In a first for Canadians, a river in Côte-Nord, Que., has been granted legal personhood by the local municipality of Minganie and the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit. The Magpie River, (Muteshekau-shipu in the Innu Coet) is an internationally renowned whitewater rafting site, winding nearly 300 kilometres before emptying into the St. Lawrence. The river has one hydroelectric dam managed by Hydro-Québec, and environmental groups have long sought a permanent solution to protect the river from further disruption. It is unclear how this will affect attempts to build developments on the river, including dams, moving forward, as legal personhood for nature doesn't exist in Canadian law and could be challenged in court.
The Chilean government has continued with the mercantile treatment of common goods, putting several rivers in the Bio Bio Region up for auction, despite ongoing social unrest. The practice of auctioning off rivers is legally supported by the 1981 water code. By conceiving of water as an economic asset, this code has made rivers mere objects for energy exploitation; the state hands over access through a resolution that enables private parties to harness rivers for commercial hydropower.
(Ball Bluff, MN) On March 22nd, members of the Ginew Collective supported by Northfield Against Line 3 exposed an Enbridge drilling worksite on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River on the proposed Line 3 route. Construction workers in Enbridge vests were engaged in what appeared to be core sampling for a Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD) to bore Line 3 under the Mississippi River. No work permits were posted or produced upon repeated inquiry of onsite workers.
By Staff of LRInspire - The Columbia Salmon and Trout were already struggling. Dams, overfishing and polluted waters are just three examples of human activity that have had a devastating impact on the rivers fish life. Dams, for instance, have prevented access to at least 55% of the natural spawning grounds for the River fish. The Columbia is also one of the most consistently overfished bodies of water in the United States according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council. In 2014 the Columbia River Keeper’s identified many of the major pollutants in the River. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) which are industrial products or chemicals that were banned as long ago as 1979 still contaminate our rivers. High levels of these were detected in the Columbia at a concentration 27,000% above levels the EPA considers safe for unrestricted consumption. Mercury levels were at a level over 300% EPA safe level. Also present were heavy metals such as chromium and lead as well as Endochrine disrupting toxic flame retardants. Raw Sewage. Moreover, we learned, it’s the wanton indifference to the cycle of life that hurts the most. This was never more true than with the events of the 5 and 25th of October which prompted this gathering. On the 5th half a million gallons of feces, urine and detergent-rich laundry waste was released into the Columbia River. 20 days later, another 100,000 gallons of raw sewage was released in a mere 15 minutes.
By Mike Ludwig for Truthout - The mighty Colorado River and its watersheds are a crucial source of life in the arid Southwest, supplying water to vast ecosystems and millions of people across seven states and northern Mexico. With so much depending on its existence, the Colorado River filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against the state of Colorado last month, demanding that its right to evolve, flourish and be restored in the wake of human interference be recognized in the court of law. Well, sort of. An activist lawyer filed the legal complaint at a federal district court in Denver, naming the river itself as a plaintiff and calling on the court to recognize its ecosystems as a "person" under the law. Still, Colorado River v. Colorado is fairly unprecedented, at least in the United States. Bodies of water can't defend themselves in court, but they do not go untouched by the law. All the organisms -- including humans -- that depend on a river to survive can be affected when existing environmental laws fail to prevent water pollution, or when a government or corporation wins the legal right to guzzle up its life-giving resources. Western states have fought over the Colorado River's water resources for decades, damming and diverting more than 70 percent of its water to vast cities and cropland. In 2015, two tributaries of the Colorado River suffered an environmental disaster when federal remediation workers accidently allowed 880,000 gallons of wastewater contaminated with heavy metals to spill from the defunct Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado.
By David Swanson and Pat Elder for World Beyond War - The Pentagon’s impact on the river on whose bank it sits is not simply the diffuse impact of global warming and rising oceans contributed to by the U.S. military’s massive oil consumption. The U.S. military also directly poisons the Potomac River in more ways than almost anyone would imagine. Let’s take a cruise down the Potomac from its source in the mountains of West Virginia to its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay. The journey down this mighty waterway details six EPA Superfund sites created by the Pentagon’s reckless disregard for the fragile ecosystem of the Potomac River watershed. The U.S. Navy’s Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia, 130 miles north of Washington, is a critical source of contamination in the Potomac River. The on-site disposal of explosive metals and solvent wastes contaminates soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. The groundwater and soil along the river are laced with explosives, dioxins, volatile organic compounds, acids, laboratory and industrial wastes, bottom sludge from solvent recovery, metal plating pretreatment sludge, paints, and thinners. The site also has a beryllium landfill. An active burning area is still used for waste disposal, sprinkling chemical dust over the river. It’s not good.
By Brad Udall and Jonathan Overpeck for The Conversation - The nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead on the Arizona/Nevada border and Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border, were brim full in the year 2000. Four short years later, they had lost enough water to supply California its legally apportioned share of Colorado River water for more than five years. Now, 17 years later, they still have not recovered. This ongoing, unprecedented event threatens water supplies to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and some of the most productive agricultural lands anywhere in the world. It is critical to understand what is causing it so water managers can make realistic water use and conservation plans. While overuse has played a part, a significant portion of the reservoir decline is due to an ongoing drought, which started in 2000 and has led to substantial reductions in river flows. Most droughts are caused by a lack of precipitation. However, our published research shows that about one-third of the flow decline was likely due to higher temperatures in the Colorado River’s Upper Basin, which result from climate change.
By Staff of NBC News - The Dakota Access pipeline developer said Monday that it has placed oil in the pipeline under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota and that it's preparing to put the pipeline into service. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners made the announcement in a brief court filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The announcement marks a significant development in the long battle over the project that will move North Dakota oil 2,000 miles through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The pipeline is three months behind schedule due to large protests and the objections of two American Indian tribes who say it threatens their water supply and cultural sites. ETP's filing did not say when the company expected the pipeline to be completely operating, and a spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking additional details. "Oil has been placed in the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath Lake Oahe. Dakota Access is currently commissioning the full pipeline and is preparing to place the pipeline into service," the filing stated. Despite the announcement, the battle isn't over. The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes still have an unresolved lawsuit that seeks to stop the project.
By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch - As the Trump administration works to dismantle environmental regulations protecting American waterways, New Zealand has recognized the Whanganui River as a legal person. On Wednesday, New Zealand Parliament passed the Te Awa Tupua Bill which states that the river is "an indivisible and living whole," making it the world's first river to be given this special designation. The river has been granted the ability to represent itself through human representatives, one appointed by the Whanganui Iwi (Maori people) and one by the Crown (government of New Zealand), Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson explained to Newshub.
By Anne Meador for DC Media Group - It wasn’t easy to catch up with Barbara Baker-larush as she walked briskly along the C&O Canal through Georgetown. Even on this magnificent autumn day, she wouldn’t be diverted from her important mission. Walkers, joggers, and bikes cleared a path for her. Cars halted at street crossings. She couldn’t stop for me either, she said, only slow down a little. A copper pail covered with a red cloth swung lightly at her side in rhythm with the long grey pony tail down her back.
By Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch & Brent Millikan, International Rivers. When Brazilian energy planners proposed to choke the Amazon’s Tapajós River and its tributaries with dozens of large hydroelectric dams, they underrated a formidable foe: the Munduruku people. The largest indigenous group in the Tapajós Basin, the Munduruku are proving to be sophisticated adversaries who are throwing a wrench in the dam industry's plans. The tribe has frequently caught the Brazilian government off guard with their tactics. They have a flair for the theatrical – they staged a series of dramatic protests in Brasilia, including a “die-in” at the Ministry of Mines and Energy – and the practical. In January, they delivered a protocol to government officials demanding a culturally-appropriate process of free, prior and informed consultation and consent (FPIC). While enshrined in Brazil’s constitution and integral to ILO Convention 169, the indigenous right to FPIC has been systematically ignored in Brazil.