‘Dubai faces higher utility bills as costs and demand escalate’

7 11 2007

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has estimated that Dubai will need to spend £9 billion over the next five years to keep its lights on and fresh water flowing. Rapidly increasing demand for utilities and increased costs in the city-state mean businesses and households in Dubai face this price increase, the first utility bill increase for a decade. Dubai’s has an expected 10 per cent annual population growth, which will put pressure on already limited resources. According to a prospectus released by Dewa, demand for power and water will increase by 20 per cent a year in Dubai, which will cause shortages unless action is taken now to prevent such problems. Dewa want to raise tariffs to meet the cost of more expensive natural gas, fuel oil and water. The prospectus states: “Dewa is seeking government approval for an increase in electricity and water tariffs in the future across all customers as a whole.” Such price increases have been met with public opposition even though the costs are generally far lower than they are in Britain and Europe.

Source: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/utilities/article2813874.eceNovember 6th 2007





‘Fight for water puts fish in peril’

7 11 2007

A seven year study has shown that nearly 40 per cent of freshwater fish in Britain and Europe face extinction and during the research 12 species have become extinct. The research, carried out with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) was carried out by Maurice Kottelat, a former president of the European Ichthyological Society, and Jörg Freyhof, of the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology in Germany. The survey found that out of the 58 freshwater species found in Britain, 22 are under threat of extinction, including the golden charr and gwyniad. Species described as ’critically endangered’ include jarabugos in Spain and Portugal, and gizani in Greece. The study also looked at eels, which are categorised as ‘critically endangered’ after their numbers have decreased by about 95% since 1980.

Changes in water temperature, volume and composition, partly due to climate change and human activity. ‘Freshwater fish stocks across Europe have plummeted primarily because so much water has been diverted for human use, leaving many rivers and streams dry for much of the year. Pollution, overfishing and the introduction of alien species and diseases wreaked further havoc on fish populations over the past century’.

The researchers were shocked at just how dire the situation seemed to be. William Darwell of the (IUCN) claims “The freshwater ecosystem is probably more threatened than any of the others” and that action must be taken immediately before the effects are irreversible. They think fish should be valued as an ecological asset rather than an economic or agricultural crop.

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 Source http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2789667.ece (November 2nd 2007)





‘Welsh water company fined for polluting river’

24 10 2007

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, a water treatment plant in Wakes has been charged and fined after it was found to be responsible for pumping untreated sewage into the River Cynon, resulting in the death of over 1800 fish, mostly trout. The Environment Agency forced the company to bring in independent contractors to oversee the blocking of the sewage flow and the return of the river to acceptable safety standards. Claiming that the contamination was due to a technical fault in the plant, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water pleaded guilty in court to contaminating the river with raw sewage. They were found to have broken Section Four of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 and Section 85 of the Water Resources Act 1991 and were subsequently fined £10,000 and had to pay £4,420 in court costs. Joseph Barr, the Environment Agency Officer working on the case says that the fine will be used to restock the fish population and help minimise the environmental damage caused by the company. Barr also hopes that it will act as an example to others and ’will lead to improvements being made to prevent any further incidents of this nature’.
Unfortunately such incidents are common in Wales and elsewhere. In September 2003, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water were fined £12,500 for polluting the River Clyne and killing over 3000 fish, and in July 2007 they were fined yet again, this time for polluting a river near Wrexham.

http://www.water-guide.org.uk/blog-welsh-water-company-fined-for-polluting-river-82.html (2/10/07)





‘Thames users at risk from untreated sewage’

24 10 2007

Tests conducted on the most used stretch of the River Thames, that which flows through Kew, Putney and Barnes, have shown the presence of high levels of bacteria and viruses. These pathogens can cause infections such as gastroenteritis and lead to nausea, diarrhoea or abdominal pain. Although only 18 people out of about 1200 leisure users have reported such symptoms, health experts believe there are many unreported cases. Large numbers of people use the river for recreational activities such as rowing, canoeing and fishing, and so the health risk to the public is high and imminent. Visitors who have built no immunity to the pathogens are most at risk, as are children and the elderly. Dr Susanne Surman-Lee, of the government’s Health Protection Agency, advises that people should ‘wash their hands regularly after using the river, particularly before eating or drinking, and try not to swallow any water if they should fall in’. With the approach of the 2012 Olympics, health agencies have warned competitors not to train on the river. As well as putting human health at risk, the pollutants also kill plants and fish, reduce biodiversity and decrease the aesthetic and general quality of the water.

The contamination seems to be the result of a discharge of untreated sewage into the river following heavy rainfall. When treatment works are unable to cope with excess surface water, such as after heavy rain, water is discharged, unfortunately along with untreated sewage. Recreational users of the river are thought to be at risk of infection for three or four days after such heavy rainfall. Some believe that climate change and the associated unpredictable weather will lead to increased pollution of this kind. Jenny Bates, the London campaigns co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth, says ‘the solution is for the Thames interceptor tunnel to be built urgently and for the government to introduce a strong climate change bill’.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/sep/27/pollution.uknews (27/9/07)