Western Water Report: December 5, 2002

HYDROLOGY

Inflow to Lake Powell continues to be significantly below average. Unregulated inflow into Lake Powell in September, 2002 was 58 percent of average, in October was 56 percent of average and in November 68 percent of average. Inflow to Lake Powell is expected to remain below average through the winter and early spring. Snowpack in the Colorado River basin is 102 percent of average as of November 27, 2002. Soil moisture deficits persist, and such deficits affect spring snowmelt runoff, reducing runoff efficiency, causing greater amounts of water to be absorbed by the soil. It should be noted that early season snowpack figures are usually not indicative of runoff volumes the following spring.

WATER CONSERVATION

America is in the midst of the most severe drought in recent memory. Soils are parched, wells are dry, and reservoirs are depleted. Rural farmers, small towns, and cities now face water shortages across the country. While there is little states can do to make it rain (some are cloud seeding), legislators can help to make the available water go further with proper planning practices. Many states and communities have adopted policies to encourage more efficient use of water because the resulting economic and environmental benefits will continue to pay dividends long after a drought has passed. Some states are legislating particular conservation measures statewide, while others are making state financial assistance or permit approval contingent upon local implementation of “best management practices” to improve water use efficiency. Since urban water use inevitably leads to demands on wastewater treatment systems, water conservation is now seen as an important tool for achieving water quality objectives, even in regions where water supplies are not scarce. For more on how states can improve water efficiency, visit <http://www.serconline.org/waterconservation/>

DROUGHT CASUALTIES

Faced with drought and plunging profits, Colorado farmers are under growing financial pressure to hawk their land to developers. Between 1993 and 2001, about 1.5 million acres of farmland in the state were put on the market and developed; 300,000 of the acres were sold in 2001 as a drought began to take hold. State officials are scrambling to come up with solutions that will slow the loss of agricultural lands. Trouble is, some of the solutions — including more dams and logging to increase water resources for farmers — won’t be to the liking of environmentalists. So far, water conservation is taking a backseat to efforts to expand water infrastructure in the state. <http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E23447%257E998051%257E,00.html>

COLORADO OFFICIALS SAY CLEARCUTS WOULD BRING MORE WATER TO CITIES

Colorado officials want to log broad tracts in the mountains to create more runoff for cities, plans likely to get serious consideration under GOP state and federal administrations. Denver Post; Nov. 10 “This is beyond harebrained.” – Chris Wood, who was an adviser to Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck under Clinton. <http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E23447%257E981901%257E,00.html>

DENVER MAYOR WOULD DRAMATICALLY CUT CITY’S WATER USE

Denver Mayor Wellington Webb wants stringent new rules on water use that would limit watering of city property and golf courses, and put restrictions on how much new grass can be planted. Denver Rocky Mountain News; Nov. 13 <http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_1542302,00.html> <http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E23447%257E987244,00.html>

COLORADO GROWTH COLLIDES WITH LIMITED WATER

In Greeley, CO., critics want 4,000 irrigation wells shut off, saying farmers have wasted water too long, but the issue really is unbridled growth colliding with finite supplies. Denver Rocky Mountain News; Nov. 18 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5492>

COLORADO GETS EARLY SNOW

The most early season snow anyone can remember in Colorado is a boost to regional ski resorts and reservoirs, but officials warned against relaxing water restrictions. Washington Post; 11/24 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5596>

PLATTE RIVER COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT GOING NOWHERE

Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado are not cooperating in this effort to recover several endangered species on the Platte River. The agreement to disagree with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) underlying conclusions and assumptions for recovery while focusing on collecting more and better science has broken down. One of the problems is Nebraska’s insistence that the National Academy of Science (NAS) look at the existing science. Colorado insists that the NAS review only look at the science and not the recovery program, while the FWS wants NAS to look at the role the Platte could/should play in the conservation and recovery of the species. Colorado is saying the program has been a negotiated response to the issues and isn’t always based on science. Another concern of Colorado is that the NAS review may venture into policy issues.

INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT OF THE SOUTH PLATTE

The USGS, CSU, NOAA and others are trying to convince Colorado to embark on a process to integrate ecosystem and climate knowledge and sustainability science into policy, management and decision-making processes of the South Platte Basin. The assessment seeks to provide the scientific knowledge base to help policy-makers, managers and stakeholders make informed decisions about how to keep the basin a beautiful and enjoyable place to live. The Colorado Water Conservation Board’s staff response is that this effort could complicate existing programs and initiatives. The staff is telling the Board that the merits of this lofty set of goals and objectives are questionable and likely are not attainable. “Existing agencies and programs are currently grappling with the difficult issues that ‘decision-makers’ are faced with and this effort would appear to create more chaos.”

PILOT WATER BANK GOING ON LINE

The Arkansas River Water Bank will be operated by the Southeast Water Conservancy District. It is intended to facilitate water leasing, loans, exchanges and interruptible supply agreements. Although the authorizing legislation permits transfers out-of-basin, water is to be made available for use within the basin first. The bank’s website is under construction. Sellers will post their water for 10 days and must accept the highest in-basin bid over a minimum acceptable price. If there are no acceptable bids, all potential offers may be considered including from out-of-basin. Its website should be operational by January, 2003. <http://www.coloradowaterbank.org>

H.R. 3881

Federal legislation to authorize the enlargement of Pueblo and Turquoise reservoirs has been modified to only authorize an enlargement study.

PIPELINE TO LAMAR

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is financing a feasibility study to pipe raw water from Pueblo Reservoir to La Junta and Lamar (over 100 miles). The net present value of treating locally available water to drinking water standards is $187 million. The estimated net present value of construction and O& M costs of the pipeline is $235 million. The financing capability of the counties, cities and water agencies in the project area is about 25% of project costs. Sen. Allard and Rep. Schaeffer have introduced bills to amend the original 1962 Fry-Ark legislation to authorize federal funding for 75% of the pipeline cost. Without this legislation, current Reclamation law requires municipal and industrial beneficiaries to repay all the cost of construction with interest.

KANSAS V. COLORADO NEARING END

A special master has ruled that Colorado must pay Kansas $28.9 million for taking too much water from the Arkansas River from 1950-1995. The master said that Colorado must only pay interest from 1985 when Kansas filed its claim. The Supreme Court will review this determination in the spring.

DILUTION FLOWS

The Town of Minturn is seeking to put a deed restriction on 500 af of Eagle Park Reservoir requiring that water to be used in the Eagle River watershed downstream of Dowds Junction to dilute Eagle Mine discharge. If successful, Minturn would then donate their interest in this water to the CWCB as an instream flow for that stretch of the river.

BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON RESERVED RIGHTS

In an effort to appease over 300 of the 350+ opposers to the Park Service’s attempt to quantify its rights for the national park, the Service has offered to subordinate its 1933 rights to 1957 to allow for the historic water use in the Upper Gunnison Basin to continue. The offer also includes a subordination for 60,000 af of future depletions in the basin, a promise to address the potential flooding problems in Delta and to honor the yield of the Aspinall Unit. Interpreting the last provision will ignite a heated and prolonged debate.

SANTA FE RESIDENTS WANT GROWTH SLOWED TO SAVE WATER

Dozens of Santa Fe County residents asked commissioners to limit growth to preserve increasingly scarce water supplies, but one official assured these residents that this was already policy. Santa Fe New Mexican; 11/13 <http://www.sfnewmexican.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=6044853&BRD=2144&PAG=461&dept_id=367954&rfi=6>

RAIN RESCUES MINNOW

Cool weather and October rains have prevented New Mexico’s middle Rio Grande River from drying out as environmentalists had feared, giving the critically imperiled silvery minnow a temporary reprieve from extinction says the Albuquerque Journal, 11/1. A Dept. of Justice lawyer noted “we lucked out,” in avoiding what could have been a legally sanctioned extinction, after a federal judge’s order to insure that adequate water be provided to keep the wild population of the minnow alive was blocked by an appeals court.

ALBUQUERQUE COUNCIL TO PUSH WATER-SAVING POLICIES

City officials plan a variety of measures to cut water use, including rebates for xeriscaping and changes in building codes. Albuquerque Tribune; Nov. 13

<http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5411>

ALBUQUERQUE WOULD SWAP RIO GRANDE WATER FOR WASTEWATER

Albuquerque city officials will hold a hearing on their plan to double the city’s use of Rio Grande water and replace half with treated effluent, a concept not so popular with downstream users. Santa Fe New Mexican; Dec. 3 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5714>

NON-INDIANS’ WATER WELLS AT RISK DUE TO LAWSUIT IN NEW MEXICO

Some non-Indians in northern New Mexico may have to trade their private domestic water wells for water from a regional system as part of a plan to settle a decades-old water-rights lawsuit with area Native Americans. 11/22 <http://www.sfnewmexican.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=6151840&BRD=2144&PAG=461&dept_id=367954&rfi=6>

TREATY WITH MEXICO IN JEOPARDY

A 1944 Treaty between Mexico and the US dictates water delivery obligations Mexico has on the Rio Grande and delivery obligations the US has on the Colorado River. In binational Commission meetings in Mexico City, high-ranking U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and new U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza, held talks with their Mexican counterparts on a number of topics. The United States is demanding Mexico pay back nearly half a trillion gallons of Rio Grande water owed to south Texas farmers under the treaty. Texas farmers claim the shortfall has cost them nearly a billion dollars in lost crops since 1992. Texas is pressuring US officials to curtail deliveries to Mexico on the Colorado River if Mexico does start making water deliveries to Texas. Mexican officials say the government is on track to pay back the water over the next five years.

WEST’S WATER SUPPLY WILL FALL VICTIM TO GLOBAL WARMING, STUDY SAYS

Precipitation levels in the West are likely to remain the same, but overall temperature increases due to global warming mean more winter rain and less snowpack, according to a new study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The study of water availability in the West, projected significant reductions in the flow and levels of the Colorado, Sacramento, and Columbia rivers in the next 25 to 50 years. Even the report’s best-case scenario predicted water supplies would fall far short of future demands by cities, farms, and wildlife, generating critical water-rights’ issues that have already surfaced during the West’s current drought. <http://www.gristmagazine.com/forward.pl?forward_id=723>

INVESTORS WANT TO STORE, RE-SELL SALT LAKE AREA’S UNUSED WATER

A group of private investors wants to collect Salt Lake County’s wasted water, pipe it south of the city, inject it underground for storage, then sell it back to growing communities. Salt Lake Tribune; Nov. 20 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5526>

GRAND CANYON SPRINGS VULNERABLE TO DISTANT DEVELOPMENT

Springs that seep from the walls of the Grand Canyon support islands of biodiversity, but the water sources may be threatened by developments as far as 70 miles away. High Country News; 11/11 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5547>

RECOVERY GOALS TO BE CHALLENGED

The Grand Canyon Trust, represented by Earthjustice, notified the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service of its intent to sue over Endangered Species Act violations contained within the Service’s recently released Recovery Goals for four endangered fish, indicators of the health of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon. <http://www.earthjustice.org/news/display.html?ID=499>

REPLACEMENT WATER FOR BLACK MESA AND KAYENTA COAL MINES

The Fort McDowell Indian Community is proposing to lease 6,300 af of water to the Salt River Project , which in turn, will lease the water to the coal mines for slurrying coal from Black Mesa to the Mohave Generation Station in Laughlin, Nevada. Rather than delivering water from Lake Powell reservoir as was first proposed, this proposal is to pump the water from a point downstream of Lee Ferry, up Jackass Gulch and across the plateau. As reported last month, we can expect Sen. Jon Kyle, R-Ariz., to introduce authorizing legislation in the next session of Congress.

CALIFORNIA USES UP ITS COLORADO RIVER ALLOTMENT EARLY

Six weeks before the end of the year, California diverted its full 3.85 maf 2002 agricultural allotment under the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) for the Colorado River. To allow continued diversions until the end of the year, Reclamation hastily put together a supplement to the AOP. Reclamation estimates California will overrun its allocation by about 200,000 af and is giving them 4 years to pay it back. Under the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), which hasn’t been signed yet, the Metropolitan Water District will pay back the overrun. The Bureau of Reclamation BOR could not just stop diversions to California because the most senior rights there have not been quantified and BOR would have been sued. If the QSA is not signed by 12/31/02, California’s annual water use will be cut back from 5.2 maf to 4.4 maf.

RENO’S BIG, NEW SUBDIVISIONS TO ADD TO STRAIN ON WATER SUPPLY

Reno’s newest development will add 2,408 homes, 240 apartments, a half-million square feet of retail space and a huge demand for more water. Reno Gazette-Journal11/18 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5497>

NEVADA TOWN DEFENDS ITS WATER

Tiny Sandy Valley on the Nevada-California border is fighting to protect its water – and its way of life – from a private water company. Reno Gazette Journal; Dec. 1 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5694>

RESISTANCE TO SNAKE RIVER DREDGING GROWS

Environmentalists, led by the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, are galvanizing opposition to a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the lower Snake River slated to begin this winter says the Idaho Falls Post Register, AP 11/4. The groups charge that besides harming salmon and steelhead the 20-year old federal plan is “based on faulty economics and ignores alternatives.” <http://www.earthjustice.org/news/display.html?ID=467>

HYDROPOWER PROJECT JEOPARDIZES SALMON

The National Marine Fisheries Service has released a report indicating that the White River Hydroelectric Project “jeopardize protected chinook salmon” in the Washington state river says the Tacoma News-Tribune 10/23. The preliminary biological report that calls for limiting diversions to the project’s Trapp Lake reservoir is part of a re-licensing process that could force its shutdown.

MONTANA REJECTS BOTH DAM BUY-BACK AND DEREGULATION

Montana voters rejected an initiative that could have allowed the state to buy back hydroelectric dams, but they also repealed a key deregulation law. Great Falls Tribune;11/6 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5285>

MONTANA TRIBES FIGHT FOR WATER THEY CLAIM BY TREATY AND LAW

Montana’s Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes say they’ve owned the water on the reservation since an 1855 treaty, but a century and a half of subsequent conflicts are the gist of current negotiations. Missoulian; 11/10 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5362>

IDAHO VALLEY RANCHERS MANAGE WATER FOR LIVELIHOODS AND FISH

Thanks to one rancher’s epiphany, Idaho’s Lemhi Valley is becoming a showcase for cooperation between environmentalists and ranchers over water management. Idaho Falls Post Register; Nov. 11 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5368>

U.S. UNVEILS PLAN TO SAVE BULL TROUT

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may spend up to $500 million over 25 years to restore bull trout to sustainable populations across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Billings Gazette ; 11/15 <http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2002/11/15/build/local/78-bulltrout.inc>

FEDERAL PLAN WORKS WITH STATE GOALS IN MONTANA

The federal agency’s plan would mean specific changes on Montana’s Flathead and Clark Fork rivers. Kalispell Daily Inter Lake; Nov. 15 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5469>

10% PROPOSED AS BULL TROUT CRITICAL HABITAT

After a four-year legal battle, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has designated some 18,471 miles of streams and rivers in the Columbia and Klamath basins as critical habitat for the bull trout says the Oregonian 11/15. The designation covers 10% of waterways in OR, WA, MT and ID, “but only up to the riverbanks” and includes 85% of habitat currently occupied by the bull trout. A second proposal covering the Puget Sound, Montana’s St Mary-Belly River Basin and Idaho’s Jarbidge River Basin is expected sometime next year. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies contends the proposal is “too limited in scale” and “fails to connect isolated bull trout populations in a consolidated habitat,” leaving out the “banks and adjacent land that drain into them.”

DIVERSION HALTED TO PROTECT ESA-LISTED FISH

In a “decision with implications throughout Idaho and other parts of the West,” a federal judge has stopped an Idaho rancher from using an antiquated irrigation diversion that “poses harm to bull trout, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” says the Western Watersheds Project (WWP). 11/15. The ruling, in response to a lawsuit by the WWP and Committee for the High Desert, “marks one of the few times a court has halted a water diversion to prevent harm to ESA-listed fish.” The ruling requires the rancher to install fish gates and a migration bypass before diverting any more water.

WATER RIGHTS FOR FISH CATCH ON WITH RANCHERS

Leasing water for instream flows is a precedent set in Montana and in Idaho’s Lemhi Valley that conservationists elsewhere are eager to try. Idaho Falls Post Register; 11/11 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5369>

ENVIRONMENTALISTS HOPE DAM REMOVALS SIGNAL FREE-FLOWING CHANGE

Portland General Electric signed a deal to remove two functioning hydroelectric dams to benefit salmon and steelhead, part of plans to remove 60 dams across the Northwest. Washington Post; Nov. 20 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5549> <http://www.gristmagazine.com/forward.pl?forward_id=720>

ADMINISTRATION WOULD RELAX SALMON RULES, RAISE TIMBER CUT

The Bush administration is preparing to relax requirements for federal officials to show that each timber sale they propose will not harm endangered salmon, a rule officials say has cut timber harvest west of the Cascades by 80 percent in recent years. Spokane Spokesman-Review (AP); Nov. 27 <https://secure.spokesmanreview.com/registration/login.asp>

LOWER COLUMBIA FLOWS MAKE MORE SENSE IN MONTANA

A plan to lower spring flows on the Columbia River by holding back water in two Montana reservoirs is another version of the battle over Missouri River levels: fish and recreation upstream vs. downstream commerce. Great Falls Tribune; 11/27 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5669>

WATER TRADERS SEE BIG BUSINESS POTENTIAL IN NORTH IDAHO AQUIFER

Marketers are quietly scoping the potential to trade in water shares from the aquifer that underlies north Idaho, a market that eventually could make water shares as valuable as energy shares. Spokane Spokesman-Review; 11/5 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5261>

NAS KLAMATH REPORT “RIDDLED WITH ERRORS” A paper recently published in the journal Fisheries concludes that a preliminary National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on withholding water to protect Klamath Basin fish is “riddled with errors” and that its “speedy construction contributed to multiple errors that detract from its scientific usefulness” says SF Gate, AP 11/14. The NAS was pressured by Interior Secretary Norton to quickly release a draft report and the scientific “panel chose data selectively in a rush to support its conclusions, and in one instance the chairman referred to a species of fish that does not exist in the Klamath Basin.”

PALLID STURGEON GET BOOST

Several hundred young pallid sturgeon have been released into the Missouri River near Booneville, Missouri says the FWS 11/1. Once abundant, the endangered species which was listed in 1990, has “suffered severe population declines due to changes in their river habitats and hydrology.” The agency admits that the restocking program “can only be successful if these fish have the right environment to grow.” Editor’s Note: At the behest of the Bush administration the Army Corps of Engineers has indefinitely delayed plans to restore Missouri River habitat by altering river flows to reflect natural conditions.

ARKANSAS RICE FARMERS RUN DRY, AND U.S. REMEDY SETS OFF DEBATE

Rice farmers like John Kerksieck are on the brink of draining one of Arkansas’ biggest aquifers dry. That alone is troublesome, in a state that gets almost 50 inches of rain a year. But even more confounding — since these Southern farmers will not be the last to find themselves in such a pickle — is the question of what to do about it. <http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/11/national/11RICE.html>

RANCHERS TEAM WITH ENVIROS TO BATTLE GAS DRILLING IN SAN JUAN BASIN

Ranchers in the San Juan Basin who say methane gas drilling causes erosion, water contamination, and a decline in range quality staged a demonstration with Colorado environmentalists. Denver Rocky Mountain News 11/15 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5458>

ARIZONA WATER COMPANIES PONDER WISDOM OF NOT CHLORINATING

Two recent deaths have dozens of private water companies in Arizona reevaluating their policies of not disinfecting their water. Arizona Republic; 11/12 <http://www.headwatersnews.org/stories/redirect.php?id=5396>

RESEARCHERS FIND MICROBE THAT CONVERTS TOXIN TO LESS HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL IN GROUNDWATER

An industrial chemical that pollutes groundwater and has resisted cleanup can be neutralized by an obscure microbe that researchers have discovered in the Hudson River bottom mud. In a study in the journal Science researchers at Michigan State University report a previously unknown bacteria is able to turn trichloroethane, an industrial chemical that is difficult to clear from groundwater, into a more benign compound that other microbes can render harmless. <http://enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/11/11012002/ap_48861.asp>

COMPROMISE REOPENS VAQUITA RESERVE TO FISHING

The Mexican government has reached a compromise with Mexican fishermen allowing 130 shrimping boats back into a Gulf of California marine reserve essential to protecting the vaquita, an endangered porpoise, reports SF Gate, AP 10/23. Conservationists say that shrimp trawling has “completely destroyed” the ecosystem removing dozens of species the vaquita depend on for survival. With only 600 vaquita remaining, Mexico said the decision to close the reserve was “our last chance” to save this species but the crackdown prompted an angry backlash from fishermen. Under the compromise fishing will be banned from the vaquita’s main breeding area and shimpers must use “specially inspected low-impact nets to curtail damage.”

DAM CASE TESTS CLEAN WATER ACT AUTHORITY

A court case over a planned expansion at an Alabama hydropower dam is becoming a national test of the scope of the Clean Water Act. States and environmental groups squared off in a federal courtroom against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the hydroelectric industry’s lawyers and lobbyists. Both sides presented oral arguments in a lawsuit over the regulation of hydropower dams. The environmental groups charge that FERC is trying to use the case to strip states and citizens of their Clean Water Act rights and powers. <http://ens-news.com/ens/nov2002/2002-11-21-09.asp#anchor1>

U.S. EPA SEEKS COMMENTS ON ONLINE COMPLIANCE, ENFORCEMENT DATABASE

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Compliance is seeking comments on the pilot version of its searchable online database of compliance and enforcement information. The database, dubbed Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO), was developed in cooperation with the Environmental Council of the States (Washington, D.C.), an association of U.S. state and territorial environmental commissioners. The pilot version is available at <http://www.epa.gov/echo.>

According to EPA, ECHO users can obtain integrated, facility-level compliance, enforcement, and penalty information covering the past 2 years for about 800,000 regulated facilities nationwide. The database encompasses compliance and enforcement activities under the Clean Air Act’s Stationary Source Program, the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

EPA is seeking comments from the public and representatives of regulated facilities about the value, usefulness, and accuracy of the database. Comments are due by Jan. 21 and will be used to “guide any modifications” to the ECHO database and Web site, the agency said. For details about ECHO’s development, see EPA’s Nov. 20 (67 FR 70079) request for comments notice, which is posted at <http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-GENERAL/2002/November/Day-20/g29471.htm>

EPA AND USGS: NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL METHODS INDEX (NEMI)

NEMI is a free web-based online clearinghouse of environmental monitoring methods. The NEMI database contains method summaries of laboratory and field protocols for regulatory and non-regulatory related water-quality analyses. NEMI is a powerful tool in the quest to be more efficient and ultimately more effective. NEMI users can compare methods at a glance, find the method that best meets their needs, and share monitoring data among different agencies, using different methods at different times. <http://www.nemi.gov>

U.S. WATER EXPERT RETURNING TO MIDDLE EAST

A water law expert from the State Department will visit the Middle East this week to resume his mediation in the water dispute between Israel and Lebanon, spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday. The expert is Chuck Lawson from the department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, who made his first mediation attempt in September. <http://enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/11/11062002/reu_48885.asp>

DROUGHT IS COSTING AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

Prime Minister John Howard warned that the government could be forced to pay up to 400 million Australian dollars (US$220 million) in aid to farmers whose crops and livestock have been hit by a devastating drought. Speaking at a National Farmers’ Federation dinner, Howard said the government was already spending $75 million ($41 million) on assistance to farmers under existing drought relief. <http://enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/11/11132002/ap_48937.asp>

CHINA APPROVES GARGANTUAN PROJECT TO DIVERT WATER TO ARID NORTH

China has approved a multibillion dollar project to pump water from its verdant south (including the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers) to the arid north, in what would be the world’s largest water diversion. The water will travel via a canal network built over 50 years; costs could eventually exceed $24 billion. Water Resources Vice Minister Zhang Jiyao said construction was ready to begin and an initial segment could be finished by 2005. <http://enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/11/11272002/ap_49067.asp>