Cyprus and Water Imports from Greece, Egypt, and Lebanon

climate change, drinking water, drought, groundwater, international, water desalination, water trade

The small island country of Cyprus may soon be shipping water on tankers from Greece, Egypt and Lebanon to supplement current dwindling water supplies.

Cyprus has been facing drier than normal conditions for four consecutive years. Winter in Cyprus, November through March, usually serves to fill reservoirs for the coming season. But this winter has been practically rainless, and estimates leave reservoirs at two-months of capacity.

Cyprus typically provides water to citizens through several reservoirs and two water desalination plants. Because of the current water crisis, a third desalination plant is being constructed and emergency groundwater reserves may be rationed. Additionally, the country is contemplating the exorbitantly expensive shipment of additional water supplies.

Importing water, however, is nothing new to the country of Cyprus. As stated in this grotesquely entitled article, How to profit from the world’s water crisis, Cyprus had previously imported water from Turkey via large inflatable floating balloons holding up to five million gallons a piece. Obviously not the most efficient or cheap method for obtaining water, but neither is desalination (for now).

In the late 1990s, Aquarius Water Transportation became the first company to tow bags of fresh water for export, delivering commercial bulk quantities to the Greek Islands. In 2000, another company, Nordic Water Supply, began using 5 million gallon bags 10 times as big as the original Aquarius containers – to float water from Turkey to northern Cyprus.

– From an article in The Christian Science Monitor.

Cyprus

Update: (1/25/08)
Cyprus to extract water from underground reserves through bore holes.

International Year Of Sanitation 2008

drinking water, international, united nations

The United Nations General Assembly declares 2008 the International Year of Sanitation. This declaration will assist progress on one of the eight Millennium Development Goals that aims to provide sanitation infrastructure to half of all people in the world without such by 2015. Several UN partners are supporting this measure including UNICEF, UNEP, UNDESA, UNDP, UN-Habitat, UN-Water, to name a few.


Over 40% of people (2.6 billion and almost one million children) throughout the world do not have adequate sanitation facilities, such as bathrooms or ample water supplies. Frequently, deaths occur because deficient sanitation often encourages the spreading of illnesses such as diarrhea, cholera, worms, pneumonia, and malnutrition.

Check the UN web-site for more information on International Year of Sanitation projects.

One Country’s Answer to Growing Water Shortages

india, international

India, out of necessity, has encouraged the construction of rainwater catchment systems throughout the country. This short public service announcement, produced by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in India, highlights the importance of rainwater harvesting in the region.

With rise of global population, changing seasonal weather patterns, and fluctuating economic conditions, rainwater catchment could prove to be one cutting-edge option to ensure adequate water supplies throughout the world.

People in India have been harvesting rainwater for thousands of years. Presently, many organizations in India are continuing to promote rainwater as a sustainable water supply.

Previously on this web-log, I briefly introduced an organization, Sustainable Innovations, that is developing rainwater harvesting systems for many in need in rural and arid Rajasthan, India.

Another organization spearheading several campaigns relating to rainwater harvesting is the Centre for Science and Environment in India. They host the web-site rainwaterharvesting.org and publish the magazine, Down to Earth. The director of the institute, Sunita Narain, won the 2005 Stockholm Water Prize for her work with rainwater harvesting in rural areas.

Indeed, India is taking many progressive steps forward regarding water conservation and alternative water supply techniques. So much so, that many throughout the world could do well to follow the lead, including the United States…

Year of River Rejuvenation in India

india, sustainability

Community-born environmental movements often bring about most significant change, particularly in countries with a lack of stringent environmental regulations.

As in the Times of India, one of many examples is a grassroots driven river restoration project occurring in Bangalore, capitol of the state of Karnataka in India. Environmentalists in the region are staging a campaign to bring attention to conservation and preservation of the Arkavathy River, tributary of the Cauvery River. Water levels in the Arkavathy River have been dropping over the past several years, as well as nearby groundwater aquifers. This campaign is part of a larger event planned for India in 2008, by leading India water scholar Rajendra Singh, called Lokadesh.

Rajendra Singh said under Lokadesh 2008, experts will take up one dead, dying or polluted river in every state for rejuvenation by adopting a decentralised, community-driven approach. Singh called for the declaration of Year 2008 as Year of River Rejuvenation.

Water Resource Video Seminars from Distinguished Scholars

audio, international

The California Colloquium on Water is a lecture-series presented by the Water Resources Center Archives (WRCA) at the University of California – Berkley. They have made available presentations from 2001 to 2007 in video format on-line.

While many of the presentations focus on regional specific water resource issues, several topics are relevant in the international arena of watershed studies such as groundwater, water re-use, desalination, dams, and drought.

See the WRCA web-site for a compilation of past lectures.

China Faces a Range of Water Problems

asia, international

The Peoples Republic of China is a country of over 1.3 billion people with 20% of the world’s total population. Extensive environmental pollution in the region is often blamed on increased industrialization, with little or no environmental regulatory oversight. Water problems are many and include:

  • The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River
  • South-to-North Water Diversion Project
  • Increased Desertification in the North
  • Industrial Discharge
  • Raw Sewage Discharge

PBS produced this documentary, China From The Inside, which highlights the governmental systems and environmental problems of China. Their web-site features an interactive map, such as the one depicted below, detailing water issues in China.


Above Photo: PBS

This recent post on Water Wired, talks of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project in China, billed by some as the largest hydrological alteration attempted in the world. Economically, China is beginning to make strides in the global market, but this progress is at often at the cost of the environment. Is the Communist Party of China (actually more similar to a state capitalist system) doing enough to preserve the country for future Chinese citizens?

Hunger Strike to Save River: Brazil Bishop Luis Flavio Cappio

international, sustainability

Bishop Cappio’s health is beginning to deteriorate, as he continues a 23-day hunger strike in a non-violent action against artificial diversion of the Sao Francisco River, fourth largest river in Brazil.

Bishop Cappio began his fast on November 27, 2007. Initially, the diversion project on the river was denied by lower courts in Brazil, but today a landmark decision approved the two-billion dollar project:

The irrigation project aims to pump water from the Sao Francisco River through 435 miles (700 km) of canals to people and farms in the arid and poor northeast, where President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was born.

Reuters

This is the second hunger-strike employed by the Bishop against artificial diversion of the Sao Francisco River (the first was in 2005). He is very worried about the negative effects this irrigation project will have: greatly minimizing flows of the river limiting irrigation water available for local, less affluent individuals, and a dire ecological outcome to an already unhealthy ecosystem.

While Vatican and Brazilian officials plead with the Bishop to conclude the fast, he had indicated he has no intentions to take nourishment until the project is denied, once and for all.

Nepal Discontent Over Climate Change Talks in Bali

asia, climate change, india, united nations

Nepal is a land on the edge of the mighty Himalayas. Although rather small, only the size of Arkansas, Nepal is known the world over for Mount Everest which is the highest mountain globally at an elevation of 29,029 feet.

As the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change wraps-up in Bali, Nepali officials are worried water supplies may become even more stressed with loss of glacial sources in the Hindu-Kush. Their concerns are exasperated with the hesitancy of the US and Canada to agree to any definitive carbon emission cessation.

Water shortages in Nepal are nothing new. The diverse elevation and terrain leaves lowlands hot and humid while alpine regions are cold and remote. Sanitation and water infrastructure have continuously presented difficulties in places such as Madhyapur Thimi and areas of Kathmandu Valley. Approximately 13,000 children die each year from lack of potable water.

Individuals who reside in mountainous regions in Nepal use less than 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of water per day. Still Nepal’s rivers, driven by snow-melt, are already showing signs of decreasing flows. Further, water wars are expected to ensue between many countries that rely on glacial melt in the Himalayas for water supply including India and China.

A step in the right direction, organizations such as Nepal Water For Health are encouraging better access to sanitation and utilization of alternative water supply systems such as rainwater collection and fog collection systems (such as the one depicted below), and water conservation measures as drip irrigation.

Singapore: Water Technology Clearinghouse

asia, economy, technology

Previously, on this water web-log, we have heard of Israel’s attempts to become the next “Silicon Valley” of water technology. Right on schedule, other investment minded countries are jumping on-board.

Singapore has stepped-up with hopes of being a major water-technology provider for Asian countries, as reviewed on Earthtimes. The island of Singapore, south of Malaysia, began serious investment inquiries of the water industry in 2006, with major political funding aimed at such measures. And, a track-record of being able to provide sustainable supplies of water to citizens in a water scarce country, certainly helps to poise the country to step into such a role with ease. China is already beginning to take much interest in this small city-state’s ability to utilize water technology.

Downtown Singapore sky-line (at the entrance of the Strait of Malacca), photo courtesy National Geographic.

Water Guzzlin’ Biofuels

agriculture, asia, india

Initially, biofuels (such as biodiesel and ethanol) were thought the holy-grail of the environmental and energy movement. After further review, several problems arise that may negate any positive environmental outcome of the use of biofuels.

Negative aspects of biofuel production include increased water shortages, food shortages, and energy shortages. Such issues are evaluated in this article written by Fred Pearce (author of When the Rivers Run Dry). Developing countries have the highest rate of biofuel production, and thus endure most negative environmental consequences. As stated in Down to Earth, environmental journal of India:

A paper “Biofuels: Implications for agricultural water use” by researchers from the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka, under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, predicts China will face shortage of land while India is likely to have severe water crisis. The study was released on October 11, 2007.

Photo courtesy of rrelam on flickr.

Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground

dam

This book, available through 100 Fires, was recently released by The Greywater Guerrillas, a water-aware environmental group out of the Bay Area focused on river restoration, dam removal, and installation of grey-water systems.

Both radical history of water and DIY guide to sustainable technologies, Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground combines an analysis of water’s history with the active fight for its future. Bringing together hundreds of national and international projects, organizations, and strategies, Dam Nation investigates political economy and environmental impact of water consumption. It also gives readers easy, cheap, and thought-provoking ways to join the ‘water underground’ themselves.

Walking for Water

drinking water, drought, india, international

This evening, while reviewing yet another small town in India to endure water scarcity, this particular article caught my eye: Sundernagar faces acute water crisis.

Gujarat, located in West India, is bordered by the Arabian Sea and Pakistan. Citizens claim the town of Sundernager is facing water shortages because of mismanagement of water treatment facilities, in combination with recent drought in the area.

Often, for Europeans, Americans, or anyone with ample and seemingly endless supplies of water, it can be difficult to fathom life without access to water. Indeed, we hear about towns enduring desiccated traumas daily (especially on my water web-log), but do we understand…

In this particular article about Gujarat, the words of a local woman clarified well the plight of villagers:

“Our district suffers from a water crisis. Being a woman, I can understand how tough it is for a woman to fetch water from a stretch of two km,” said Tripti Shukla.

She speaks of hiking two kilometers for water, which equates to a distance of 1.3 miles. Obviously, hiking a mile with large water containers is going to be very tiring. There are also many others across the globe that hike long distances to deliver water rations to their homes daily.

In March of 2007, WaterAid premiered this 7.5 hour long film in Union Station that chronicled the journey of a young women from Sudan on her usual walk for a whole day to retrieve enough water for her family.

As they say, how far would you be willing walk for water?

Peter Gleick and Water for the Future (NPR Interview)

audio, climate change, drinking water, international

Peter Gleick, founder of the Pacific Institue (an environmental think-tank), talks about global water supply, climate change, and alternative water supply options for the future on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Thanks to my friend Seldom for sending this link!

Kashmir Region Prepares for Harsh, Dry Winter

asia, drinking water, drought, groundwater, india

The region known as Kashmir is experiencing water shortages as there has been little rainfall over the past three months. Weather outlooks for the coming weeks predict more dry weather, and main rivers and lakes in the region have water levels that are decreasing.

In Srinagar, the summer capital of Jummu and Kashmir, the central River Jhelum has been reduced to a mere drip through the city. Government officials have implemented some water rationing programs in preparation for water shortages. Researchers at the University of Kashmir are reviewing climate change and possible links to increased fires and weather changes in the Kashmir Valley.

Floating Nuclear Water Desalination

drinking water, international, technology, water desalination

Yes, you read correctly. Floating nuclear water desalination, and it is one of many proposed solutions to the coming water crisis. These reviews on Earthtimes and C-Net delve into a few details about this type of project, but essentially the concept is to harness excess heat produced in the nuclear process to run desalination plants (while the whole contraption floats in the ocean).

Immediately, many problems arise in my mind as I evaluate this concept:

  • What about the contamination of water supplies with radioactivity?
  • Nuclear power plants are not environmentally sustainable. Should we even continue to utilize nuclear energy?
  • Is it wise to locate nuclear power plants in the ocean on a floating device? What about emergencies or the collapse of the structure? Would that mean drifting nuclear contamination?
  • Is a floating nuclear reactor in the middle of the ocean a secure place for nuclear materials? Would there be a circle of submarines acting as security for this sudo-building?

These are just a few of my questions, and I am sure that you can come up with many more.


Not an actual nuclear desalination plant, for illustrative purposes only.  Photo gimped by Moon.