02 April 2015

Another Article Announcing Cooperation on the Nile

A recent article about the Nile agreements between Egypt and Ethiopia includes nice maps of the basin and the Renaissance and Aswan dam locations, another states that Sisi is calling for a new era of negotiations with Ethiopia. This is all good news for regional stability on an international level.

News has been rich with stories this week about the released negotiations message that Ethiopia and Egypt will cooperate on Ethiopia's development of Nile River resources with the Grand Renaissance Dam. This event is an example of how peace and stability between nations can be achieved through hydrodiplomacy - official political discussion about water resources.

Water is a necessity and brings everyone to the table - the farmer, the politician, the corporation, the industry owner, the power company, ecologists, indigenous people, and land stewards - to name a few. Everyone has a vested interest to succeed in negotiations - cooperatively - so there is no future threat to supplies. Also, the people who come to the table are not necessarily discussing anything else - whether they are the governments of neighboring countries with historic rivalries - as in the case of Egypt and Ethiopia - or they are communities that have no natural overlap - as in the case of a subsistence community and a mining company.

The potential for water resources to serve as a platform for diplomacy will only increase as limited supplies are threatened from pressures both man-made and natural. This works at an international level, but is this true at national or local levels of negotiation?

01 April 2015

California Drought Preparation: State Passes First Water Restrictions in History

For the first time ever, California State Government has passed a water restriction state-wide. Looks to be a 25% reduction, though news I have read so far are vague as to what sectors will have the 25% cut. Certainly, California will have to think about the farming production, as this consumes the majority of water in the state. This is a fascinating turn of events, government taking climate change seriously, though no mention of the term in the language of the quoted officials. The Governor, Jerry Brown, stated that "This is the new normal, we will learn how to cope with it."

California grows a huge percentage of the United States crops, fruits and vegetables, rice, almonds, even cotton. I believe much of this is also for export. It is the top producer of diary (no Wisconsin cannot claim this), and the climate can be quite dry in many places. Large water projects canal and pipe water into water thirsty areas for agricultural use, particularly in the Central Valley. Driving through the area you see wasteful (cheap) methods for irrigation that cause upwards of 50% water loss. No doubt these changes will impact national food prices as time goes on. California is the 8th biggest economy in the world - the world, not the country - in other words, California's GDP is higher than about 200 countries. It is a big state, and a powerful state, but without water, what makes it powerful, what draws people to live there, will change completely.

Houseboats are dwarfed by the steep banks of Lake Don Pedro in La Grange, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water restrictions on Wednesday to deal with the drought.CreditJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

California’s Extreme Drought, Explained

PHILLIPS, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water restrictions for the first time in California history on Wednesday, saying that the state’s drought had reached near-crisis proportions after a winter that brought record-low snowfalls.
Governor Brown, in an executive order, directed the State Water Resources Control Board to work with local agencies to come up with ways to reduce water use by 25 percent and to enforce what he described as an onerous reduction in use. State officials said the order would impose cutbacks on water use across the board — including homeowners, farmers, cemeteries and golf courses.
State officials said they were prepared to enforce punitive measures — including fines — to assure compliance with the new standards, but said they were hopeful this would not be necessary
Governor Brown made the announcement while attending the annual April 1 measuring of the snowpack here in the Sierras, a critical source of water through the summer.
On typical years, the measurement in Phillips is around five or six feet. But Mr. Brown found himself standing on an utterly dry field after state water officials went through the motions of measuring snow,
“This is the new normal,” Governor Brown said. “We will learn how to cope with this.”
The 25 percent cut is in relation to total water use in the state in 2013, before the drought began. It would vary from community to community reflecting the fact that some areas of the state have done a better job in reducing water consumption.

Nile River Natural Wonder of Africa, and the World

The Nile River is highlighted as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. Besides being the world's longest river, the Nile is host to important resource for plants, animals, and humans alike.

The Journey: Lake Victoria, where the White Nile begins, is located at elevation in the Serengeti - or great plains. Downstream, in Uganda, the Nile traverses through Murchison Falls National Park. This park includes communities of giraffe, elephant, lions, crocodiles, and hippos, among other East African species. As the Nile makes its way through South Sudan swamps and into Sudan, it is an important resource for human communities for agriculture, fishing, and hunting. The White Nile joins the Blue Nile in Khartoum, Sudan. The Blue Nile originates from Lake Tana in the Ethiopian highlands. There it is an important resource for human agrarian communities as well as for scores of birdlife. The Blue Nile snakes its way through Ethiopia and crosses the border into Sudan's Blue Nile State where countless refugees and locals use the river as a resource for survival. By the time the river crosses into Egypt, it is dammed twice in Sudan, harnessed for electricity and storage water. In Egypt, the Nile is once again dammed for hydroelectric power generation, as well as storage for regulated downstream flow and canal projects to the desert. The Nile Valley is the only green line across a dry desert landscape, the only water resource for local human communities as well as ecosystems. Finally, when the Nile dumps into the Mediterranean, it hosts a rich wetland of fish, plants, and birds.

The climates that the Nile basin includes are varied and diverse. These represent most of all of the climate regimes in East and North Africa. The histories on the river are ancient - the basin includes a host of things from pharonic pyramids, to conquering religious monuments, to sustaining some of the world's oldest and most persistent hunter gatherer communities.

There is no question why the river is indeed, a wonder of the world.