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Water Law Stories

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Asian Carp Case Goes to Court as Foundation Pledges $500,000 to Protect the Great Lakes

Invasive Asian carp make a surprise appearance on the Missouri River.

EPA Releases Draft of Clean Water Strategy for Public Comment

The EPA seeks stricter pollution standards and a national water quality assessment.

Lawmakers Pass Bill to Protect Argentina’s Glaciers

Bill passes that will ban mining and oil drilling in Andean ice fields.

Peter Gleick: The California Water Bond — What Does Proposition 18 Really Say and Do?

The costs and benefits of California's largest water bond in a half century have not been fully assessed by an independent organization.

Countries Move Forward with Nile Treaty Despite Egypt’s Objections

A weekend meeting of the Nile basin water ministers does not resolve treaty impasse.

Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Water Territories and the Politics of Scale and Identity

An excerpt from the introductory chapter of Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Politics and Identity, a book on the effect modern society has on water culture and indigenous communities

Environmental Groups Sue BP Under Clean Water Act

Landmark act could be used by the federal government to recover billions in fines, send people to jail.

Clean Water Act Proposal Would Strengthen Federal Protection

Opponents call the proposal a federal power grab, while the bill's author says it would restore the original intent of the landmark water legislation.

Indigenous Groups in Ecuador Protest Water Reform Bill

The water legislation would consolidate too much power in the hands of the government, protesters say.

California Water Board Changes Power Plant Regulations to Protect Aquatic Life

Power plants will be required to change their cooling systems to reduce the amount of water they withdraw from oceans and estuaries as a result.

Nile Basin Countries Fail to Sign River Treaty Again

Egypt and Sudan have rejected the proposed Nile Basin agreement as it stands, while the other seven members vow to press on.

Bolivian Village Wants Compensation for Climate Change Adaptation

Alternative climate summit opens April 20 in Bolivia to address concerns of the world’s poor.

Bid to Protect Michigan’s Groundwater Draws Opposition, Praise

A proposed bill that declares Michigan’s groundwater a “public trust” has set off a storm of controversy, with opponents claiming that the legislation would expose property owners to new state fees.

Peter Gleick: Water and Energy – Obey the Law on Cooling Systems

The connections between energy and water are significant and complex. We use vast amounts of energy to collect, move, treat, use, and clean water. And we use vast amounts of water to produce energy, including for mining, drilling, and processing fossil and nuclear fuels, and especially for cooling power plants.

2009 California Water Plan Published

Report recommends upgrading the state's information base to better user understanding of the water system.

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Water Law Graphics

Newest Article

Infographic: China’s Water Pollution Events and Protection Policies (2004-2011)

Infographic: China’s Water Pollution Events and Protection Policies (2004-2011)

China has some of the dirtiest and most dangerous water in the world. This detailed and interactive timeline shows key pollution events, protests, and policy reforms from the last eight years at both the national and regional levels as China tries to clean up its act.

Infographic: Successes and Failures of China’s Five-Year Plans (1996 -2010)

A breakdown of previous plans gives context to the newly released 12th Five-Year Plan.

Infographic: China’s Water Governance Bureaucracy and Water Legislation Timeline

Demystifying China’s governmental water offices and water-related laws. China’s water is managed by a complex web of ministries, and national, sub-national, and cross-jurisdictional agencies. The dual leadership system—comprised of a territorial and a central government—has a hierarchy in which offices of the two bureaucracies with the same rank cannot issue binding orders to each other. […]

Infographic: State Legislatures Bridge Water-Energy Gap

A look at 16 states with statutes that acknowledge the tightening chokepoint between declining water resources and rising energy demand.

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Water Law International

Newest Article

Update: UN Transboundary Water Treaty Moves Forward As Cote d’Ivoire Approves Ratification

Update: UN Transboundary Water Treaty Moves Forward As Cote d’Ivoire Approves Ratification

Though three more ratifications are needed before the UN Watercourses Convention has the force of international law, advocates assert that four countries are close: Ireland, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

U.S. and Mexico Sign Major Deal on Colorado River Issues: Delta Restoration, Infrastructure, Water Sharing

The agreement marks a turn in Colorado River management. Senior officials from the United States and Mexico signed a broad five-year agreement on Tuesday that marks renewed cooperation over the Colorado River, a desert lifeline that provides water to at least 30 million people, irrigation to top agricultural counties, and electricity to millions — despite […]

Protests Break Out After India’s Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Downstream State in Cauvery River Dispute

A decades-long quarrel over water allocations boils up again during this year's dry summer, ending in farmer protests and increased security.

Make Water A Priority: Former Government Leaders Call on UN Security Council

The time is increasingly right for high-level action, the group’s water policy advisor tells Circle of Blue. Photo courtesy of JC McIlwaine/UN Photo The United Nations Security Council met in October 2011 to hear a report on protecting water and natural resources in Somalia. A group of former world leaders wants the 15-member body to […]

Support for UN Water Treaty Accelerates

Progress on the treaty, which deals with transboundary water basins, or those shared by two or more countries, had stalled — until a major conservation group got involved.

India Supreme Court Again Pushes National River Linking Project to Proceed

This is the second time the court has promoted the mega-project that would link the major rivers in the north with those in the south as a way to better manage water, moving it from areas of perceived surplus to areas without sufficient supplies.

Ecuador and Oil: Chevron Loses Court Appeal Against $18 Billion Amazon Pollution Fine

Closing in on nearly two decades in court, this “David and Goliath” fight seems far from over. Plaintiffs contend that no amount of money can repair the damage to the environment and to the lives of the 30,000 who claim to have been affected, while the U.S. oil company has denounced the Ecuadorean court system […]

James Workman: Mandela’s Global Water Ambassador Dies — A Reflection on South African Human Rights Lawyer, Kader Asmal

When Nelson Mandela named South Africa’s first democratic Minister for Water Affairs and Forestry – a futile effort to keep his outspoken, irascible, chain-smoking friend out of trouble – Kader Asmal claimed ignorance about the rudimentary basics of his new portfolio.

Pakistan and India in Dam Building Race — Interpreting the Indus Waters Treaty

A new era of dam building brings uncertainty to the 50-year-old water truce between India and Pakistan.

Q&A: James G. Workman on the Bushmen’s Fight for Water Rights and 21st Century Hydro-Democracy

Workman says chances of the Botswanian government returning water rights to the Bushmen as 'pretty slim.'

Lawmakers Pass Bill to Protect Argentina’s Glaciers

Bill passes that will ban mining and oil drilling in Andean ice fields.

James Workman: Who Owns the Rain—When Thirsty Democracies Deny Individual Liberty to Water

James G. Workman reflects on a recent ruling that compromises the water rights of the Bushmen.

Countries Move Forward with Nile Treaty Despite Egypt’s Objections

A weekend meeting of the Nile basin water ministers does not resolve treaty impasse.

Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Water Territories and the Politics of Scale and Identity

An excerpt from the introductory chapter of Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Politics and Identity, a book on the effect modern society has on water culture and indigenous communities

Q&A: David Getches on Water Rights for
Indigenous Cultures

"How modern society is affecting our water culture and the rights of indigenous communities."

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Feature Stories

Newest Article

Mongolia Copper Mine at Oyu Tolgoi Tests Water Supply and Young Democracy

Mining boom in South Gobi influenced by local and global citizen activism

China Tests New Strategy to Curb Coal Demand, Reduce Air Pollution, and Conserve Water

Nation’s Ministry of Environment turns to Circle of Blue and the Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum for help.

Toxic Water: Across Much of China, Huge Harvests Irrigated with Industrial and Agricultural Runoff

The dirty truth about the world’s largest grain producer.

China’s Water Reserves and World’s Warming Atmosphere Wait For Natural Gas Breakthrough

China’s deep shale reserves are treacherous to tap and slow to develop.

Scarcity of Water and Land Shifts Geography of Food Production and Irrigation Networks to China’s Northeast

Rich land, ample water, and human persistence have turned virgin prairie into the primary breadbasket for China, the world’s largest nation and second-largest economy that is pursuing grain production with a single-minded purpose.

Food Supply, Fracking, and Water Scarcity Challenge China’s Juggernaut Economy

New project finds that building the world’s fastest-growing economy risks public safety and tests global resource limits. Photo © J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue An expensive program to expand irrigation networks is occurring in Inner Mongolia, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces, which has prompted concern because it would push new irrigation canals into highly […]

Building China’s 21st-century Megacity: Shanghai’s Experiment with Water and Nature

A new community on the Yangtze River has, so far, been more successful at attracting ducks than people. But city officials have their sights set high for Lingang Port City, which they say could be home to nearly a million people by 2050. Cleaner water will be a big help.

Double Choke Point: Demand for Energy Tests Water Supply and Economic Stability in China and the U.S.

The cords of energy demand and water supply are tightening around the world's two largest economies.

Energy Economy Brings Change to Shepherd Life: Modernization Comes to the Dry Grasslands of Inner Mongolia

Along the vast frozen grasslands, 23-year-old Wu Yun and her father, Bao Zhu, tend their flock of sheep and cattle. Just over the ridge, the northern city of Xilinhot is booming as the coal industry continues to expand. But it will take a lot of water to feed both the city and the mining.

Rains Bring Relief For Six-Month China Drought, But Chronic Water Problems Loom

Although now satiated, the dry spell is the latest in a growing trend of severe water shortages threatening China's food production, energy generation, and accelerating modernization.

China’s Other Looming Choke Point: Food Production

The Yellow River Basin is the center of a contest over water, energy, and agriculture.

Off the Deep End — Beijing’s Water Demand Outpaces Supply Despite Conservation, Recycling, and Imports

How China's capital got in over its head, and what the city is doing to get its water crisis under control.

Water Needs Curtail China’s Coal Gasification For Fuel, Yet Conversion To Chemicals Pushes Ahead

Though coal-to-liquids has been suspended due to water scarcity, the process uses 50 percent less water per unit of end product compared with coal-to-chemicals processes which have been given the go-ahead in hopes of slowing petroleum imports.

Q&A: Ma Jun on China’s Economic Development and Water Resources

Ma Jun tells Circle of Blue that China is still on the track of a highly energy- and resource-intensive model, with the need to de-couple economic growth from the expansion of resource consumption

Bohai Sea Pipeline Could Open China’s Northern Coal Fields

Disputed project seen as a must for modernization.

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Choke Point: China - Photo Slideshows

Newest Article

Photo Slideshow: China’s Polluted Waters

Pollution is a major driver of water scarcity in China, especially in the places where economic growth is the highest and water resources are under the most stress — China’s dry northern breadbaskets and its biggest manufacturing hubs in the south and east.

Photo Slideshow: Irrigating Northeastern China’s Breadbasket

The northeast region of China, including Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin provinces, is among the world’s most important breadbaskets. Earlier this year, as Circle of Blue reported in this Choke Point: China article, China’s central government announced a five-year, $US 6.3 billion program to rebuild and expand irrigation networks in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, and eastern Inner […]

Video: Scarcity, Pollution, and Energy are Choke Point: China II Focus

Choke Point: China is an on-the-ground report that displays in text, photographs, and interactive graphics the powerful evidence of a potentially ruinous confrontation between growth, water, and energy that is already visible across China; a confrontation that is virtually certain to grow more dire over the next decade. Nadya Ivanova: China is a place in […]

Video: Confronting Water Scarcity & Energy Demand in China

Choke Point: China is an on-the-ground report that displays in text, photographs, and interactive graphics the powerful evidence of a potentially ruinous confrontation between growth, water, and fuel that is already visible across China; a confrontation that is virtually certain to grow more dire over the next decade.

Photo Slideshow: City of Coal on the Inner Mongolia Steppe

Xilinhot — an Inner Mongolian outpost of 177,000 residents, separated from Beijing by a 12-hour train ride — is at the center of the Xilin Gol Grassland, one of China's largest prairies and livestock production regions. The north's coal mines, trucks, and power plants are representative of the nation's coal dependency, a lifeline with an insatiable thirst for water

Photo Slideshow: Food and Farmers — China’s Other Challenge

The farm sector and the coal sector together made up 85 percent of water used in China last year. These photos take a look at the people and places affected by rising energy demand, accelerating modernization, and diminishing freshwater resources.

Photo Slideshow: Beijing Water Imports and Wastewater Recycling

A gallery of images from Beijing and neighboring Hebei Province, where the capital city is importing water from farmers and fishermen.

Photo Slideshow: Bohai Pipeline Could Bring Water to China’s Coal Industry

Images from northern China, where a proposed pipeline could be the answer to a resource mismatch of coal wealth and water poverty.

Photo Slideshow: Irrigation to Industry — Trading Water Rights in China’s Yellow River Basin

New industries invest in repairing irrigation canals in exchange for the right to use water from the Yellow River.

Photo Slideshow: China’s South-North Water Transfer Project

Taken together, the three lines are an audacious strategy to solve the increasingly dire confrontation between rising energy demand in a nation that is steadily getting drier.

Photo Slideshow — Choke Point: China

A gallery of images from Choke Point: China, a new water-energy series about the tightening noose that could choke off China’s modernization.

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Related China Stories

Newest Article

Deep Sea Gas: China Follows Japan in Pursuit of New Energy Source

Deep Sea Gas: China Follows Japan in Pursuit of New Energy Source

Though methane hydrate, a newly discovered unconventional natural gas reserve, is seen as an alternative to coal-fueled power, the technology for tapping deepwater supplies is not yet viable.

First Time Key Global Energy Report Highlights Water Constraints of Energy Production

Energy is becoming a thirstier resource, the report states. Photo courtesy Hess Corporation North Dakota is in the midst of a hydrocarbon production boom, as gas and oil developers tap the Bakken Shale. But the boom also is generating civic resistance in the arid region because it requires significant quantities of fresh water. Brett Walton […]

U.S., U.K, and China Lead Foreign Land Investments In Agriculture and Finance

GRAIN’s online database is the foundation for much of what the world knows about foreign investments in land. Though the majority of “land grabs” are for agribusiness, other sectors include construction, finance, industry, real estate, and more. Map © Varun Mangla /Circle of Blue Interactive map of “Land Grabs” by country and by sector: The […]

National Security Assessment: Water Scarcity Disrupting U.S. and Three Continents

In a new report, the U.S. State Department finds a global confrontation between growing water demand and shrinking supplies, in addition to predictions for the next 30 years of water scarcity.

“Choke Point: China” Findings Cited in Congressional Hearing

Choke Point: China findings presented at Congressional hearing.

Update: China Completes Tunnel Under Yellow River for South-North Water Transfer Project

China is on target to begin transferring water from the Yangtze River Basin to Hebei, Shandong, and Tianjin by 2013.

Choke Point: China on Wilson Center’s Dialogue Program

On Wednesday evening, dialogue — an award-winning television and radio program that explores the world of ideas through weekly, half-hour conversations with renowned public figures, scholars, journalists, and authors — will feature "Choke Point: The World's Looming Water Crisis."

EIA Report: Global Energy Use To Grow 50 Percent by 2035 — Half of Increase from Fossil Fuels in China and India

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently published its annual report on global energy projections. Though renewable energy sources and nuclear power, along with unconventional fossil fuels, will phase out coal production over the next two decades, it will not be at the pace necessary to offset greenhouse gas emissions

China Turns Profit From Coal-to-liquid Fuels Production, May Expand Controversial Program

Though China suspended most of its coal-to-liquid fuels refineries in 2008 due to concerns for scarce water resources and high production costs, recent financial gains may lead it to reconsider its policy.

China to Cap Energy Use by 2015 in National Low-Carbon Plan

The energy target will be the highlight of a document to come later this year, as well as a cornerstone of China's efforts to curb soaring greenhouse gas emissions, which currently stand at a quarter of the global total. Cutting coal consumption will inevitably also cut water use, as coal is China's largest industrial user of water.

Australia Builds Desalination Plants and Pipelines to Bring Water to Mines

To feed water-hungry mining industries, similar plans are in the works to supply drought-ridden regions of Australia and China.

Flooding Tests Three Gorges Dam, Pollutes Songhua River in China

Chemical pollution is the latest calamity as heavy rains continue to blanket the country with floods.

China Looks to Increase Hydropower to Meet Clean Energy Goals

While the superpower announces ambitious sustainability goals, it faces droughts and intensive energy needs.

Drought in South China is Worst in Decades

Parts of southern China are being ravaged by a severe three-season drought. Millions of people lack adequate water supplies, and millions of acres of cropland are too dry to plant.

Chinese Farms Generate More Water Pollution than Factories

Study shows 2007 discharges were double previous estimates.

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Featured Stories

Newest Article

Choke Point: U.S. — Water, Energy, and the Ohio River Valley’s New Course

Few places in the United States better understand the economically essential and ecologically risky accord between energy and water than this southeast Ohio town.

No Clear Path for Energy Policy in Great Lakes States

Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania governments struggle with climate change, budgets, and changing markets.

Exxon and Imperial Oil Forced To Go Around Sensitive Idaho River Valley

Push-back on the transportation of tar sands equipment through a wilderness corridor reflects civic resistance to North American fossil fuel boom.

Fossil Fuel Boom Shakes Ohio, Spurring Torrent of Investment and Worry Over Water

Ohio’s shale oil and gas fortunes point up. By Keith Schneider and Codi Yeager Circle of Blue Photo © Codi Yeager/Circle of Blue The site of a proposed $US 3 billion natural-gas-to-liquids plant near Wellsville, Ohio, heralds what many say is the state’s most significant investment in oil and gas development in decades. But the […]

Visions of Solar Energy’s Future Compete in Colorado’s San Luis Valley

The U.S. government is in the process of designating more than 6,000 hectacres of federal land for solar energy development. As companies line up to submit projects, some valley residents are questioning the centralized model of energy generation and are, instead, trying to shape an independent energy future.

State of the Union: New Economics of Energy Production Tilts Obama’s “All-of-the-Above” Strategy One Way

In the era of deficit and disinvestment, water-intensive fossil fuel production is overwhelming the water-sipping clean energy sector.

Pacific Institute Report: Setbacks and Solutions of Water-Energy Clash in U.S. Intermountain West

At the forefront of a national trend, this region is already suffering from intense conflicts that willy only worsen with climate change and population growth. However, the report also highlights several ways to dramatically reduce the water requirements for electricity generation.

EIA Report: Global Energy Use To Grow 50 Percent by 2035 — Half of Increase from Fossil Fuels in China and India

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently published its annual report on global energy projections. Though renewable energy sources and nuclear power, along with unconventional fossil fuels, will phase out coal production over the next two decades, it will not be at the pace necessary to offset greenhouse gas emissions

Coal Conversion in the Rust Belt: Will It Be a Diamond for Small Ohio River Town?

An energy company has plans to withdraw water from the Ohio River, the potential site for a coal-to-liquid fuels conversion plant, which would be the first of its kind in the United States and the sixth in the world. Though it will bring jobs to the region, the proposal is facing strong opposition from environmental groups.

FOIA Lawsuit Seeks Release of U.S. Department of Energy’s ‘Water-Energy Roadmap’

The report, one of two ordered by Congress on water and energy, has been delayed for years.

Double Choke Point: Demand for Energy Tests Water Supply and Economic Stability in China and the U.S.

The cords of energy demand and water supply are tightening around the world's two largest economies.

EPA and Halliburton Skirmish — Promises of Safer Fracking Fluid

After denying EPA disclosure request, Halliburton promises safer fracking fluid and more disclosure.

The Rising Cost of Settling the American Desert

Power plant that moves torrent of water uphill considers closing

Low Water May Halt Hoover Dam’s Power

What happens if Lake Mead drops too low to generate electricity at Hoover Dam?

In Era of Climate Change and Water Scarcity, Meeting National Energy Demand Confronts Major Impediments

The pursuit of energy development development reveal gaps in policymaking.

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Coal

Newest Article

Supreme Court Ruling Tests Boundaries of Water Supply and Energy Production Along Montana-Wyoming Border

Montana and Wyoming have taken their transboundary water dispute to the Supreme Court. Wyoming won the first round. But others await in a case that will help decide how much water is really available to generate energy and to produce food in one of the nation’s driest regions, as well as who has access to that water.

Coal Conversion in the Rust Belt: Will It Be a Diamond for Small Ohio River Town?

An energy company has plans to withdraw water from the Ohio River, the potential site for a coal-to-liquid fuels conversion plant, which would be the first of its kind in the United States and the sixth in the world. Though it will bring jobs to the region, the proposal is facing strong opposition from environmental groups.

Water Pollution Solution — New York Experiments with Coal Tar “Sponges” in Hudson River

Testing new methods to remove residual coal tar from riverbeds in New York.

Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater and Drinking Water Sites in 21 States, Study Finds

The EPA must do a better job of regulating the waste and protecting the nation’s water supply.

Photo Slideshow: A Desperate Clinch — Coal Production Across America

A look at the places and faces affected by coal production in the United States.

Infographic: Coal and Water – A Resource Mismatch

The contest between coal-fired energy production and water demand is a mismatch.

Video: Toxic Coal Ash Town in Indiana

A small Indiana town is slated for cleanup as an EPA Alternative Superfund Site.

Q&A: Jennifer Turner on Water Challenges for Growing China

"China is a very energy hungry country, so it’s not surprising that they are damming the rivers."

Race to the Finish: Coal Run Receives Water, City and County Plan to Appeal

Coal Run, a community denied water on allegedly racial grounds, can now turn on the tap at will.

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