Reaching out
My river, my management


Andhra farmers try their hand at water management


CSE continues to educate the educators


MEASTro knows it all!
Cavern construction
What the world thinks of water


Chennai branch of NWHN: full steam ahead






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Vol. 1                                    No. 3                              August 1999

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BulletIrrigation schemes under farmers’ control by 2000
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr. Digvijay Singh, said that all irrigation arrangements would be entrusted to the farmersí irrigation committees by the year 2000 and all those officers and employees presently managing the irrigation schemes would be placed under their charge.

The chief minister emphasised, that prior to this, endeavor the government would like to make necessary improvements in the management systems of the irrigation schemes. (M.P. Chronicle, Bhopal, 13/07/99)

BulletRainwater programme improves lot of Chinese farmers
45 counties of Northwest China’s Shaanxi province are benefiting from a rain storage irrigation programme set up some years ago. Last year, the programme provided drinking water for more than 42,000 people and 39,000 livestock in the provinceís northern parts. The programme has also brought over 6,000 hectares of farmland under irrigation. Farmers collect rainwater in cisterns and irrigate orchids, vegetables and cash crops. While only 17 % of funds for the programme come from the state and 21 % from localities, the farmers themselves, whose incomes now stand 60 % above the national average for rural areas, contribute an overwhelming 62 %. (China Daily (Beijing), 14/07/99)

BulletGroundwater impacted by fire-fighting foams
Aqueous fire-fighting foams (AFFF) spread a film of water over burning fuel thus extinguishing it. That these foams later contaminate groundwater was pointed out by Jennifer A. Field, of Oregon University, in Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, published by the American Chemical Society. AFFF contain fluorocarbon and hydrocarbon-based surfactants. In a study of groundwater in military bases in Florida and Nevada that had fire training facilities no longer in use, Field found concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 7.1 parts per million. However, surfactants are only minor components of AFFF, so the actual amount of fluorinated contaminants is likely to be much higher. (EDIE, 16/07/99)

BulletGroundwater levels are low
According to World Watch Institute, there is an annual drawdown of groundwater to the tune of 160 billion cubic metres by thirsty cities and farms, which is not returned to aquifers. This `lost’ water is enough to grow 10 % of the world’s grain. Massive pumping is intensifying water shortages, particularly in the most important food-producing regions, such as China and India. As a result of over-pumping, wells are drying up and some cities, such as Bangkok and Mexico City, are literally sinking! (International Herald Tribune (Hong Kong), 19/07/99)

BulletFarmers building dam on self-help basis
For years, sand and gravel was being excessively excavated from the riverbed of Pakistan’s Khar valley. Farmers had dug more than 300 tube wells and as a result, the aquifer never got recharged enough, the water table in the wells went down and some wells even dried up. In due course, cultivated area reduced by 50 %. Then the Kissan committee, a voluntary organisation of local farmers and an NGO, SCOPE, evaluated the situation and came to the conclusion that a dam was required to recharge groundwater. The dam, a sort of flood detention weir, is being built with the help of an irrigation engineer and has reached a height of 12 out of the total 20 feet. (Dawn, Karachi, 20/07/99)

BulletNew faucet could help end city’s water losses
According to Wang Mingming, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Water Conservation Office (BMWCO), Beijing has 6 million iron taps which keep dripping, each of which wastes one to six cubic metres of water every month. As a result, he and his colleagues are now promoting a new water-conserving faucet with special seals. The new tap has a guarantee of 600,000 uses, on and off, without any dripping of water. A regulation starting July 1 states that iron taps can no longer be installed in new buildings. With rising water fees in Beijing, families are eagerly going in for the new tap which could save more than 30 yuan (US$ 3.60) a year. (China Daily (Beijing), 21/07/99)

BulletVillager discovers new method to combat erosion
For long the mighty Brahmaputra has swept away 45 villages of Bhuragaon revenue circle in Assam. Now Loy Ram Bhora of Morigaon has found a way to cheat the river! He bores the bank by 30 to 35 feet and then plants the longest bamboos in the village at a distance of two feet and at an angle of 30 to 35 degrees to the river. Each bamboo is then knit with big bamboo ropes. When two such rows are ready, the intervening space is filled with sand to form a spur, which keeps the water out. The word spread and several villages have now built such spurs. The villagers have gone on to form the Bhuragaon Gorakhoniya Pratirodh Samitee to control erosion through indigenous, local solutions. (M.P. Chronicle, Bhopal, 08/08/99)

BulletGroup may sue Unicef over arsenic well-water
A newly formed organisation is threatening to sue Unicef for compensation on behalf of the millions of unsuspecting victims of arsenic poisoning who are slowly dying in Bangladesh. The Forum for Arsenic Patients has accused the UN body of aiding what experts say could be the biggest mass poisoning in human history. Of 30,000 tube wells sunk in Bangladesh by Unicef to provide safe water, 63 per cent were contaminated by naturally occurring, but deadly, arsenic. (South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Internet, 20/07/99)

BulletWater scarce, Barcelona plans big pipe to tap Rhone
Water shortage is far from anyone’s mind on the banks of the mighty Rhone River as it surges through eastern France. Its 500-mile route, it is fed by many tributaries until the river spills, largely untapped, into the Mediterranean Sea. But along the same sea, scarcity of fresh water is an increasingly nagging issue farther west, in the arid regions of eastern Spain. Barcelona has developed a daring plan: to build a pipeline through southern France and the Pyrenees to carry water from the Rhone River to Spain. The 200-mile aqueduct could provide water for more than 4.5 million people. (New York Times, E- mail, 19/07/99)

BulletWater, water everywhere and not a drop for export
John Febbraro, a partner in a small business in northern Ontario, was not the first to attempt exporting Canadian fresh water in bulk, nor is he the last. And concerns that someone will finally open the floodgates has sent federal officials scrambling to establish a national ban on bulk water exports. There is a sense of urgency surrounding the issue. Some trade experts argue that once Canadian water is exported in bulk, Canada’s fresh water supply could be reclassified as a tradeable commodity subject to provide equal treatment to any member of NAFTA - as well as the WTO - that seeks a permit to draw water for export. (Financial Times, London, 16/07/99, Page No:08)

BulletWet-seeding uses less water!
Philippine farmers are adopting a new method of transplanting rice seedlings that offers a big reduction in the use of water and a huge saving in labour. Yields are not effected, although some care has to be taken to prevent the growth of weeds, scientists said, adding that the method could usefully be adopted across Asia, where 90 per cent of the world’s rice is grown and where water resources are becoming scarce. They said the use of wet or direct seeding by some Filipino farmers could be the answer to the problems of limited water supplies, arable land and the loss of farms to the region’s sprawling cities. (Kuensel, Bhutan, 17/07/99, Page No:08)

BulletNABARD sets up watershed development fund
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has set up Rs 100 crore worth water development fund (WDF) to promote participatory watershed development programmes in the country. The funds envisage unifying the multiplicity of the watershed schemes and creating a programme that would be participatory, through the involvement of village level institutions, gram-panchayats and NGOs.

The objective of the fund is to perpetuate participatory watershed management systems and also utilise it to create necessary framework to replicate and consolidate the isolated successful initiatives of watershed development. (MP Chronicle, Bhopal, 06/07/99)