates a family of chemicals known as trihalomethanes. The Environmental Protection Agency lumps them under the euphemism “disinfection byproducts” but we call them what they are: toxic trash.

The EPA regulates four members of the trihalomethane family, the best known of which is chloroform, once used as an anesthetic and, in pulp detective stories, to knock out victims. Today, the U.S. government classifies chloroform as a "probable" human carcinogen. California officials consider it a “known” carcinogen. Three other regulated trihalomethanes are bromodichloromethane, bromoform, and dibromochloromethane. Hundreds more types of toxic trash are unregulated.

Scientists suspect that trihalomethanes in drinking water may cause thousands of cases of bladder cancer every year. These chemicals have also been linked to colon and rectal cancer, birth defects, low birth weight and miscarriage (NHDES 2006).

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Brazil’s Sabesp Opens $175 Million Water-Recycling Plant

December 6, 2012 in Water by WN.com - Environment News

Sabesp, Latin America’s largest water company, and Foz do Brasil SA inaugurated a 364 million-real ($175 million) plant in Sao Paulo state that transforms treated sewage into water for industrial use.

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Global Water Crisis: From Haiti to the Himalayan Glaciers

December 3, 2012 in Climate Change, Water by William Wheeler

By William Wheeler, Pulitzer Center

In the Nepalese Himalayas in 2009, I trekked into the Langtang Valley, just short of the Tibetan border, and to a village of empty plywood cabins. The arrival of the summer monsoon season had chased the trekkers away.

Just uphill was a Buddhist temple and, behind it, a wrinkled sea of gray ice reached up the steep mountain walls into the clouds – the Langtang Lirung glacier, one of thousands that make up the largest body of ice outside the poles. In the winter, these glaciers capture precipitation that melts off in warmer months to feed the Ganges, Indus, and Brahmaputra rivers – and 1.5 billion people in eight countries who depend on them.

At night I could hear the thunderous crackling of distant avalanches on peaks above. By day, I saw shepherds, whose yaks couldn't withstand the summer heat, chanting a prayer for safe passage to higher, cooler climes.

The monsoon, seasonal rain that sweeps across the Indian subcontinent before crashing into the world's tallest mountains, was late, causing the worst drought in 30 years in Mumbai (Bombay), a thousand miles south.

Villagers talked of the arrival of mosquitoes – heralds of warmer summers and milder winters. The accelerated glacial melt is expected to increase floods in countries downstream over coming decades; earlier melts can reduce water when it's needed most.

In the long run, says Madhav Karki, director of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, the rivers themselves may become seasonal, with potentially profound effects on the countries below.

Water is power

My travels in South Asia were a reminder of an ancient truth, often lost at the magical turn of a tap: A society's fate turns on its water supply. Water is power.

Covering global water issues, I've seen up close how the gap between the water rich and the water poor is often the line between life and death. In Haiti, I met people who took their water from rivers or nearby wells. Since the outbreak of cholera, those very water sources threaten their lives.

In Bangladesh, I saw how too much water creates problems: More intense rain deluges, that one scientist with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told me might already reflect climate change, had increased flooding and river erosion. I met people whose homes, crops, and water supplies were repeatedly wiped out. In a country with a population roughly half that of the United States packed into an area about the size of Idaho, they had few options but to move to low-lying, vulnerable coastal lands. Or they joined the nearly 1 billion slum dwellers worldwide trying to ascend the economic ladder and increasing demand for water in all its forms.

Water: source of life and conflict

In Pakistan, I saw how water crises are not self-contained. Several analysts and historians I talked to that summer believe the initial spark of the region's most enduring conflict – the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan over the Muslim region – was perhaps less about religious differences and more about control of the region's vital water resources.

Kashmir is home to the headwaters of the Indus River, Pakistan's primary water lifeline. India also harnesses some of the river's flow for hydropower. But the fragile status quo that governs sharing of the river is under threat from booming population demands and the impacts of climate change. Both nations are racing to complete hydroelectric dams along the Kashmir rivers, elevating tensions. India's projects are of such size and scope to worry Pakistan about water shortages at critical times and massive deluges at other times.

Water stress has triggered unrest in both countries. In India, competition for water has set communities against each other. When I visited Pakistan in 2009, water stress had recently triggered food riots, bringing the military out to guard grain elevators; and it stoked protest and sectarian grievances in one region that some feared was on the verge of revolt. Water stolen from public pipes and then resold from tankers is a lucrative industry in Karachi, which depends on the Indus. And upstream elites divert large quantities of water before it reaches the city. But most Pakistanis blame their water problems on Indian dams – part of an alleged strategy to "make Pakistan into a desert."

The fear is an example of water's psychological impact. "If there is a war here in the future, it will be over water," the former chairman of Pakistan's Securities and Exchange Commission, Tariq Hassan, told me. International water disputes worried him, but so did domestic water conflict. "That could be tomorrow."

More recently, militant groups have used water to mobilize anti-India sentiment: Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Pakistani militant group allegedly behind the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, accused India of "water terrorism."

At the time I was there in 2009, officials were occupied with fighting the Taliban in the Swat Valley and dealing with more than a million displaced people. In Mardan, where some had fled to, I watched thousands of tents rapidly filling in a green field. The fortunate among them were close to blue water tanks spray-painted "UNICEF." The next year, after they'd returned home to the Swat Valley, they were hit by a devastating flood from the Indus – a phenomenon that will be intensified by accelerated glacial melting and more erratic monsoons.

The challenge of understanding the water crisis is recognizing the myriad ways water shapes lives and how the narrow margins on which many survive may change.

The consequences will fall the hardest where the margins are thinnest. In Islamabad, I stood on a dusty hill above a small, polluted stream where hundreds of tents were set up to receive refugees from the Swat Valley conflict. A doctor made rounds, treating waterborne illnesses. It was a scene that would be repeated after the floods the next year, and it didn't inspire optimism about global preparedness for the complex challenges ahead. Pointing at the dry, sunbaked slope beneath his feet, one refugee told me: "There is no life here."

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River Rubbish a Disgrace

September 16, 2012 in Water by WN.com - Environment News

  • More than 11 tonnes of rubbish, rubble and timber dumped in and near Perth rivers
  • 125 large items, such as tyres and chairs, also retrieved

Environment Minister Bill Marmion has urged the public to stop dropping rubbish in and around Perth’s rivers after the Swan River Trust retrieved more than 6.3 tonnes of general refuse and five tonnes of timber and rubble from waterways and foreshores in 2011-12.

New figures released today show trust officers also collected 125 large items, such as chairs and tyres, from the Swan Canning Riverpark during the 12 month period.

Mr Marmion said the behaviour of people who dropped litter and junk in and around the riverpark was inexplicable.

“This is a conversation we need to have as a community to make it clear that littering is not okay,” he said.

“Most disturbing is the mass of plastic bags and fishing line that continues to be found, despite people knowing the terrible impacts these items have on river wildlife from pelicans to dolphins.”

Tyres were the most common large items being dumped, with 48 retrieved in 2011-12. This was similar to the 46 collected the previous year.

There was some improvement with just nine shopping trolleys collected compared to 48 the previous year, and also fewer chairs (21, compared to 51). However, the number of vandalised signs thrown in the river (ranging from real estate to street signs) jumped from 10 to 19 and the number of drums more than doubled from seven to 16.

The 11.3 tonnes of other material included:

  • more than 6.3 tonnes of general refuse, such as plastic and foil containers, cans and bottles, food and confectionary wrappings, plastic bags, rags, styrofoam, metal objects, paper and magazines, hats, broken thongs, fishing line and bait bags
  • two tonnes of old timber, such as fencing and wood offcuts
  • nearly three tonnes of old building rubble removed from a foreshore area.

The release of the river rubbish figures comes just weeks after Keep Australia Beautiful released its national litter index, which indicated that West Australians were among the worst litterers in the country.

“The Liberal-National Government has substantially increased fines for both illegal dumping and littering and now it’s up to the general public to do their bit and stop dumping rubbish where it doesn’t belong,” the Minister said.

Fact File

  • More than half a tonne of general refuse collected each month
  • 6.3 tonnes picked up (2011-12); 6.5 tonnes ( 2010-11); 6.7 tonnes (2009-10)
  • There was no indication the total volume of litter had declined

Minister's office - 6552 6800 (Australia)

Rat Warning as Sewers Flush Out Pests

July 12, 2012 in Climate Change, Water by WN.com - Environment News

Health experts have warned homeowners to take measures to stop "huge numbers" of rats flushed out by floods from re-establishing themselves.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) said people clearing up after the heavy rain should block up holes and clear up waste food.

Rats washed out of sewers are infesting homes amid more daytime sightings.

The pest-control industry estimates the number of call-outs to rat-catchers in flood-hit areas is up by a quarter.

CIEH director Julie Barratt said: "We know huge numbers have been washed out... where sewers have flooded, and there have been a lot of rat casualties.

"When people are cleaning up, block up holes and don't leave food lying around."

Flood water... inevitably flushes the rats to higher ground”
—Adam Hawley, National Pest Technicians Association

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