Dam Safety · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 2 April 2018: How New Rivers are born in Argentina

New Rivers appearing in Morro Basin in Argentina This is unheard of, amazing story, a frightening and yet fascinating one, of how large scale deforestation, combined with wet cycle and fragile top soil has lead to NEW RIVERS suddenly appearing in Morro Basin in Argentina over the last decade. The deforestation has been mostly done for brining the land under Soya Beans, the biggest contributor to exports from Argentina, Argentina is the world’s third largest producer after US and Brazil, 60% of its arable land under this single crop. So much so that commentators have called the new river as Soya Bean river and Argentina as Soya Bean republic, in line with Banana republic. Some 2.4m hectares of native forest have been lost in the last 10 years, according to Greenpeace.

– But unlike the deep-rooted forest it has replaced – which absorbed large amounts of groundwater all year round – soya bean has short roots and grows only a few months of the year. This has caused the aquifer beneath the Morro basin to rise, and increased the speed of the subterranean flow – in turn triggering the collapse of the area’s permeable soil. Around 2008, farmers started to report the appearance of shallow run-off channels, but in the last five years, the pace of the erosion quickened dramatically – and those streams have become deep trenches.

– “The roar was terrifying,” said Risatti, remembering that morning three years ago. “The land had opened up like a canyon. Water was pushing through as far as I could see. Huge mounds of earth, grass and trees were being carried along the water surface.” A second problem for farmers: sometimes entire fields downstream can disappear overnight when rivers dump layers of sediment up to a metre (3ft) thick.

– The ravine that carved its way so dramatically across Risatti’s farm that night in 2015 has by now grown 25 km long. At its deepest point, it measures more than 60 m wide and 25 m deep.

– The largest of several new water courses, the Río Nuevo (New river) runs through Cuenca del Morro, a groundwater basin with a mild incline covering 373,000 ha of flatlands in the province of San Luis.

– The river, already over 25 km long is changing course, threatening roads and a city. The govt is trying to control through protection to the area, but experts say the effort is like a grain of sand.

– Until the early 1990s, the Morro basin was a patchwork of water-absorbing forests and grasslands, but they are mostly gone, replaced by maize and soya beans. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/01/argentina-new-river-soya-beans, see a short video: https://youtu.be/MGZUuNLbvuA?t=3


Newly constructed dam breaches in Rajasthan The ambitious Kumbharam Arya Lift Canal Project, which was set to provide water to hundreds of villages in Jhunjhunu and its adjoining districts in Rajasthan, suffered a setback as water breached the dam built at Malsisar town and flooded nearby villages. Water has surrounded the Malsisar town, but there is no loss of life reported, local authorities said. The tehsil bhawan, police station and other official buildings are surrounded by water. The pumping station and other buildings associated with the project too have suffered damage. The dam was constructed by Nagarjun Construction Company.

The Malsisar dam was to provide water to over 1400 villages of Rajasthan. The construction of the dam started in 2013 and was completed only three months ago. It was built at the cost of Rs 588 crore. The charge was still with the construction company and had not been handed over to the government. An inquiry would be initiated into the cause of the mishap.

The water swept away a large number of cattles and vehicles. Jhunjhunu Collector Dinesh Kumar Yadav said Kakdeu village and some government offices on the outskirts of Malsisar were submerged and several houses damaged.

Amid charges of corruption and questions over the construction quality, the state government has set up a high-level committee to investigate the incident. Jhunjhunu district collector Dinesh Kumar Yadav said that when the dam burst, it had 4,400 million litres of water. According to PHED officials, the dam has a capacity of storing 4,700 million litres.”

The dam had 80 million litres per day (MLD) of water in terms of supply, stored at a height of 9 metres. A portion of the dam first developed cracks and later breached. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/dam-breach-flood-fear-in-r-sthan-villages/566903.html, http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-newly-built-malsisar-dam-in-rajasthan-s-jhunjhunu-suffers-damage-nearby-villages-flooded-2599764, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/several-areas-inundated-in-rajasthan-dam-breach/article23402889.ece, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/dam-breaks-in-jhunjhunu-during-trial-run-floods-residential-areas/articleshow/63565114.cms

Ambazari Dam under threat Bombay HC disposed off petition challenging construction of pillars near Ambazari dam by Maha Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s (MMRCL) and pointed out that Vivekanand Memorial at the dam’s spillway was bigger threat than MMRCL’s construction.

“Quoting the observations from report submitted by Central Dam Safety Organisation (CDSO) the court stated that life of “the 146 years-old dam has already come to an end”.

The judges lamented that haphazard construction cropped up around the dam’s vicinity, also possess threats to the structure. They flayed politicians who allowed the construction in clear violation of rules. “Over the years, the planning authorities permitted construction of buildings, roads, and allowed commercial activities within 200 metres of the dam, which may now lead to a flood-like situation.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/vivekananda-memorial-big-threat-to-ambazari-dam-hc/articleshow/63551159.cms

Gujarat In Gujarat’s water crisis, key question: why is Narmada’s level low this year? Very important question asked here. http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/in-gujarats-water-crisis-key-question-why-is-narmadas-level-low-this-year-5113688/

Yettinahole: NGT restarts hearing Will NGT come to a more environmentally conscious decision this time?

– The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 27, 2018 started hearing afresh a plea challenging the legality of Karnataka government’s Yetttinhole project for utilisation of 24 tmcft of water from Netravathi river for drinking water purpose.

– A bench, headed by Jawad Rahim, started hearing the matter for the second time, as one of the expert-member Ranjan Chatterjee had retired on October 6, last year, before the pronouncement of the full verdict.

– The tribunal had reserved its order on September 21, though it had given conditional approval to the project, saying the details of the judgement will be released subsequently. However, the new panel, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi and expert-member Nagin Nanda, decided to conduct re-hearing of the plea filed by enviromentalist K N Somashekhar. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/665613/ngt-starts-fresh-hearing-yettinahole.html


Independent research shows small hydro has impacts and needs assessment A cradle-to-use analysis of a SHP planned on the Kavery River in India was carried out.

– The results of the sensitivity analysis suggest that the amount of organic matter washed into the reservoir as well as the plant output influence significantly the environmental performance of the dam.Based on the weighted results, Global Warming appears to be the most relevant impact.

– Conclusion The study shows the need to account for a broader spectrum of environmental categories when assessing SHPs,underpinned by the significant impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services as evidenced by the application of land useindicators. This can have long lasting consequences on the stability of a functioning ecosystem and its ability to provide valuableservices. It also shows the need to reconsider the exemption of SHPs from any environmental impact assessment procedure. https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s11367-018-1458-4?author_access_token=phsysZ3FI66oNw_ATJOWEve4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY7uWGhRJtWWsyfYbs29z4FFbCi-p6b6F9SluwlVqVZy4XvFetXFcI31ZG7tUkQ-DaVhtN8mcoopZvpSImVjGOfg6SKqN3RfXcvG-MLzBwj2lw%3D%3D

Yes, Hydropower in  Himalayas is unviable, but… The article begins with showing why China has developed hydropower and then laments that South Asia and India has not been able to do it. It goes on to say that hydropower will remain part of the solution in future. The whole article, even when it accepts some key problems of hydropower projects, is thus geared towards finding solutions to push hydro. It ends up paying some lip service to real issues. Its conclusion that Lower Subansiri is stalled basically because of downstream issues, is clearly not correct. Its advocacy of small hydro when no social or environmental impact assessment are done for them is also not helpful. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2018/03/29/hydropower-in-the-himalayas-the-economics-that-are-often-ignored/

Who will this expensive power from Naitwar Mori HEP? Shri R K Singh, Minister of State (IC) for Power, laid the foundation stone of the 60 MW Naitwar Mori Hydro Electric Project (NMHEP) along with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat in Uttarkashi on March 30.

– NMHEP envisages construction of 30.50 m high barrage located at d/s of the confluence of Rupin and Tons rivers (Yamuna basin) at village Naitwar, 4.33 km long Head Race Tunnel having 5.6 m dia., 51.65 m deep surge shaft with a dai of 18 m. The project utilizes a net head of 90.76 m. to generate 265.50 MU in a 90 per cent dependable year.

– The NMHEP is located on the river Tons – a tributary of the Yamuna, in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. It was accorded environment clearance in 2016. Major civil works were awarded in December, 2017 and the project is scheduled to be completed by December, 2021, in a period of 4 years. It will have two underground generating units of 30 MW each. The estimated project cost at October 2016 PL is Rs. 648.33 crore with a debt equity ratio of 70:30. Levelised tariff is Rs. 6.39 per unit. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=178227


Ken Betwa Link will destroy Panna Tiger Reserve The article rightly concludes that Ken Betwa Project will destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve and ideal outcome would be to abandon the project and interlinking of rivers. https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/voices/preserving-pannas-tigers/

Why Sharda Yamuna Link is unviable


Pancheshwar Dam Opposed The opposition is increasing. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/doon-convention-to-unite-anti-dam-organisations/565901.html


Mahanadi River Water Sharing Shripad Dharmadhikary on why setting up Mahanadi Tribunal will not help the cause of the river. http://indiatogether.org/setback-for-optimal-river-basin-planning-environment

Cauvery Dispute Article on Supreme Court’s Cauvery verdict by SANDRP coordinator in APRIL 2018 issue of CIVIL SOCIETY magazine: http://www.civilsocietyonline.com/column/water-watch/decoding-the-cauvery-verdict/

More petitions before SC

– Centre seeks clarity from Supreme Court on Cauvery verdict

– Karnataka likely to ask SC to clarify if the word scheme in the order meant Cauvery Management BOard, which the stte is opposing.

– TN has filed contempt petition against the centre on March 31 for not formulating CMB by that date as per SC order. Kerala has already filed review petition. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-to-file-clarification-petition-in-sc-on-cauvery-water-issue/story-D1dDiPLS4RGEBe4zCMBPvL.html. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/cauvery-verdict-centre-moves-supreme-court-asks-for-time-citing-karnataka-polls-1831009, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/cm-faults-centre-over-its-approach-to-cauvery-board/article23404249.ece, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/cauvery-dispute-tamil-nadu-files-contempt-petition-against-centre-in-supreme-court/article23398361.ece

Rajasthan’s Shekhavati region to get Yamuna water? Strange to see this, on the same day when another news report says Yamuna is unprecedentedly dry. Where will the water come from for this Rs 20 000 crore pipeline?

– The Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, largely comprising Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu districts, will get the Yamuna water through a carrier system from Tajewala headworks following the resolution of a 24-year-old dispute with Haryana over water sharing. The Centre will provide financial assistance for laying pipelines from Tajewala to major towns in the region.

– The Upper Yamuna Review Committee had decided last month that 1,917 cusecs of water would be released from Tajewala headworks to the Shekhawati region for drinking and irrigation. With this, Rajasthan will get its full share of 1.119 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water in the Yamuna river as per the 1994 agreement. As per the agreement, “Rajasthan was allocated 9% share in the Yamuna waters.”

– It possibly hopes to get this water post the construction of three dams: Kishau, Lakhwar and Renuka?  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/parched-shekhawati-region-in-rajasthan-to-get-yamuna-water/article23395341.ece


Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Program only pack of unverifiable claims or worse?  https://sandrp.in/2018/03/29/aibp-just-a-pack-of-unverifiable-claims-or-worse/

FARM PONDS Shows how farm ponds help Srinagar farmers.

– According to Sonum Lotus, the regional meteorological director, Kashmir witnessed “a record-breaking long dry spell” since August 2017.

– But many diligent farmers like Ahmad, hardly faced any problem. Ahmad is proud of the three ponds (each around 35×20 ft and more than 10 feet deep) he has dug up on his land in which he harvests rainwater, and surface water. http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/03/30/drought-leaves-kashmir-farmers-unfazed/

CAG: Telangana failed in Mission Kakatiya The state government’s flagship programme, Mission Kakatiya, has failed to achieve the targets in the first three phases, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has reported.

Mission Kakatiya, the name given to the government’s ambitious programme to rejuvenate local water bodies, aimed to cover all 46,531 tanks in the state in five years in five phases i.e, 20 per cent per year. Three phases were taken up as of August 2017.

Chief engineer (minor irrigation) was instructed to restore 9,363 tanks in 2014-15 in phase-1 within three months. The target was unrealistic. The delay in the execution of phase-1 works ranged from 20 to 549 days in respect of 69 (66 pc) out of 104 test-checked.

Only 14 pc of works taken up in phase-2 was completed and only 25 per cent of the targeted tanks in phase-3 were taken up and none of the tanks was completed as on September 2017. In all the three phases put together, the department could complete only 28 per cent of the tanks targeted.

An aim of the Mission was to bring back the gap ayacut (the difference between irrigation potential created and utilised) of 10 lakh acres into irrigation. However, there was no mention of the details of gap ayacut in the estimates of individual works.

Removal of silt was one of the main components of Mission Kakatiya. There was an average shortfall of 33 per cent in the removal of silt in 27 test-checked tanks. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/aap-smells-scam-in-water-privatisation/article23377678.ece

Irrigation from Kandi Canal in Punjab This article shows how canal irrigation was extended in new areas in Punjab, lifting water at three locations from existing 130 km long Kandi canal taking water water going to Mukeran Hydel channel to irrigated right sand lands, left side lands are even higher in elevations, using a combination of solar panels based pumps running for eight hours a day and using sprinkler-drip irrigation.

– The Rs 41-crore project is currently delivering irrigated water to around 1,200 farmers in 664 hectares (1,641 acres), out of a total command area of 735 hectares that also includes land for habitation, roads, local ponds and other non-cultivable uses. It comprises five solar lift irrigation schemes at different levels of elevation and further divided into 18 zones of 35-40 hectares, with these, in turn, having 21 sections of 1.4-2.25 hectares each. In all, there are 3,798 solar panels with total 1.1 megawatt generation capacity and 46 pumps, each of 20-25 HP, which can lift 15.734 cusecs (cubic foot per second) of water for eight hours from the Kandi Canal. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/punjab-farmer-irrigation-water-solar-power-pong-dam-more-crop-per-drop-5115125/


Beas river goes dry, biodiversity in distress, BBMB chair says cannot help BBMB chairman, after reducing water releases from Pong dam to the Beas river, made it clear: We “cannot do much about the aquatic life in Beas”. Water level has gone down precariously by about 4 ft in last four days, gharials are moving upstream, situation was alarming, said PCCF (Wildlife). Punjab Irrigation Dept is hoping to release water from Upper Bari Doab canal. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/beas-reserve-going-dry-aquatic-life-in-danger/566450.html

Gadkari threatens opposition to River Nationalisation in Goa It’s a sad day for democracy when a all powerful Union Minister threatens in Goa that if people oppose river nationalisation, he will take the project money to neighbouring states. https://m.timesofindia.com/city/goa/union-minister-slams-opposition-to-projects-in-goa/articleshow/63388629.cms

Ganga: Namami Gange: Cleaning an unholy mess A relatively good article on what ails Ganga cleaning efforts. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/namami-gange-cleaning-an-unholy-mess/article23366547.ece

Unprecedented under Hooghly river tunnel without any impact assessment At least 520 m of the East West Metro Line in Kolkata, travelling across the Hooghly river from Sealdah station on one bank to Howrah on the other bank is under the Hooghly river bed. The crown of the metro tunnel is 13 m below the river bed. It is not known if any impact assessment was done before constructing the tunnel using Tunnel Boring Machines. No Hydrology impact assessment has been done either. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/kolkata-where-a-metro-service-goes-under-the-river/article23402152.ece


– “The last time I remember water level reducing so drastically and the river running dry was in 1988,” said the farmer, who grows vegetables on the banks.

– “This has been an unprecedentedly bad year for the Yamuna. There has been very little rainfall and melting of snow caps starts only in April. According to the Yamuna River Project allocation, at the Tajewala barrage, the flow should be 4,016 cusecs. We are getting only 1,443 cusecs since the beginning of 2018,” said Anurag Rastogi, principal secretary, Flood and Irrigation Department, Haryana. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/situation-hasnt-been-this-bad-since-1988-at-mouth-of-capital-the-yamuna-runs-dry-5117856/

Role of Silt in Kosi’s floods 1,082 million tonnes of silt that has been deposited in the Kosi river in the last 54 years. This has come out in a study conducted by a professor of earth sciences at IIT Kanpur, Rajiv Sinha. “Our first order estimates suggest that the total mass of sediments accumulated between Chhatra and Birpur (two gauge stations of the Kosi in the upstream region) during the post-embankment period could be approximately 1,082 million tonnes. This translates into 408 million cubic metres in terms of volume and this may have accumulated at a rate of 5.33 cm per year.”

– This is the highest amount of silt deposition in any river of the Ganga Basin, Professor Sinha said from Patna after the formal release of the report there in the presence of all concerned ministers.

– The study titled ‘Scoping Study of Siltation in Kosi river of Bihar’ also tried to find out the scale of siltation using satellite images. The Professor and his team studied the pictures for every year available from 1972 and found that the sediment deposition along the Chatra-Birpur stream was to the tune of 742 million tonnes (280 million cubic metres in terms of volume) and 1,590 million tonnes along the Birpur-Baltara stretch (600 cubic metres in terms of volume). “For policymaking, I would suggest that the data collected by us using satellite images must be used as it gives a complete year-on-year picture,” says Sinha. It was the first such comprehensive study on the siltation of the Kosi riverbed conducted at the behest of the Bihar government.

– His team also identified the hotspots of silt collection by dividing the entire river stretch into 37 reaches. Most of them lie between the Supual and Madhubani districts of Bihar. “We have classified the entire stretch between Chhatra (upstream) and Baltara (downstream) into five zones, according to the amount of silt deposition: (I) very low aggradation, (II) low aggradation, (III) moderate aggradation, (IV) high aggradation, and (V) very high aggradation. Zone IV comprises reaches 2, 12-13, 17, 19-21. Zone V, which comprises reaches 9-11, 14-16, and 18, has the worst siltation. Almost all of them are downstream of the barrage falling in the Supaul district. Further downstream, the reaches of 22-37, falling in the Saharsa district, are classified as low to very low aggradation zones and both the channel and bar areas have remained stable over the last 54 years,” the report says.

– “The Kosi silt consists of fine to very fine sand and is dominated by quartz and significant amounts of muscovite mica. Chemically, this is composed of 72-76 per cent of silica followed by aluminium oxide (10-11 per cent), iron oxide (3-4 per cent), potassium oxide, sodium oxide (3-4 per cent), calcium oxide, magnesium oxide (< 2 per cent) and minor amount of titanium oxide(<1 per cent),” the study says.

– Strangely, dredging is the only solution that the study offers and claims that the dredged material can be used. Let it be demonstrated on pilot scale. http://www.millenniumpost.in/opinion/kosis-devastating-floods-291459


FASCINATING article about how river fish is part of the culture of states like Assam, Manipur and Bengal. It should have listed Bangladesh also with it….

“Such fables abound throughout the region, indicating that fish is not just an ingredient, but an integral part of local culture and everyday life”, as the author rightly says.

Incidentally, it says the diversity of fish species in Manipur outnumbers that in Assam or Bengal and that the best quality of fish in Manipur comes from Loktak lake.

I of course LOVED this folk tale that the article opens with: “In Assam, there’s a popular folk tale about a baak—a ghost that loves fish. In villages, people talk in hushed tones about their plans to go fishing. It is believed that if the baak gets to know, he will take the guise of a friend and accompany the fisherman in the morning, steal his catch, and bury the fisherman upside down in mud. The only way to ward off this ghost is to carry a torn fishing net along—it’s believed he is petrified of the sight.”

I am sure there must be others? Would love to hear them. https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/TB9AouNDcXASwUdc7ObL3H/The-little-fish-in-big-rivers.html

SAND MINING Illegal sand mining in Madhya Pradesh: The death of journalist Sandeep Sharma in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind (also see a video of the death: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cstD_KBPm1A) has put the spotlight on illegal sand mining in the state. Lists several incidents of sand mining mafia threatening senior government officers: “When it comes to Chambal and Sindh rivers approximately there is business of ₹ 25 to ₹30 lakh per day involved in illegal mining,” said Sudhir Sapra, a Gwalior-based environmentalist. A total of 42,152 cases of illegal mining for major and minor minerals were registered in the state from 2009 to 2015. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/madhya-pradesh-still-hotbed-of-illegal-sand-mining/story-rVxmANOTLoizImqcX4BnyJ.html

Chambal River: Illegal sand miners open fire at Dhaulpur Rajasthan police official. He faced two similar attacks in past 10 months. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/illegal-sand-mining-close-shave-for-cop-in-dholpur/articleshow/63538565.cms

Illegal sand mining in Banas river a tributary of Chambal river: “Despite the Supreme Court ban, extensive illegal mining continues in Tonk district, allegedly with the connivance of mining and police departments.

Since the administration has turned a blind eye towards illegal mining, the mafia is ferrying sand in hundreds of trucks every day from the Banas river near Deoli-Aancher, Shivad, Baroni and Boli villages.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/illegal-sand-mining-rampant-at-tonk-in-connivance-with-officials-and-cops/articleshow/63359418.cms

Sand Mafia in Allahabad sets on fire the opponent A sand trader was tied to a cot and set on fire allegedly by sand smugglers after he objected to the illegal mining in Trans-Ganga area under Handia police station limits during the early hours of Thursday, police said. The trader is undergoing treatment at a private hospital where his condition is stated to be critical, they said. Trans-Ganga SP Sunil Kumar Singh said an FIR has been lodged against Brahm Dev Mishra, Munna Singh and Dharam Singh based on a complaint filed by the victim’s wife. http://htsyndication.com/htsportal/ht-mumbai/article/up-sand-trader-set-on-fire-for–opposing-illegal-mining-/26622289

Sand mining blocks Subarnarekha’s flow Illegal sand mining in Subarnarekha river in Balasore, Odisha choking the normal flow of the river, adding to the woes of farmers in the area.

“Reports said the sand mafia is using pumping machines and lifting sand from deep inside the riverbed. As this activity has hit the flow of water, there is little water left for farmers to irrigate their land. It is alleged the mafia from both Orissa and West Bengal are carrying out the illegal activities in collusion with the district and local administrations.” http://www.orissapost.com/sand-mining-chokes-subarnarekhas-flow/

Tamil Nadu beach mining case update: “The Madras HC on March 22 witnessed utter chaos as the counsel for a couple of beach mineral exporters, the Centre, the State govt and an amicus curiae appointed by the court were at loggerheads over the issue of the entire industry having come to a grinding halt due to multiple cases pending in the court.” http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sand-mining-case-kicks-up-dust/article23326765.ece

How the Menace of Sand Mining increasing: http://www.civilsocietyonline.com/column/fine-print/sand-mining-is-still-a-menace/

LAKES, WETLANDS Srinagar Wetlands Dwindling In and around Srinagar, some 22 wetlands have been converted into residential colonies during the last 50 years, the Assembly’s Committee on Environment noted in a report tabled during the budget session.

– The committee, chaired by CPM MLA Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, recommended that the government prioritise de-siltation of Srinagar water-bodies besides Wullar Lake, which serves as an outlet in the eventuality of a flood in Srinagar. During the floods of 2014, “it is a fact that the Wullar Lake did not allow the water to enter… because of the massive siltation in it,” it said.

– The committee recommended that the Flood and Irrigation Department restore the storage capacity of these wetlands, besides removing encroachments.

– It noted “that the dredging and de-silting presently being done would not yield any results till the encroachment problem is not addressed”.

– The report quotes an expert that the committee consulted as stating that the “the concerned department was fully aware about the likelihood of occurrence of flood in 2014 or 2015 as reflected from the reports prepared by the department [Irrigation and Flood Control] from 2005 to 2010. The documents collected through RTI Act and has been made part of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) No 08 of 2017 filed in the High Court”.

– The report said the department “had also pointed out that it had spent crores and crores of rupees just to protect the encroachments but did not dredge out the Flood Spill Channel area which was worst hit by the floods of 2014”.

– The largest wetland in the state, Hokersar, is yet to recover from the environmental impacts of the floods of 2014, which raised its bed by approximately two feet due to accumulation of silt.

– J&K has 3,600 water-bodies and wetlands and environmental experts suggest most are shrinking or hit by encroachment.

– Shakeel Romshoo said wetlands are being treated as wastelands and used for construction whenever land is needed. “Nature has created a lot many wetlands on the left and right of Jhelum which over time have converted to paddy lands or colonies,” he said. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-report-srinagar-wetlands-dwindling-assembly-panel-calls-for-remedial-steps-mehbooba-mufti-5112434/

नैनीझील के स्वर्णिम इतिहास में बीते दो वर्ष सबसे प्रतिकूल रहे। वर्ष 2016 में 16 फरवरी को ही झील का जल स्तर शून्य पहुंच गया था, जबकि वर्ष 2017 में 12 फरवरी को झील का जल स्तर शून्य पहुंचा था। इस वर्ष 25 मार्च को नैनीझील का जल स्तर 1.42 फीट है. https://www.livehindustan.com/uttarakhand/haldwani/story-water-level-of-nainital-lake-decreased-to-1-42-feet-1870973.html

GROUND WATER Telangana faces self inflicted groundwater crisis

– The Telangana government’s flagship 24X7 free power scheme to the agriculture sector is taking a toll on groundwater table in the state and triggered a drinking water crisis. The dip in groundwater level is more than 1.8 metres since January 1, the day the free power scheme came into force.

– While the latest reports of the groundwater department indicate there has been a big drop in groundwater table in 22 of the 31 districts, 225 villages in 27 mandals have held grama sabha meetings and passed resolutions urging the state government to withdraw the 24X7 power supply to the farm sector on the grounds that it has resulted in a drinking water crisis. They have sent their resolutions to the respective Transco and discom offices with a request that the free power supply be restricted to 9 to 12 hours in two spells. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/24×7-free-power-shocker-alarming-dip-in-water-table-in-telangana-districts/articleshow/63474434.cms

90% of groundwater recharge in Hyderabad is from polluted water Researchers found that 9 out of 10 litres of water that trickles into groundwater table in Hyderabad is municipal and industrial waste water.

– Water leaking from underground water pipelines of Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board also contributes to groundwater table. Major contribution to groundwater table comes from open nalas and polluted lakes, besides the contaminated river Musi.

– Net urban recharge component of groundwater was 568 mm per year, but only 53 mm per year was through natural (rainwater) recharge.

– There is a higher possibility of groundwater recharge from non-transported sewage, as large area of Hyderabad is still not covered by sewage network. Most of the surface reservoirs are polluted due to direct discharge of sewage into lakes. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/sewage-chokes-hyderabad-groundwater-spewing-nalas-recharge-90-table/articleshow/63474447.cms

CAG finds Gujarat failure in groundwater law and preventing salinity ingress In its audit of Salinity Ingress Prevention Scheme (SIPS), the CAG observed that except in case of check-dams and recharge wells, the progress of works was very slow even after lapse of 25-39 years since the acceptance of report of HLCs by the Gujarat government. The report for the year ended March 2017 was tabled in the State Assembly on March 28.

– The CAG noted that in the four reaches (areas) covered by the High Level Committees (HLCs) — Una-Madhavpur, Bhavnagar-Una, Madhavpur-Maliya and Malia-Lakhpat — the fresh water category has deteriorated.

– The CAG also remarked on the deteriorating groundwater quality in the State. “As compared to May 2012, in all the four reaches the number of wells under fresh water category have reduced in May 2016,” said CAG. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/cag-pulls-up-gujarat-govt-for-slackness-in-salinity-prevention/article23375508.ece, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/groundwater-law-mooted-in-1978-not-yet-enacted/articleshow/63523114.cms

Kerala Groundwater dips: Chittur, Malampuzha, Pattambi blocks registered HIGHEST EVER DEPLETION in groundwater levels.

“Palakkad, experienced an alarming fall in groundwater levels between April, 2016, and April, 2017, according to data collected from 67 groundwater monitoring stations in the district by the groundwater department.

In the past one year, 43 mini drinking water supply schemes based on borewells failed at Vadakarapathy grama panchayat in Chittur. In Elappully grama panchayat, also in Chittur, nine borewells failed at Kottilpara, said KWA executive engineer R Jayachandran.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/alarming-dip-in-keralas-groundwater-level/articleshow/63525596.cms

Top 10 Indian states with chemical pollution in groundwater: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/chemicals-fouling-gujarats-groundwater/articleshow/63456874.cms

URBAN WATER Delhi for decentralised STPs South Delhi Municipal Corporation to set up seven small STPs, each of about 1 lakh litres per day, and use the treated water for 108 parks covering an area of 88.19 acres. These will be Maharani Bagh, Siddharth Ext, GK I, Jangpura Ext, Saket (D block), Punjabi Bagh and Sarita Vihar (Pocket M&L), taking water from storm water drains.

– DJB begins work on mini STPs across 11 Delhi areas, these include: Burari (20 MLD), Chattarpur (22 MLD), Kirari (93 MLD), Narela (115 MLD), Jindur (115 MLD), Palla (115 MLD), Badarpur, Najafgarh, Kanjhwala, Mundka. (Hindustan Times Apr 1 2018)

Privatisation opposed in Rajasthan AAP is opposing the water privatisation in Rajasthan being dictated by the Asian Development Bank funded project. https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/why-china-has-taken-a-lead-over-india-in-farm-production/story-UJ1DYlVWVnlXrUmPb75DiJ.html

CAG: Hyderabad fails to protect water bodies The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report released on March 30, 2018, has faulted GHMC for its failure to implement rules, protect its water bodies and implement projects. Seventeen lakes have gone untraceable in the State capital, while nine others were fully encroached in five years preceding 2017, as per the report. It cited 12,182 encroachments along nalas and water bodies, of which only 847 were removed by July 2017. Non-protection of water bodies resulted in inundation during monsoons, it pointed out. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-telangana/cag-faults-ghmc-on-multiple-counts/article23387161.ece

PAPAD KHIND DAM SHUT DOWN DUE TO HIGH POLLUTION LEVEL “After serving residents of Virar East for almost three decades, the Papad Khind dam has been shut for potable use due to high pollution level. The capacity of the Papad Khind dam is 1 MLD which mainly serves the residents of Virar east.

Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation commissioner Satish Lokhande said, “We have water supply of 200 MLD from Surya dam, 20 MLD from Usgaon dam and 10 MLD from Pelhar dam. We have managed to fill in the 1 MLD water that was supplied from Papad Khind dam.”

The commissioner also confirmed that the dam would now be beautified and if things go well, then is a possibility of turning it into a water sports park for the residents and tourists.” https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/virar-papad-khind-dam-shut-down-due-to-high-pollution-level/articleshow/63498172.cms

Bhubaneshwar to face Major Water Crisis? Bhubaneswar Odisha facing water Crisis as Daya, Kuakhai rivers turning dry:

“The Odisha govt has admitted that water flow in the Kuakhai and Daya rivers – lifeline for the capital city’s drinking water needs – has gone down significantly.” http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/bhubaneswar-stares-at-a-major-water-crisis/article23387033.ece

AGRICULTURE How vulnerable is Indian agriculture to climate change?

Most Indian farmers are not covered by insurance and all do not receive relief for crop damage, yet on an average these payouts averaged about Rs24,000 crore per year between 2014-15 and 2016-17.

– The total economic loss to agriculture could be many times higher— last year’s Economic Survey noted that India incurs losses of about $9-10 billion annually (Rs62,000 crore) due to extreme weather events.

– Rs71,124 crores: What farmers received as insurance payouts and relief for crop loss due to climate events like drought, floods and hailstorms in just three years between 2014-15 and 2016-17.

– Maharashtra: The most vulnerable state in India where farmers received Rs16,330 crore in relief and insurance payouts

– 2016-17: An overall normal monsoon year when farmers received a staggering Rs18,512 crore in payouts and relief due to erratic rainfall distribution. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/rxP2bO5krIzT48xMKIaGXO/How-vulnerable-is-Indian-agriculture-to-climate-change.html

WATER India’s Women Water Crusaders Bhoomi College students Riya Rachel Simon and Sapna Marar showcase women who are fighting for water and the communities that depend on them. The women warriers listed include: Priya Ramasubban, Arati Kumar-Rao, Medha Patkar, Parineeta Dandekar, Latha Anantha, Kalpana Ramesh. http://bhoomimagazine.org/2018/03/22/water-crusaders/

9 districts declared drought hit in Kerala: Kerala among the first few states to declare drought in 2018 ahead of the summer season that threatens to dry up taps in major Indian cities. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/Ni3AGcBBOcvj5v2Nvao3DK/News-in-Numbers-Kerala-announces-9-districts-as-droughthit.html

WATER POLLUTION Goan-Portuguese school kids collaborate, pen multi-lingual book on water pollution “School students from Portugal and Goa, who have co-authored a multi-lingual, illustrated book of short stories on rivers and seas, have mirrored concerns about water pollution and scarcity across the European country and its former colony in India, while also featuring Goa’s controversial offshore casinos that dot the Mandovi river off Panaji.

The book “Stories from Here and Beyond”, which has been authored by 10- and 12-year-old children from Auxilium High School in North Goa and Alberta Menéres School located in Sintra, Portugal, was released in March 2018. Nalini Elvino de Souza, who kickstarted the concept, says that over 400 students from both schools were involved in the project, which spanned over a period of five months.

The short stories in the book are published in four languages, English, Portuguese, Konkani and Hindi.” http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/goan-portuguese-school-kids-collaborate-pen-multi-lingual-book-on-water-pollution-5111166/

CLIMATE CHANGE Extreme rainfall events in India linked to man-made emissions A new study (published in journal Weather and Climate Extremes, see: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212094717301068) says extreme rainfall events are on the rise in India and attributes the trend to anthropogenic warming. The trend is likely to become more prominent by mid-century, particularly in southern and central India.

– Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, used historical datasets about daily rainfall and temperature from about 7,000 meteorological stations of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), converted it into grids of one-degree spatial resolution.

– An analysis of observed changes in yearly maximum rainfall for the period of 1979–2015, showed that it has increased over the majority of India except in the Gangetic Plain, northeastern India, and Jammu and Kashmir. The decline in the Gangetic Plain region can be attributed to a significant reduction in the monsoon season rainfall driven by increased atmospheric aerosols and warming of the Indian Ocean. The increase in precipitation is more prominent in south India than in north India.

– The study has found that dew point temperature – temperature at which air gets saturated with moisture – has also increased. With warming, water holding capacity of the atmosphere increases by 6% per degree rise in temperature, per Clausius-Clapeyron equation. The scaling relationship between extreme precipitation and dew point temperature shows over 7% increase per unit rise in dew point temperature for the majority of south India.

– Researchers used simulations from two sets of models to determine the impact of anthropogenic emissions on extreme rainfall events, under both ‘historic’ and ‘historic natural’ scenarios. While ‘historic natural’ scenario includes only natural factors, ‘historic’ included both natural and anthropogenic factors. This showed that anthropogenic warming leads more extreme rainfall events in India.

– “We find that in south and central India, precipitation extremes are more sensitive to warming than north India, which means that south and central India may witness more rainfall extremes in response to climate warming,” explained Dr Vimal Mishra, head of the Water and Climate Lab at IITGn who led the study.

– Rainfall extremes in the ‘historic’ scenario are higher by 10-30% than the ‘historic natural’ scenario. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/extreme-rainfall-events-in-india-linked-to-man-made-emissions-study/article23363610.ece


Amended forest policy proposes to allow industrial plantations in forests This could be disastrous not only for the forests, biodiversity, forest dependant people, but also for the water security.

– The Union government has drafted a new National Forest Policy. If approved, the policy will allow the corporate sector to grow, harvest and sell trees on government-owned forest lands. So far, this is explicitly banned under the existing National Forest Policy, which was laid down in 1988.

– Strange argument: It stresses that there is a need to revise the forest policy in the context of “low quality and low productivity of our natural forests, impacts of climate change, human-wildlife conflict, intensifying water crisis… and the continuously declining investments in the sector”.

– The 1988 policy banned private plantations in all natural forests, irrespective of their density. It reads: “Natural forests serve as a gene pool resource and help to maintain ecological balance. Such forests will not, therefore, be made available to industries for undertaking plantation and for any other activities.” https://scroll.in/article/872579/centre-seeks-to-change-forest-policy-to-promote-industrial-plantations-in-natural-forests


NEPAL MoU signed to develop 48.8-MW Khimti II Nepal Peoples Energy Public Ltd. of Nepal has signed a memorandum of understanding with Govt of China’s Chongqing Water Turbine Works Company Ltd. to develop and construct the 48.8-MW Khimti II hydropower project located on Khimti Khola River in Nepal. At the plant’s location, Khimti River forms the boundary between Ramechhap and Dolakha districts in the Central Development Region of Nepal. https://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2018/03/mou-signed-to-develop-48-8-mw-khimti-ii-hydropower-project-in-nepal.html

Chinese company to finance 75 MW Trshuli Galchhi HEP Dongfang Electric International Corporation (DEC International), a Chinese company based in Sichuan, has agreed to finance a Nepal’s private sector-led Hydropower Project under Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Financing (EPCF) modality.

The Chinese company agreed to finance about USD 94 M to the USD 150 M 75MW Trishuli Galchhi Hydroelectric Project located at the border between Nuwakot and Dhading districts in province 3, said Siddhakali Power Limited (SPL), the developer of the project. The construction of the project is expected to start from September 1 and complete within 42 months. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-03/30/c_137076786.htm

Bhutan Interview with Chhewang Rinzin, the managing director of Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation. He makes a number of unsupportable statements.

– THIS CLAIM IS NOT CORRECT: A first attempt to provide a fish ladder has been made for the Kurichhu project. The fish ladder is a success in that there is fish migration

– THIS IS SIMPLY WRONG, Even EIAS are not in public domain, there are no public consultations, no independent appraisal, or confidence inspiring compliance, EIAs are done by discredited agencies like WAPCOS: Bhutan’s National Environment Commission (NEC) has some of the strictest guidelines on all activities associated with the construction of hydropower projects. These guidelines are in keeping with best international practices.

– ADMISSION OF NO E FLOW POLICY: Bhutan is in the process of adopting minimum environmental flow regimes to be released from the dams

– THIS REFLECTS POORLY: In the Punatsangchhu and Mangdechhu projects, concerted efforts and investments are being made to specifically address such concerns. In the case of the Tala and Dagachhu projects, the streams flowing into the rivers just below the dams are, for the moment, considered sufficient for catering to the minimum flows required to safeguard biodiversity downstream of the dams.

– SHOCKING ILL INFORMED STATEMENTS: A forecast of more intense monsoons and higher discharge makes a strong case for dams with reservoirs in the long term. While the June 2013 cloudburst and ensuring disasters in Uttarakhand is often blamed on dams, sometimes we forget that had the Tehri dam not been there, the disaster could have been much more severe downstream of the Tehri dam.

– SERIOUSLY PROBLEMATIC: Bhutan only has a few dams today. But of course, we are now building the Punatshangchhu 1 and 2, the Mangdechhu and the Kholongchhu projects. These are all run-of-river schemes. It is planned to build the Sankosh project that would create the first reservoir in Bhutan. The detailed project reports for the Kuri Gongri are being taken up. A pre-feasibility study has been completed for the Manas project… Considering India’s emerging energy markets, Bhutan is slightly shifting its priorities away from run-of-river to reservoir schemes. Sankosh and Kuri Gongri are reservoir schemes that could complement India’s investments in solar and wind renewables.

– WISHFUL THINKG? ONLY TIME WILL TELL: India will need all the hydropower capacity that Bhutan could generate, if not for the base load, then definitely for meeting the huge balancing power requirements for a stable grid with solar and wind power. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2018/03/28/bhutans-balancing-act/

Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission meets in Delhi The India-Pak Permanent Indus Commission had its 114th meeting in Delhi on March 29-30, 2018. Pakistan expressed concerns over India’s Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) projects — located in the Chenab basin, contending that they violate the IWT, India denied the charge. The sources said that the issues concerning the Ratle (850 MW), were not discussed as Pakistan refused to discuss them as they are being discussed at higher (secretary) level and issues concerning 340 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project, located on river Jhelum’s tributary in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir, did not figure during the meeting since the project has already been commissioned. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/mar/28/pakistans-objections-to-indian-projects-may-be-discussed-at-permanent-indus-commission-meet-source-1793898.html, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pakistan-objects-to-hydro-projects-in-jammu-and-kashmir/story-BwDHyjAkfWNaFg40BoALhP.html

CHINA China resumes River flow data sharing with India China pledged to continue data sharing of Brahmaputra and Sutlej waters, in the post-Doklam phase. The decision was taken during the 11th meeting of the India-China Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on Trans-border Rivers. The two-day meeting began on March 26 in Hangzhou.

– The Indian delgation at the talks was led by Teerath Singh Mehra, Commissioner (B&B), Ministry of Water Resources and the Chinese side by Yu Xingjun, Consul, Department of International Cooperation Science and Technology, Ministry of Water Resources. http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-resumes-data-sharing-on-brahmaputra-as-part-of-post-doklam-thaw/article23373864.ece

China’s irrigation success The key message here is that China has achieved much larger area (48%) under micro irrigation and plans to take it to 75% by 2030, improving irrigation efficiency, higher agriculture production, higher area under irrigation, achieved through better pricing of water and private sector involvement. Seems simplistic. https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/why-china-has-taken-a-lead-over-india-in-farm-production/story-UJ1DYlVWVnlXrUmPb75DiJ.html

CHINA’S SKY RIVER PROJECT China is testing cutting-edge defence technology to develop a powerful yet relatively low-cost weather modification system to bring substantially more rain to the Tibetan plateau.

– The system, which involves an enormous network of tens of thousands of fuel-burning chambers installed high up on the Tibetan mountains, could increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres a year – about 7 per cent of China’s total water consumption – according to researchers involved in the project.

– The chambers will be built at selected locations across the Tibetan plateau to produce rainfall over a total area of about 1.6 million square kilometres or three times the size of Spain. It will be the world’s biggest such project.

– The chambers burn solid fuel to produce silver iodide, a cloud-seeding agent with a crystalline structure much like ice. The chambers stand on steep mountain ridges facing the moist monsoon from south Asia. As wind hits the mountain, it produces an upward draft and sweeps the particles into the clouds to induce rain and snow.

– “[So far,] more than 500 burners have been deployed on alpine slopes in Tibet, Xinjiang and other areas for experimental use. The data we have collected show very promising results,” a researcher working on the system told the South China Morning Post.

– The chambers’ daily operation will be guided by highly precise real-time data collected from a network of 30 small weather satellites monitoring monsoon activities over the Indian Ocean. The ground-based network will also employ other cloud-seeding methods using planes, drones and artillery to maximise the effect of the weather modification system.

– Despite the large volume of water-rich air currents that pass over the plateau each day, the plateau is one of the driest places on Earth. Most areas receive less than 10cm of rain a year.

– In 2016 researchers from Tsinghua, China’s leading research university, first proposed a project – named Tianhe or Sky River – to increase the water supply in China’s arid northern regions by manipulating the climate.

– In theory, the chambers could affect the weather and even the climate in the region if they are built in large enough numbers. But they might not work as perfectly in real life, according to the researcher.

– Beijing might not give the green light for the project either, he added, as intercepting the moisture in the skies over Tibet could have a knock-on effect and reduce rainfall in other Chinese regions. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2138866/china-needs-more-water-so-its-building-rain-making-network-three

USA LAND MARK RULING OF US COURT ON DAM FLOODS A 259-page ruling by U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Nancy Firestone, unsealed on Tuesday, March 13, could set precedent for determining legal responsibility for flood events. The verdict for a case tied to the flooding of the Missouri River in 2011 determined that the flood event was the fault of the government, i.e. the Army Corps of Engineers.

– In 2006, the Army Corps of Engineers re-made its priority list when regulating the Missouri River. The Corps made the decision to prioritize recovery of endangered and threatened species, birds like the least tern and the piping plover much higher than ever before, and, according to some critics, higher than the priority of flood control, under which all decisions would be made to protect property and the livelihood of residents along the river.

– The flooding became historic in 2011 when a combination of historic snowpack and drenching rains in the Missouri River basin led to large releases from the six dams that make up the Missouri River system. Critics said that the Corps plans to help endangered and threatened species had prevented early releases of water that could have prevented flooding. And the Corps officials said there was no way that historic snowpack, made complicated by a cool spring limiting early run off, and drenching rains could have been predicted.

– Nonetheless, with reservoir at near capacity, the Corps began to release incredible water totals. On May 1, 2011, the dam at Gavins Point, the southern-most dam in the Missouri River system, was releasing at 45,000 cubic feet per second. That flow increased to a record total of 77,000, exactly 7,000 above the previous release record. In June, the flow increased to 160,700.

– As the water traveled downstream, levees were overtopped and breached and the Missouri set all new records before cresting at Nebraska City at 28′27″, a foot higher than the previous record of 27′19″, which was recorded in 1993. The 2011 crest was over 10 feet above the depth that leads to flooding at Nebraska City. As a result of levee breaches, water flows destroyed agricultural land and homes and washed away roads.

– Leo Ettleman of the local group Responsible River Management said momentum for a lawsuit against the government in regard to the Missouri River flood began soon after the flood event of 2011 and was coming to a head by mid 2012 or early 2013. A lawsuit, filed March 5, 2014, involved 385 plaintiffs from Bismark, N.D., to Kansas City, Mo.

Ettleman said it took a long time to get all fo the plaintiffs signed up for the case.

– In her ruling, Judge Firestone noted that the federal goverment’s operation of dams and other structures along the Missouri River had caused persistent and often major flooding across four midwestern states including Nebraska and Iowa. The verdict closed phase one of the proceedings. The next phase will determine damages with estimates of $300 to $400 million. The damages portion of the proceedings will begin sometime in October.

– Plaintiffs are also hoping that the ruling will lead to a re-priorizing of Missouri River management decisions such that river flood events will be lessened in frequency and intensity. http://www.ncnewspress.com/news/20180329/river-lawsuit-verdict-may-set-precedent,

– The plaintiff landowners in Ideker Farms, Inc. et al. v. United States (Fed. Claims Court No. 14-183L) contended that they had suffered uncompensated takings from flooding in various years since 2007. The area in question extends from Bismarck, North Dakota to Leavenworth, Kansas.

– The landowners contended, and Judge Nancy Firestone agreed in a sweeping 259-page opinion, that management decisions designed to mitigate the impacts on fish and wildlife from the mainstem dams and bank stabilization projects have in some years made the Missouri River more prone to flooding. The opinion includes contains a detailed discussion of the history of the river itself, federal laws directing river management decisions, the requirements of Biological Opinions issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for various threatened and endangered species, environmental lawsuits filed by environmental groups in the

1990s, and a Federal Multi-District Panel consolidated case that changed the operation of the mainstem reservoirs and dams after 2004. See In re Operation of the Mo. River Sys. Litig., 363 F. Supp.2d 1145 (D. Minn. 2004). The net effect of these changes was the heart of the Plaintiffs’ case

– Specifically, they focused on actions that caused or exacerbated flooding in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. The Court endorsed that burden of proof, finding it was not necessary to tie each change individually to flooding, but it was sufficient to show that “direct and natural consequence of the cumulative and combined effects” of the many changes caused flooding or more severe flooding. http://crowleyfleck.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Corps-Found-Liable-for-Missouri-River-Floods.pdf

SEE COURT ORDER: https://ecf.cofc.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2014cv0183-426-0

Michigan to remove Quarry Dam on Ausable River: “The dam has “served no purpose for decades,” according to Trout Unlimited, other than hurting conditions for trout. Waters above the dam are heated due to the ponding effect of the dam. This results in higher temperatures downstream, which are counterproductive to coldwater-loving trout.

Removing it is a “win-win for the environment and for anglers,” said Lake Champlain Chapter President Rich Redman.

The dam was believed to have been built over a century ago to create a pool to be used as a source of water for a nearby stone quarry, said Bill Wellman, a longtime leader of the Lake Champlain Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

“The dam’s purpose is lost in the mists of history, but we surmise it was used in some way for water supply to the adjacent and also long-abandoned quarry,” Wellman said. We think the stream will most likely restore itself to its former condition once the dam is removed, so no major upstream work is envisioned right now.” http://poststar.com/blogs/adirondack_outdoors/blog-ausable-river-dam-to-come-down-this-year/article_62ac5308-344f-11e8-a166-3755dbb2af59.html

Citizens commission proposed on Oroville Dam Very interesting proposal:

– Would a commission of folks who live downstream from Oroville Dam be able to have any impact on the way the project is run by the state Department of Water Resources? State Sen. Jim Nielsen thinks so, and is proposing a citizens advisory commission to keep an eye on the dam.

– The Red Bluff Republican has introduced SB 955, which would create a 27-member commission. The bulk of the members would be local, picked by cities, counties, chambers of commerce and labor councils downstream from the dam. The state senator and assemblyman with the dam in their district would each get a pick

– There would be two State Water Project Contractors representatives, and two dam safety experts. DWR would round out the panel with two dam operation experts. It would meet at least quarterly. It sounds like DWR would have to give them a tour of the dam and its appurtenances, and the commission would get an early look at the annual report on dam operations that are required under a bill by James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, that was signed into law last month.

– The commission would make its own report. Anything that forces DWR to communicate with the outside world is a positive step, but we shouldn’t expect this organization to accomplish much more beyond that. As written, it has no teeth.

– The commission would provide a unified local voice, but we wonder if it would be heard. DWR, State Parks and the water contractors have gotten very good at ignoring the Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee. But still, this would be an improvement on the current situation. This could end up being like the Sacramento River Forum, which was created to address a similar information vacuum about wildlife agency actions along the river. It got the government used to communicating. http://www.orovillemr.com/article/NB/20180326/LOCAL1/180329799

Houston contemplates new flood control projects Experts called the disaster a 1,000-year event. However, due to urban development in floodplains, Houston tends to flood in any case during heavy rainstorms, turning streets into impassable rivers and wreaking havoc. Addicks and Barker Reservoirs were built several decades ago to help alleviate the possibility of floods in the Houston area.

However, during Harvey, they proved to be woefully inadequate. Indeed, some of the worst flooding occurred when officials were forced to release pent-up water from the two reservoirs lest the dams burst, causing an uncontrolled release. Apparently, the capacity of the two reservoirs needs to be augmented.

While one option being contemplated is the construction of a third reservoir, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is exploring the possibility of dredging the two existing ones, removing many tons of silt and soil from the bottom. One estimate suggests that the capacity of the two reservoirs could be doubled. As a bonus the excavated soil could be used by developers for construction projects, depending on its quality. Another long-term solution being looked at is the construction of tunnels underneath Houston’s system of bayous to drain flood water and carry it out to the ocean. https://us.blastingnews.com/news/2018/03/houston-contemplates-massive-flood-control-projects-002463731.html

REST OF THE WORLD NASA models Global Landslide Climatology David Petley writes about Global Landslide climatology materials from NASA. He writes: “This work, which excellent as ever, has emerged from the team led by Dalia Kirschbaum, with substantial input from Thomas Stanley and others.”

– The NASA team have developed a new model, Landslide Hazard Assessment model for Situational Awareness (LHASA), which determines landslide susceptibility every 30 minutes. The NASA webpage describes the model thus: “This model uses surface susceptibility (including slope, vegetation, road networks, geology, and forest cover loss) and satellite rainfall data from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission to provide moderate to high “nowcasts.”” https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2018/03/26/nasa-landslide-climatology/

How People can help NASA compile Global Landslide Catalogue David Petley further writes in next blog: “For the last few years Dalia Kirschbaum and colleagues have been compiling a NASA landslide catalogue, with a focus on rainfall-induced landslides, to help with their work on landslide climatology. In a move that we should all welcome, this dataset has now been placed online and can be accessed via a web-based GIS application. The is an incredibly helpful and powerful tool, both for understanding the nature and distribution of the hazard and for teaching.”

– The map shows the extraordinary role of Asia in terms of landslide impacts, of course. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2018/03/27/nasa-landslide-catalogue-1/

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 19 March 2018 & DRP News Bulletin 26 March 2018

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