12 dams that changed the world

By Peter Bosshard
Guardian environment blog, Monday 12 January 2015

12 dams that changed the world

 

From the iconic Hoover Dam of US to Mao’s Three Gorges Dam in China and India’s Sardar Sarovar, here is a selection of 12 mega dams of the world – but are they a boon or bane?

Hoover Dam, and behind it Lake Mead, which is at its lowest level since it was filled in 1937, is pictured near Boulder City, Nevada, USA, 24 July 2014. Built in the 1930s, Hoover Dam turned the newly-created Lake Mead into the largest reservoir in the United States. Yet a severe drought in the American Southwest has left the lake at just 39 percent capacity, with water levels at 1082 feet (330 meters), down from a high of 1225 feet (373 meters) in 1983.

The Hoover Dam, and behind it Lake Mead, which was at its lowest level since it was filled in 1937, near Boulder City, Nevada, US, on 24 July 2014. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Dams illustrate the brilliance and arrogance of human ingenuity. They generateone-sixth of the world’s electricity and irrigate one-seventh of our food crops. They have flooded land areas the size of California, displaced a population the size of Germany’s, and turned freshwater into the ecosystem most threatened by species extinction. Below are 12 of the 57,000 large dams that have changed the face of our planet:

Hoover: the dam that gave us Las Vegas

The Hoover Dam was the world’s highest and most powerful dam when it was completed in 1936. It spurred the agricultural and industrial development of the US southwest, and destroyed the Colorado river’s rich downstream fisheries. Climate change is greatly affecting the dam’s capacity to supply water and generate power.

Kariba: the dam that ended poverty in Southern Africa (or did it?)

The Kariba Dam on the Zambezi was built in the 1950s to power Zambia’s copper belt, as the first large dam funded by the World Bank. Kariba was considered thesymbol of a “brave new world”, in which controlling nature would bring quick economic development. Yet the 57,000 people who were displaced by the dam suffered famine and are still impoverished.

A view of the Kariba Dam.
 A view of the Kariba Dam. Photograph: James Burke/Getty Images

Bhakra: the temple of modern India

In the 1960s, the Bhakra Dam became the symbol of India’s green revolution, and was hailed by the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru as a “Temple of Modern India”. Yet in India and beyond, badly managed irrigation schemes have resulted in waterlogged, saline soils and diminishing harvests. Nehru soon came to deplore the “disease of giganticism” in dam building.

Chixoy: the grave on the Rio Negro

Dam-affected communities have often suffered repression and human rights abuses. In 1982, more than 400 indigenous men, women and children were massacred to make way for the World Bank’s Chixoy Dam in Guatemala. In a historic breakthrough, the country’s government in 2014 signed a $154mreparations agreement with the affected communities.

Banqiao: the dam that washed away

When dams are not properly built or maintained, they can break. In the world’s biggest dam disaster, the failure of China’s Banqiao Dam killed an estimated 171,000 people in 1975. In more than 100 cases, scientists have also linked dam building to earthquakes. Strong evidence suggests that China’s Sichuan earthquake, which killed 80,000 people in 2008, may have been triggered by the Zipingpu Dam.

A picture dated 30 Abril 2004 shows hYdroelectric power station Yacireta dam, in the Parana River between the province of Corrientes of Argentina and the Paraguayan city of Ayolas. The project generated controversy and criticism during its planning and construction and earning it a reputation as a 'monument to corruption'.

Yacyretá Dam, on the Parana river between the province of Corrientes of Argentina and the Paraguayan city of Ayolas. The project generated controversy and criticism during its planning and construction, and is often referred to as a ‘monument to corruption’. Photograph: Leonardo Zavattaro/CorbisYacyretá: the monument to corruption

Large dams are often pet projects of dictators. Lacking accountability leads to massive corruption and cost overruns. On average, large dams experience cost overruns of 96% and are not economic. The cost of Argentina’s Yacyretá Dam has mushroomed from $2.5bn to $15bn. A former president called Yacyretá “a monument to corruption”.

Nagymaros: the dam that started people power in eastern Europe

In 1988, 40,000 Hungarians protested against the proposed Nagymaros Dam on the Danube in the first open defiance of a communist government in decades. The following year, the project was stopped and people power took root throughout eastern Europe. Protests against destructive dams also started democratic processes in Burma and other countries.

In an unusual way of protesting, some 51 affected villagers under the banner of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)   stand  in chin-deep water demanding land to replace lost land which was submerged after the water level in Omkareshwar dam and Indira Sagar dam was raised, according to reports,  in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India, 4 September 2012.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists – villagers affected principally by Sardar Sarovar Dam and also other dams on the river Narmada in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in India – stand in chin-deep water demanding land to replace land which was submerged after the water level in Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams was raised. Photograph: Sanjeev Gupta/EPASardar Sarovar: the dam that defeated the World Bank

The Sardar Sarovar Dam on India’s Narmada river has displaced more than 250,000 mainly indigenous people. The World Bank had to withdraw from the project in 1994 after an independent review found systematic violations of its social and environmental policies. After this humiliating experience, the bank stayed out of mega-dams for more than a decade.

Three Gorges: Mao’s dream come true

China’s Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest hydropower project and was completed in 2008. It generates as much power as eight large nuclear power plants, displaced more than 1.2 million people, and ravaged the ecosystem of the Yangtze River. The Chinese government has acknowledged the problems of the project, but continues to export its technology overseas.

Merowe: when Chinese dam builders went global

In 2003, the Chinese government decided to fund the Merowe Dam in Sudan as its first big overseas hydropower project. The dam displaced more than 50,000 people and caused serious human rights violations. Chinese banks and companies are by now involved in some 330 dams in 74 countries, leading an unprecedented global dam building boom.

Hundreds of Sudanese holding banners supporting their President Omar Al-Bashir during the inauguration of the massive hydro-electric dam in Merowe, north of Khartoum, on 3 March 2009.

Hundreds of Sudanese people hold banners supporting President Omar Al-Bashir during the inauguration of the massive hydro-electric dam in Merowe, north of Khartoum, on 3 March 2009. Photograph: Philip Dhill/EPAInga 3: Africa’s next white elephant?

With the Inga 3 Project on the Congo river, the World Bank returned to building mega-dams in 2014. Even though the bank has failed to complete much smaller projects on the Congo, Inga 3 is only the first phase of the world’s biggest hydropower scheme. The project will have limited local impacts, will bypass poor consumers and benefit mining companies instead.

Glines Canyon: the dam that came down

Dams have serious environmental impacts, and their benefits dwindle as they age. Since the 1930s, the United States has removed more than 1,150 dams to restore river ecosystems and particularly fish habitats. In 2014, the 64 meters high Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River in the Pacific northwest was breached in the world’s biggest dam removal so far.

Elwha River Restoration, Glines Canyon Dam removal, Lake Mills reservoir being drawn down, March 16, 2012,

Elwha river restoration: Glines Canyon Dam removal on Lake Mills reservoir. Photograph: Joel Rogers/CorbisPatagonia: the dams that were never built

In recent years, solar and wind energy have seen their commercial breakthrough. These renewable energy sources are cleaner than coal or hydropower and can be built were people need electricity, even far away from the electric grid. In 2014, Chile cancelled five dams in the Patagonia region under strong public pressure and approved 700 megawatts of new solar and wind farms.

What you can do

Renewable energy rather than mega dams and fossil fuels is the right choice for the 21st century. Even so, numerous destructive dams continue to be proposed and built on the Mekong, in the Amazon, throughout Africa, in China, theHimalayas and other parts of the world. Find out what you can do to stop destructive dams and protect the arteries of our planet!

Peter Bosshard is the policy director at International Rivers. He tweets at @PeterBosshard

 

The 7th Conference of Ekopotamya Network

2015conferenceA view from the conference which was held in Sulaimany, Iraqi Kurdistan.

The 7th conference of the Ekopotamya Network was held in Sulaimany, Iraqi Kurdistan on 25th March, 2015, by participating people from Turkey, Iran, and Iraq.

The conference was based on evaluating of the network’s activities and, some presentations about environment, and water issues. These presentations are below:

1. Water and Terrorism (by CDO)
2. Dust Storm in Mesopotamia (by Alpin Club of Iran)
3. The Role of Water in the War in Syria-Rojava (by Hasankeyf Initiative)
4. Water Crisis In Iraq; Threats and Solution (by Environments Friends Network)
5. Kani Bil and Daryan Dam (by Karezeh)

All presentations will be available on the website of Ekopotamya Network.
Ekopotamya Network members have conference twice per year, usually in Amed (Diyarbekir, Turkey) and in Sulaimany (KRG, Iraq)

THE 7th EKOPOTAMYA CONFERENCE WAS HELD IN SULAIMANY

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A view from the conference which was held in Sulaimany, Iraqi Kurdistan.

 

The 7th conference of the Ekopotamya Network was held in  Sulaimany, Iraqi Kurdistan on 25th March, 2015, by participating people from Turkey, Iran, and Iraq.

The conference was based on evaluating of the network’s activities and, some presentations about environment, and water issues.  These presentations are below:

  1. Water and Terrorism (by CDO)
  2.  Dust Storm in Mesopotamia (by Alpin Club of Iran)
  3. The Role of Water in the War in Syria-Rojava (by Hasankeyf Initiative)
  4.  Water Crisis In Iraq; Threats and Solution (by Environments Friends Network)
  5. Kani Bil and Daryan Dam (by Karezeh)

All presentations will be available on the website of Ekopotamya Network.

Ekopotamya Network members have conference twice per year, usually in Amed (Diyarbekir, Turkey) and in Sulaimany (KRG, Iraq)

 

ATTACT ON THE HES CONSTRUCTION

VAN24.08.2014 14:59:39, www.firatnews.biz

ATTACT ON THE HES CONSTRUCTION
The construction side of hydro-electric plant on the Zilan River was attacted and fired by an armed group of people.
Despite the objections of local people, the construction of hydro-energy plant on the Zilan River is sustained. Last night, an armed group of people who are claimed to be the militants of HPG-PKK attacted on the construction side, and burned some containers and equipments.
Recently, in the same place, some workers of the construction were retentioned by HPG. By the exertion of DBP and some NGOs, these people were released.

Hasankeyf becomes a prohibited zone

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ANF-BATMAN

Hasankeyf, which is threatened by the Ilısu Dam project, is becoming a prohibited zone. Despite a judgment of the Council of State suspending work on the project due to the absence of an Environmental Impact Report, barriers have been put up around the bridge in the 12,000 year-old town to prevent visitors gaining access. The ban on visitors going to the caves in the town introduced after a rock fall is also still in place.

Although efforts are continuing for Hasankeyf to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage list tourists wishing to see the town are encountering new obstacles. The police have put up a road block preventing access. And finally, security guards from the company in charge of the project are stopping tourists who want to take photos of the old bridge, after barriers were placed around it to protect it from the water that will rise once the dam is built.

The fate of Hasankeyf depends on 30 March

Recep Kavuş, an activist from the Save Hasankeyf Initiative, said that there has been a deafening silence about the Ilısu Dam recently, adding that the party that wins the election of 30 March will determine the destiny of the town. Kavuş added: “Hasankeyf is under threat from the Ilısu Dam. Time is running out. According to the government the dam will be finished in 2 years. Work has been stepped up for relocating the town. Hasankeyf is just awaiting its fate alone and without resisting. Unfortunately, civil society organisations are unable to raise their voices. Everything depends on the attitude of the party that wins the elections.  The decision of the people of Hasankeyf is important.”

The construction firm ignores the courts

Kavuş said that despite there being a stay of execution made by the Council of State the construction company had carried out excavations under the ancient bridge. “Despite all this illegality, political parties and democratic organisations have no programme or plan. The candidates should explain to the people what they intend to do to save Hasankeyf. Reactions made once Hasankeyf has been submerged like Zeugma will be futile. We must raise our voices in opposition before our cultural legacy is wiped off the map.”

PROTEST AGAINST TO NEW PLANNED DAMS ON THE TIGRIS RIVER

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The hydro-energy policy of the Turkish government in the Kurdish territory is leading  reaction and protests of Kurdish people. As it is known, the Ilisu Dam which is constructed on the Tigris River is a big problem and people from Kurdish territory in Turkey and Iraq, and also the marshland Arabs in Iraq are suffering because of this dam. Local people always show their reactions against to Iilisu Dam, and trying to stop the construction.

However, these reactions does not change the hydro-energy policy of Turkish government because beside the clamining the necessity of energy,  there are also some political reasons to build dams on the Tigris. Many people think that the dam policy of the Turkish government is arises from its desire to put control on the Kurdish territory in Iraq.

Recently, Turkish government has planned to build new three dams on the Tigris River. One of these dam will be very close to the city center of Diyarbekir, and the other two ones will be close to the Dicle (Pîran) district of Diyarbekir.

Yesterday, on 18th November, against to these new planned dams spesificly, and the dam policy of the Turkish government in general, a protest was held in Diyarbakir. Hundreds of people met and protested the government. The protesters claimed that  construction of dams, and destroction nature in the Kurdish territory is a kind of “cultural genocide” against to Kurdish people, and the goverment has to stop to build new dams on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

The new planned three dams was also critisized at the conference of the Ekopotamya Network in Diyarbakir, and the participants of the conference from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria had declareted their  opposition aginst these new three dams, as the previous ones.

Road blockade by inhabitants of Hasankeyf against ILISU Dam

Hasankeyf_Yol_Isgali_4

The Inhabitants of the antique city Hasankeyf have blocked the main road through their city in order to protest the Ilisu Dam Project and especially the resettlement process. The road connects the provincial capital Batman with the cities Midyat, Cizre and the Iraqi border and is intensively used.
More than 500 people gathered on the bridge over the Tigris River in the early morning where they persisted and sat untill the afternoon although hundreds of policemen gathered and threatened the people. The same day in Hasankeyf all students boycotted the schools and shop-owners closed their shops.
The people demanded the stop of the resettlement process done by the state body State Water Works (DSI). The people criticized the resettlement process which started three years ago. The DSI foresees small amounts for the current buildings and the triple price for the new houses in “New-Hasankeyf” which is in the constructing phase for two years and located 2 km in the North. Furthermore in the new settlement area are almost no opportunities planned for the new inhabitants which means a long-term impoverishment. Thats why they shouted “Our caves are enough, we do not need villas”, “DSI, stop these works”, “Resettlement is deception”, “You have stolen our childhood, hands off from our future”.

Also the governor of Hasankeyf Temel Ayca, appointed by the central government and the mayor of Hasankeyf Abdulvahap Kusen could not change the view of the people. In the afternoon the protestors have end the blockade without any arrestation.
Considering the comparatively silence of the last two years by the most inhabitants of Hasankeyf this action increases the protest against the destructive Ilisu Project which is under construction for three years. It is planned by the government to complete the construction within two years.

See attachment for pictures of the protest!

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive

Recognition of Turkey’s world heritage: Hasankeyf shortlisted by Europa Nostra

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April 18, 2013
Turkey’s Cultural Awareness Foundation (Kültür Bilincini Geliştirme Vakfı - KBGV) announced on Thursday, April 18, 2013, that “Hasankeyf and its Surroundings” has been shortlisted by Europa Nostra for its “7 Most Endangered” program. KBGV prepared the nomination of Hasankeyf in cooperation with the volunteer organization Hasankeyf Matters.
Hasankeyf is the only site among the 14 Europa Nostra finalists to include important examples of Islamic architecture, and its planned destruction by the Ilısu Dam project is only a few years away.
An international advisory panel composed of eminent experts selected the shortlist of threatened landmarks from among 40 nominations submitted by civil society organizations and public bodies from 21 countries. The final seven will be announced at Europa Nostra’s 50th Anniversary Congress in Athens on June 16.
The threat to Hasankeyf
Cradled between the Tigris River and the steep cliffs of the Tur Abdin Plateau in Southeastern Turkey, Hasankeyf provides an extraordinary example of continuous urban history. Indeed, recent excavations indicate that the town’s history began as early as 9500 BCE, making it one of the oldest organized human settlements to be found anywhere.
Hasankeyf reached the height of prosperity in the 12th-15th centuries, when the city served as capital of the Artukid Turks and the Kurdish Ayyubids. Today, the town contains several exceptional examples of Islamic architecture, including the 200-meter Artukid bridge, the Koç Mosque, with its rare combination of central dome and arched entryway (eyvan), and the onion-domed Zeynel Bey Tomb, the only example of Timurid tomb architecture in Anatolia and poignant memorial to the long, difficult struggle between the Ottoman Empire and the Akkoyunlu Tribal Confederation. It is also set in a pristine, biologically diverse natural surrounding.
If the construction of the Ilısu hydroelectric dam continues as foreseen, 80 percent of Hasankeyf’s historic monuments will be flooded within the next decade and the local environment will be irreversibly altered.
At present there is no internationally recognized scheme for the conservation, preservation or relocation of the city’s monuments. If spared inundation, Hasankeyf has the potential to provide a sustainable anchor for local and regional economic development, providing visitors and scholars with a contextualized record of shared human history, spanning the continents of Europe and Asia.
What happens next?
Following selection of the final seven sites in June, they will be visited in the second half of 2013 by teams composed of heritage experts from Europa Nostra and its member organizations, as well as of technical and financial specialists from the European Investment Bank Group or the Council of Europe Development Bank. In close consultation with local stakeholders, they will assess existing problems and sketch viable and sustainable action plans for each one. Results are due to be presented at the European Heritage Policy Conference organized by Europa Nostra in Brussels on Dec. 5, 2013.
“With this new advocacy program, Europa Nostra aims not only to identify the most endangered monuments and sites in Europe but also to launch a true call for action. By sending multidisciplinary teams of experts to visit the selected sites, together with our partners, we will seek to contribute to finding sustainable and viable solutions for the future. In this way, we hope to inspire and encourage action by various public and private organizations also in other places in Europe and beyond,” stated Denis de Kergorlay, Europa Nostra’s executive president.
Other sites on the shortlist
Two other Turkish cultural sites, one in Mardin and the other in Nicosia, Cyprus, figure among the finalists:
St. George Armenian Church in Mardin, with foundations going back to the 5th century, served the large Armenian population until the beginning of the 20th century and today provides an example of the role Mardin has played as a melting pot of cultures and religions
The Buffer Zone of the Historic Centre of Nicosia, Cyprus, is the focus of an award-winning master plan, developed by conservationists from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, to revitalize this lifeless 1.5 km corridor, which crosses the historic city of Nicosia.
The full short-list is available online: http://www.europanostra.org/7-most-endangered/
CONTACT:
Kültür Bilincini Geliştirme Vakfı / Cultural Awareness Foundation: +90 212 347 24 25 /secil@kulturbilinci.org

A decision to cancel HPP also in Dersim.

fft64_mf129900101/21/2013, Green Gazette

Bozkaya HPP project which is planned for Dersim’s Munzur Valley was canceled by the court. Ankara 8th Administrative Court has decided to cancel the project, Bozkaya Hydro Power Plant (HPP), that was planned at Munzur Valley.
The lawyer Özgür Ulaş Kaplan who held a press conference about Court’s decision, said that ‘ the people won an important victory against the dams because of court’s decision. He reminded that ‘There are a lot of dam projects have been prepared at Munzur and Pülümür Valley without the approval of the EIA.’ ”These dam projects must be also canceled. To remain in valleys’ natural state, we are committed to continue our struggle.” he said.
For the cancellation of the project ‘HPP’, 22 people filed a lawsuit through their lawyers.
(Etha)

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