You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Rivers, Lakes, and Watersheds’ category.

We are thrilled to share good news for the Ganges!

India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the inspection of 956 factories that release effluents into the India’s most sacred waterway.

Untreated wastewater from Simbhaoli Sugar Mills Ltd.  flows through the Phuldera drain en route to the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh.

ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik helped partners show that a sugar mill and distillery were illegally discharging heavily-polluted wastes to the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh, contrary to court documents.

Mark’s analysis helped ELAW partners convince members of the NGT to conduct an onsite inspection of the facility, which remains closed, and expand the scope of the case to include nearly 1,000 factories that discharge wastewater to the Ganges River.

“Mark was a great help,” says Rahul Choudhary.  “Now he will help prioritize which of the factories on the list are the worst polluters, to maximize the impact of future NGT orders.”

The industries on the inspection list are tanneries, paper mills, pesticide manufacturers, sugar mills, distilleries, and more.  Inspections will be conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, and the National Ganga River Basin Authority.

Congratulations Rahul on this inspiring win for clean water!

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director

Waterways in south central Siberia’s Altai-Sayan Ecoregion are threatened by abandoned and proposed mining operations, and hydropower projects. This remote area, rich in biodiversity, sits at the junction of the mountains of Russia’s Siberian taiga, the steppes of Kazakhstan, and the semi-deserts of Mongolia.

ELAW partners Sergey Shaphaev and Elena Chernobrovkina are calling on ELAW for help protecting the Altai-Sayan from mining industry abuses and short sighted energy-projects.

Sergey and Elena work at the Buryat Regional Organization for Lake Baikal, based in Ulan-Ude.  They have collaborated with ELAW for many years and traveled to Eugene for ELAW Fellowships in 2012.

In the year ahead, we will provide Sergey and Elena with the legal and scientific resources they need to protect the Altai-Sayan, including our Guidebook for Evaluating Mining Project EIAs, which we have made available in four languages, including Russian.

We will keep you informed of our progress!

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director

The Karen outside the courthouse

Karen villagers outside the courthouse

Earlier this month, local communities in Thailand won an enormous victory.

For decades, a lead mine contaminated water, soil, and wildlife near Klity Creek with toxic waste. Though the mine shut down in 1998, the pollution remained. Nearly 15 years later, soil samples still showed levels of lead five times the Thai soil standard. The ethnic Karen villagers living near the creek could no longer use their only source of water or take fish from the creek, endangering their health and livelihoods.

ELAW partners at EnLAW sought justice for the villagers and called on us for help. ELAW scientists sent information about the hazards of lead contamination and ways to clean contaminated sites.

EnLAW used this information to make the case for cleaning the creek.  The court found that the government had not done its duty to protect the villagers and ordered it to clean the creek and compensate the villagers.

Read more here: Court orders state to compensate in Klity Creek case.

Congratulations to everyone at EnLAW!

Michele Kuhnle
Donor Liaison

Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay (PHOTO: the_tahoe_guy)

My wife, seven year-old son Aidan and I recently returned from a vacation to Lake Tahoe.  On the border between California and Nevada in the Western United States, Lake Tahoe is in the middle of U.S.  Forest Service land and bordered by numerous ski resorts.  Lake Tahoe is one of the clearest lakes in the world and, at about 1900 m above sea level, is the largest alpine lake in North America.  The freshwater lake is 500 m at its deepest point, second deepest in the United States after Oregon’s Crater Lake.

Lake Tahoe storm drain pipe transporting polluted road runoff into Lake Tahoe (PHOTO: Tahoepipeclub (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons])

I relished the opportunity to share my love of the Pacific Northwest’s wild places with my son.  The city in which we live, Eugene, Oregon is very progressive in terms of environmental sensitivity.  Aidan has already learned about the importance of conserving our natural resources in school.  He regularly points out things that are “wasting water” or “hurting the planet.”

Upon arriving, our first stop was the lakeshore to dip our feet in the icy-cold snowmelt-fed water and marvel at the spectacular sunset over the mountains to the west.  Along the water’s edge we could see a steady decrease in the remarkable clarity of the water – a result of lakeside development and urban stormwater runoff.  On submerged rocks we could see algae, which was not there ten years ago.  Aidan and I talked about how, even with efforts to export sewage and garbage generated in the Tahoe basin, the lake could someday lose its legendary purity because of human impacts.

I like to think that my work at ELAW has had an impact on the way he sees the world.  It was gratifying to see Aidan interact with nature and develop an appreciation for clean water and a healthy planet.

Glenn Gillis
Information Technology Manager

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