Thursday, June 26, 2008


Everything on the earth bristled, the bramble
pricked and the green thread
nibbled away, the petal fell, falling
until the only flower was the falling itself.
Water is another matter,
has no direction but its own bright grace,
runs through all imaginable colors,
takes limpid lessons
from stone,
and in those functionings plays out
the unrealized ambitions of the foam.

-Pablo Neruda

Exxon Valdez: 'This is it; it's done'

"In a victory for corporations seeking to limit big-dollar lawsuits, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday sharply reduced the $2.5 billion in punitive damages awarded in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill."

from Anchorage Daily News

City of Austin and LCRA Approve Plan to Dump Treated Sewage Into Barton Creek

The City of Austin, the LCRA, the City of Dripping Springs and two groundwater conservation districts have approved a settlement agreement that would allow the Belterra subdivision to dump 350,000 gallons a day of treated sewage into Bear Creek, which feeds the Barton Springs portion of the Edwards Aquifer. The plan initially met with universal dissaproval, but costly lawsuits and fears that the Orwellianly-named Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would approve Belterra's initial request to dump 800,000 gallons a day have reduced the opposition to a handful of downstream neighbors. The only remaining required approval is expected to come from Hays County tomorrow. The agreement would make Belterra the first subdivision allowed to dump treated sewage directly into a stream in the Barton Springs part of the Edwards Aquifer. Belterra currently discharges treated sewage via underground drip irrigation into a fenced off parcel of land.

Sewage-dumping proponents say treated sewage is safe enough to drink. Of course, they don't drink it or even water their lawns with it, so they really mean it is safe enough for other people to drink (or swim in). Also, water treatment plants often fail - last week an estimated 200,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Little Sandy Creek north of Eligin. This will not be the first pollution of a pristine environment - Barton Springs' water quality has already been degraded by upstream development (treated sewage discharged as drip irrigation by Belterra and other subdivisions still ends up in Edwards Aquifer, along with lawn chemicals, highway runoff, etc.), but it will enable Belterra to expand from 350 houses to as many as 2,000 and create a precedent to allow other subdivisions to dump treated sewage.

from Austinist

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sea of Change

Another film that focuses on water is to be released later this year. For now here is an explanation of the project and a trailer:

Imagine a world without fish: It seems inconceivable. But top scientists warn that such a catastrophe may in fact play out in coming generations unless widespread awareness is raised to stop ocean acidification.

A Sea Change will focus public attention on this urgent but little-known crisis. It follows retired educator and concerned grandfather Sven Huseby back to stunning ancestral sites (Norway, Alaska the Pacific Northwest) where he finds cutting-edge ocean research underway. His journey of self-discovery brings adventure, surprise and revelation to the hard science of acidification.

Niijii Films aims not only to educate viewers about the science of our rapidly-changing oceans, but also to engage them on accessible terms. This film delivers both the data necessary to build credibility with skeptics and also the cultural / spiritual dimensions that will capture the attention of--and motivate--diverse global audiences.

The world's oceans cover 70% of the planet's surface.

Hundreds of millions of people rely on the bounty of the seas for their survival and their cultural identity. Yet compared to terrestrial ecosystems, relatively little is known about our oceans.

What is conclusively known now is that the pH balance of the oceans has changed dramatically since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution: A 30% increase in acidification. With near unanimity, scientists now agree that the burning of fossil fuels is fundamentally reshaping ocean chemistry. Experts predict that over the next century, steady increases in carbon dioxide emissions and the continued rise in the acidity of the oceans will cause most of the world's fisheries to experience a total bottom-up collapse--a state that could last for millions of years.

Through the mass medium of film, A Sea Change will broaden the discussion about the dramatic changes we are seeing in the chemistry of the oceans, and convey the urgent threat those changes pose to our survival.

Ocean acidification threatens over 1,000,000 species with extinction--and with them, our entire way of life.
The film's protagonist has an usual relationship to the sea. Born in Norway, Sven Huseby's parents owned a fish market. After World War II, his father worked in a salmon cannery in a remote native village situated on an Alaskan fjord. Moving in the 1950s to the cultural security of Seattle, Sven spoke Norwegian in his neighborhood while developing his English at school, eating fish six days a week. He became the first in his family to attend college after admission to Yale.

The changes to our seas awaken Sven's environmental consciousness, but also threaten his cultural identity. Revisiting the places where he grew up, he witnesses the cultural, economic and ecological changes already underway and assesses the problems that ocean acidification might hold for future generations. New questions haunt him:

How will he explain to his oldest grandchild, Elias, what is happening to the oceans and their ecosystems? How will he teach Elias the traditions of his family, and their historic dependence on the sea? How will he help him look into a changing and uncertain future? What can each of us do to avoid contributing to a crisis threatening future generations?

Driven by these concerns, Sven embarks on a picturesque (and at times even picaresque) odyssey that leads him to small fishing villages whose cash crop is at risk, native communities whose way of life is being threatened, activists working to combat the crisis, and individuals who are changing their lifestyles to make a difference at the most local level. He seeks out entrepreneurs and investors and everyday people to discover what is being done to address these issues. At the end, Sven is reunited with his grandson to tell about all that he has learned.

A Sea Change is both a personal journey and a scientifically rigorous, sometimes humorous, and unflinchingly honest look at a reality that we all must act on before the oceans of our youth are lost for future generations.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Clean Water for Haiti

A little more on Haiti's water situation:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Haiti and International Community Urged by Rights Groups to Promote Water as a Human Right

A groundbreaking new report will be jointly released on Monday, June 23rd, by NYU School of Law's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Partners In Health, RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights, and Zanmi Lasante. The report, "Woch nan Soley: the Denial of the Right to Water in Haiti" analyzes the devastating consequences of the failure of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to disburse life-saving loans for water and sanitation improvements in Haiti. According to the report, in 1998, the IDB had approved $54 million dollars in loans that would have cut the cost of clean water by 90 percent, while also making drastic changes to water-providing infrastructure systems. The report shows that even though these loans were initially approved and would have provided Haiti's most impoverished communities consistent access to clean and safe water, they were blocked in 2001 by the United States and other complicit international actors, effectively shutting down the projects.

One of the report's innovations is that it employs both human rights and public health methodologies to assess the right to access water in Haiti, following extensive surveys of community water sources, meetings with community leaders, and a thorough analysis of Haiti's constitution as well as international legal obligations around the right to water. The resulting data reveals a shocking portrait of the lack of available clean water in Port-de-Paix, one of two Haitian cities where the first IDB-funded water projects were to be implemented. The report offers analysis and policy suggestions for international financial institutions, national governments, and other entities in order to protect and promote the full range of human rights impacted by resource-based development projects. The report is the first of its kind to lay out the full range of domestic and legal obligations around the right to water in Haiti.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

This is the trailer for the film Blue Gold: World Water Wars, a documentary that explores the current and emerging world water crisis from an ecological, social, and political standpoint.

Through examining Court cases, U.N. conventions, local protests, and numerous situations where people are struggling for their basic right to water, Blue Gold reveals the breadth of what we face unless there are changes to the way the world’s water is managed.

from the website
Intercontinental Cry

Flood me with splendor

Waters, you are the ones that bring us the life force.
Help us to find nourishment,
So that we may look upon great joy.
Let us share in the most delicious sap that you have,
As if you are loving mothers,
Let us go straight to the house of the one,
For whom you waters give us life and give us birth.
For our well-being, let the goddesses be an aid to us,
Mistresses of all ting that are chosen,
Rulers over all peoples,
The waters are the ones I beg for a cure.
Waters—yield your cure as an armor for my body,
So that I may see the sun for a long time.
Waters—carry away all of this that has gone bad in me.
Either that I have done in malicious deceit,
Or whatever lie I have sworn to,
I here sort the waters today,
We have joined with their sap,
Oh Agni, full of moisture,
Come and flood me with splendor!

--The Ancient Rig Veda, Water of Life
from the dedication page in Vandana Shiva's Water Wars: Pollution, Profits and Privatization

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Water in Space

What follows are two videos from outer space of people messing around with water. The second video is particularly interesting when an antacid is added in the mix:



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

There Will Be Water

"Pickens has promised to abide by the 50-50 rule. "I don't have any concerns about depleting the aquifer. All I'm doing is selling surplus water," he says. "I'm not about to drain all the water out of Roberts County. I have my ranch there. But I could sure take it down 50% and not hurt anybody. And it could make a lot of people a lot of money." -- from There Will Be Water by Susan Berfield in Business Week


a pyramid- the basis of all civiization



Rises drips stains -rips canyons



places we’ve known

you’ve known

I’ve been

In rainstorms in reply to sunshine I’ve been in rivers


god damn

god damned the world

there was a flood

of forces and horses and two of every kind

with three on every side

enough to leave you aware that you are only one

in a sea I can see

I feel happy -like many things- I’m not even sure

But I do know

jesus sandals are always in style

Everyone wants to walk on water

everyone feels in waves

Don’t make it holy

Tonight it will be

--Kate Mitchell


Monday, June 16, 2008

'Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It'

"By the time I finished “Bottlemania” I thought twice about drinking any water. Among the risks: arsenic, gasoline additives, 82 different pharmaceuticals, fertilizer runoff sufficient to raise nitrate levels so that Iowa communities issue “blue baby” alerts."


The Biggest Water Festival on Earth

Friday marked the beginning of Expo Zaragoza which is being billed as the biggest water festival on Earth. Nine themed weeks will take place over the 93 days of Expo in which scientists and experts will reflect and discuss on water-related issues from different perspectives.

In addition to the themed weeks, the Water Tribune has organized a full program of events. Among other activities, Agora stands out as a space for reflection open to the public in which writers, artists, communicators and thinkers will take part. It will also make the Water Words collection available. This is a series of 17 books written by eminent global figures of the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev, Rigoberta Menchú, Javier Solana and Federico Mayor Zaragoza.

To see images from the Expo hit up their flickr site:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

FLOW: For Love of Water

Hitting theaters at the end of the summer:

FLOW: For Love Of Water, a new film by Irena Salina, highlights the local intimacies of an emerging global catastrophe: African plumbers reconnect shantytown water pipes under cover of darkness to ensure a community's survival; a Californian scientist forces awareness of shockingly toxic public water sources; a ‘Big Water’ CEO argues privatization is the wave of the future; a “Water Guru” in India sparks new community water initiatives in hundreds of villages; a Canadian author uncovers the corporate profiteering that drives global water business.

With an unflinching focus on politics, pollution and human rights, FLOW: For Love of Water ensures that the precarious relationship between humanity and water can no longer be ignored. While specifics of locality and issue may differ, the message is the same; water, and our future as a species, is quickly drying up. Armed with a thirst for survival, people around the world are fighting for their birthright; unless we instigate change, we face a world in which only those that can pay for their water will survive. FLOW: For Love of Water, is a catalyst for people everywhere: the time has come to turn the tide and we can't wait any longer.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Water: A Global Challenge

The Journal of International Afrairs in its Spring-Summer 2008 issue analyzes water from a number of angles: as a right, a commodity, a source of disease, in sustaining ecosystems and modern lifestyles.

Calculate your water footprint:

Monday, June 02, 2008

underground water


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Nina Simone

Little one
I cannot write about her
And do her justice
The woman with the
improvisational approach of jazz and the modulations of the blues,
the woman who takes any song and adds too many minutes to make it just right
I cannot pretend to know her, but have no shame in being grateful

settling into the groove
as the needle moves
into, up out of the blues

in this one part she
She takes a pause and says “someone get me a little bitta water”

-Tessa Karel