The Stream, February 23: Hydropower Boom Is Risk to Balkan Rivers and Wildlife

The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

A dam-building spree in the Balkans threatens critical species and Europe’s last wild rivers, conservationists say. Drought is taking a toll on Brazil’s economy, shale drillers in Alberta, Canada are being asked to measure for earthquakes, and the United States is charging a major energy company with water pollution violations. Technology exists to make automatic-flushing toilets use less water, but it may be a while before it is widely used.

“What we have here in the Balkans at the moment is a gold rush on the rivers. I sometimes think the western countries that are financially supporting this degradation process have no idea what they are destroying. There is nothing in Europe remotely like this river system.” –Ulrich Eichelmann, director of Austria-based RiverWatch, on plans for more than 2,000 dams in the Balkans. Conservationists worry the dams would drastically change some of Europe’s last wild areas and could push certain species to extinction. (Guardian)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

0.42 percent Expected decline in Brazil’s gross domestic product in 2015, the first time the economy has contracted since 2009. A severe drought in major cities is one factor cited for the drop. Bloomberg

5 power plants Number that are the focus of a United States lawsuit charging Duke Energy with Clean Water Act violations over illegal pollution from coal ash dumps. Associated Press


Science, Studies, And Reports

Researchers have known for years that automatic-flush toilets, widely used in places like airports, are big and unnecessary water wasters because they flush accidentally. Available technology could change that, but older models of the toilets still dominate the market despite efforts by regulators, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to alert consumers to water-efficient choices. Guardian

On the Radar

On The Radar

Shale drillers using hydraulic fracturing methods in Alberta must now test for seismic activity at their production sites and take action to reduce the risk of earthquakes if they detect events greater than a 2.0 magnitude on the Richter scale, according to new rules announced by provincial regulators. Bloomberg

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