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Posts from — May 2012

The First Annual Great Lakes and St Lawrence Symphony Meets in Quebec This June

The 1st Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Symphony, will be held in parralel to the annual general meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in June 2012.

The 1st Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Symphony is a people-led initiative that aims to raise public awareness on the importance of living in the hydrographical basin of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, to protect this wealth and, in particular, to build ties among people across borders. From Thunder Bay to St. John in Newfoundland, via Chicago, Toronto, Buffalo, Montreal, Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, Gaspé, Halifax, Shippagan and many others, people are invited to participate in a process to create a vision for the future of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River basin and the living conditions they would like to enjoy in 2035.

Local events will be carried out from autumn 2011 until summer 2012. From these, a shared vision will begin to emerge, that around fifty stakeholders will refine in June 2012 in Quebec at the 1st Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Symphony. This will also include cultural and artistic events open to the general public. Like all visions, that of June 2012 will evolve, the process that will be begun at the 1st Symphony is one that will build solidarity and encourage the sharing of viewpoints and knowledge.

To date, many people and institutions have expressed their interest in participating in the process, including the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute (FNQLSDI), Stratégies Saint-Laurent, the Quebec River Basin Organisations Group (ROBVQ), Great Lakes United, the Réseau Environnement, Wayne State University, Lake Superior State University, the UNiversity of Quebec in Rimouski (UQAR), the University of Moncton-Shipaggan campus, the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coalition on Sustainability (Coalition SGSL),  the North American Network of Basin Organisations (NANBO), the International Network of Basin Organisations (INBO), Les Amis de la vallée du Saint-Laurent, Jean Burton, Constance Herrera and others.

Furthermore, the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) is launching the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River edition of the “VidéEau” Competition, open to young people aged 17 to 30 with the theme “My water is our water!” The winning film clips from this regional competition will be entered in the official selection of films for the 3rd edition of the International “Water and Film” Events (IWFE) which will be held in Marseille in the context of the 6th World Water Forum. For more information please visit the website, please click here.

May 21, 2012   Comments Off

Last Call at the Oasis


Developed, financed and executive produced by Participant Media, the company responsible for AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, FOOD, INC. and WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN”, LAST CALL AT THE OASIS presents a powerful argument for why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century.

Illuminating the vital role water plays in our lives, exposing the defects in the current system and depicting communities already struggling with its ill-effects, the film features activist Erin Brockovich and such distinguished experts as Peter Gleick, Alex Prud’homme, Jay Famiglietti and Robert Glennon.

May 14, 2012   Comments Off

China’s Drinking Water in Crisis

RFA: China’s Drinking Water in Crisis
May 10, 2012 – Wen Jian

Poor safety standards, uneven enforcement lead to widespread pollution.Tap water supplied to millions of residents in hundreds of Chinese cities has failed to pass water quality tests in a recent nationwide survey, official media reported.

At least 1,000 providers of urban tap water failed the tests, which were carried out by the Urban Water Quality Monitoring Center under the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in Beijing in 2009, the Century Weekly magazine reported this week.It cited the monitoring center’s chief engineer Song Lanhe as saying that water quality hadn’t improved much since the survey, either.

“Among more than 4,000 water plants we surveyed, we found the water provided by over 1,000 plants was disqualified,” the magazine quoted Song as saying.”I am not authorized to tell you the exact figure,” Song said.Water resources expert Wu Yegang said he was unsurprised by the findings.

“China’s drinking water has become an extremely dangerous matter,” Wu told RFA’s Mandarin service. “There is so much pollution of the rivers and lakes, and also the groundwater, that this isn’t a surprise at all.”He said the report sounded entirely credible. “This is a very real issue,” he said. “There has to be a nationwide system for monitoring the water providers, and for publishing water quality figures at regular intervals.”"This is the most basic requirement.”

Poor safety standards

The 2009 survey focused on the equipment used by companies to filter and supply the water. Previous studies have tested groundwater before it is supplied to people’s homes. It found that 50.8 percent of tap water suppliers failed water quality tests because they were using substandard pipes made of outdated materials.

Shenzhen-based consumer rights activist Guo Yongfeng said the poor safety standards came as a result of systemic problems in implementing existing laws and regulations.”A lot of officials don’t uphold the law, and they don’t take their role as servants of society seriously,” he said. “The one-party dictatorship that we have in China right now gives way to all kinds of disasters at every level.”

He called for a nationwide movement of Chinese citizens to hold public servants accountable for a slew of product safety and pollution scandals in recent years.”It’s not enough for a few people to get enlightened, and to write a few articles and give a few interviews to the media,” Guo said. “The entrenched power of the bureaucracy is very strong.”"They look on us as if we were ants.”

Investment needed

Wu said that the equipment and technology already exists to solve China’s drinking water problem.”We are not talking high-tech here, we are talking very ordinary technology,” he said. “It’s a question of whether the government wants to invest in it and bring the quality of drinking water up to standard.”"All that is required is investment; technology is not the issue here,” Wu added.

According to a report last year from the State Environmental Protection Agency and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, around 90 percent of the water table under China’s major cities is polluted to some extent, with residents of the worst-affected areas forced to buy drinking water.

Subterranean water reserves in nearly one-half of China’s towns and cities fall short of national safety standards for drinking water, it said, meaning that the drinking water supply for around 190 million people has excessive pollution levels, it said.

May 14, 2012   Comments Off

SOM at Winthrop Harbor’s Earth Day Event

From Mona Shannon, Zion Benton News:

The Village of Winthrop Harbor hosted an Earth Day panel discussion April 20 focusing on Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes Region.

Lake Michigan is a huge resource as well as a responsibility and the panelists discussed how the region can tap that potential.

The five panelists represented a diverse group of agencies but all agreed the key is cooperation among the multitude of government entities that each oversee a part of the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Basin and St. Lawrence Seaway contain 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh water and encompass two countries, numerous states/ provinces and counties and 15,000 towns and cities.

Clint Bautz, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, an urban-planning firm, said there’s not really anyone in charge. There are dozens of efforts but the Great Lakes region needs a shared vision.

He said SOM has created strategic “pieces of that vision” which include envisioning the region as bigger than a national park, a borderless region of natural and cultural heritage; bringing the region’s universities together to work on innovating a post-carbon economy–moving beyond coal and oil to tap the region’s abundant sources of renewable energy; and connecting major hubs in the region by high speed rail which would keep people off short hop flights and free up planes for longer flights.

Read more…

May 8, 2012   Comments Off

Army Corps’ Asian Carp Study: Options Assessment by 2013

From the Press Release:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will provide Congress and the public the opportunity to identify a potential permanent Asian carp solution in 2013, much earlier than expected.  

With this important new step in its Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study, the Corps will release in late 2013 an assessment of the best options for keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, including the preliminary estimated costs and mitigation requirements for each option. Congress requested this information in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which directed the Corps to evaluate the options and technologies available to prevent aquatic nuisance species such as Asian carp from transferring between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. This report will allow for public and Congressional input on which options merit more detailed project design.

Read more here.

May 8, 2012   Comments Off