The Water Ethics Network facilitates sharing of experience, ideas, and information about events and activities relating to water ethics. The aim is to bring an awareness of water ethics into the everyday discourse of water policies and management decisions, so that choices about water use and water ecosystem management are consciously informed by values.
Water Ethics Newsletter
   February 2013

Mining and Water Ethics

There has been a lot of news this past month about ethical issues from mining impacts:
> River Pollution.  The Colville Tribes of the Pacific Northwest have successfully sued a Canadian company (Tack Metals) for dumping waste into the Columbia River.  Click here for the article. [Thanks to WEN Fellow, Jennifer Archer, for this info.]
> The Human Face of Mine Water PollutionOpen Pit is a powerful full-length documentary (72 min.) about the Yanacocha gold mine in Peru operated by Newmont Mining Corporation.  Directed by Gianni Converso, the film tells its story of devastating pollution of mercury and other heavy metals, through the voices of local people, and company and World Bank officials. [Thanks to Jeremy Schmidt for this link.]
> Artisinal Mining sounds nice, but also contaminates rivers with mercury and cyanide, according to a recent New York Times OpEd
> Stone Mining in the Upper Ganges, near Haridwar, India, is being resisted by Hindu holy men (sadhus) who are conducting a fast unto death unless the mining stops. Click here for video from India Water Portal (5 min.).
> Promised Land is a new Hollywood film about the water impacts of Fracking, starring actor Matt Damon.  Click here for the trailer (3 min.) and the New York Times review of the film.  [Matt Damon is also a water activist.  See his website at
> Pebble Mine Update.  Activists fighting to save one best salmon river
in the world from a proposed mega-mine visited the White House last week.  Here is a blog account by Joel Reynolds (NRDC).  Other active organizations are  Save Bristol Bay and Stop Pebble Mine which also features the Pebble Mine Song.
> Natural Resources Charter "is a set of principles for governments and societies on how to best harness the opportunities created by extractive resources for development"  For details, see their website

International Year of Water Cooperation
Coordinated by UNESCO, the International Year  aims to raise awareness about water as a potential source of cooperation, to counter fears about potential water conflicts.  The website offers an Advocacy Guide (2.5 MB) with suggestions of what we can do to help raise awareness.  For its part, The Water Channel is featuring a number of short videos showing exemplary cooperation.

Coca Cola Plants Take "Gold" in Water Stewardship
European Water Stewardship (EWS) has awarded its first gold level certifications to two Coca-Cola bottling plants in Dongen, Netherlands and in Ploiesti, Romania. The EWS Gold level certification signifies compliance with more than 90% of the performance indicators of the EWS standard.  For more details, see the Press Release.

Helping Nature Express Her Pain
A new map of North American Great Lakes shows ecosystem stress visually using color coding of blue (good) to green, yellow, and red (bad).  The color scale is a relative measure that compares the combined stress of the 34 environmental indicators from seven stress categories (aquatic habitat, climate change, coastal development, fisheries, invasive species, non-point pollution, and toxic chemicals).  Each stress category has its own web page, and each of the 34 indicators has its own map.  Click here for an overview article from Circle of Blue:

Ethics of Technology
To drought-proof the city’s water supply, Sydney is considering a second set of pipes to deliver non-potable supplies. This parallel system would tap into new sources like salty water, purified by waste heat from power plants, as well as existing sources, such as recycled wastewater and rainwater, which are typically flushed out to sea.  More... (from Circle of Blue)

Ethics of Deep Aquifer Pollution
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows oil and gas companies to discharge chemical waste in deep aquifers, assuming they will never be used for a water source, but Mexico has recently announced that the deep aquifer under Mexico City may secure the city's water future.  See the article in Propublica.

Action Figures 
Circle of Blue has named "Action Figures" whose innovative work during 2012 made a difference in water, food, or energy.  The most relevant to water ethics (in my view) are listed here, along with their organizations:
Peter Thrum (Giving Water)
Monta Vessela (International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance)
Erin Huber (Drink Local, Drink Tap)
Rohini Nilekani (Arghyam)
Lori Pottinger (International Rivers
David Kuria (EcoTact
Fred Pearce (environmental author)
Ashley Murray (Waste Enterprisers
Jay Famiglietti  (Univ. of California Center for Hydraulic Modeling)

To Read

> Ethics and Water Governance by David Groenfeldt and Jeremy Schmidt, has just been published in Ecology and Society.  The authors suggest that governance goals are based on ethics, so clarity about both ethics and goals is fundamental to effective water governance.

> Still Digging: Extractive Industries, Resources Curses and Transnational Governance in the Anthropocene  by Stacy D. VanDeveer (Univ of New Hampshire) is not about water specifically, but provides a valuable overview of the oil/gas/mining sectors and discusses the role of civil society organizations and government regulation, in taming the industry.

> The Sixth International Workshop on Hydro-Hegemony took place 12-13 January 2013, at UEA London. Over 100 researchers, practitioners and activists explored its theme: Transboundary Water Justice. All of the proceedings, videos, photos, etc. are now available at the HH6 Event Webpage.   

> The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Water and Wetlands highlights how recognizing, demonstrating, and capturing the values of ecosystem services related to water and wetlands, can lead to better informed, more efficient, and fairer decision making.  

Luna B. Leopold—Pioneer Setting the Stage for Modern Hydrology, by Randall Hunt and Curt Meine, appears in the current issue of the National Groundwater Association Journal.  Luna Leopold applied the Land Ethic of his father, Aldo, to the world of water, and we are the beneficiaries of both their efforts!

Milking Nature’s Bottom Line: A Full-Cost-Accounting of  Proposed CAFO Operations in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, by Eric Landen and David Propen of Landen Consulting, demonstrates a synergy, in this case, between water ethics and economics.

International Journal of Water Governance.  The first issue of this new journal is available from the Baltzer Science Publishers as a free download, after registering your name. [Thanks to Lida Schelwald for this info]

River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America's Rivers, by Daniel McCool, Columbia University Press, 2012.  See also, an interview with the author, and a review from the Environmental History website.  This book offers an insightful treatment of the old and the current water ethic in America. 

> Dams on the Mekong, Global Water Forum Discussion Paper by Stuart Orr (WFF, Switzerland) looks at the direct and indirect impacts of the construction of eleven dams on the Mekong River.  

State of Watershed Payments 2012, is the second installment of the most comprehensive inventory to date of initiatives around the world that are paying individuals and communities to revive or preserve water-friendly features of the landscape. Such features include wetlands, streams, and forests that can capture, filter, and store freshwater.

> The January-March issue of “A World of Science,” a magazine produced by the UNESCO, features an article by Stanley Crawford, a writer and water expert from, New Mexico, USA, reflecting on water conflict and cooperation.

The inclusion of the right to water in the new Tunisian constitution (in French) byMr. Moez Allawi, the legal director of the SONEDE.  For a long list of articles and reports (in French and English) on the right to water in the Euro-Mediterranean region click here (link to EMWIS website).

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The Water Ethics Newsletter is an initiative of the Water-Culture Institute and is made possible through a generous grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation

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Featured Organizations

HYDRIA Project uses water as a ‘vehicle’ to unfold the diverse, yet common, tangible and intangible Mediterranean cultural heritage. The project aims to demonstrate that this past wisdom in the area of water collection, storage and transfer can be properly combined with modern technological innovations to help address today’s needs.

Water-Wheel is an interactive, collaborative platform for sharing media and ideas, performance and presentation. It encourages you to explore and discover, share and collaborate, contribute and participate.

Aqua Dyn - Auroville aims to produce pure, clean and “living” water beneficial to good health.  Based in Auroville, India, the company treats water in order to restore its dynamic properties.

SUMMIT ON THE SUMMIT is an initiative designed to drive awareness and change to the global clean water crisis while engaging a community through raising awareness, supporting education, inspiring advocacy and activating fundraising.  Their signature activity is taking high profile individuals to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the name of clean water. 

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) is a binational coalition of mayors and other local officials to protect and restore the vitality of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.


Featured Consultation
The Thematic Consultation on Water is part of the UN-system "global dialogue" taking place as an on-line web-based discussion using different social media. The purpose is to bring in voices from a broad range of stakeholders to build a consensus around key future challenges in water and the need for a new global water goal in the post-2015 development agenda.

Featured Video
"Religious Water as Problem - Religious Water as Solution," a TEDx talk by Viktor Aldrin at the University of Gothenburg

Upcoming Events

Water Writes, a project of the Estria Foundation, is a series of 10 collaborative mural projects in 10 cities across the globe.  Community members are invited to a public paint day to create imagery which reflects the relationship between the people and the water of each area. The final murals are accessible to view by the public and also to communities across the world through video documentation and the Internet.

The World Walks for Water and Sanitation is a global event demanding action to address the world’s largest crisis – water and sanitation. From 16 to 24 March 2013, thousands of people will walk together to demand political change and to call on governments to keep their promises on Water and Sanitation. 

> 5th Delft Symposium on Water Sector Capacity Development, "Developing Capacity from Rio to Reality: Who's Taking the Lead?" 29-31 May 2013.  The Water Ethics Network is co-organizing a session along with the Water Integrity Network. Contact DGroenfeldt [at]
> European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) 2013 biennial conference ‘Circulating Natures: Water-Food-Energy’ will be held in Munich, Germany, 20-24 August 2013. 

> World Water Week in Stockholm, September 1-6, 2013, will have the theme "Water Cooperation - Building Partnerships".


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Last Updated February 2013

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