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China wants to build one of the world's biggest dam projects on the Nu River in Yunnan Province; it's come to symbolize a struggle over law that touches every corner of the country

The project would produce more electricity than even the mighty Three Gorges Dam but would also threaten a region considered an ecological treasure. For decades, the ruling Communist Party has rammed through such projects by fiat. But the Nu River proposal, already delayed for more than a year, is now unexpectedly presenting the Chinese government with a quandary of its own making: will it abide by its own laws?  Full Story  New York Times_ 12/26/05 (logon required)

World's largest cruise liner launched in Finland

The gigantic cruise ship launched dethroned the Queen Mary Two as the largest liner afloat, its manufacturers said. Norwegian-based Aker Yards said the Freedom of the Seas, at 158,000 tonnes, was the world's biggest, outranking Cunard's 151,400-tonne Queen Mary Two. Both are longer than 41 London double decker buses parked end-to-end. The ship will carry 5,740 passengers and crew. The Freedom of the Seas floated out of a shipyard run by Aker Yards in Finland and is part of a three-ship deal for Royal Caribbean Cruises, the world's second biggest cruise liner company. Carnival, owner of Cunard liners, is the largest cruise operator.  Full Story Reuters_ 8/19/05

Aging water mains pose costly problems
Aging water mains are posing costly problems in older cities such as Pittsburgh, where some pipes are approaching the end of their projected life span.  Officials at area water authorities say they have been good about maintaining aging infrastructures and that it would be too costly to replace entire systems, as an industry group advocates.  "Now's the time to start talking to the public about the need to replace the infrastructure," said Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of the American Water Works Association, a technical and professional society. "It's not going to go away, and the longer you put it off, the larger the problem you're going to have eventually." Full Story _PennLive.com 8/1/05 log on required

July, 2005

BP-Exxon platform listing after Hurricane Dennis

Crews are trying to determine the extent of the damage to a semi-submersible oil and gas platform found to be listing after Hurricane Dennis tore through the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend.  A vessel discovered Monday morning that the 82,000-ton Thunder Horse platform, anchored in 6,000 feet of water 150 miles southeast of New Orleans, was listing 20 to 30 degrees. BP, which operates the platform in partnership with ExxonMobil, said the platform had been evacuated as Dennis approached.  Full Story_ The Lafayette Daily Advertiser 7/12/05

Building destroying Spain's coast, Greenpeace says
Spain, where millions of holidaymakers will flock this summer, is destroying its coastline by overbuilding, environmental group Greenpeace claim.  Spain had taken no steps to stop the deterioration of its coastline in recent years and done little to upgrade sanitation infrastructure and water treatment on the coast to keep up with development needs, Greenpeace said.  A spokesman for the Environment Ministry declined to comment.  Full Story _ Reuters 7/5/05


Turkish, Greek prime ministers inaugurate construction of key gas pipeline
The Turkish and Greek prime ministers met on Sunday, July 3, on a bridge across the river that divides their countries to launch a joint construction project to connect rich natural gas fields in the Caspian and Central Asia to energy-hungry markets in Europe.  The 300-kilometer (186-mile) pipeline from Bursa in Turkey to Komotini in Greece is expected to be operational in 2006, and will later be extended to Italy as part of an extensive pipeline initiative known as the Southern Europe Gas Ring Project.  The Greek-Turkish pipeline is expected to carry 11.5 billion cubic meters (405 billion cubic feet) of gas per year once connections are made to other planned pipelines, and as demand for Caspian gas - an alternative energy source to the politically volatile Middle East - expands in coming years.

Full Story _ Khaleej Times 7/3/05


Syria's capital water infrastructure to be upgraded
Damascus water supply pipes that currently lose around a third of their contents through leakage will be upgraded at the end of June, following an agreement between the Japanese government and Syrian authorities.  The system carries water to around three million people living in the Syrian capital, Damascus.  Full Story Reuters_6/20/05

Norwegian energy group Statoil awards $21 million gas pipeline job to Halliburton

The 140 million crowns ($21.46 million) contract is to prepare the 1,200-km (746-mile) Langeled pipeline from the big Ormen Lange gas field off Norway to Britain, Statoil said in a statement. When completed in 2007. the Langeled pipeline will supply up to one fifth of the UK's gas needs. The field and pipeline are Norway's biggest current offshore development with a total costs estimated at 66 billion crowns.   Full Story Reuters_ 6/15/05

Tapia forests and water supply projects in Madagascar get World Bank funding

A project to conserve Madagascar's tapia forests and revive its wild silkworms, is one of the two Malagasy entries which have won funding in the World Bank's 2005 Development Marketplace Competition.  Ny Tanintsika ('our land'), a Malagasy NGO working in land management and community development issues, is to receive about US $110,000 to reforest the Tapia woods, which cover roughly 50,000 ha in the Amoron'i Mania region of southeastern Madagascar. Tapia trees (Uapaca bojeri) are known locally for their edible fruit and as the habitat of the wild Malagasy silkworm.  Another NGO, Bush Proof, will receive $150,000 to provide clean water to rural and coastal areas by rapidly constructing jetted wells with hand pumps. This method of well drilling involves the use of a high-velocity stream of fluid to cut a hole in the ground and transport the loosened material out of the hole. 

Full Story_Reuters 6/7/05

Unloved, but not unbuilt; World Bank looks to build a different kind of dam, but not China and India

In recent years, the World Bank scaled back its involvement in dam building, in part because of regional economic problems and in part because of mounting criticism that many large dams did more harm than good. But now as it re-enters the arena, the bank has been under pressure to improve its review process to produce better dams: ones that generate as much power or irrigate as much land as developers claim, have as benign an impact on the environment as possible, and increase living standards of the people affected. Yet such "good" dams often have higher costs, so while the bank moves cautiously, it risks losing projects to countries like China and India, which are willing to export their dam-building expertise without all the strings attached.  Full Story New York Times_ 6/5/05 (logon required)

May, 2005

Increased spending targets water and energy in Australia

The NSW Government will spend an extra $1 billion a year until 2009 on building and investing in infrastructure, with a clear focus on the state's dwindling water supplies and increasing energy demand.  The Treasurer, Andrew Refshauge, said $3.8 billion would be spent on hospitals, schools, roads and police. But the largest investment would be in NSW's public trading enterprises. More than $4 billion would be invested in water, public transport, energy and housing, he said. Full Story_ The Sydney Morning Herald_5/25/05 logon required

Al-Rasheed road, water projects expected to establish long-term employment
U.S. coalition forces and Iraqi leaders have completed a $565,000 road project spanning more than four kilometers.  A 3,000 meter waterline that runs alongside the Hamourabi Road was built and works in conjunction with two water towers in the area, according to Radwaniya Neighborhood Advisory Council Chairman Sheikh Ali Muttar.  “The two water towers in Hey Al Askari and Al Musafer have the potential of providing drinking water for at least 7,000 people.”  Full Story _PortalIraq 5/22/05

Saudis in S.F. to cement U.S. ties

Billions in government contracts discussed

Saudi Arabian businessmen and royalty swept through San Francisco on Wednesday on a national tour to increase U.S. investment in the kingdom and ease fears that terrorism could disrupt trade.  The delegation's members brought with them the promise of billions in government contracts to build new power plants, railways and water desalinization facilities to serve their fast-growing population. They touted new laws to privatize government-run industries and allow foreigners to own up to 100 percent of new projects, an arrangement formerly banned.  Full Story  San Francisco Chronicle_5/19/05

China's spending on construction, other fixed assets up 26.5 per cent in April.

China's investment in construction, factory equipment and other fixed assets grew 26.5 per cent in April from a year earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.  Fixed asset investment is considered a key barometer of nationwide spending.  Although growth figures in recent months have remained above the government's target of 20 per cent, inflation has moderated - easing fears that prices could spiral dangerously high.  Full Story_ Canadian Press 5/19/05


Asia mulls creating investment bank to fill infrastructure gap - UNESCAP
Infrastructure in Asia lags behind the growth of the region's economies and needs to be improved, possibly by creating an Asian Investment Bank similar to Europe's, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) said.  A recent study by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation estimated the Asia-Pacific region required an annual 200 bln usd for infrastructure investment, but that just 50 bln usd annually is available.  The United States opposes the plan, saying it did not believe it is possible to justify a new institution solely on the basis of the UNESCAP's estimated 150 bln usd financing gap. 

Full Story_ Forbes 5/18/05

U.S. Senate passes highway bill, exceeds Bush's limit

The U.S. Senate approved spending $295 billion for highways and other transit projects, setting up a confrontation with President George W. Bush, who opposes the six- year plan as too costly.  The Senate with its 89-11 vote followed the lead of the House in March and shrugged off a veto threat by Bush advisers. The Senate bill spends $11 billion more than the $284 billion target set by Bush, who wants to limit domestic spending and cut the deficit in half by 2009. 

Full Story  _ Bloomberg 5/17/05


Energy, water sector benefits from US$240

million credit

Angola's Energy and Water sector will benefit from 240 million dollars, derived from six of the 12 individual lending accords signed today, in Luanda, by the Government and EximBank - Chinese Importing and Exporting Bank.  The signing of these accords is part of the Chinese credit line estimated at two billion dollars. From the approved Energy projects, prominence lies on two 220 kilowatts energy supply lines for the country's capital, one being Luanda/Cambambe and the other Capanda/Luanda.  According to the Minister of Energy and Water, Botelho de Vasconcelos, it also includes works of extending and rehabilitating Luanda's electricity supply network, as well as rehabilitation and updating the substations of Cazenga and Viana districts.  For the water sector, he explained that, there was also the approval of a project for the development of the System I - in order to improve the supply of water to Luanda. 

Full Story_ All Africa 5/16/05


Roche planning to fast-track completion of  Irish public projects
Dick Roche, Irish Minister for the Environment, has made it clear that the days of practically every large infrastructural project being mired in historiacal or archaeoligical objections for years are coming to an end.  Condemned last week by a vocal anti-motorway lobby as being an environmental vandal, following his effective approval of a proposed motorway near Mt. Tara, Roche is unrepentant.  “I'm not saying that people should ignore the past, but we actually have a relatively small land mass. We have to put infrastructure into it,” said Roche.  Full Story _The Post IE 5/15/05

Portugal to invest $32M in infrastructure
Portugal will invest euro25 million (US$32 million) over the next four years to improve infrastructure and fund projects to spur job growth, the economy minister said.  The government will unveil a euro20 million (US$26 million) plan in June to improve Portugal's systems for transportation, energy, heath care and environmental protection, Minister Manuel Pinho said.  Full Story _ Businessweek 5/11/05

Weak infrastructure and numerous administrative walls impede SME development in Kazakhstan
Small and medium enterprise development is impeded by weak infrastructure and numerous administrative barriers.

It shows that economic reforms in Kazakhstan outstrip legislative alterations.  Full Story_ Kazinform 5/13/04

Bridge fire disrupts rail service in New Jersey

Wood pilings engulfed in flames

A fast-moving fire damaged a railroad bridge in northern New Jersey Thursday night, disrupting service for thousands of commuters and intercity travelers.  The fire started about 7:30 p.m. in wood pilings beneath Amtrak's Portal drawbridge across the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus. It burned fiercely for more than two hours, engulfing a bridge support pier, as fire crews battled the flames from the tracks above and from boats in the water. 

Full Story_AP 5/13/05

Details lacking on $30 Billion earmarked for Ontario infrastructure repair

The Ontario government promised yesterday to spend $30.1-billion on new hospitals, schools, roads and public transit over the next five years, but will look to the private sector and individuals to put up some of the money.  But key details of how to pay for the big-ticket projects -- highways in the province's north and south, public transit in Toronto and other cities and improvements to colleges and universities -- will not be unveiled for several weeks. 

Full Story _ Reuters 5/12/

Wind turbines to power Australia's largest desalination plant

Fifty giant wind turbines will power an eco-friendly desalination plant to make Perth drought-proof and provide 2 million people with their biggest single source of water. In unveiling plans for the biggest desalination plant in the country, West Australian Premier Geoff Gallop said the $387 million venture would produce 45 gigalitres a year by October next year. But Dr Gallop would still not say where the turbines for the joint project between construction giant Multiplex and French company Degremont would be built. The plant will be owned by the West Australian Water Corporation but operated by Degremont for 25 years. Full Story The Australian/news.com.au_ 4/15/05

Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Ltd. wins $264.5 billion won ($261.1 million) water processing plant construction contract in Kuwait

The South Korean company said in a public notice to the Korea Exchange that Kuwait's Ministry of Energy had placed the order, with construction due to be completed by December, 2007. Full story Reuters_ 4/11/5

World Wide Fund assails World Bank $1.2 billion hydroelectric dam in Laos for disrupting farming and fishing for 130,000

The Swiss-based WWF called for thorough assessment of hydropower projects in the Mekong basin, which has more than 1,300 species of fish, making it a "biodiversity hotspot" and major food source for 50 million people. Wild elephants, already endangered, will be threatened by the flooding of 40 percent of the Nakai Plateau in southern Laos, according to the WWF. Sales to neighbouring Thailand of 95 percent of the power that the dam will generate will be a key income source for landlocked Laos, a country of 5.6 million people with per capita annual income of just $320, according to the World Bank. But WWF said that electricity supply in Thailand currently outstripped demand and even with significantly higher demand over the next decade, additional needs could be met more sustainably through energy efficiency measures and small-scale renewable energy projects. Full Story  Reuters_ 4/1/05

March, 2005

Bangladesh protests Indian construction of Assam dam

Bangladesh says the proposed dam in northeastern Assam state would dry up downstream tributaries crucial for farmers, according to a report by the private UNB new agency. Bangladesh’s farm-dependent economy relies on water that flows from India during the annual monsoon that sweeps the Subcontinent from June to August. The sharing of water has been a key issue between the countries for decades.  Full Story Daily Times_ 3/14/05

U.S. infrastructure, including drinking water and wastewater treatment, deteriorating, report finds

U.S. roads, bridges, sewers and dams are crumbling and need a $1.6 trillion overhaul but prospects for improvement are grim, the American Society of Civil Engineers said. The group's first report since 2001 looked at 15 categories of public infrastructure, assigning each a letter grade. Overall, the nation's infrastructure received a D, down from a D+ four years ago. The nation's drinking water system alone needed a public investment of $11 billion a year to replace facilities, comply with regulations and meet future needs. But federal funding reached less than 10 percent of this amount. As a result, aging wastewater systems were discharging billions of gallons of untreated sewage into surface waters each year, the report said.  Full Report Reuters_ 3/9/05

Read the report

February, 2005

India seeks to boost construction.  Government proposal would allow up to 100% foreign direct investment in its construction sector.

Analysts say improving India's infrastructure will boost foreign investment in other sectors too. The government proposal states that foreign investment of up to 100% will be allowed on the 'automatic route' in the construction sector, on projects including housing, hotels, resorts, hospitals and educational establishments.The automatic route means that construction companies need only get one set of official approvals and do not need to gain clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which can be bureaucratic.

Full Story _ BBC 2/24/05

Huge UK irrigation plan for Africa
A scheme to irrigate five million hectares of Africa has been put forward by Dr. Bruce Lankfordan, an expert on water resources at the University of East Anglia. Lankfordan was asked by the Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa to write a strategy for investment in water irrigation. His proposal, if adopted, could see the project up and running by 2015 at a cost of $2 billion a year. It would allow more land to be farmed for food and help alleviate food shortages and poverty in Africa.  Full Story  BBC News_ 1/16/05

Controversial Brazilian hydro-electric dam clears hurdle

The $400 million project built by the international consortium, Baesa, was threatened by blockades from local people affected by the dam and court proceedings brought by environmental groups. It threatens a highly endangered remnant of Brazil's Atlantic forest that once stretched along the entire eastern coastline of Brazil - but has lost at least 93% of its original cover. Only after the dam was nearly finished was it revealed that the reservoir would engulf 20 sq km (8 sq miles) of untouched primary forest, including 5,000 araucaria trees, and a further 20 sq km of forest recovering well from earlier human interference. The president of the consortium earlier told the BBC that the project would probably never have begun if the original environmental impact assessment had been accurate - but he said the dam was built and Brazil needed the energy, so it should be allowed to operate.  Full Story  BBC News_ 1/14/05







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