Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Moreau River Is Dry

The Moreau River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 200 miles long, in South Dakota in the United States. And due to intense drought, it is now dry.


Photo by JONATHAN ERNST
A man holds up a catfish carcass in the dried-out Moreau River on the Cheyenne River Indian reservation near Thunder Butte, South Dakota August 7, 2006. A severe drought has killed crops, left ideal conditions for wildfires, forced ranchers to sell cattle and has evoked memories of the Dust Bowl disaster in the 1930s.

The Moreau River

And it isn't as though this isn't a known fact. This document mentions specifically that the Moreau River's water levels tend to coincide withe the Missouri River because of its shape. Therefore, considering there is such an intense drought currently exacerbating this condition, why aren't measures being taken to protect the life in this river? Not only is this drought effecting the water level, it is effecting the livelihoods of the people who live along this river, and the life in it that depends on it. I guess because it flows near a reservation the government doesn't really give a damn.

I'm looking into this, and more information will follow.

Heatwave Drying Up Europe's Water Resources

I have previously written at least twenty two entries regarding water and the coming shortages, which if not effectively managed will lead to war over this resource which is now becoming evermore precious due to the heatwave currently hitting many parts of our world. As the report below corroborates, drought and heat which is being caused by climate change is truly making a "planetary emergency", however, people don't seem to be too worked up over this.

Is it because they only see this as freshwater and are ignorant to the fact that it is a FINITE resource, and once it is gone it is gone? Desalinisation won't solve the problem, as it is costly, and would be hard to get water to interior areas of countries landlocked. CONSERVATION of the freshwater resources we have NOW as well as action to mitigate the conditions causing these droughts is what we must see GLOBALLY. As this article also points out for example, 70% of Spain's water is being wasted in irrigation. The EU MUST take URGENT steps to preserve the freshwater left to apportion it and manage it equitably, because should the rains not come in October or not be sufficient there will be an environmental catastrophe taking hold of untold proportions, and that isn't an exaggeration.

In writing about Kenya, I showed a picture of a dead calve who had been emaciated to the bone due to drought and heat. I didn't show the children emaciated to the bone, but they are there too. The people of Kenya risk their LIVES looking for water that is potable enough to drink, and they are losing their lives because of it. If you then think it can't happen in Europe, or in time even here, think again. And make no mistake about it, people WILL KILL FOR WATER. Lack of potable water causes food shortages, disease, and death, and it will cause war. Is this truly the way we wish to see this world go?As my last entry also spoke of, I also believe controlling water resources is one of the reasons for the current Israeli-Hezbollah war, and if you have been following it mention was made yesterday that it may cease once the Israelis reach the Littani River... That is because they are looking to control ALL the sources of water in that region because they know that water is a very precious commodity in the Middle East, and it is then the one way they can control the Palestinians and Lebanese. If they control the water, they can make those who they deem worthy to share it pay dearly for it.

I truly believe if that is one of the reasons why the Israeli government is doing this, that it is absolutely despicable and a human rights abuse. If they truly are withholding water from farmers, denying water to the people supplied by these rivers because of price gouging, and or diverting water to their own source from the Littani, Wazzani, or Jordan Rivers, it is a human rights abuse. Look what they did to the Mediterranean Sea by their bombing that caused 15 million tons of oil to spill into it. You can't even desalinate water that has been poisoned to that extent.

PEOPLE WILL DIE WITHOUT WATER.

However, we will see more of this as the years go by if the issues regarding water scarcity, management, and declaring it a HUMAN RIGHT internationally are not addressed NOW.
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The record temperatures in July have had a dramatic effect on Europe's water resources. Many lakes and rivers are at record lows, aggravating problems already caused by bad water management. The heat wave that has gripped Europe this summer has been breaking records across the continent. In Germany, dramatically high temperatures made this July the second hottest since 1901. A 1911 record for the highest July temperature in Britain was broken when a village in Surrey hit 36.5 degrees Celsius (97.7 degrees Fahrenheit). And the Dutch meteorological institute said this July was the hottest month in the Netherlands since temperatures were first measured in 1706.

Even though it has cooled down somewhat in the past few days, last month was still three-and-a-half degrees warmer than average, said Gerhard Müller-Westermaier, an expert in climate monitoring at Germany's National Meteorology Service. He said that the heat wave is part of global warming. "It fits the picture and it will continue to get warmer," Müller-Westermaier said. "We have had a warming of about 0.8 degrees since the beginning of the 20th century and the forecast says that in the next 100 years, we may have temperatures 1.5 to 5.5 degrees warmer. A summer like this one will become a normal summer."Drought hit agricultural sector hard."

Despite the many summer storms that swept across Germany, the country had less than 70 percent of the average July rainfall. This had a severe impact on the agricultural industry. In the eastern German state of Brandenburg, for example, farmers said their wheat yield was down some 40 to 50 percent. B

ildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:

German farmers feel the heat

According to Müller-Westermaier, more heat required more precipitation. But he said rainfall trends due to global warming have become more difficult to predict. "The models are not very good, but what they say up to now at least for central Europe is that especially in winter we will have more precipitation," Müller-Westermaier said. "In summer, there will be less precipitation. This is, of course, not a good forecast, so perhaps we will have to change our agricultural production in the future."EU needs to wake up to water problemsThe situation is even worse for farmers in the Mediterranean countries of France, Italy and Spain.

In the last year, reservoir levels in Spain have dropped to nearly half of their capacity, which is a clear indicator of drought. Climate change has exacerbated the problems caused by bad water management. Martin Geiger, the head of the Freshwater Program at environmental group WWF, said that in countries like Spain, more than 70 percent of water resources are used in agriculture -- and much of this is wasted. He said the European Union needed to wake up to how precious a resource water is.
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We ALL need to wake up to how precious a resource water is. People in America take it for granted. Fountains, pools, washing SUVs, over watering lawns, and blatantlu and slfishly wasting huge amounts of water daily will only bring us to a tipping point as water levels in rivers continue to go down as heat goes up and the precipitation to replace it is not here due to the climate crisis we face now. WHY is it that so many people don't seem to be able to grasp this concept and continue to go about their lives as if it doesn't effect them? We are reaping the whirlwind, and where it concerns our global water supply, we are playing with fire.

Water War In Sri Lanka

Background in my own words:

After the Tamil Tigers refused to open an upstream sluice Sinhalese soldiers fought them near Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, with caused civilian casualties on both sides. It is believed by the Tamil Tigers that there has been favoritism by the government towards Sinhalese farmers because they have received better infrastructure assistance to water their crops. The Tamils see this as a plan for ethnic cleansing, and the fighting continues over the water sluice because it is the lifeline of the farmers there. However, as I have stated over and over again, this type of conflict will be more prevalent as water resources are diminished by climate change, privatization, and government interference. This is a poor island nation that is now suffering from the effects of war over a water sluice. People are dying as water is now being used as a political weapon. It is a tragic reflection on the true lack of humanity in this world. This current water dispute that seems to now be leading to all out war in Sri Lanka, is the result of years of ethnic conflict:

Source:

Ethnic Conflict In Sri Lanka.
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The Tamil Tigers: Terrorists, or Freedom Fighters?

Tamil Tigers: A Fearsome Force

They kill children, so to me they are terrorists, and it is shameful that water is now being used as a weapon in this conflict. But also, in reading the history of this conflict, again we must take into consideration the economic oppression and disputes over land that led to the spawning of this group. It tends to remind me of another area of our world currently involved in a war for land and water as well.
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Sri Lankan government rejects water deal

By Rahul Bedi in New Delhi(Filed: 07/08/2006)

Thousands of Sri Lankans fled their homes yesterday as the military resumed its artillery onslaught on Tamil Tiger rebels after rejecting diplomatic efforts to bring a halt to hostilities.European negotiators had sought a ceasefire after more than a week of fierce exchanges between government forces and separatist rebels fighting for control of a waterway in the north-east of the island. The fighting is estimated to have claimed over 400 lives.The Tigers seized a facility that controls the flow of water in the region last month. Norwegian diplomats said the guerrillas had agreed to open the sluice gates and provide water to thousands of parched civilians.But the government in Colombo rejected the deal to lift the water blockade, saying access to the vital site in the Muttur district was "non-negotiable". The dispute and the increasing violence is jeopardising a four-year "ceasefire".
More at the link.
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More background on this:

Water and War In Sri Lanka

Tamil Terrorists Suffer Losses
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Water being used as a political weapon is despicable. However, for the 21st Century, this "blue gold" is the new oil.

What Lies Beneath Lake Vostok? Part Two

This topic absolutely fascinates me. The fact that ice covers this water but it is not frozen because it is also heated by the Earth's core, brings forth the possibility of many different ecosystems living together in this ancient wonderland. I think it fascinates me moreso however, because the waters lying beneath the thick cover of ice that protect it have been undisturbed for milennia by human interaction.

It is a true picture of a primordial environment untouched by humanity, pollution, war, disease, and all other manmade horrors. It can give us the truest picture of where it is our planet evolved from, and perhaps where we evolved from. That particular facet of it excites me as well, and as someone who believes that we are not alone in this vast universe it excites me to think that the age old answers to the questions regarding our existence could be found in that abyss. And perhaps, even give us answers to life forms on other planets.

However, the question of whether we morally have the right to disturb such a pristine place challenges me. I am then posting this entire article here because it is excellent and also gives a picture of the dilemma we face in not destroying the very answers we are looking for by exposing it to the very environment we hope to save ourselves from.
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Exploring Lake Vostok Without Destroying It

TERRADAILY

Exploring Lake Vostok Without Destroying It
File Image: Subglacial lake distribution - Image by SiegertWashington - Mar 21, 2002

Lake Vostok, which lies buried under thousands of meters of ice high on the Antarctic Plateau, is thought to be home to unique habitats and microorganisms. Confirming the existence of life forms and unique biological niches without contaminating the pristine lake waters, however, is a difficult scientific and technical challenge with international ramifications.

According to a paper to be published in the March 21 issue of Nature, the hydrodynamics of the lake may make it possible to search for evidence of life in the layers of ice that accumulate on the lake's eastern shore. Scientists say such a possibility would provide another avenue for exploring the lake's potential as a harbor of microscopic life, in addition to actually exploring the waters of the lake itself.

The paper is authored by Robin E. Bell of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and her colleagues. Their research, who were supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), reveals that although the lake is perhaps millions of years old, its waters are relatively young. Bell's paper demonstrates that over a period of 13,300 years, all of the water was removed by the overlying ice sheet and replaced from other sources.

The lake water captured by the moving ice sheet was carried as layers of ice over Lake Vostok's eastern shoreline, and then eastward away from the lake. Exploring those ice layers, they argue, is equivalent to exploring the lake itself. "Our study is a critical step in the exploration of Lake Vostok," Bell said. "These frozen lake water samples will record the passage of the ice sheet and the processes across the lake. The data show that the location of the current research station on the lake may not be optimal for biological studies."

Bell added that that "Lake Vostok is absolutely devoid of interference. The youngest water in it is 400,000 years old. It doesn't know anything of human beings, fossil fuels, or plastics. It is a window into life forms and climates of primordial eras." Radar maps of the Antarctic interior made in 1996 revealed that a lake lay under the ice sheet. Lake Vostok is thought to be one of the world's largest, 48 kilometers (30 miles) wide by 225 kilometers (140 miles) long and 914 meters (3,000 feet) deep. Its waters have been sealed from air and light for perhaps as long as 35 million years under the tremendous pressure of the continental ice sheet.

An ice core -- one of the world's longest -- was drilled by a joint U.S., Russian, and French team at Russia's Vostok Station on the lake's western shore. But coring was stopped roughly 100 meters (328 feet) above what is thought to be the surface of the water to prevent contamination of the lake. The ice layers reveal a 400,000-year environmental record with microorganisms present throughout most of the core.

During the 2000-2001 Antarctic research season, NSF supported a detailed aerial mapping of the lake by specially equipped Twin Otter aircraft flown by the Support of Office for Aerogeophysical Research at the University of Texas at Austin. The radar sounding, laser altimetry, magnetics, and gravity surveys were a first, non-invasive step to explore Lake Vostok.

Bell and her team analyzed the radar data and determined that the ice formation in the southern half of Lake Vostok holds buckling patterns frozen into the ice sheet as it flows over the lake. Following the trends of the buckled ice patterns, scientists were able to construct movement trajectories across the lake. They then calculated the time it took ice to move from the west side of the lake to the east--20,000 years over a distance of about 56 kilometers (35 miles). By examining the ice flux out of the lake, the team determined that every 13,300 years the ice sheet removes the equivalent of the entire volume of Lake Vostok. As the ice sheet removes lake water like a continuous conveyor belt, lake waters must be replenished, either by melting of the ice sheet or by subglacial meltwater. The source of this water remains a mystery.
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The source of this water remains a mystery. That line grabs me, because this is also a spiritual place based on what I have been reading of it. I believe that this place is a true reflection of a spirit that lived in all corners of this Earth before man destroyed it.

This place then in my mind carries the essence of what this Earth was like over 400,000 years ago. How anyone couldn't be blown away by that is unbelievable. I don't then want this water disturbed by human intervention. If it means destroying perhaps the last part of our world that is truly pure, I would rather live with the mystery.

However, due to human behavior in now contributing to the CO2 and greenhouse gas levels that have exacerbated the melting of ice both here and in the poles and Greenland, I wonder just how protected this primordial world will be in years to come.

Antarctica, Ice Under Fire

And what of the International implications of anything discovered?

Three Nations To Share Vostok Ice Core
If this site is contaminated by human intervention, will it also be exploited for profit?

I am also concerned about prolonged deep drilling in this area.

That is a topic for a subsequent diary.

What Lies Beneath Lake Vostok? Part One

I chose to take a look at the controversy surrounding drilling at the site of Lake Vostok due not only to the scientific dilemma involved, but also the environmental and moral dilemmas involved regarding how far we can go regarding the living space of other organisms. I also chose to discuss this because of a hypothesis I have as well regarding the impact on such drilling in ice already melting due to climate change. I will present that below.
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Lake Vostok, located in central Antarctica, is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. It is as big as Lake Ontario, and 50 times larger than Lake Tahoe and is located 2 1/2 miles beneath the ice of Antarctica. It was discovered in full in 1996 by mapping of the flat ice surface from the European ERS 1 satellite. This flash animation will give you a good idea as to what the current controversy about continued drilling to the lake surface is about: Flash animation of Lake Vostok Also See: Michael Studinger's Homepage On Lake Vostok What is hidden in Lake Vostok? What kind of lifeforms can live in such an environment with no light and no nutrients?

Scientists are curious as to the answer, as microbes have been found suggesting that there are life forms supported under the ice, perhaps even fish. Studies of the core estimate its age at 420,000 years old, which means that Lake Vostok has been sealed under this ice for almost 500,000 years. This bacterium was found in melt samples taken from an ice core extracted from the bottom layer of a 2.5-mile-thick (4-kilometer-thick) Antarctic ice sheet. The microbe raises, and perhaps answers, questions about the ability of life to exist in extremely cold, dark, and nutrient-deprived environments.


Image courtesy NSF.
Image explanation courtesy of:

National Geographic Article:

The questions raised then are, what purpose does drilling in this pristine ancient world serve, and do we have the moral right to disturb it? Would any environmental effects be outweighed by the scientific advances that could be made from this research? Also, is that research accurate? Lake Vostok is also supersaturated with oxygen and other gases that are trapped in a icy cage (called a clathrate) making any bringing of it to the surface potentially volatile and hazardous to scientists and the surrounding environment, as well as hazardous to any lifeforms present there. However, scientists are hoping that confirming the presence of lifeforms in this environment will give credence to their hypothesis regarding life on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter which shares similarities with Lake Vostok which would then answer many questions regarding the limits of life here on Earth. It could be a potentially groundbreaking discovery, but on the flip side, at what cost to our environment?
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Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition

From the site:

So what's the problem? Well, basically the issue turns on the reality that it is impossible to penetrate an isolated ecosystem without contaminating it. The catch 22 inherent in Lake Vostok is that the very thing that make it potentially unique: its millenia of isolation from the rest of the world, cannot be explored without introduction of the outer world to Lake Vostok. For instance, NASA, the US Space Agency, has expressed interest in penetrating Lake Vostok to search for microbes that might be similar to ones on other planets. According to NASA's Chric Mackay, "How the bacteria get energy (to survive) is an important question. The lake could be an analog to sub-ice Europa or subsurface Mars where conditions are similar."(Divining Water on Europa)

Can we penetrate Lake Vostok without disturbing the water? No one knows. For several years, Russia has planned to penetrate the lake, but ASOC, and others, have forced the delay of the project until 2003-2004, awaiting the writing of a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment (CEE) of the project. Russia has promised to submit a CEE for review by the Parties at ATCM XXVI in Madrid, June, 2003. Can this be done safely, without endangering the Environment? Are we rushing to drill into Lake Vostok without considering all the alternatives? Once the lake is penetrated, it will be impossible to pretend that the water is still isolated. What's the rush? Lake Vostok has sat untouched for millenia, another couple of years to ensure the protection of this unique resource won't hurt.
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Looks as though based on this, we would be the invasive species. And I agree with ASOC, what's the rush? Is there such a need to do this without any other alternatives being considered? In this age of modern technology is there no other way to determine the answers to their questions without drilling? What responsibility would we then have for any damage done to the ecosystem(s) below this vast expanse of ice? And also, according to my hypothesis, I believe such drilling done in a prolonged fashion may cause glacial earthquakes (which was confirmed in a 2003 study.)

*That will be covered in my next entry along with news regarding climate change effects in the Antarctic. Also, their corrolation to this issue as well as other future attempts to disturb pristine areas either for scientific reasons, or in the search for oil or water to satisfy our thirst for both.

Oil Sands Development Not Sustainable

This entry is in response to an article in the Edmonton Sun in which Klein trashed Al Gore's remarks regarding the oil sands extraction process in Alberta. I think people need to see the truth behind the environmental degradation being caused by this that will not in the longrun sustain our planet, but only an addiction that is costing people their planet. Many will get rich off of this process, but it will not be the people. The cost in continuing to contribute to the climate crisis we face will be immense if the people (particularly in Canada) do not speak out regarding the methods employed by the same status quo to continue this addiction by looking for any way to get their fix.

Like all projects surrounding oil, the potential for the development of this industry has been touted only by those who stand to profit most from it: oil companies, governments, and the media which serves them. However, there are environmental repercussions to oil sands extraction that contradict the moral courage we need to face the climate crisis head on.

Oil sands extraction is not one of the methods that will lead to our planet being sustainable for the future, and oil sand extraction is as Al Gore pointed out, just a way for a junkie to look desperately to get his fix. It is sustainable and alternate energy sources that will ultimately save this planet, along with all of us breaking the addiction we have to oil.

In this entry I hope to give information about what oil sand extraction is, and the environmental implications it has on land and especially groundwater and water resources.














Boreal forest, Alberta, Canada-Isn't it magnificent?

Some background:

The boreal forest of Alberta, Canada has remained a wilderness since it's creation from the receding glacial tundras that bore it, but has recently seen rapid resource development, mainly in oil sand extraction which has led to the land being stripped, rivers such as the Athabasca being polluted and diverted, and a true biogem being systematically destroyed for profit in order to sustain an addiction that will only continue to harm the environment and contribute to the climate crisis we face in this world. Just as we should be reflecting upon our moral obligation to save our world from our behavior, the Albertan government seeks to only add to that immoral behavior by contradicting the Kyoto pledge of its government to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions at the expense of this magnificent and necessary link in the biosphere chain.

The boreal forest region covers 48% of Alberta, Canada and endangered species such as the whooping crane and woodland caribou make this wonderland their home and look to it for their survival. It is also a beautiful place of rolling landscapes, huge rivers, and heavily forrested bogs that account for 25% of the Earth's remaining forests, and covers 1.4 billion acres. Forty percent of North America's water fowl and 300 different bird species also depend on this magnificent land for their survival. And this is now what is being done to it:

Oil sand extraction:

"We appreciate the fact that Canada's tar sands are now becoming economical and we are glad to be able to get the access toward two million barrels a day."-George W. Bush, March 23, 2003.

Powers in this world are now salivating to be able to tear apart the boreal forest to satisfy their lust for greed. And make no mistake about it, it has nothing to do with caring about the people or other species because if it did alternate sources of energy that are safer for the environment and cleaner and more economical to use would be the order of the day, not the "new world order" of the Bushes of this world that seek only to destroy it for their own benefit. But then, getting his fix seems to be something Bush is accustomed to in his life.

Making crude oil from tar sands is a dirty wasteful business. It takes two tons of oil sands ore to yield ONE barrel of oil. Put that into perpsective of these people wanting two MILLION barrels a day, and then it is not hard to see the environmental degradation this process is causing. The oil sand is composed of silt, sand, clay, water, and bitumen. On average, bitumen contains 83.2% carbon. At two million or more barrels a day burning, you figure out the environmental impact of that. And there are two methods by which this noxious smelling concoction is brought to the surface.

It is either through strip mining it or situ recovery methods which are used to access deeper deposits. It is an arduous process that uses much water, which then results in groundwater being polluted and river water being diverted as large amounts of freshwater are required to flush bitumen from the sand to make crude oil. It also is increasing greenhouse gas emission in Alberta, which are spilling over. It is also such a complex process that I went searching for a source that could explain it all from beginning to end, and I found one. This to me is the most thorough and comprehensive source out there now to describe this process and the environmental and climate change effects it is having on our world. I HIGHLY recommend you read through this:

Oil Sands Fever

Then when you have the truth about the wastefulness of this procedure in regards to our future sustainability, read these:

Troubled Water, Troubling Trends

SUNCOR Fails to Show Environmental Leadership

Oil Sands Production Costs Skyrocket

Oilsands Sector Shudders

And, from Wikipedia:

Tar sands development has a direct impact on local and planetary ecosystems. In Alberta, the strip mining form of oil extraction completely destroys the boreal forest, the bogs, the rivers as well as the natural landscape. The mining industry believes that the boreal forest will eventually colonize the reclaimed lands, yet 30 years after the opening of the first open pit mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta, no land is considered by the Alberta Government as having been "restored."

Furthermore, for every barrel of synthetic oil produced in Alberta, more than 80 kg of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere and between 2 and 4 barrels of waste water are dumped into tailing ponds that have flooded about 50 km² of forest and bogs. The forecast growth in synthetic oil production in Alberta also threatens Canada's international commitments. In ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, Canada agreed to reduce, by 2012, its greenhouse gas emissions by 6% with respect to the reference year (1990). In 2002, Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 24% since 1990.

And all I can say to this is WHY? WHY do people who KNOW what these processes do to our planet CONTINUE TO DO IT, when proven alternate methods that sustain ALL living creatures are available? Why do governments that claim to be there for the good of the people do NOTHING but work against their good? I look at what will be done to the boreal forest of Alberta and surrounding areas should this continue, and I weep.

Al Gore was once again correct. THIS process is not only detrimental to Alberta and surrounding regions, it is detrimental to our planet. It is time for the Canadian people to stand up to their government that is trying to Bushify their country, and say NO to oil sands development. The American people must also speak out for the boreal forest, and against anymore attempts to suck the life out of this planet for greed. Unless we do, we are only accomplices in our own suicide. And no, I do not believe that is too strong a description of our fate unless we wake up.

I cannot think of a better to conclude this;

Qwatsinas [Hereditary Chief Edward Moody], Nuxalk Nation:

"We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees."

Ancient Indian Proverb:

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

And one last comment to Ralph Klein: You say Al Gore is full of hot air? Well, look around Alberta Canada, for it is now full of hot air that you condone being pumped into the atmosphere daily even though scientists have already consented that it is our behavior that is contributing to global warming by pumping it there. Al Gore is full of facts, while you seem to be filled with nothing but denial.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Is The Israeli/Lebanon War Over Water?

In my research of this area, I discovered that there has been a threat of war for years over waters being diverted from the Wazzani River in Lebanon, and Israel's alleged attempts at taking water from the Jordan and the Litani Rivers. So, is taking out Lebanon's pumps and gaining control of the Litani and Wazzani Rivers now also part of the plan of these current attacks? The Israeli government is denying water and subsistence to innocent people, and that is a human rights abuse. Per this article from 12 years ago (which shows how long this dispute has been going on): (bolding my emphasis)

Israel's Appropriation of Arab Water: An Obstacle to Peace

by Ronald Bleier (rbleier@igc.org)
Middle East Labor Bulletin, Spring 1994
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"There is no reason for Palestinians to claim that just because they sit on lands, they have the rights to that water," Mr. Katz-Oz [Israel's negotiator on water] said. "The mountains do not own the water that fall on them. It's the same with Canada and the United States. It's the same all over the world." -- NYT 10/93
On the whole, when it comes to the common water resources shared with Palestinians and other Arabs, Israel ... acts like a great sponge. -- Sharif Elmusa (1993)

Palestinian hopes for genuine self-determination hinge on a number of factors, not the least of which is Israel's ability to solve its perennial and growing water shortage. According to Dr. Hussein A. Amery, of the Department of Geography, Bishop's University, Quebec, Israel uses 17% more than the 1.9 billion cubic meters of water that is renewable from natural sources.

"The deficit in water supply is being met by desalinating brackish salty waters, recycling waste water and over- pumping underground waters." ("Israel's designs on Lebanese water," MEI, 10 September 93 [No. 458] p. 18.)

But these facts and figures don't address the question of equity. Arguably 50% or more of the water that Israel uses is unilaterally appropriated from water that should fairly go to its Arab neighbors. Even the New York Times used the word "theft" when quoting an "Arab" in connection with Israel's appropriation of regional water resources. ("Hurdle to Peace: Parting the Mideast's Waters" by Alan Cowell NYT, 10.10.93 p. 1)

As a settler community, the Jewish state has historically taken for itself land and resources belonging to its Arab inhabitants and the neighboring Arab countries. A clear example of Israel's appropriation of the water belonging to Arabs is Israel's interest early on in diverting the waters of the Jordan River from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean and to the Negev.

Accordingly, in 1951, contrary to the armistice agreements and over the protests of U.S. and U.N. officials, the Israelis began moving military units and bulldozers into the demilitarized zone on the Syrian border. Spurred by hostilities in the area over water, in 1953, the Eisenhower Administration prepared a unified plan for the use of the Jordan River. In September 1953, Israel, in an apparent attempt to preempt the American plan, secretly began a crash program to construct a nine-mile long pipeline in the demilitarized zone to divert Jordan River waters.

When the Americans learned of Israel's activities which included around the clock work crews, they protested and President Eisenhower went so far as to suspend vital economic aid to Israel. No announcement about the aid suspension was made at the time, perhaps to keep from drawing the ire of the Zionist lobby at home.

However, soon afterward, the Israelis launched an unrelated attack on a West Bank Jordanian village, killing 53 people which came to be known as the Kibya massacre. As a result of the ensuing furor, on October 18, 1953, the Eisenhower administration made public its cutoff of aid to Israel. Eleven days later, under the pressure from the U.S. Zionist lobby and a pledge by Israel to suspend work on the diversion project, U.S. aid was resumed. (Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, by Stephen Green, William Morrow and Co., N.Y. 1984. "The 1953 Aid Cutoff: A Parable for Our Times," pp. 76- 93.)

Israeli work on diverting the water of the Jordan River was only temporarily suspended -- perhaps for as long as two years. By 1960, however, the diversion project -- which came to be known as the National Water Carrier -- was complete and in fact was the target of the PLO's first (and unsuccessful) attack in 1964.

Jordan and Syria strongly protested Israel's unilateral appropriation of their water because Israel's diversion made local agricultural activity impossible.

Before the Israeli diversion, the U.S. plan apportioned 33% of Jordan River water for Israel's use. As Stephen Green points out, the significance of this figure is that only 23% of the flow of the Jordan River originates in Israel. The Israelis, however, wanted more than 33%. Today, Israel takes virtually all of the Jordan River flow leaving only brackish, unusable water for the Syrians and Jordanians. Moreover, Israel's diversion of the Jordan River water to the Mediterranean littoral and to the Negev, defies an important principle of international law regarding water use; namely that water should not be diverted from its catchment basin.

THE WEST BANK AND GAZA

Ever since the Israelis captured the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, they have strictly controlled the water resources in the territories largely because they have become so dependent on Palestinian water emanating from underground aquifers on the West Bank.
West Bank water not only makes up 30% of the water in Tel Aviv households but also is critical to preserving the pressure balance which keeps the salt water of the Mediterranean from invading the coastal aquifers.

Israel has permitted no new drilling of agricultural wells for water for the Palestinians in the territories and has permitted fewer than a dozen for domestic use. Moreover, the Israelis charge the Palestinians fees that are three times higher than they charge Israelis for water for domestic use (with even higher relative charges in Gaza).

As Sharif Elmusa points out: "[I]n terms of relative GNP per capita, Palestinians pay a minimum of fifteen times more than Israeli consumers -- a phenomenal difference for water systems managed by the same company." ("Dividing the Common Palestinian-Israeli Waters: An International Water Law Approach" in Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 1993, No. 87, p. 63. See also note 11, p. 74.)

West Bank water is so critical to Israeli water usage that it is difficult to imagine the Israeli government making even minor concessions on water issues in upcoming negotiations with the Palestinians. Indeed, according to press reports, the present public negotiating position of the Israelis is to ignore Palestinian claims to the water of the West Bank and Gaza to "negotiate" instead over new water sources, presumably through desalinization techniques. Needless to say, Palestinians will have difficulty accepting Israel's negotiating policy on water.

The water shortage in Gaza is even more critical than it is on the West Bank. Experts predict that before the year 2000, under current use, the Gaza aquifer will be so depleted that salt water from the Mediterranean will make it unusable.

[color=red]Even in Gaza where the Arab population outnumbers the approximately 5,000 Jewish settlers by more than 170 to 1, the Israeli government appropriates 10-25% of Gaza water for Jews. (see Elmusa, pp. 61)/color]


THE WATERS OF LEBANON

Zionist interest in the waters of Lebanon goes back as least as far as the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 when Chaim Wietzman wrote to the British Prime Minister explaining that because of its water requirements, a Jewish homeland in Palestine must include the Litani River. In the 50's, Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett recorded in his diaries that Moshe Dayan's plan for the control of the Litani River was to "'enter Lebanon, occupy the relevant territory' then the 'territory south of the Litani will be annexed to Israel and everything will fall into place.'" (Quoted in Amery, pp. 18-19)

IS ISRAEL TAKING LEBANON'S WATER?

Since its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 there have been innumerable rumors and many unsubstantiated reports that Israel has been taking more or less water from the Litani River. Since Israel doesn't allow outside observers to the Litani area or to its self-proclaimed "security zone" these rumors and reports have been impossible to verify.

However, after the 1982 invasion Israel prohibited the sinking of new wells just as they did on the West Bank. They also "seized all the hydrographic charts and technical documents about the Litani and its hydro-electric installations, and carried out seismic soundings and surveys near the Litani's western bend, most likely to determine the optimum place for a diversion tunnel." (Amery, p. 19)

So far Professor Amery is alone in pointing to the "hydrological" aspect of the barbarous Israeli barrage of Lebanon during the last week of July 1993 where the express purpose was to create hundreds of thousands of refugees and make much of the area uninhabitable.

Amery's analysis suggests that Israel's interest in Lebanon is -- along with its political goals -- to maintain and/or establish control over as much of Lebanese water as possible. Amery notes that since 1985 former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon has been calling for an enlarged "security zone" in Lebanon that stretches to the Awali River (north of the Litani).

Amery quotes a Lebanese newspaper that agues that a larger security zone was already in process of "being established by depopulating and flattening 30 ... villages that border the zone" (p. 19). Longer term, the demographic issue is bound to have a major impact on the politics of water use. The population of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and Jordan today is approximately 10 million. Current forecasts are that by 2020 the population of the same area will double to 20 million with no prospect of any significant increase in water supplies. Without a peaceful resolution of land and water issues, instability and possibly more war loom as awful prospects.

Despite or because of the September 1993 Oslo Accords, it is clearly even more urgent to ask if there is any means to convince Israel to reverse its policy of unilaterally taking for itself the legitimate Arab share of the area's water.
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The third river system of the Middle East, the The Jordan River, is the most disputed water source in this area, and is bordered by countries whose leaders all have vowed to go to war for the water. The annual flow in the entire area has been controlled by Israel since 1967, and is just under 500 cubic meters per person. The latest figures I could find reference to from 1991 indicate that Israelis use 375 cubic meters apiece, and Palestinians 180 cubic meters (even though Palestinians have a higher birth rate. These figures may also have gone up somewhat since that date) The population could also double some time between 2010 and 2020, which puts a even greater strain on these water resources. And because of the arid nature of the land, the flow cannot be improved either. Water shortages have been endemic here even despite water rationing. Bottomline: Israel is using too much water and needs to conserve and share these resources.

Arabs also never fail to mention that while the Jordanian average use is 80 liters per day, Israelis use 300 liters of the same river and the same aquifers. Is this true? And if so, is this necessary? Or is this just another way to systematically punish their neighbors? And I'm not talking about Hizbollah here, I'm talking about Palestinian families who need this water to subsist and for agriculture. There is no excuse for deliberately keeping water from ANYONE.

The presence of some 100 Israeli settlements populated by over 100,000 Jews on land occupied in the West Bank in 1967 was also a very contentious issue, and more than likely why that region has been occupied again. I believe that water is very much in the heart of this conflict. The 100,000 settlers were given almost as much water as the one million Palestinians who live in the region. This is then a source of bitter resentment, and a roadblock to a peaceful solution.

Israelis are also alleged to take 80 percent of the annual flow of 615 million cubic meter of mountain aquifers that are said to be "Palestinian water." Arabs see this as "stolen water" and want it back...ergo, war. The Israeli counter argument on being entitled to this water is based on their military superiority and a status quo (including aid from this government,) as well as the lack of clearly drawn out provisions regarding ownership and water use in International law, which we need desperately.

Therefore, it is my contention that there will never be peace in this region as long as water is in the middle of this conflict. With population figures slated to double with the next ten years and these resources remaining finite, war is the only way these people know and will know in order to get it. Israel would have to give up the West Bank which gives it control of the southern portion of the Jordan River, its acquifiers, as well as the headwaters of the Jordan in the Golan Heights in Syria, and also the southern portion of Lebanon which includes the Wazzani, Zahrani, and Litani Rivers. And face it, that isn't going to happen.

There would have to be a miraculous discovery of a new source of water flowing into their country like manna from Heaven. But it seems in this supposed, "Holy Land," we see and will see nothing but death and destruction, in part because people no matter whether they are Israeli, Palestinian, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, or American, cannot see beyond their own selfish needs for water, rather than sharing it amicably. Terrorism will also have a stronghold in areas like Southern Lebanon as long as people there are kept in poverty and politically oppressive conditions and denied resources that are their basic human rights, like water. And again, I am not talking about Hizbollah here, I am talking about basic human rights.

Therefore, do you really want to stop war in the Middle East? It may be as simple as a plan for real peace in providing adequate and equitable distribution of water resources to ALL who inhabit this area, and the United States government needs to also stand up for this. Otherwise, as long as population rises and water resources dwindle with Israel using its military force to control the majority of the flow, again, we will never see peace in this region. Using water as a political lever is unconscienable. This is a MORAL issue.

Other references:

Water In The Middle East Conflict

Lebanese-Israeli Water Conflict Threatens To Boil Over

Definition of Israel's Water Problems

UN Officials Prepare For Health Crisis In Lebanon'

Humanitarian Crisis Looms

What is our moral duty?

U.S.To Deny Mexico Water?

In the entries I have previously written on water issues, I cannot tell you the amount of information I have gleaned and all I have learned about this issue. I have truly become much more educated on an issue that has really been a big part of my life regarding the environmental issues I have always been passionate about, and this issue in particular will always be one that I will dedicate my life to seeking truth about and relaying information about.

It is as simple as saying, WATER IS LIFE, and it is. It is to me a sacred fluid that sustains us, provides for our sustinence, cleanses us, renews us, and I believe heals us. To waste it, pollute it, defile it, or in any way keep it from sustaining others by design is immoral. And while it is a complex issue made so by the complexities of human life, it is also as simple as saying, water is a human right and should always be used within that one guideline. If only it were that easy. But I still and will always believe that, and also believe that disputes regarding water should always be mediated equitably so that all parties involved receive what they need to survive.

To knowingly deny anyone water is a human rights abuse.However, when legalities rear their ugly heads in disputes such as this one, it seems that the rights of others in regards to water are not always fully considered. In the case of the ongoing dispute between the border of Mexico (Mexicali), and the United States, I believe it has come to that in regards to the Treaty of 1944:

A Border Dispute That Focuses on Water, Not Immigration

By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD

Published: July 7, 2006CALEXICO, Calif. — For more than 100 years, as their names imply, Calexico and its much larger sister city, Mexicali, south of the border, have embraced each other with a bonhomie born of mutual need and satisfaction in the infernal desert.The pedestrian gate into Mexico clangs ceaselessly as Mexicans lug back bulging bags from Wal-Mart and 99 Cent Stores in Calexico. The line into the United States slogs along, steady but slower, through an air-conditioned foyer as men and women trudge off to work and, during the school year, children wear the universal face that greets the coming day.Now, the ties that bind Calexico and Mexicali are being tested as a 20-year dispute over the rights to water leaking into Mexico from a canal on the American side is reaching a peak.

Though the raging debate over illegal immigration in the United States has not upset border relations here, some say the fight over water could affect the number of Mexicans who try to cross here illegally. To slake the ever-growing thirst of San Diego, 100 miles to the west, the United States has a plan to replace a 23-mile segment of the earthen All-American Canal, which the federal government owns and the Colorado River feeds, with a concrete-lined parallel trough. The $225 million project would send more water to San Diego, by cutting off billions of leaked gallons — enough for 112,000 households a year — that have helped irrigate Mexican farms since the 1940's.

But Mexican farmers and their advocates say the lined canal would effectively turn off the spigot for 25,000 people, including 400 farmers whose wells rely on the seepage that has helped turn the powdery fields east of Mexicali, an industrial city, into one of the biggest Mexican producers of onions, alfalfa, asparagus, squash and other crops. The farmers and their families ask what will they do if they cannot till the fields and answer that they will cross the border, illegally if they have to, in droves. "They can't build a fence high enough to stop us," said Gerónimo Hernández, a Mexicali farmer whose family has worked the fields for generations. Juan Ignácio Guajardo, a lawyer in Mexicali who is helping a civic group there and two environmental groups in Southern California fight the canal, said, "You can't have it both ways," adding, "You can't take our water away and then say, 'We don't want immigration, either.' "

The dispute over the project was among the topics President Bush and President Vicente Fox of Mexico discussed in an April meeting in Mexico.[A federal judge ruled against environmental groups in the United States and a Mexicali civic association in a lawsuit against the project, dismissing some claims on June 26 on technicalities and deciding on July 3 that many of the predicted effects on Mexico were "highly speculative" and that the federal environmental law at issue did not apply beyond the border. The groups said they were preparing an appeal. In addition, a separate lawsuit is pending in state court.]

On the American side, managers of the Imperial Irrigation District, which controls the canal and a vast water system that has turned swaths of the California desert in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys into some of the most fertile farmland anywhere, defend the plan.They say the 1944 international treaty on the distribution of water from the Colorado River, which feeds the canal, does not prohibit the concrete lining. New agreements among the states and water utilities along the Colorado have imposed limits on how much water can be tapped from the river, making every drop count that much more. "There is more need than water available," said the general manager of the irrigation district, Charles Hosken. "When you find a point to access water, I think it is our duty to go after it."Mr. Hosken acknowledged that the project, which has been mired in legal challenges and planning since the 1980's, "will have impact" on Mexico, but said, "The fact is, the water belongs to the United States, and we have never been compensated for it." He said he was particularly angry at opponents of the project who invoke the immigration debate, which while discussed here, has not set off the fiery passions found elsewhere.The notion that cutting off the leakage would drive up illegal immigration, he said, was "quite a stretch" and a "scare tactic" intended to take advantage of the charged atmosphere surrounding the debate. But opponents said the project was moving forward without enough consideration of its potential effects. The federal lawsuit contended that a study in 1994 of the project's environmental consequences was outdated and should be revised to take into account changes of the last 12 years.
Continued at the link.
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In a moral sense, I would say that if the people of San Diego truly needed this water to live (which I don't know is true,) that they should be able to take it as long as no undue harm is done to the livelihoods of the Mexican farmers who have relied upon this water since the 40s. In reading what I could of the Treaty of 1944 between the U.S. and Mexico, the U.S. cannot divert water from Mexico in this shared area if it would cause harm to the Mexican people who have been benefitting from it. From reading this article, it would appear that would be the case. And actually, bringing up the immigration debate may be warranted in that should this water that is necessary for Mexican farmers be diverted from them, where will they get water?

It would appear California wants to build this concrete retainer bridge to divert water from the run off so they don't have to tap the Colorado River. Is this then a true case of really needing it, or just doing it to have it all?And how can the laws regarding environmental effects that would most certainly cause undue harm to farmers on both sides of the border not go beyond the border of the U.S. in this case, when clearly the Treaty of 1944 does?

Here is a bit of background regarding the establishment of boundaries and water related treaties between the United States and Mexico:

Treaty of 1884- Established the rules for determining the location of the boundary when the meandering rivers transferred tracts of land from one bank of the river to the other.

Convention of 1906

Treaty of 1944
Look at Article 9, Section (d)

March 2005
According to this report, the Mexican government owed the US water debt due to its not being able to keep up its end of the treaty due to drought, but that had now all been forgiven as of March 2005. These entries prove that the Mexican government is essentially providing the amount of water allowable to the U.S. under Minute of the 1994 Treary which is carried out by the IBWC (International Boundary Water Commisssion.)

It actually boggles my mind that water is treated like money in as far as being called a debt, but I guess that really is what it boils down to, especially financial loss when drought and the effects of climate change cause water levels to become lower, and more water needs to be diverted because of population growth, industrialization, and other factors not taken into account in the treaty of 1944. How could they then have foreseen the current state our Earth now finds herself in, and how will those climate changes and other current factors be taken into account with building this concrete diverting trough that may well cause these farmers to feel desperate enough to cross the border to get water?

Mexico Deliveries

The Rio Grande

I do not know where this will lead legally in the end. I do know that it is incumbant upon those who believe in the rights of all humans to have access to water to watch this very closely. It would appear to me from reading this that if taking this water from the farmers in Mexicali would definitlely cause undue harm to them, especially in light of the drought now in place that is exacerbated by climate change, industrialization, etc., that the building of this concrete trough would be prohibited by Treaty of 1944, Article 9, Section (d).

I believe it could also be argued that the current drought conditions not only being felt in Mexico but in the entire Southwestern U.S. are the direct result of the behavior of the humans who live in this United States, which has the highest rate of COs emissions in the world. It is truly a very emotional issue in also realizing that people on this side of the border are also experiencing repercussions from drought, and the need for water on all sides is increasing.

And people I have talked to about this issue thought this could only happen in Kenya, and that disputes over water are not real. They are most definitely so, and with a future upon us that gives us only a ten year window to do all we can to reverse the effects of climate change, this is just but the tip of the iceburg.I believe we will have to see a revamping of the Treaty of 1944 to bring all parties in this into the 21st Century to deal with it amicably, so that no side is without the water they need to live. At what point does legality trump morality? I suppose if these farmers were rich, it would be a different story.

Great Lakes Going Down?

In my previous entries on the topic of water, water scarcity, water quality, and other topics related to water which amount to nineteen making this my twentieth, I have mainly concerned myself with areas outside of the United States. That is mainly because other areas such as Niger, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and other countries in Africa are experiencing life threatening and life taking repercussions because of the lack of safe, clean, potable water just to meet every day needs, and people are killing each other to get it.

Countries such as India, Pakistan, and China are experiencing an increase in pollution, waste, and privatization that seeks to threaten indigenous peoples and disgrace their traditions all in the name of profit. The Middle East is also experiencing crisis level water shortages with many of the countries involved also engaged in war, which does little to help mitigate the humanitarian disaster lack of potable water, pollution, and fighting over water rights creates for the people living there. These are topics that go to the core of who we are as human beings in how we approach the problem and seek to solve it. Which up to this point has proven that we as a species need much more work in order to reach a point where this crisis can be solved. And we do have the means to solve it.

However, the United States has it own problems involving privatization (which I did touch on,) drought ( the Southwestern US has been experiencing a very bad drought with New Mexico just recently placing very strict restrictions on water usage,) and according to this report, The Great Lakes is experiencing a drop in water table that I believe should cause worry, especially in light of the reasons cited for its occurrence.


CORRECTED: Low water in North America's Great Lakes causes worry

Link from Yahoo. May be broken.

Wed Jul 5, 1:48 PM ET

Corrects ranking of Great Lakes in paragraph three as source of freshwater from world's largest to second-largest after Siberia's Lake Baikal.

By Jonathan Spicer

TORONTO (Reuters) - Several massive vessels have run aground on Michigan's Saginaw River this shipping season, caught in shallow waters a few miles from Lake Huron. The river port is as shallow as 13 feet in a passage that is supposed to be 22 feet deep, a sign of low water levels in North America's five Great Lakes -- Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario.Water levels declined in 1998 and have remained low, forcing ships to take on lighter loads and sparking concern about shorelines and wetlands in the Great Lakes, the world's second-largest supply of freshwater after Siberia's Lake Baikal and a major commercial shipping route for Canada and the United States. Iron ore and grain are among the biggest cargoes shipped on the lakes.

"It's a pretty different mindset to come off 30 years of above-average water levels and to suddenly, since the late 1990s, have below-average levels," said Scott Thieme, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office in Detroit. Lakes Huron and Michigan, where water levels have declined the most, are down about 3 feet (one meter) from 1997 and about 20 inches from their 140-year average, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

When homeowners on Lake Huron's Georgian Bay noticed wetlands were drying up, the Georgian Bay Association funded a $223,000 report that last year concluded shoreline alterations such as dredging and erosion in the St. Clair River, at the bottom of the lake, were responsible. In partial response, U.S. and Canadian governments approved funding for a $14.6 million study of the upper Great Lakes by the International Joint Commission, which resolves border disputes and was denied funds for a similar study in 2002. Depending on what it finds, the commission could recommend changes to the amount of water that flows out of Lake Superior, the first and largest in the chain of lakes.

NATURAL CAUSES?

Water levels in the Great Lakes have always fluctuated, but experts point to climate change, dredging, private shoreline alterations and even lingering effects of glaciers to explain the latest changes -- the decline of Lake Huron and slightly higher water levels in Lake Erie, into which Huron flows. The most controversial of several dredging projects was in 1962, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deepened the St. Clair River channel by 2 feet to accommodate commercial shipping. "When they dredge a river, it's like taking a straw and widening it," said hydrologist Cynthia Sellinger, who helped plan the upper Great Lakes study, which begins this summer.

U.S. and Canadian governments approved the 1960s dredging on condition that submerged sills be built to compensate for water lost from Lake Huron, and they started a series of studies. But by the time the studies were completed in the 1970s, water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan were at record highs, and no one wanted sills that would raise levels even more. Experts are unsure why water levels in the upper lakes rose soon after the St. Clair River dredging. But they say that major climatic events usually coincide with changes in water levels.

The 1930s Dust Bowl drought coincided with then-record low levels in the Great Lakes. And the most recent decline was in 1997, when a strong El Nino brought warm, dry temperatures to North America, Sellinger said. In addition, above-average temperatures since 1998 mean less ice forms on the Great Lakes and the rivers that flow into it, and more water evaporates away, Sellinger said. And then there is something called post-glacial rebound, or the slow rise of the earth's crust, that could partly explain declining water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan.
"The area around Georgian Bay (Lake Huron) is rising faster than the area around Lake Erie so it may be that the land has just tilted and more water is flowing out," Sellinger said.

DECLINING REVENUE

For every inch water levels go down, ships bound for destinations outside North America forfeit about $8,400 in freight revenue, said Dennis Mahoney, president of the United States Great Lakes Shipping Association. Saginaw and other ports have done emergency dredging to accommodate ships and barges that can be hundreds of yards long. But Lake Superior's largest American ships carried 3,000 fewer short tons of cargo last year than in 1997, when water levels were 12 inches higher, according to the Lake Carriers' Association. "Obviously water levels are crucially important to this industry, and we have been in a period of decline," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of corporate communications for the association. "When you're not utilizing your full vessel capacity you can't give your customer the best freight rate."
end of excerpt.
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Per Wikipedia: Types of dredging

Capital dredging: carried out to create a new harbor or berth or waterway, or deepen an existing one in order to allow larger ships to use it. It is usually carried out with a cutter-suction dredge.

Maintenance dredging: deepening navigable seaports and waterways which have become silted with the passage of time, due to sand and mud deposited by water currents, until they may become too shallow for navigation. This is often carried out with a trailing suction hopper dredge. Most dredging is for this purpose.

Land reclamation: mining sand, clay or rock from the seabed and using it to construct new land. This is typically performed by a cutter-suction dredge or trailing suction hopper dredge.

Beach Nourishment: mining sand offshore and placing on a beach to replace sand eroded by storms or wave action. This is done to enhance the recreational and protective function of the beaches. This is typically performed by a cutter-suction dredge or trailing suction hopper dredge.

Removing trash and debris from the bottoms of rivers and canals and harbors.

Getting useful material from the seabed. One possible type in the future, is recovering natural metal ore nodules from the abyssal plains.

Contaminant remediation. Dredging is often used to reclimate areas affected by chemical spills, storm water surges (with urban runoff), and other soil contaminations. Disposal becomes an aproportionatly large factor in these operations.

Anti-eutrophication. Dredging is an (expensive) option for the remediation of eutrophied (or de-oxygenated) water bodies. As artificialy elevated phosphorus levels in the sediment aggrivate the eutrophication process, controlled sediment removal is occasionally the only option for the reclimation of still waters.
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Now, I'm no expert on dredging, but it would seem to me that this process takes water away from the body of water you are dredging, and can disturb the ecological balance of the area being dredged if proper measures are not adhered to in replacing it. The Great Lakes is an especially delicate ecological system, so it would seem obvious that such dredging for purposes of digging deeper to allow cargo ships to pass through would cause an imbalance to the eco-systems there over time.

And of course, climate change while it may not have as significant an effect here as it does in say, Kenya, can greatly influence the water table with more water in the cycle being evaporated before that cycle is completed. Thirty three million people live in the area of the Great Lakes and would be directly impacted from water tables going lower. It would not only cause loss of revenue for shipping companies that do business between Canada and the United States making their services more expensive, it would also tip the scale of ecological balance in this fragile and beautiful area, and leave millions in danger of losing their only source of water.

This report dated from the year 2000 gives a very indepth explanation of the condition of The Great Lakes, including repercussions from climate change (Section 5) and other factors, and gives good recommendations for mitigating its effects in the future:

Protection Of The Waters Of The Great Lakes

So for those who do not really think this is not an important issue because up to date all they have read about is a drought in Kenya which they say doesn't affect them as they live on the other side of the world, the Great Lakes is on YOUR side of the world:
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The Great Lakes
From the link:
Overview

The environment of the Great Lakes region is blessed with huge forests and wilderness areas, rich agricultural land, hundreds of tributaries and thousands of smaller lakes, and extensive mineral deposits. The region's glacial history and the tremendous influence of the lakes themselves create unique conditions that support a wealth of biological diversity, including more than 130 rare species and ecosystems.

The environment supports a world-class fishery and a variety of wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, beaver, muskrat, weasel, fox, black bear, bobcat, moose and other furbearing animals. Bird populations thrive on the various terrains, some migrating south in the winter, others making permanent homes. An estimated 180 species of fish are native to the Great Lakes, including small- and large-mouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, lake herring, whitefish, walleye and lake trout. Rare species making their home in the Great Lakes region include the world's last known population of the white catspaw pearly mussel, the copper redhorse fish and the Kirtland's warbler.

The region's sand dunes, coastal marshes, rocky shorelines, lakeplain prairies, savannas, forests, fens, wetlands and other landscapes contain features that are either unique or best represented withink the Great Lakes basin. For example, the world's largest freshwater dunes line the shores of Lake Michigan.

Over the course of history, many types of pollution have inflicted and been reduced in the region, yet significant challenges remain. These range from threats to divert water out of the Great Lakes basin to the introduction of nonindigenous invasive species and airborne toxics into the basin. Protection of water quality and sustainable development remain long-term goals.
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And it has a rich environmental heritage that also has been exploited due to population, over consumption, and threats of water from these lakes being diverted. Should the global water crisis in conjunction with the climate crisis we face get any worse, which scientists predict will happen should we not take the necessary steps now to mitigate it, how long before the droughts people face in Africa hit here? The Southwestern United States is already under a severe drought watch and has been for months.

Even in the Northeast where I live, we too have experienced periods of prolonged drought and excessive weather, especially recently with flooding that reached from NY, to Pennsylvania, to Maryland, even to Washington DC. And whether you even believe that climate change is human induced or not (which there truly is no debate regarding human contribution to it) the effects of it are just as deadly and need to be faced in ways that seek as great a level of sustainability for all with also preserving the delicate balance of our planet.

The Great Lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior (which is the order I learned them in grade school to spell HOMES which I never forgot;-)) and the the bodies of water that connect with them are the largest source of freshwater on Earth next to Lake Baikal in Siberia. You can even see it from the moon as it spans 94,000 square miles and holds 6 quadrillion gallons of water, which is about nine-tenths of the U.S. supply.

Don't you think how we maintain this system is essential to our lives and the lives of our children? I do, and that's why I report on these water issues, because WATER IS LIFE. And The Great Lakes must be preserved for our future. It is good to know that there are so many groups in the states that adjoin this Earthly wonder that care for that as well. My hope is that in the future conditions will be such that we can share this bounty of the Earth equitably and peacefully, and work to change the conditions that are now causing so many concern for where the future of this water lies.

Destroying A Himalayan Paradise


The River Teesta

My last entry on the proposed development of the Kalabagh Dam in Pakistan, and the ecological damage it will do to an area of great tradition (the Sindh) along with the political powerplaying involved in calling for this project to go forward, and the war that may ensue from it is not the only story in this saga. Let me first then say in this opening that development in and of itself is not bad. However, development aimed only at making money for developers and states with the intention of displacing indigenous peoples, diverting their water resources, and in exploiting them for profit is unconscienable.

Again, water is a HUMAN RIGHT, although it seems that when it comes to corporate/state ownership human rights don't matter. Such is the case in Pakistan, and such is the case also in India.Consider this and once again note that the WORLD BANK is also behind it, and in my view their idea of "tapping a river" does not coincide with providing sustinence to the areas involved without a price:

FEATURE - Indian plan to dam northeast rivers stirs critics
By Simon Denyer Tue Jun 20, 7:31 AM

ETGANGTOK, India (Reuters) - Ambitious plans to build dams and hydro power projects throughout the hills of the remote northeast have trodden on some sensitive toes in the troubled region. The Indian government and theWorld Bank say there is enormous -- and so far unrealised -- potential to tap rivers throughout the eight northeastern states.The projects could generate around 60,000 MW of power -- which is double India's current hydro output and more than half of today's total generating capacity -- while the country's demand for energy is growing rapidly. Project revenues could potentially double the region's net domestic product and even curb flooding, experts say. But locals fear that tens of thousands of people will be forcibly evicted from their homes, the environment irrevocably damaged, and ancient ways of life imperilled.

In a region where dozens of insurgent groups are already battling Indian rule, the government knows it needs to tread carefully. It acknowledges the need to improve accountability and transparency, as well as involve local communities, and will hold a "workshop" in New Delhi on June 25-26 to finalise its plans. But trust is in short supply. Many people here equate government with corruption and misrule, and have little faith in the authorities' ability to behave responsibly and sensitively."For whose benefits are these projects planned?," asked Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People. "All the social and environmental costs would be borne by the people of the region. And if past experience is any guide, these costs are going to be heavy and mostly paid by the poorest, who depend on the natural resources around them.

"HIMALAYAN PARADISE"

Fast-flowing rivers running through the Himalayan mountains of Arunachal Pradesh have developers licking their lips. The state government plans to build 89 dams and hydro projects but locals say they have not been properly consulted. "The state is auctioning off Arunachal Pradesh without the consult of its people," said Bamang Anthony of Arunachal Citizens Rights. "Promoters are talking development. We also want development but we want to know what kind of development they want in our land. There is no transparency." Anthony says the dams will submerge thousands of hectares of land, including some towns, and displace more than 30,000 people. India's track record in rehousing the displaced from major development projects leaves little room for confidence. Dam construction could also disturb the fragile ecology of the eastern Himalayas, home to thousands of plant species. A dam on the Subansiri river threatens one of the last remaining habitats of the endangered Gangetic dolphin, environmentalists say. Dam construction also poses a special risk in one of the most earthquake-prone regions of the world.

DAM IN TROUBLED LAND

On India's border with Myanmar, the tiny state of Manipur is home to a decades-old insurgency against Indian rule that has claimed more than 10,000 lives. For 20 years, the government has talked about a 1,500 MW, 162-metre-high dam in the rebel-infested south of Manipur, at the intersection of the Tuivai and Barak rivers.The Tipaimukh plan finally got the go-ahead during a period of direct rule from New Delhi in 2003, and construction work has started on what will become the biggest dam in eastern India. The government promises it will provide water to farms and villages in the area, control floods, and even promote tourism -- besides giving everyone access to electricity. But local people became angry when the company which built a barrage 17 km downstream from the dam failed to keep a promise to supply irrigation water to nearby paddy fields. Villagers attacked workers and burnt sheds at the site, prompting the government to send in 1,000 soldiers. Human rights groups allege the troops have harassed local women. "Instead of fulfilling our demands to review the whole project, the government has sent the military to suppress our voice," said Thanmi Kashung, head of the Dam Affected Villagers Organisation. "Soldiers are now threatening our people."

RUN OF THE RIVER

In order to avoid similar problems, other northeast state governments are focusing on "run-of-the-river" projects: rivers are diverted through underwater channels but no dam is constructed, no reservoir created, and few people displaced. But in the Himalayan state of Sikkim, plans to build six such projects along the River Teesta to generate more than 3,000 MW have proved no more popular with local people. The ancient Lepcha tribe traditionally revere the river, and fear its disappearance into a series of tunnels will be accompanied by their own progressive marginalisation. Tunnelling and blasting have already caused landslides, and springs are drying up. Locals also complain that muck and rock debris is being dumped in the river, while thousands of migrant workers are entering the state and swamping the local culture of the Buddhist, Christian and animist Lepchas. "The history, the ethos, the folklore of Sikkim is connected with the Teesta and it is practically going to vanish," said Tseten Lepcha of the Affected Citizens of Teesta. (Additional reporting by Biswajyoti Das in Guwahati)
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The dams proposed to be built along the Teesta River should be of grave concern to environmentalists and all who believe in human rights. The Teesta River, the "lifeline of Sikkim" is exactly that to its people, as it flows for almost the entire length of the state. The emerald river connects Sikkim to West Bengal, finally flowing as a tributary into Bangladesh. It is a beautiful and scenic river in a Himalayan paradise filled with various vegetation, deciduous trees, and shrubs that color the hills in a rich green splendor. Its foaming white waters are also ideal for water rafting which is a business which draws in tourists from all over the world...but that will soon change should these projects go forth. And my question is, why should they go forth? Why build these expensive projects in such high numbers at the risk of displacing thousands of people and disrespecting their traditions and their way of life? That risks forever destroying the ecological balance of these pristine areas?

To the Lepcha people,the River Teesta is sacred:

And of course, this government is looking at opportunities here as well concerning China, which borders Sikkum to the North.

So there is the answer to the questions above, and it is always the same answer: PROFIT. And once again it is reported (as with the Kalabagh Dam) that the people of the region affected were not given any imput in this project's approval.

So once again I ask, what gives governments (and supposedly Democratic ones) the right to just take a sacred source of water of an indigenous people and exploit and pollute it for their own gain? And why are we suddenly seeing such a great number of these projects springing up in this area now? Could it be that governments see that the global water crisis is at a stage where control of the resources by corporate backed state governments is essential in maintaining control over the people?

It certainly isn't for their good if they are not even consulted beforehand (and as the article above attests to) and the people in these affected areas are displaced, mistreated, or denied the water they need to irrigate their mainstay crops.Sikkum has an agrarian economy, and traditional farming methods are practiced on terraced slopes because of the rocky terrain.

They grow cardamom, oranges, apples, tea and orchids. Rice is also grown on the terraced hillsides in the southern parts of the state. Sikkim also has the highest production and largest cultivated area of cardamom in India which is their cash crop. Breweries and distilleries are also a few of their main industries... and what do all of these businesses and crops need to thrive? Water. What then happens to these people with tunnelling, blasting, and diversion of their sacred river? Are they and a source of sustinence they see as a God worth the price of "progress?"

How long before Coca Cola goes to the Teesta River to bottle the water of the Lepcha people?

Coke In India

Stop Exploitation Of Ground Water

To me, disrespecting something others revere as sacred is abominable. What we are doing to our world in the name of "progress" is killing her. For once you exploit her soul there is nothing left. These government tactics to simply take over sources of water to then control their flow for profit is a human rights abuse that will lead to widescale war in the future if we do not stand up against the World Bank and those aligned with it to exploit the poor at the profit of the rich.

Notice also how these projects are going in areas where the people are esentially poor and weak in standing up to them. Pakistan is one example, and now India.... how many more will we see in the coming years as the global water crisis increases, especially in the most underdeveloped but most populated areas of the world? Where there is a higher demand with less access, we are seeing and WILL see exploitation. It is then up to us to fight against such exploitation now before it embroils us in a global resource war that will make wars for oil look like a family picnic.Pakistan is one example, and now India.... how many more will we see in the coming years as the global water crisis increases, especially in the most underdeveloped but most populated areas of the world?

Where there is a higher demand with less access, we are seeing and will see exploitation. It is then up to us to fight against such exploitation now before it embroils us in a global resource war that will make wars for oil look like a family picnic. As with the climate crisis we face an emergency involving our global water resources and their management, and we are running of time on both counts unless we also get this truth out to people and work to support a more sustainable world.

War Over Kalabagh Dam?



Pakistan's President Musharraf claims that building the Kalbagh Dam will alleviate the water crisis in Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the hardest hit countries regarding water scarcity, so on the surface the idea of building this dam might seem like a good idea. However, understanding the political cronyism involved, the environmental factors, the history of the land, and reading about the years of inactivity on this issue and the socio-economic rivalries of the peoples there may lead you to another conclusion.

This issue regarding the Sindhi and the Punjab in Pakistan is so complex and huge, it would be impossible to explain it all in this one entry from the beginning. However, here is a link that provides a timeline for the Indus Water Treaty that dates back to British rule and independence of the area to lead you to why the water crisis is at the crucial level it is in Pakistan now.

Indus Water Treaty.

A 2003 UN report entitled, "Water, A Vital Source of Life" also concluded that 44 percent of the total population of Pakistan does not has access to safe drinking water. That percentage is going up and will continue to increase the longer proposals are made based on politicization, and peoples' in the area continue to feud. The main issues of this report surrounded storage and sustainable use of freshwater resources, irrigation being one of them which is a source for about 70% of the waste we find world wide regarding our water resources.

The scarcity of water in Pakistan has also become a problem due to the variability of the climate, the continuing growing population, and the declining quality of freshwater resources because of the entry of sewerage and industrial elements into the country's freshwater streams. As with many of those countries suffering from water scarcity, more effective mangement of resources is essential to alleviating the problem. However, again, political and socio-economic feuds and mistrusts are standing in the way of this happening, and I have not read Musharraf offering alternatives to the dam which makes me suspicious about his reasons.And this is where this dispute has led Pakistan today:

Parched Pakistan Feuds Over US$18 Billion Dam Projects

PAKISTAN: June 28, 2006 KALABAGH, Pakistan - High above the Indus river, straight white lines painted on the chaparral-covered hillsides mark the site of an ambitious, US$7 billion dam project. President Pervez Musharraf wants to build five dams -- of which the Kalabagh dam, his top priority, is the biggest -- to head off Pakistan's looming water crisis and cut energy costs. "We cannot delay. I will not let Pakistan commit suicide over water shortages," Musharraf said recently. The dams, which could cost as much as US$18 billion, are meant to be completed by 2016.

Pakistan has talked for decades about building a dam at Kalabagh, but work has barely started because of fierce rivalries between the various provinces -- North West Frontier Province, Punjab and Sindh -- through which the Indus river flows. "This is Pakistan, it happens over here, projects are started, then stopped when new people come," says Zareen Khan, a turbaned 65-year-old villager in Kalabagh. Khan has seen surveyors visit his village, whose name means "black garden", many times before. "They just draw lines and leave." Dormitories that were originally built for teams of engineers, now provide shelter for the village goats. The engineers left in the 1980s before excavations even began. For all Musharraf's sweeping powers -- he amended the constitution following a coup in 1999 -- he is unable to force through plans for the controversial dams, especially with elections due in 2007. Kalabagh, downstream from where the Soan and Kabul rivers flow into the Indus, is in Punjab near the boundary with North West Frontier Province, or NWFP.

Of Pakistan's four provinces, only the central province of Punjab is in favour of the dam. "They are against the Kalabagh dam because they are against the Punjabi people, as there are more of them in the armed forces and bureaucracy," said Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and an advocate of the dam which is likely to create jobs in his constituency in Punjab's Mianwali district. WEALTH AND POWER Punjab is one of the wealthiest areas of Pakistan, a cause of much envy in other provinces. Punjabis also dominate the officer class in the army, which has repeatedly played a role in the country's politics, leading to widespread resentment.

"We don't trust them at all," said Qamar-uz-Zaman Shah, a critic of the project and veteran opposition leader from southern Sindh province, where the Indus drains into the Arabian Sea. Sindhis fear that if the dam is built, Punjabi landlords will use the water to irrigate their lands, depriving farmers in Sindh of a precious resource and causing an ecological calamity in the Indus delta. And politicians in NWFP say that an estimated 90,000 people will be displaced by the reservoir. But proponents dismiss this as political scare-mongering: Sindh will have more than enough water, and displaced people will be relocated easily and generously compensated. Desperate for an economic breakthrough to support the world's sixth-largest population, Pakistan needs more energy and water. Kalabagh's 3,600 MW power station will pump out low-cost energy equivalent to 20 million barrels of oil a year. At today's prices of around US$70 a barrel, that would mean savings of about US$1.4 billion in Pakistan's oil import bill.

Fresh water availability has fallen from 5,200 cubic metres per capita in 1947 -- when Pakistan was formed from the partition of India following independence from Britain -- to less than 1,000 cubic metres currently, making it one of the most parched nations in the world. During that time, the population has shot up from around 30 million to 160 million, and the economy is picking up steam.
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It is easy to then see where this could lead if the Kalabagh Dam is built....war. Those for it claim it will provide the area with much needed energy and water for irrigation (Punjab,) while those downstream believe it will cause environmental degradation and take water from them (Sindhi.) Again, a battle between rich and poor. This then goes beyond being simply an issue of politics to these peoples. It is one of spirituality, tradition, economics, and survival. This is a site that explains the feelings of the Sindhi:

Why Sindh Opposes Kalabagh Dam

Excerpt:

Punjab and Sindh have had a long-standing dispute over Indus water. After independence of Pakistan in 1947, as Punjab has imposed its will on Sindh in every other matter, it has also freely violated agreements with Sindh about the Indus water. Kalabagh Dam will give complete physical control of the flow of Indus to the Punjab dominated central government. Through the history of Pakistan, Punjab has repeatedly violated Sindh's rights on Indus waters. When necessary, concessions have been illegally extracted by Punjab through unrepresentative "leaders" installed by the center to govern Sindh.

To give some recent examples, the 1991 "Water Accord" and the 1997 "National Finance Award", both were signed to the detriment of Sindh. The latter was extracted from an unelected care-taker Chief Minister of Sindh, appointed by the central government. The former "accord" too was signed by an unrepresentative government installed through widespread rigging admittedly funded by the federal intelligence agency, ISI. Further, even these very agreements have been blatantly violated repeatedly. For decades the Tarbela Dam (constructed in 1976) has been used for illegal diversion of Indus waters toward Punjab. Link canals are illegally kept open through most of the year with little recourse for Sindh. In these circumstances, Kalabagh will only serve as an additional tool in the hands of Punjab to effectively deprive Sindh of its water.The current military dictatorship in Pakistan has attempted to change loyalties of the staunchest opponents of Kalabagh Dam by offering them lucrative positions in their illegal government. Some of them recently resigned from the Sindh government. Others are are still serving.
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To be honest I had mixed feelings regarding this dam, but I lean to be being against it and honestly so based on the political reasons for it and the fact that Musharraf pushed this out without the consent of the three poorer provinces. I think there are alternatives to the dam that will reduce environmental devastation and can still provide a water source to all areas amicably. Small storage dams and power generation units (preferably relying on alternate energy (solar)) are preferable to building mega dams. Storage units built to catch flood waters that eventually run into the Arabian Sea from the Indus River would go a long way to solving this problem. Lining of irrigation networks could also save water which would possibly save more water than the amount of water stored in a mega dam. This would also alleviate the problem of waterlogged land and soil erosion which also washes away nutrients causing degradation of the soil which causes famine.

Many others believe this as well:

Day Of Action 1

Day of Action 2

I also believe that conservation techniques seriously put into play could go a long way in solving the water scarcity problem of Pakistan (and many other countries) in such a way as to bring about a more sustainable solution which will hopefully also maintain peace. Of course, the rights to the waters of the Indus River will be in dispute the longer the government insists on giving special treatment to Punjab over the other provinces, and in putting political reasons over the true reasons why these efforts must be undertaken: to preserve a way of life and tradition that is sustainable to all people, and to provide safe, potable water to all the people of Pakistan. I do believe that should conditions remain as they are, however, and the Kalabagh Dam go forward, that war may ensue.

Save Indus

Those who oppose the dam are already being charged with treason. And this is the government that is supported militarily and economically by the Bush administration. I suppose it isn't hard to see where they stand on this. However, is such a huge and expensive project funded by political concerns and the World Bank worth the total devastation of a way of life for an indigenous people? Is it worth war? Where water is concerned, the answer will always be yes by those seeking to control it. It must always be no for those who cherish life, peace, and the willingness to speak out for their survival. In this case, however, forces of nature will surely play the biggest part in that decision. I will be continuing to monitor what happens regarding this dam.

WATER IS LIFE. WATER FOR PEOPLE.

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