East Africa's “Aral Sea” in the Making?“If Ethiopia completes the Gibe III Dam and continues to press ahead with large-scale irrigation developments, the result will be a cascade of hydrological, ecological and socio-economic impacts that will generate a region-wide crisis for indigenous livelihoods and biodiversity and thoroughly destabilize the Ethiopia-Kenyan borderlands around Lake Turkana. The long-term effect could parallel what has happened to Central Asia’s Aral Sea, one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters.” So begins a paper that describes how hydrological chang
As the Bank returns to investing in hydropower both directly and through public-private partnerships, there is a pressing need to strengthen the Bank's safeguards policies to make sure that investments in “clean energy” don't end up accelerating the disappearance of the Earth's freshwater species and riverine communities.
Last month, International Rivers co-organized a workshop on environmental flows in Dehradun, India along with The Himmotthan Society to address the many issues surrounding key questions of river health and management in India: "How do we view our rivers? Are they mere conduits to be exploited to meet different needs? Or do we value them for their ecosystem services and revere them for their spiritual significance?"
A Primer on Environmental Flows"We have been taking all the flows from our rivers. Dams have regulated and fragmented the flows – often irreplaceably. More and more dams are still being planned to block the last flow and extract it for human use alone. Before it is too late we must act together to save the world's lifelines. Rivers need their flow back, to live and ensure the survival of all other beings including humans. These flows which are called the environmental flows, or the flows required by the river as an ecosystem and its connecting ecosystem to perform their evolutionary and e
A river's flow is its heartbeat. Freshwater plants and animals have evolved with, and depend upon, natural patterns of hydrological variability. Naturally high and low water levels create habitat conditions essential to reproduction and growth, and drive ecological processes required for ecosystem health. Flood pulses move sediment that maintains the form and function of rivers. Seasonal inundation of floodplains and wetlands supports groundwater recharge. And the flow of freshwater to estuaries prevents saline intrusion into coastal aquifers. We all depend on healthy river flows.
Fish are dying at an alarming rate because of the Santo Antônio Dam. Instituto Rio Madeira Vivo This blog in Brazil caught our eye recently: catfish are now disappearing at an alarming rate from the Madeira River, thanks to the reservoir of the Santo Antônio Dam. When the environmental license for the Santo Antônio Dam was approved against the findings of fish experts, Lula controversially claimed that the dams would not be stopped because of "some catfish." Now, the catfish are disappearing. Don't say we didn't warn you. I'll let the blog spell it out (thanks f
The June issue of World Rivers Review is overflowing with ideas on on how to maintain healthy flows in rivers, for their health and our own. If a river's flow is its heartbeat, then we humans have become the heart disease of the world's rivers. We’ve clogged most of our major rivers with dams, and given up all too many once-great rivers for dead once we’ve used them up. The good news: it’s not too late to change. The articles in this issue look at three ways to solve the problem of maintaining healthy river flows. Download the entire issueFeatured articles:Commentary: Watching the Rive
Map of Area Directly Impacted by Belo Monte Dam from Belo Monte EIA What would be the true environmental, social, and economic costs of Belo Monte Dam? New studies by a group of independent experts have highlighted the serious consequences the dam would have for the region, its inhabitants, and ecosystems of the Amazon rainforest. Belo Monte, which with an installed generating capacity of 11,231 MW would be the world's third largest dam, and its complex array of two powerhouses, artificial canals, huge dykes, two reservoirs, spillways, ports, roads, and work camps would devastate more than 1
The true costs of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Project, planned for the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon, have been revealed in a new independent review by a panel of 40 specialists. The panel found that the dam would have serious consequences for the region, its inhabitants, and ecosystems of the Amazon rainforest. The panel - comprised of scientists from major Brazilian research institutions - reviewed the project's environmental impact assessment and delivered a 230-page report to Ibama, the Brazilian government's environmental agency, on October 1st.One of the most alarming impacts id
Protecting rivers and defending the rights of the communities that depend on them.
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