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  • FreshWater.net
    But our mainstream press generally supports economic globalization and these trade agreements and will permit only selective reporting on opposition positions Blue Gold my paper on the commodification of water published by the IFG in 1999 has been printed in several languages and sold all over the world but has been ignored by the North American media The story of the destruction of the world s remaining freshwater sources is one of the most pressing of our time there is simply no way to overstate the nature of this crisis And yet when the mainstream media report on it which is not nearly often enough or in sufficient depth they seldom ask the most crucial question of all Who owns water We say the earth all species and all future generations Many in power have another answer It is time for this debate For more information on this story and the Blue Planet Project please contact The Council of Canadians 502 151 Slater Street Ottawa ON Canada K1P 5H3 phone 613 233 2773 fax 613 233 6776 web site www canadians org Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and a director with the International Forum on Globalization Update by Jim Shultz Eight months have passed since the people of Cochabamba forced the departure of a subsidiary of the Bechtel Corporation and restored control of the region s water supply into public hands The story has brought unprecedented attention to the issue of water privatization and important events continue to unfold both locally and internationally Locally Cochabamba s residents are working closely with the newly reconstituted water company SEMAPA to extend water service to more families In Alto Cochabamba one of the city s poorest neighborhoods a community water tank had remained uncompleted for years and became a local trash dump Today the tank is in full operation bringing public water into the neighborhood for the first time Civic leaders say they are building a utility that is run by the people rather than by corrupt politicians or an overcharging corporation beyond local democratic reach As a direct result of the Democracy Center s reporting Cochabamba s water rebellion is also drawing substantial world attention and solidarity In December a delegation of leading citizen action and labor groups from the U S and Canada came to Cochabamba for an international conference on water privatization These groups and others have also pledged their support against Bechtel s latest attack a lawsuit for as much as 20 million compensation for losing their lucrative Cochabamba contract It is an action that pits one of the world s wealthiest corporations against the people of South America s poorest nation Bechtel has been actively shopping for the friendliest international forum possible and apparently has decided its best chances lie in a suit under a Bilateral Investment Treaty BIT signed previously between Bolivia and Holland Late last year Bechtel quietly reshuffled corporate papers to place its subsidiary under Dutch registration in preparation

    Original URL path: http://www.freshwater.net/ (2016-05-01)
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  • FreshWater.net - World Water Supply Dropping
    food supply And the poisons dumped on our crops leech into local watersheds further reducing the supply or demanding costly clean ups Deforestation greatly reduces the ability of earth to hold water the resulting soil erosion in turn chokes rivers killing much of the aquatic life and degrading its potability In many cases water scarcity is a result of conquest and war The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is stoked by Israel s coveting of plentiful aquifers in the West Bank Over 2 million Palestinians live there but the 200 000 settlers who live in suburban fortresses complete with swimming pools and green lawns use 80 percent of the water Elsewhere in the Middle East the Euphrates is at the center of conflicts between Turkey and Iraq and Syria while in Africa water shortages are sparking confrontations in the Niger Nile Volta and Zambezi basins Hundreds of millions of people are dependent on rivers but many are already tapped out in the dry season says Postel The Ganges Indus Colorado Nile and Yellow Rivers are among the most affected In anticipation of growing conflict water has been labeled the oil of the 21st century a resource to be privatized traded and hoarded One of the most notorious privatization attempts was Bechtel s plan in Cochabamba Bolivia It was pushed on Bolivia by the International Monetary Fund but ended in early 2000 when triple digit price hikes sparked protests that forced the government to void the agreement North America is by no means immune to similar schemes In one case Sunbelt Water Inc is suing the British Colombia government under provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement for 10 5 billion in damages for lost business opportunities The California based Sunbelt claims it was only trying to supply the drought stricken Golden State with water while the BC government countered that it just wants to protect its own freshwater supplies But it s human induced climate change that will have the most severe impact on water usage Global warming will literally change the hydrology of every major river basin in the world especially in Asia says Postel Snow in the mountains will be dramatically affected she notes Snowpacks a natural reservoir of water will not precipitate as snow in the first place but as rainfall flooding lower regions the waters of which will be largely unsanitary and unmanageable In New York the complete absence of snowpack from the Catskills Mountains this year is intensifying the drought that has gripped the region Already the city is in a Stage 1 drought alert and even above normal rainfall this year won t overcome the deficit of a missing spring melt With rising temperatures whatever mountain snowpack remains will melt earlier in the season reducing runoff for the spring and summer months Moisture evaporation in soil and aquifers would speed up as would transpiration in plants Many regions could be transformed into deserts or become semi arid and already existing deserts would be

    Original URL path: http://www.freshwater.net/worldwatersupplydropping.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • Fresh-Water.net - Bush Administration Approves Most Damaging Change To Clean Water Act In Decades
    buried under 900 feet of mining rubble would not conclude that this is a good thing for water quality More than 1000 miles of streams already have been destroyed in Appalachia by the coal companies that have been flouting the Clean Water Act for years while the EPA and the Corps looked the other way Now that citizens have taken state and federal agencies to court to ensure our environmental laws are enforced coal companies have sought and been granted legal relief from the Bush administration Their lavish contributions to the Bush Cheney campaign have just been paid back Mulhern added In recent days dozens of members of Congress have sent letters to President Bush highlighting their concerns about this US Senators James Jeffords I VT and Joseph Lieberman D CT sent a letter on Wednesday to President Bush asking him to stop immediately his administration s efforts to overturn this important Clean Water Act rule The Environment and Public Works Committee Chair and the Wetlands Subcommittee Chair respectively expressed concern that the rule change would allow industries such as coal mining and hardrock mining companies to fill the nation s waters with waste material The proposed rule would jeopardize the health of the nation s streams wetlands lakes rivers and other waters the Senators letter states We ask that your administration not take any further action to finalize this rulemaking including sending it to the Office and Management and Budget for review until the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has had an opportunity to review the effects that this rulemaking will have on the health of our nation s waterways It is outrageous that the EPA ignored this request from the Senate committee that oversees the Clean Water Act and most EPA programs said Mulhern On Wednesday a

    Original URL path: http://www.freshwater.net/cleanwateractchanges.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • FreshWater.net - Report Warns Of Severe Water Shortages By 2025
    limited amount of water on the planet and we cannot afford to be negligent in its use said the IAEA s director Mohamed ElBaradei We can t keep treating it as if it will never run out Already an estimated 1 1 billion people have no access to safe drinking water 2 5 billion lack proper sanitation and more than 5 million people die from waterborne diseases each year 10 times the number of casualties killed in wars around the globe the report said Less than 3 percent of the world s water is fresh and most of it is trapped in polar ice or buried underground in springs too deep to reach it said Freshwater lakes rivers and reservoirs may seem numerous but provide just a drop in the bucket the report said Even where supplies are sufficient or plentiful they are increasingly at risk from pollution and rising demand U N Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a statement warning that fierce national competition over water resources has prompted fears that water issues contain the seeds of violent conflict The worst affected areas are the deserts and semiarid regions of Asia and sub Saharan Africa where fresh drinking

    Original URL path: http://www.freshwater.net/severewatershortagesby2025.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • California High Court Allows Suits Against Water Companies
    populations of people have been waiting to see whether they could go to court whether their right to go to court would be taken from them and it wasn t Rosen added The San Gabriel Basin supplies drinking water to 1 4 million people in eastern Los Angeles County Parts of the San Gabriel Basin were designated as a federal Superfund site in 1984 due to decades of unsafe chemical dumping and the discovery in 1979 of volatile organic compounds VOCs such as trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene in the groundwater In 1997 the U S Environmental Protection Agency EPA discovered that the contamination includes perchlorate derived largely from solid rocket fuel waste Because perchlorate requires different cleanup methods from VOCs cleanup efforts in the basin slowed and nearly halted with some wells needing to be closed entirely A 200 million cleanup is now underway with funds from the EPA and several area companies More than one quarter of the 366 water supply wells in the San Gabriel Valley have been contaminated surveys show The pollutants are also making their way underground into the Central Basin which supplies the greater part of Los Angeles County with groundwater Valley residents sued more than two dozen industrial companies that allegedly dumped contaminants into the groundwater along with nine utilities municipal and private water agencies for allowing the pollution to reach household taps Previous court decisions including a 1999 appeals court ruling that blocked lawsuits against water companies regulated by the state Public Utilities Commission PUC suggested that the plaintiffs could not legally sue the utilities The defendants argued that the PUC not individual companies has jurisdiction in such cases But the plaintiffs argued that the PUC is not responsible for enforcing water safety and the judge seems to have agreed Justice Ming Chin wrote

    Original URL path: http://www.freshwater.net/courtallowsuitsagainstwatercompanies.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • Bottom-Feeder Politics For The Hudson River
    a litmus test for her administration she smirked and said she d heard those words before Indeed in her short tenure as EPA administrator Governor Whitman as she prefers to be called has found herself in a number of difficult situations within the Bush administration The case of the Hudson River PCB cleanup however may be more of a personal litmus test for Governor Whitman than the others After all the Hudson River is a shared resource framing the eastern border of New Jersey her home state New Jersey and New York both suffer the health economic and environmental consequences from GE s discharge of PCBs into the river for 30 years and its take no prisoners approach to avoiding a cleanup The day of our meeting found Governor Whitman the EPA administrator trying to distance herself from Governor Whitman the former New Jersey leader When questioned by Senator Hillary Clinton at a hearing that morning she denied that she had ever supported the PCB dredging project when she was governor of New Jersey But environmentalists quickly produced the evidence a 1998 letter to former EPA administrator Carol Browner from New Jersey s commissioner of environmental protection stating unequivocally that the only responsible course of action is to safely dredge the contaminated river bottom At our meeting Whitman said she preferred to stick to the science not the politics of the issue But the two have never been more inextricably linked The facts are in laid out exhaustively in the six volume document released by the EPA last December in which the agency recommended a moderate approach the targeted removal of roughly half the cancer causing PCBs that continue to wash downstream from hot spots in the upper Hudson River It should come as no surprise that environmentalists received no

    Original URL path: http://www.freshwater.net/hudsonriver.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • America's Troubled Waters Can They be Saved?
    risk from PCB exposure are the great blue herons river otters mink and other animals that eat contaminated fish or plants In December 2000 after a 10 year battle between G E and the federal government the EPA ordered the company to spend 500 million over five years to dredge PCBs embedded in the river bottom north of Albany The plan calls for removing 2 6 million cubic yards of sediment that hold about 100 000 pounds of PCBs dredging this from 33 hot spots along a 40 mile stretch of the river For its part G E asserts that it s better to leave the PCBs undisturbed where they lie The company has also maintained that the old Allen Mill whose gate failed in 1991 and released a reservoir of PCBs and other materials into the Hudson is more to blame for the ongoing pollution problems than the poisoned sediments After a period of public comment a final order on the cleanup plan is anticipated by June CONTACT WaterKeeper Alliance Tel 914 422 4410 5 The Powder This river basin is northeast Wyoming s corner of the Great Plains a healthy remnant of the vast ecosystem that once spanned them The Powder and its four tributaries host a remarkable variety of wildlife eagles falcons pronghorn antelope white tailed deer mountain lions and one of the last herds of plains elk It s also essential habitat for the imperiled sage grouse mountain plover and black tailed prairie dog And it s the last stronghold for 25 native fish species including the rare shovelnose sturgeon the sturgeon chub and the western silvery minnow On these same arid high plains the Powder River Basin produces one fifth of all the coal in the U S The Powder River Coal Company America s second largest owns and operates four surface mines controlling 2 5 billion tons of recoverable coal Because of its relatively low sulfur content which leads to less acid rain Powder River coal is in demand by electric power companies What has really turned the little hamlet of Gillette Wyoming into a boomtown though is coalbed methane gas Locked in the coal seams just below the surface the gas is less expensive to mine than natural gas found in other geological formations In order to release the methane however enormous volumes of water nearly 15 000 gallons per day per well are discharged into arroyos or reservoirs causing soil erosion stream sedimentation death of vegetation and generally degraded water quality Since coalbed methane production started in 1987 21 billion gallons of water have been extracted by only 2 670 wells an average of nearly eight million gallons per well The Bureau of Land Management has predicted that the number of wells could grow to as many as 35 000 within the next decade This means the Powder River Basin s soils arroyos and streams will receive an astounding one billion gallons of water per day Wyoming has yet to conduct studies on the impact to aquatic organisms and the stream ecosystems on which they depend CONTACT Wyoming Outdoor Council Tel 307 755 1376 6 The Mississippi and Tributaries The mighty Mississippi of Mark Twain more than 2 350 miles long encompasses 30 states and two Canadian provinces More than 18 million people rely upon the river for their daily water supply Forty percent of America s migratory waterfowl use the Mississippi s corridor for their flyway and the river sustains more than five million acres of forested wetlands It also provides the Gulf of Mexico with 90 percent of its fresh water discharging on average 612 000 cubic feet per second The polluted runoff of excess nutrients emptying into the river basin is the cause of a 5 000 mile dead zone of low oxygen that no longer supports marine life A long term remedy implemented by the Clinton Administration calls for increased aid to farmers along the river and for conservation measures such as buffer strips But this only begins to address the problems facing the Mississippi the most polluted waterway in the country more than 57 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged in 1997 the last year for which data are available The Army Corps of Engineers not only altered a feasibility study in order to justify additional barge traffic on the Upper Mississippi but also is pushing an agricultural drainage project known as Yazoo Pumps Big Sunflower which threatens to drain more acres of wetlands in a single sweep than are usually drained annually across the entire country see In Briefs this issue The Corps White River Navigation project threatens one of North America s largest most productive tracts of waterfowl habitat And a proposed New Madrid Floodway would cut the Mississippi off from one of its last connections to its floodplain CONTACT American Rivers Iowa Jeff Stein Tel 319 884 4481 E mail jstein amrivers org 7 The Big Sandy The Tug Fork of the Big Sandy forms the border between Kentucky and West Virginia The surrounding central Appalachian mountains support a wide array of wildlife in undisturbed forests and are also the center of the eastern coal fields The Big Sandy s watershed is riddled with coal slurry impoundments Nobody has a complete catalog of location or risk of collapse The land also has numerous aging mines and dams 600 plus in the region with many of the underground caverns unmapped unnoticed or unknown On October 11 2000 a coal slurry impoundment breached when a mineshaft beneath it collapsed sending 250 million gallons of molasses like black muck into Coldwater and Wolf Creeks tributaries of the Tug Fork The spill smothered fish salamanders large snapping turtles and frogs As water supplies in four counties dropped below sustenance levels Kentucky declared an emergency An EPA official called the spill one of the largest environmental disasters ever in the southeastern U S By late November cleanup costs had reached 16 5 million But these efforts hastily dug

    Original URL path: http://www.freshwater.net/americastroubledwaters.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • FreshWater.net
    continue to outstrip supply unless we dramatically alter our behavior In addition to the problems of supply and demand de Villiers describes the ecological damage incurred by the use and abuse of water sources Through pollution diversion and degradation industrialization of the world has taken a heavy toll on water quality On every continent rivers have been straightened to ease navigation bermed and banked for flood control dammed and diverted for irrigation and used as receptacles for noxious and toxic waste To facilitate development wetlands have been drained natural flows and stream channels altered The result is a world where most major rivers and lakes no longer retain their full ecological function This reality as de Villiers explains with many illuminating examples severely hampers how water sources replenish and renew themselves Now with surface water exploited nearly to the maximum extent possible countries around the world have begun tapping groundwater the primary water source in areas with little rainfall and few lakes or rivers As underground aquifers begin to be depleted there is concern about further upsetting the ecological balance Diverting water from one river basin to another which until now has been largely a matter of economics and geopolitics as in Southern California quickly becomes a matter of survival in a developing nation like Namibia as over allotment of water in one area leads to desertification in another Rooting his narrative in memories of his grandfather s farm in arid South Africa de Villiers is fierce about recognizing the value of clean uncompromised water He has done his homework thoroughly and brings both ecological and historical knowledge to bear in his frank criticism of how the world s water resources have been managed At his bluntest he says Humans consume water discard it poison it waste it and restlessly

    Original URL path: http://www.freshwater.net/index0.htm (2016-05-01)
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