Note from the Editor:  We took a break for the summer, but are now resuming our monthly newsletter  schedule.

Pope Francis Speaks about Environmental Ethics

The Pope's  Encyclical on the Environment, released in June, places the sustainable management of natural resources, including water, in the category of sacred moral duty.  Economic cost-benefit analysis took a particularly hard hit, not as an evil in itself, but as a distraction from moral reason.  A similar message was articulated by Muslim leaders meeting in Istanbul on Aug. 17-18, who endorsed the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change.

Restoring Urban Rivers:  Whose Responsibility?

The campaign to restore the Los Angeles River has been a role model for other cities. Now there's something else to think about:  Who should pay for the restoration?  The answer for Los Angeles is a 50-50 split between the Army Corps of Engineers (which buried the river in concrete 75 years ago) and the city (which asked the Corps to do this).  The lesson for other cities?  Ask whoever broke your river to pay at least half to bring it back to life.

Mining and Water Ethics

This month a gold mine in Colorado, abandoned for 90 years, spewed 3m gallons (ca. 11,000 m3) of highly toxic water into the Animas River, in the Colorado River Basin. Similar spills happened in Canada and Mexico last year (See news report from LA Times), and thousands of other abandoned mines in the Western US pose similar threats (See this report from Alliance for Appalachia, 5MB).  Are we learning from the past, or just repeating it?

News Briefs

A Youth Manifesto for Water Protection was presented to the European Parliament on July 13, 2015.  The manifesto will  contribute to a revision of the European Water Framework Directive, scheduled for 2018.

Dam the Gila River In the Southwestern US, New Mexico's only remaining free-flowing river is in danger of being dammed at great environmental and financial cost, based on dubious evaluations, in a throwback to the water mentality of last century.   Story from Circle of Blue).

Water Awards
CH2M Hill, a Colorado-based global service and engineering company, has been named the winner of the 2015 Stockholm Industry Water Award, for developing and advancing methods to clean water, and increasing public acceptance of recycled water.

World Soil Charter Revised
A recent FAO conference updated the 1981 Soil Charter.  For background, see this book chapter, Ethics of the Soil, by Paul Thompson, 2011

Blogs and Short Articles

It's Not Just a California Drought - OpEd by Cynthia Barnett from the Los Angeles Times warns about systemic problems with America's water policies.

Interview with Sterling Grogan about water and agriculture in the Western United States, from Carpe Diem West.

Ethics of Rainwater Harvesting - One of the more obvious good things to do with water is still illegal in the US state of Colorado (article form the New York Times).

On Being Water Conscious in Textiles (in China), a blog post by Zhao Lin, a writer from  Solidaridad, reprinted in China Water Risk.

Ethical Compensation for Displacement?  Global Water Initiative Policy brief by Jamie Skinner discusses displacement from the Kandadji dam in Niger.

Water Co-Management - Review by Mike Agar of a new book edited by Grover, V.I. and G. Krantzberg. 

Reports and Journal Articles

Green Infrastructure and Urban Rivers: Turning our Cities Blue (5 MB).  The
July issue of River Network's magazine features stories about successful urban river restoration.

A Sacred Responsibility: Governing the Use of Water and Related Resources in the International Columbia River Basin Through the Prism of Tribes and First Nations. (10MB)
A report from the Universities Consortium on Columbia River Governance.

Business and Human Rights: Indigenous Peoples' Experiences with Access to Remedy. Case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America, edited by C. Doyle, discusses options for redress for Indigenous communities impacted from mining and hydro projects.

Attitudes to Water in South Asia, by G. Price, a report from Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Managing a Living Cultural Landscape: Bali’s subaks and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a new report from Stockholm Environment Institute.

Mining - Demand in the Desert: Mongolia’s Water-Energy-Mining Nexus, ADB report. August 2014. focuses on the Tuul River Basin and the Galba-Uush Doloodin Gobi Basin.

Ecological Worldviews: A missing perspective to advance global sustainability leadership, by S. Schein, from Journal of Management for Global Sustainability, 2015.

State of the World’s Wetlands and their Services to People: A compilation of recent analyses is a new report from the Ramsar secretariat.

Dead in the Water: Ethical ownership and water management in the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, a report from suggests that the Fund’s investments in The Coca-Cola Company is at conflict with its stated management strategies.

Cooperation:  Factors Enabling Transboundary Aquifer Cooperation. A Global Analysis, report from International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre, Nov. 2014

The road to dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet from the United Nations Secretary General. December 2014

Understanding “sufficiency” in water-related collective action. Discussion paper, CEO Water Mandate. October 2014

Water and the Rural Poor - Interventions for improving livelihoods in Asia, FAO, Nov. 2014

Free Flow:  Why Cultural Diversity Matters for Healthy Rivers, by D. Groenfeldt, in the current issue of Langscape.

First Peoples and Water: Water Resource Issues for Native Americans, AWRA Impact special issue on Indian Water.

Pro-poor Resource Governance under Changing Climates, A new study by IFAD and IASS examines the potential for climate mitigation through small holder agriculture.

Flooding in river mouths: human caused or natural events?  Five centuries of flooding events in the SW Netherlands, 1500–2000, by A. M. J. de Kraker (published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences), shows about a third of floods in southwestern Netherlands were deliberately caused by humans during wartime.  (Thanks to Michael van der Valk for this info.)

Groundwater and Ecosystem Services: A framework for managing smallholder groundwater-dependent agrarian socio-ecologies, a new report from the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.

Thank-you to our sponsors!
The Water Ethics Newsletter is an initiative of the Water-Culture Institute and is made possible through a generous grant from Kalliopeia Foundation

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Featured Initiative

UPGro, Unlocking the Potential for Groundwater for the Poor, is a seven year research programme funded by the UK Government that takes a social and natural science approach to enabling sustainable use of groundwater for the benefit of the poor.

Everyone, Everywhere 2030 is Water Aid's new program to help reach everyone, everywhere with safe water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.

Values4Water,  Value sensitive collaborative water governance, is a collaborative program based at Technical University, Delft which explores the values of stakeholders as an input to engineering design decisions.

Featured Organization

International Society for Environmental Ethics.  ISEE  advances research and education in the field of environmental ethics and philosophy, and promotes appropriate human use, respect, conservation, preservation, and understanding of the natural world.

Featured Novel

The Water Knife, by Paolo Bagicalupi, describes a dystopian near-future Nevada and Arizona where water scarcity is settled by military force.  [link to book review by Michael Berry, Earth Island Journal]

Recent Events

12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP12), 2-9 June 2015 in Punta del Este, Uruguay.  The Summary of this meeting is  available here.

ISEE 2015 conference.  The meeting of the International Society for Environmental Ethics was held in Kiel, Germany, 22-25 July, and featured three sessions on Water Ethics, organized by R. Ziegler and D. Groenfeldt.  The papers from the water ethics sessions are intended to be published in a forthcoming edited volume.

Upcoming Events

CAPNET will offer a virtual course on A Human Rights Based Approach to Integrated Water Resources Management, Sept 28-Nov. 13, 2015

Adaptation Futures 2016, a biannual conference organized by PROVIA (Global Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation) will be held 10-13 May 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  Water is one of the main themes, and ethics would fit perfectly.

Featured Video:

Challenges for Water Security in the Poor’s World, a talk by
Sunita Narain at the University of Waterloo on April 30, 2015.  (Thanks to Jeremy Schmidt)

Featured water Ecosystem:

Fish Ponds for Urban Sewage Treatment in Kolkata, India.  Details about the system, which has been designated a Ramsar wetland site, can be found here.

Featured Tool-Kit

Water Setwardship Initiative Toolkit.  You're a company and want to launch a water stewardship initiative.  How should you go about it?  This toolkit from CEO Water Mandate and Water Integrity Network will take you through a step-by-step process:

Featured Ethical Issue

Water-Energy Nexus and solar pumps.  When farmers install solar-powered irrigation pumps, what is to prevent them from over-pumping?  [Maybe ethics could help...]


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Last Updated August 2015

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