The weekly wash-up (April 21)

River and water news – April 21st, 2014

Reservoir emptied after one rogue pee  The US city of Portland in Oregon is ditching more than 140 million litres of drinking water after a teenager was caught on camera urinating into a reservoir. The water will be discarded despite tests finding no evidence of contamination. One wonders how the Californians view this.

Making dams safer for fish   The pressure changes that many fish experience when they travel through the turbulent waters near a dam can seriously injure or kill the fish. Scientists from around the world are working together to protect fish from the phenomenon, known as barotrauma. Depending on its specific path, a fish traveling through a dam can experience an enormous drop in pressure, similar to the change from sea level to the top of Mt. Everest, in an instant. Scientists have found that trying to keep minimum pressure higher in all areas near the turbine is key for preventing barotrauma.

Local jobs to manage Commonwealth environmental water  The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is now recruiting local engagement officers to work directly with Murray-Darling Basin communities. This is a direct response to suggestions from irrigators, local environment groups, community representatives and other interested parties that the Commonwealth needs to better engage with people on the ground and take more local knowledge and experience into account. Anyone would think they read my last post.

Two new electric fish species discovered in Congo   Two new species of weakly electric fishes from the Congo River basin have been discovered. One of them, known from only a single specimen, is named ‘Petrocephalus boboto.’ ‘Boboto’ is the word for peace in the Lingala language, the lingua franca of the Congo River.

The new fish species form the Congo, Petrocephalus boboto, before preservation (top) and after (middle and bottom). Photo by Sébastien Lavoué and John P. Sullivan

The new fish species form the Congo, Petrocephalus boboto, before preservation (top) and after (middle and bottom). Photo by Sébastien Lavoué and John P. Sullivan

World’s first water stewardship standard is released  The first international Water Stewardship Standard, a global framework to promote sustainable freshwater use, has been released. The Standard defines globally applicable, consistent criteria for sustainable management and use of the world’s limited freshwater resources. The Standard was developed through a four-year, multi-stakeholder, process that included a diversity of business, public sector and civil society interests from around the world, as well as pilot projects held in seven countries.

Mekong River summit  A summit of  Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam has led to calls for greater cooperation managing the Mekong river’s vital water resources. But Laos is pressing ahead with two major dam projects that could have major implications for downstream countries. Vietnam faces rising salt water intrusion into the Mekong Delta region due to lower fresh water flow, reduced 10% during the past three decades.  Meanwhile the Don Sahong Dam, near the Lao border with Cambodia would have a significant impact on migratory fish, vital to feeding millions of people, especially in Cambodia.

New dams considered to save Ipswich, Brisbane   The Queenland Government will announce by Christmas which of eight prospective dams it could build first to combat flooding in the South East. The government will also study the cost and implications of raising the wall of Wivenhoe Dam by eight metres.

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