The weekly wash-up (June 7th)

The week that was in river and water news – June 7th, 2013

Ethiopian dams spell water woes for Egypt  Last month Ethiopia started diverting the waters of the Blue Nile in order to build  a $4.7 billion dam for hydro-power. Egypt depends utterly on irrigation water from the Nile to grow its food. Even now there is not enough, and Egypt’s population is still growing fast.  A treaty signed in 1929 gave 90% of the Nile’s water to  Egypt and Sudan, even though all the water in the river starts as rain in the upstream countries: Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. More dams and irrigation projects will follow – and the upstream states are in no mood to let Egypt exercise its veto under the 1929 treaty.

China’s mega water diversion project begins testing  China’s South-North Water Diversion Project will pump almost 45 billion cubic metres of water a year to the north, equivalent to the water flow in the Yellow River in northern China. The ambitious project has been under construction since 2002 and it is expected to take almost 50 years  to complete.  Testing started last week on the first phase of the eastern part of the project which should start operation later this year.

Danjiankou reservoir, China. Photo courtesy International Rivers

Danjiankou reservoir, China. Photo courtesy International Rivers

Groundwater fight lost  Irrigators have lost a legal challenge to groundwater cuts in the Lower Murray region and have been ordered to pay court costs. More than 100 farmers challenged the Lower Murray Groundwater Sharing Plan in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

No budget money for Brisbane’s threatened water supply  There is no money in Tuesday’s Queensland budget to stop Brisbane running out of drinking water. In January, thick mud running down Lockyer Creek clogged the Mt Crosby Water Treatment Plant, putting Brisbane within six hours of running out of clean drinking water.

Singapore’s water companies aim to quench China’s $850 billion thirst   Water companies in Singapore are  profiting from exporting their expertise to China, which needs to improve its scarce and polluted water supplies. Singapore is a hub for water technology because of its own concerns about water security. Since 2006, $371.2 million has been committed to fund water research. Over the same period, Singapore-based water companies secured more than 100 international projects worth close to S$9 billion.