Tag Archives: Safe Drinking Water

5/24/2011 Rolanda Tohannie to Mr. James Anaya: Living in the former Bennett Freeze & drinking contaminated water

5/24/2012 Rolanda Tohannie to James Anaya for the OFFICIAL RECORD 1“>5/24/2012 Rolanda Tohannie to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indgenous Peoples, UN OHCHR: Living in the former Bennett Freeze & drinking uranium and arsenic contaminated water in Box Springs (Navajo Nation), AZ

10/13/2011 ALERT: McCain Bill Will Open 1 Million Grand Canyon Acres to Uranium Mining – Take Action

10/13/2011 Center for Biological Diversity ALERT: Take action to tell your senators to oppose all provisions blocking a drilling ban. Today GOP lawmakers led by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) announced legislation that would open one million acres of public lands forming Grand Canyon National Park’s watershed to new uranium mining. The bill would overturn an existing moratorium on new mining and mining claims. “It is unconscionable that Senator McCain and Representatives Flake and Franks are seeking to undermine protections for Grand Canyon and its watershed and showing so little regard for the people of Arizona, including all of those who expressed strong support for protecting these lands from uranium mining and the pollution it produces,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director, Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter.

The Grand Canyon and four corners region still suffer the pollution legacy of past mining. American Indian tribes in the region – Havasupai, Hualapai, Kaibab-Paiute, Navajo, and Hopi – have banned uranium mining on their lands. Water in Horn Creek, located in Grand Canyon National Park just below the old Orphan uranium mine, exhibits dissolved uranium concentrations over 10 times the health-based standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water, while groundwater sumps below old mines north of Grand Canyon have measured dissolved uranium more than 1000 times allowable for drinking water standards. “Neither mining corporations, lawmakers nor public agencies can guarantee that uranium mining wouldn’t further contaminate aquifers feeding Grand Canyon’s springs and creeks. Such pollution—as we see in Horn Creek today–would be impossible to clean up,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “A decade ago Senator McCain was a defender of Grand Canyon. Today he’s one its greatest threats.”

10/13/2011 Center for Biological Diversity Take Action: McCain Bill Would Open 1 Million Grand Canyon Acres to Uranium Mining:The world-famous Grand Canyon is under attack again — this time from politicians in Arizona. Republican lawmakers led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) proposed legislation Wednesday to open 1 million acres of public lands around Grand Canyon to new uranium mining. The bill would overturn a temporary ban on new uranium mining — a ban the Center for Biological Diversity’s been fighting to extend — and block Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s recent proposal to keep the ban in place for the next 20 years.

Despite widespread public support for the ban and more than 100,000 comments from Center supporters this summer, McCain and his friends in the mining industry want to allow the damaging plunder of the iconic Grand Canyon landscape for uranium. Sadly, the region still suffers the pollution legacy of past mining. The Havasupai, Hualapai, Kaibab-Paiute, Navajo and Hopi have all banned uranium mining on their lands, and for good reason: Groundwater below old mines north of the Canyon has measured dissolved uranium at more than 1,000 times what’s allowable for drinking-water standards.

We’re gearing up to fight McCain and his cronies to make sure the Grand Canyon’s future is focused on pristine landscapes, not polluted ones.

10/12/2011 Food & Water Watch: Proposed Law Guts Water Protections, Won’t Make Us Safer

10/12/2011 Food & Water Watch: Proposed Law Guts Water Protections, Won’t Make Us Safer: Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch: “We are appalled to hear that the House Natural Resources committee has passed the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, which would waive federal environmental protections for Department of Homeland Security activities on federal lands in border areas. Let’s hope it doesn’t go any further than that.

“This is yet another ideological attempt to gut environmental regulations, spearheaded this time by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune recently editorialized that Bishop is likely more interested in busting environmental safeguards than border safety, writing, ‘It seems obvious illegal immigration is less Bishop’s target than environmental protection of all public lands. Frustrated in fighting land protection in Utah, he’s expanding the front, charging in where he’s not wanted or needed.’ Representative Raul Grijalva was quoted as also saying it was a ‘Trojan-horse tactic’ to attack environmental regulations.

“Not only is this legislation not about border security, but it’s also a ‘Big Brother’ attempt to squelch democratic rulemaking that could result in diminished water quality for all Americans. Using this proposed law to supersede the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act — among dozens of other environmental protections that would be waived — is not what will make America safer.”

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Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467;  drakestraw@fwwatch.org

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

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9/29/2011 U.S. EPA selects $70 million remedy for groundwater contamination removal at Omega Chemical Site

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2011 Contact: Francisco Arcaute, Cell (213) 798-1404 , arcaute.francisco@epa.gov U.S. EPA selects $70 million remedy for groundwater contamination removal at Omega Chemical Site Preventing Spread of 4.5 mile Contamination Plume is Primary Goal SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has selected an interim remedy to capture and treat groundwater contaminated by high concentrations of industrial solvents at the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund Site in Whittier, Calif.  This cleanup is estimated to cost nearly $70 million over the life of the treatment system.

EPA selected this interim remedy to prevent the contaminated plume of groundwater from spreading further and threatening drinking water resources.  Once the groundwater has been extracted and treated, it is expected to be used for drinking water for the surrounding community.  EPA successfully extracts, treats, and provides for drinking more than 100 million gallons of water every day at several other Superfund sites in Southern California.

“EPA has taken a critical step forward at the Omega Chemical site to reverse the damage done to a vital resource in Southern California,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Drinking water aquifers are under a heavy strain, and this decision ensures their preservation, and the protection of local residents.”

Contamination from the former Omega Chemical facility on Whittier Boulevard has created a plume of contaminated groundwater containing trichlorethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), freons, and other solvents that extends approximately four and one-half miles to the south/southwest of the site. The plume lies beneath a large commercial/industrial area, and numerous facilities in this area have also contributed to the regional groundwater contamination.

The treated groundwater will meet or surpass drinking water standards, which the EPA expects will be provided to local water purveyors to serve in the surrounding community. The remedy also allows for reinjection of treated groundwater if agreements with water purveyors cannot be reached in a timely manner.

This is EPA’s second Record of Decision at the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund Site. The first focused on contaminated groundwater and soils at the former facility, and is being implemented by a collection of private companies called Omega Chemical Site PRP Organized Group (OPOG).

For more information on the Omega Chemical site, including a copy of the Record of Decision, go to the EPA web site:   www.epa.gov/region09/OmegaChemical

7/27/2011 UN General Assembly Examines Vital Human Right to Safe Drinking Water, Adequate Sanitation

7/27/2011 United Nations General Assembly GA/11123 Sixty-fifth General Assembly Plenary 114th Meeting Examines Vital Human Right to Safe Drinking Water, Adequate Sanitation: ‘Water Is the Mother of All Rights,’ Says Bolivia’s Leader, Opposing Attempts To Privatize It; Venezuela Says Wrong to Flaunt Resources While Millions Lack Them. While some strides had been made to increase access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation — now regarded as a fundamental human right — efforts must be redoubled to provide access to safe water to the more than 1 billion people without it and basic sanitation services for the more than 2 billion still in need, urged experts and delegates in the General Assembly this afternoon.

Against the backdrop of the current drought-driven emergency in the Horn of Africa, where millions were struggling to survive, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Assembly that, at any one time, close to half of all people in developing countries were suffering from health problems caused by poor water and sanitation. Lack of access to adequate sanitation adversely affected children’s health and development, while, conversely, good sanitation systems could boost efforts in the field of health — including the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria — and increase school attendance and improve performance, especially among girls.

But the Secretary-General was quick to note that ensuring the more accessible, more equitable provision of water did not mean that water should be assigned no economic value. “Let us be clear: a right to water and sanitation does not mean that water should be free,” he stressed. States bore the primary responsibility to make clean water and sanitation both affordable and available to all, he added, urging Governments that had not yet done so to include the rights to water and sanitation services in their national constitutions without delay.

General Assembly President Joseph Deiss agreed that the situation was urgent. “We must, day by day, reiterate our collective will and determination to achieve our objective,” he stressed, referring to the rapidly approaching 2015 deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals — which included one specific target to halve the global population without access to safe water or sanitation.

In a positive development, he pointed to a growing international recognition of water as human right, as well as of the fact that water underlay most other internationally agreed development goals. The General Assembly, in its resolution 64/292 of July 2010, had acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation were integral to the realization of all human rights. Two months later, the Human Rights Council reaffirmed that position, additionally concluding that the right to water and sanitation was part of existing international law. It was derived from the basic right to a dignified life, among others.

More than 1 billion people still lived without access to safe water, and more than 2 billion lacked basic sanitation services, he noted, echoing the concerns of the Secretary-General. Many challenges hampered the realization of that right, including the absence of functional institutions and necessary technical resources. But more must be done by States, and those in a position to support them, to overcome such obstacles.

“Water is the mother of all rights,” said Evo Morales Ayma, the President of Bolivia, who also addressed the Assembly today. It was the responsibility of the State to guarantee access to that resource, which was so vital to life. Bolivia, to that end, had enshrined the right to water in its Constitution, and had invested $100 million to projects providing water to people, their crops and their livestock. It was critical that States take the opportunity provided by the current debate to share their experiences and to learn from each other’s stories.

Water should not be seen as a luxury as it was in some countries, Mr. Morales said. He condemned attempts to make water a private commodity. Similarly, several representatives in the course of the meeting called for water and sanitation to be better distributed among countries that were “polarized” in their enjoyment of human rights. The representative of Venezuela, for example, said that the fact that a rich minority of the world monopolized and flaunted basic resources — while millions lacked them — was unacceptable. Water belonged to all, he stressed.

Meanwhile, other delegates pointed to particular situations of drought or deprivation experienced by their own countries. The representative of Djibouti, one of the most water-deficient in the world, said that today’s meeting was poignant as it was taking place at the time of one of the worst droughts in the history of his home region. Djibouti itself risked running out of water in the next 25 years, he said. Like so many other countries, it lacked the resources and infrastructure to desalinate water or to distribute it widely. He urged the international community to take action to reverse those trends.

Also addressing the Assembly today was Catarina de Albuquerque, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, who appealed to Member States to ensure that that right and non-discriminatory access to it was built into the development framework to be pursued following 2015. There were many technical and resource challenges, she said, but political will was the most important element. Delegates throughout the meeting echoed that statement.

Also participating were the representatives of the European Union, Brazil, Spain, Peru, United States, France, Egypt, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Germany, El Salvador, Sweden, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Nicaragua, Madagascar, Senegal, South Africa, Hungary, Switzerland, Australia, Burkina Faso, Maldives and Morocco.

The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow, 28 July, at 10:00 a.m.

Background

The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider the human right to water and sanitation, during which it was expected to hear an address by Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia.

Opening Remarks

JOSEPH DEISS, President of the General Assembly, recalled that in July 2010 the General Assembly had adopted a resolution on the human right to water and sanitation, an important first step towards the explicit acknowledgment of that resource as a human right. It derived from the basic right to a dignified life, he said, recalling as well that the seventh Millennium Development Goal called for the halving, by 2015, of the population with no access to safe water or sanitation. That goal was crucial for the achievement of all other goals, as well.

After 10 years, progress towards meeting that target remained inadequate, he said. More than 1 billion people still lived without access to safe water, and more than 2 billion lacked basic sanitation services. Many challenges hampered the realization of that right, including the absence of functional institutions and necessary technical resources. “We must, day by day, reiterate our collective will and determination to achieve our objective,” he stressed, referring to the rapidly approaching 2015 deadline. He hoped that the upcoming Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development would give new impetus to that mission.

Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that, at any one time, close to half of all people in developing countries were suffering from health problems caused by poor water and sanitation. Together, unclean water and poor sanitation were the second largest killers of children. While important legal advances had recently been made by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council when they recognized, respectively, the right to water and sanitation and the fact that that right was derived from the right to an adequate standard of living, the task now was to translate that commitment into specific obligations, both at the international and national levels.

“Let us be clear: a right to water and sanitation does not mean that water should be free,” stressed Mr. Ban. Rather, it meant that water and sanitation services should be affordable and available for all. States must do everything in their power to make that happen. It was not acceptable that poor slum-dwellers paid five or even 10 times as much for their water as wealthy residents of the same cities, or that wastewater from slums, farms and industry was polluting the environment.

Last month the General Assembly had launched the sustainable sanitation “Drive to 2015”, at which time, he recalled, he had spoken about how lack of access to good sanitation adversely affected children’s health and development, how good sanitation could boost efforts in the field of health — including the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria — and how it could increase school attendance and improve performance, especially among girls. He urged Governments that had not yet done so to include the right to water and sanitation services in their national constitutions without delay.

Finally, he drew the attention of the Assembly to the current emergency in the Horn of Africa, where millions were struggling to survive. There, short-term relief must be linked to long-term sustainability; namely, an agricultural transformation that improved the resilience of rural people, especially pastoralists, and minimized the scale of any future crisis.

“Water is the mother of all rights,” said EVO MORALES Ayma, President of Bolivia, as he took the floor next. He asked Presidents and other leaders to respect that right as a basis for all others, and said that the United Nations was a forum where significant progress could be made towards implementing those rights.

Water must stop being the subject of private business, he stressed, and instead must become a public service. It must not be subjected to trade and to companies that could exploit it for financial gain. The international community must implement policies to that end. Human rights, like other rights, had adversaries — policies and problems, which led to inequality and brought about injustices. The enemy of water, first and foremost, was global warming.

In Bolivia, he said, the population was suffering from the worst droughts and frosts ever seen; those crises caused forced migration and continued to be a major challenge throughout the country. In response, the country was implementing policies that underscored the right to safe water and sanitation. It was the responsibility of the State to guarantee access to that resource, which was so vital to life. Bolivia had enshrined the right to water in its Constitution. It had invested $100 million to priority projects, providing water to human beings and for the support of their crops and livestock. Today, it was critical for States to share similar experiences and to learn from each other’s stories.

Water should not be seen as a luxury, as it was in some countries, he continued. Together, a balance among all human beings must be sought. The United Nations had taken important steps through its resolutions recognizing the right to water and sanitation, and referendums on the provision of water were being held in some areas of the world. In that vein, he condemned all moves to make water a private commodity, noting that some multinational companies wanted to increase the price of water by up to 500 per cent. He asked the Assembly to build upon its recent actions and to take steps to ensure the provision of safe water and sanitation around the world.

CATARINA DE ALBUQUERQUE, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, asked if measures taken so far would change the urgent situation facing millions around the world. She cited examples of children who had to spend most of the day searching for water and people who had to set up makeshift toilets and who cart away waste. The recognition of water and sanitation as a right could truly make a difference in their cases; it could cement the urgency of the matter, and create a world where people did not get sick by drinking dangerous water or make others sick by defecating into their water. The human rights approach mandated States to gradually make access to clean water and sanitation universal.

She said that the numerous strategies she had researched showed that there was no single path to such universal access and that it was within reach. Reports next year would review progress on the recognition of the right to water and sanitation, as well as on monitoring such aspects as non-discrimination in applying that right. She appealed to Member States to ensure that the human right to water and sanitation and non-discrimination was built into the development framework to be pursued following 2015. There were many technical and resource challenges, but will was the most important element. She called on all stakeholders to use the human rights framework in all their efforts.

Statements

PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of Delegation of the European Union, acknowledged the recent recognition of the human right to water by the General Assembly, and the Human Rights Council’s specification that that right was part of the human right to an adequate standard of living. He also recalled that there were different positions within the United Nations membership on the relevant solutions. What was important was that the international community demonstrated united political will to address the global water and sanitation crisis. Despite international recognition of that priority, there was no room for complacency.

The Union, he said, would further prioritize sustainable water management in its future development policy. It and its member countries collaborated closely with African countries on that sector. Last year, the Union had launched a Millennium Development Goals initiative; with a focus on water and sanitation, it provided 1 billion euros for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Describing other efforts by the Union and its members, he said that the Union welcomed the efforts being led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to look at the post-2015 development framework for water and sanitation and it acknowledged the importance of global monitoring of quality, affordability and accessibility of water and sanitation services.

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) echoed Mr. Morales call for greater cooperation for access to water and sanitation, which she called a pre-condition for the eradication of poverty. Domestically, her country was working for universal access and, internationally, it was sharing the expertise the expertise it had gained in that effort. The right to water and sanitation was linked to many economic rights, whose full enjoyment must be provided by the State. The central role of human rights’ bodies in gaining respect for that right, and the role of the Special Rapporteur were critical. Rio+20 would allow the international community to revisit the issue in the context of sustainable development.

FERNANDO FERÁNDEZ-ARIAS MINUESA (Spain) said that, as part and parcel of international law, the right to water and sanitation was legally binding. The Human Rights Council had renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation, further endorsing that right. Her work had provided a solid platform for further efforts.

He said that Spain, together with Germany, had drawn the attention of the Human Rights Council to the issue of water and sanitation five years ago. There was a close link between recognizing human rights and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. States needed to fully realize the right by drawing up national action plans that worked closely with poverty reduction programmes. Today, States and other actors understood their obligations; the need now lay in their implementation. Spain was one of 122 States that had voted in favour of that momentous General Assembly resolution of July 2010, and welcomed today’s debate.

GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ (Peru) said that a commitment from all Governments was needed to ensure that the right to water was realized around the world. International human rights provisions included special regulations with regard to the right to drinking water. Among other things, those obliged States to provide a certain amount of water to their people for various purposes, as well as for sanitation services, as part of the protection of their standard of living. Water must be managed in an integrated fashion; it was a renewable resource and part of many ecosystems. Its management, therefore, should include a recognition of its worth, the participation of the people in taking decisions relating to it, legal security for investments in water use, and decentralization of water management and efficiency, among other key principles. He also advocated an approach that acknowledged the multidimensional impact of the right to water. The human right to water and sanitation was derived from the right to life, to physical and mental health and to human dignity.

FREDERICK D. BARTON (United States) said that his country was deeply committed to addressing the needs of those around the world who lacked access to safe water and sanitation services. He acknowledged some progress, noting that more than 1.6 billion people had gained access to safe water between 1990 and 2005, but stressed that it had not gone far enough. In March, the United States had supported the renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate. It believed, first, that Governments should strive to realize the right to water and sanitation, and should expand access to underserved populations. They should also commit sufficient budgetary resources to meeting those goals. Second, States needed to make sure that access was provided on a non-discriminatory basis, including to persons in State custody.

Third, he noted, the right to safe water could be interpreted to mean cooking water, as well as water in sufficient quality and quantity to meet personal hygiene needs. Fourth, Governments should work towards greater transparency and accountability in the provision of water and sanitation, and should strive for the participation of the beneficiaries in that process. He hoped that today’s meeting would push States to take concrete actions to reduce the number of people without access to safe water or adequate sanitation.

EMMANUEL BONNE (France) said it had also supported the resolution adopted by the Assembly one year ago. With the full involvement of all stakeholders concerned, the international community needed to move forward and implement that resolution, as well as that of the Human Rights Council. France, therefore, committed itself, alongside other members of the “Blue Group”, to achieving those goals. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative on sanitation, as well as the work of the Economic Commission for Europe, and the creation of a handbook on equitable access to water, among other recent progress made.

In March 2012, he said, France would host a conference in Marseille on the right to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. States must delineate the roles of different stakeholders and ensure the implementation of rights. He called for a greater role for local authorities in the delivery of water, adding that all public stakeholders must commit to solidarity-based solutions ensuring access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all.

MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) affirmed that all human rights must be achieved in an integrated manner, and that States must take all necessary measures to extend those rights, including the right to clean water and sanitation. That process should take into account regional differences, without creating “sub-rights” differing from those agreed upon in international instruments. In Egypt’s efforts, funding, climate change, population growth and other factors created challenges. To meet them, the Government had adopted an integrated national plan several years ago. Its implementation was based on decentralization and full cooperation among concerned ministries and national agencies and had wide-ranging goals. The United Nations and the international community must intensify their joint endeavours towards the development of integrated studies in order to address the major challenges, taking account of the particularities of all Member States.

RODOLFO ELISEO BENÍTEZ VERSÓN (Cuba), supporting the statement made by President Morales, said that the recognition of the right to clean water and sanitation was a milestone in helping the hundreds of millions of people who did not have access to those necessities, with millions dying each year from the lack. With climate change, international cooperation must be enhanced and mechanisms must be created that were not subjected to the conditionalities of the international financial institutions. His country had achieved the Millennium Development Goal on water before it was elaborated and had taken many actions to guarantee that human right. Despite that, the country faced many challenges, including the cruel blockade, which had prevented access to the latest technologies. The country did not envisage the privatization of water or other commercial solutions, since the access the water, which was a fundamental right, should not be a source of profit.

MURAD ASKAROV (Uzbekistan) said that no one disputed the truth that the Earth was experiencing an increasing incidence of natural catastrophes. This year, his region had experienced a severe drought, with reduced food production and environmental degradation. The Aral Sea had disappeared and had been replaced by a desert. Partial and ambiguous approaches to the water problem in his region would only lead to further disasters. In Uzbekistan, a programme was being implemented to rationalize water use, with associations of water users for agriculture. Billions invested in improving soil and water extraction from rivers were being reduced. A coordinated effort was needed on the part of States in the region, in line with treaty obligations, on the use of transboundary water sources. His country, in that context, was categorically against the construction of hydro-electric plants in the high reaches of the area. It was agreed that major dams created great risk. Fresh water should be used primarily for food production.

MIGUEL BERGER (Germany), supporting the statement made on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the recognition of the human right to clean water and sanitation, the pursuit of which his country had long supported. The big challenge now was to implement that right, and to think in bigger terms than technology. Ignoring any parameters in the integrated effort meant ignoring the people bereft of their rights. He looked forward to discussing the compendium of best practices that would be presented to the Human Rights Council soon. He urged all States to ensure that a human-rights approach was employed when designing national action plans to ensure universal access to clean water and sanitation.

CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ (El Salvador) said that many human rights could not be enjoyed in the absence of water. That key right was jeopardized by shortages and pollution; every day, 6,000 people, mainly children, died as a result of polluted drinking water. Under the current administration in El Salvador, a series of projects were in place to address water quality. The resolutions discussed today were “major strides forward in international endeavours to support sustainable human development”. Nonetheless, more remained to be done. Availability of water, when it was provided, must be equitable, sustainable, and affordable. It was the duty of States to prevent their people from being cut off from water sources as well as to counter pollution, whose impact on forests should also be considered. Industry, mining and agriculture, as sources of water pollution, must also be regulated.

SIGNE BURGSTALLER (Sweden) said that States must ensure that all people had access to water for personal use, and that water was distributed in a non-discriminatory way. That basic human right, along with the provision of adequate sanitation, was critical for sustainable economic growth. Improving water management at all levels was vital, as was providing access to women, who were often the household members who cared for others and managed a family’s water needs.

CAMILLO GONSALVES (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said that his country had been an enthusiastic co-sponsor of the resolution, by which the Assembly had recognized the right to water and sanitation as a human right. It had devoted tremendous resources to ensuring the realization of that right. His country’s modest national success in entrenching that human right showed that progress was achievable if political will was present, he stressed.

Too often, he said, Governments left much of the work on water issues to civil society organizations. It was now necessary to operationalize the resolutions, including by providing resources and technical assistance to States working to scale up the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation. He noted, in particular, the urgency of “looming threats” to achieving the right to water, namely, climate change and desertification. In his archipelago, people had often resorted to transported water by ship; water levels had risen, threatening a disastrous effect. The number of States worldwide that were classified as “water-scarce” was estimated to double by 2025. Mainstreaming the issue in the global agenda, therefore, was essential.

MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua) said that it was critical to put the human being at the centre of development, including human economic and social rights. For that purpose, her country had drawn up national plans for water and sanitation and had opposed the privatization of resources. The plight of those without access to drinking water and sanitation should drive international efforts, with technical assistance for achieving the vital goals. So far, the sector had not garnered the necessary focus. An inclusive, rights-based approach was important. Without creating sustainable models of production and consumption, in addition, it would be impossible to ensure the continuance of life on Earth.

SEM ZINA ANDRIANARIVELO-RAZAFY (Madagascar) said that a year after the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation, it was time to consider implementation, along with the challenges involved. The right must be upheld without any discrimination or exception, and each State must ensure that the right was fulfilled. His country had instituted a code and established a ministry on water issues, to provide for growth, ensure access to drinking water and develop infrastructure for sanitation. Other ministries had complemented those efforts.

He said that the support of Madagascar’s partners for those efforts was essential. Such partnerships had already borne fruit and much progress had been made, but the challenges were still numerous. Every year, there was drought in the south of the country, halving the proportion of those with access to clean water and sanitation. He called for the mobilization of greater resources for the sector and for all Member States to implement the decisions they had taken so that the right becomes “real” and not just a theory.

ABDOU SALAM DIALLO (Senegal), welcoming the recognition of water and sanitation as a human right, said that in his country access to those necessities was at the centre of development policy. Its water programme had already achieved “striking” results. However, water quality and access in rural areas must be improved. To augment progress, there were programmes to ease access to surface water. For the efforts to be successful, climate change and drought must be factored in, and for that to happen, assistance to the sector must be increased. He expressed Senegal’s willingness to host the Special Rapporteur in the context of her studies.

ROBLE OLHAYE (Djibouti) said that the presence of Evo Morales at the meeting added significance to the gathering and underscored the high-level political commitment to water and sanitation, by putting them on the international agenda. The timing of the meeting was also important, taking place as it did against the backdrop of a severe drought in the Horn of Africa. Only a few years from the 2015 Millennium Development Goal deadline to halve the number of people without drinking water and sanitation, it was inconceivable to bridge that gap without major actions by States.

However, he said he was encouraged that so many countries were recognizing the right to water and sanitation, and implementing both short- and long-term measures to realize that right. The world was divided into “haves and have nots”, but those distinctions must give way to the equitable enjoyment of human rights. States bore the primary responsibility for the provision of those rights. Djibouti was one of the most deficient in the world with regard to safe water access, and it risked running out of water in the next 25 years. Like many other countries, it also lacked the resources and infrastructure to desalinate water or to distribute it widely. Challenges, however, should not discourage the international community from striving to reverse those trends and ensuring safe water and sanitation for all.

THEMBELA OSMOND NGCULU (South Africa) said that his country’s bill of rights provided a legislative framework for the enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms, including the enjoyment of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. His Government, therefore, had an obligation to create an enabling environment for the provision of those resources and services; it had committed itself to those goals since 1994. Water and the environment were catalysts to South Africa’s economic growth, and a strategic framework for water services had been in place since 2003, requiring that all clinics, schools, and people had access to safe water. South Africa also used the water policies of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and other regional development frameworks. He called for international cooperation to help all countries, especially developing ones, achieve the Millennium Development Goals and other targets related to water and sanitation.

CSABA KÖRÖSI (Hungary), aligning his statement with that of the European Union, said speakers at the meeting had already shown a major commitment to improving access to safe water and sanitation. A firm legal basis was of vital importance to successful water management, both at the national and international levels, he added. While access to clean drinking water and sanitation should be universal, that was far from reality. In truth, realizing the basic human right to water and sanitation required investments in institutions and infrastructure. Preventative measures must be taken now, he stressed.

JEAN-DANIEL VIGNY (Switzerland), calling the recognition of the right to water and sanitation historic, said that in view of the Millennium Development Goals and planning for the period following 2015, the rights-based approach was essential. He supported the joint monitoring programme of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, which showed the great gaps between the needs in the field and their financing, and called for greater investment, both nationally and internationally. His country had agreed to increase its official development assistance (ODA), which would be focussed primarily on water. Efforts to realize the right to water and sanitation must be scaled up worldwide. He cited the Protocol for Water and Health, to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, as an instrument that embodied the links between human rights and sustainable development. Switzerland was drawing up guidelines to better utilize the rights-based approach.

GARY FRANCIS QUINLAN (Australia), noting that his country was in fact the driest inhabited continent on Earth, recognized that access to water and sanitation was fundamental to the realization of the range of human rights. He welcomed progress towards improving access to water and sanitation, but was alarmed that the sanitation target would be missed by 1 billion people. For that reason, his Government had invested more than $330 million on water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries and was planning on spending more in the next four years.

He said that addressing the many challenges in the sector required enhanced water policy and management approaches, increased investments through funding and capacity support, the application of innovative and cost-effective water supply and sanitation technology and an improved focus on the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized. Also necessary was to improve planning for both urban and rural areas, to expand rainwater catchments and storage and to empower community initiatives. It was also vital to support integrated management systems and to urgently address the disproportionate impact that poor water and sanitation access had on health, education and economic opportunities for women and young girls, as well as people with disabilities.

MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso) said that his country had set up a State-owned company to ensure adequate water supply and to look after the operation of sanitation facilities. Considerable progress in the past few years had gained the country the “MDG prize”. He thanked Burkina Faso’s partners for their assistance in the sector. However, there were many challenges in his Sahelian country, and he noted that it was working with Morocco on new technologies. He hoped that the upcoming summit on desertification would help address the water issue, which had an impact on many other sectors.

THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives) said that her country had a policy of ensuring that all inhabited islands had access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation services. Streams and rivers did not exist in the island, and lakes were scarce. Its main source of water was shallow groundwater, and the Maldives, therefore, was extremely vulnerable to water scarcity. “Urgent and transformational action” was needed, in particular, in small island States, such as the Maldives. They faced climate change and water scarcity; that was a problem today, and not one in the distant future. The human right to water and sanitation was legally binding, she stressed, and the provision of that right must be considered further in the context of sea-level rise, climate change, and other critical phenomena.

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) said that the rights to water and sanitation were at the centre of the economic, social and cultural rights that Morocco held dear. It was not a political, ideological or a moral matter, but a “solemn appeal” for the right to life. He asked whether it was acceptable that in Africa and Asia a woman or child must walk an average distance of six kilometres for water. He himself had lived in very difficult circumstances and had personally experienced such deprivation to water, which affected four people out of every 10 in the developing world. The time had come to harness energies towards finding a sustainable solution. Today’s meeting was a recognition of the gravity of the situation, but more action was urgently needed. Morocco supported any international effort to give full recognition of the human right to water, which was a major domestic policy priority. It was critical to save water to make the best possible use of it, as the primary responsibility of States in relation to water was to save lives. But more support was needed at the international level.

JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela), noting that polarities existed between countries around the world with regard to the enjoyment of human rights, stressed that the right to water and sanitation must be more widely respected. The fact that a rich minority of the world monopolized and flaunted those resources, while millions lacked them, was unacceptable. Those discrepancies were characteristic of the capitalist system; it was necessary to overcome the “miserable economic fundamentalism” that stymied the equitable distribution of water around the world. President Morales had noted that water was “the mother of all rights”. Venezuela would add that water was not a source of finance and trade. The country’s domestic provisions stated that water was an asset of society, and belonged to all. Full exercise of national solidarity was exercised and the exploitation of water by foreigners was prevented. Venezuela had achieved the Millennium Development Goal on water, with more than 95 per cent of its population today having access to safe drinking water, and more than 92 per cent with access to adequate sanitation.

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NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 at 5:00 PM at City Hall in Flagstaff, Ariz.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 at 5:00 PM at City Hall in Flagstaff, Ariz. On the Use and Preservation of Dook’o’osliid: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ST. MICHAELS, Ariz.—The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing to give Navajo citizens an opportunity to give oral testimony, written information, or send written testimony to NNHRC about Dook’o’osliid as they relate to use, need for preservation, protection and other issues on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 5 p.m. at City Hall in Flagstaff, Ariz.

NNHRC is established under the legislative oversight of the Naabik’iyati’ Committee of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council. NNHRC advocates for recognition of Navajo human rights and directly networks at the local, state, national and international level to assess the state-of-affairs between Navajos and non-Navajos by conducting public hearings. NNHRC also investigates written complaints involving discrimination of Navajo citizens and addresses the public about human rights and the Navajo Nation’s intolerance of human rights violations.

The mission of the NNHRC is “[t]o protect and promote the human rights of Navajo Nation citizens by advocating human equality at the local, state, national and international levels based on the Diné principles of Si’a Naaghai Bik’eh Hózhóó, Hashkéejí, Hózhóójí and K’é.” The Diné principles translate to being resilient, content, disciplined and maintaining peaceful relationships with all creation.

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If a willing participant cannot make the hearing, NNHRC will accept a written testimony by mail. Be sure to include your full name, date, and chronological history of events pertaining to your concern about sacred sites, also, state the problem, and state the solution you want if you have one to recommend. Send your testimony to: Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, P.O. Box 1689, Window Rock, AZ 86515.

For more information, call the NNHRC at (928) 871-7436 or visit the NNHRC website at www.nnhrc.navajo-nsn.gov.

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9/10/2011 Gallup Independent: Residents suffer while tribes debate water issues

Rose Chewing Lane from Boadaway/Gap drank water from eight of these 55-gallon barrels for several years9/10/2011 Gallup Independent: Residents suffer while tribes debate water issues By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – Members of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission and the Hopi Tribe will meet next week to discuss water issues brought up by Navajos residing on Hopi Partitioned Land who refused to leave their homes after Congress partitioned the disputed lands in 1974 and forced the relocation of Navajo and Hopi families. In April, after two years of efforts by the grassroots group Forgotten People, U.S. and Navajo agencies, the first load of safe drinking water was delivered to residents in the Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls area near Leupp who were drinking uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water. The group hopes to replicate that success for residents of HPL and the former Bennett Freeze.

On Aug. 22, Forgotten People planned to conduct a meeting of HPL residents at the Big Mountain home of elderly matriarch Pauline Whitesinger to discuss the possibility of implementing the water-hauling pilot project in their area.

Marsha Monestersky, Forgotten People program director, and Ed Becenti, Window Rock liaison, asked Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and other Navajo officials to attend, as well as officials from the Hopi Tribe. But that meeting went belly-up after Hopi informed Navajo that a permit was required and that Monestersky has an exclusion order against her.

“At this time, the Hopi Tribe will not be supporting or attending the meeting,” according to a letter from Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa. “To begin, the issues being raised – water and transportation issues – are Government-to-Government issues. Thus, a request for this type of meeting must come from the Navajo Nation, not the ‘Forgotten People.’”

Shingoitewa said since no one had requested a permit to hold the event, the meeting would be in violation of the Hopi Tribe’s rules and regulations. “Finally, there is a valid and binding exclusion order for Ms. Monestersky. Thus, Ms. Monestersky is not welcome on Hopi land,” he said.

Monestersky, a paralegal, first came to the area in 1975 to assist Navajo HPL residents with relocation issues and taking their case before the United Nations. Those efforts resulted in the first investigation against the United States by the United Nations for human rights violations. Monestersky said she was charged by Hopi with the unauthorized practice of law, accused of being present on HPL on several occasions without a permit, and for writing a $35 check that bounced, making her of “unfit moral character.”

She wrote the check off-reservation to buy an electric heater at Walmart in 1995 because she was “living in a cold, shabby trailer in Winslow” at the time. It was only after she moved to the reservation that she learned the check had bounced. Though she paid it off, she believes the check charge was used as an excuse by Hopi to get her banished forever from HPL.

“If they expel everyone who wrote a bad check, half the people here would be gone,” she said at the time. “What they really wanted to do was stop me from working with Navajo families here and helping them stick up for their rights.”

Pauline Whitesinger said the wells throughout HPL have been capped off, fenced or bulldozed, and the natural water near her home is contaminated. “When I drink the water it hurts my throat and I have a reaction when I swallow it and get sick.”

Raymond Maxx, executive director of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission, said Friday that they met recently with HPL residents who brought up the water issues. “We don’t know why the wells were capped off. We’re supposed to have a meeting with the Hopis this coming week regarding the issue.”

Louella Nahsonhoya, public information officer for Hopi, said the tribe is reviewing the issues and is moving cautiously with advice. Calls to Clayton Honyumptewa, director of Hopi Department of Natural Resources, were not returned.

Rena Babbitt Lane, whose husband passed away years ago after suffering a ruptured aneurysm while trying to open a cover from a dismantled well, attended the Aug. 26 meeting at Hardrock Chapter. Through her daughters Mary and Zena Lane, Rena said the number one priority everyone talked about is water.

“The Navajo Nation said the Hopi Tribe told them they capped off the wells because they did not want people to drink contaminated water. We need water for our livestock and we were never told anything by the Hopis. What is the water contaminated with? Why did they just destroy all the water resources without telling us why, even the Rocky Ridge well for Big Mountain residents?”

Lane, who is in her 80s, said they have to buy water from the chapter house and haul it 16 miles one way on a sandy road filled with potholes. Unlike in Window Rock, the monsoon season has not been kind. “The water ponds are filled with sand and the water when it does come does not last. We need tractors to dig out the water ponds and a water well near our home,” she said.

“We can’t really depend on our Council people and the Hopi and Navajo government. They are of no help to those of us that live on HPL. When we tell them something, both tribes point a finger at each other and no one helps us.”

Caroline Tohannie, an elder born and raised on Black Mesa, said they are suffering health problems and sickness because of the land dispute. “To this day there are a lot of arguments with both tribal councils. Why is it like that when they are supposed to work for the people to improve our lives? Can’t we work out our disagreements with the traditional people instead of the tribal councils? That is the way we want it.

“We need to reintroduce the greetings between the traditional Hopi and Navajos to straighten out our differences in that manner. In our language, k’e has to be regenerated. We have to reintroduce our greetings at the fireplace with the fire stick. Those are the laws of the traditional people and we need to follow the red road again.”

8/22/2011 James W. Zion Report to UN CERD on human right to safe drinking water and sanitation

James Zion Letter to Patrick Thorn Berry UN CERD Committee Member“>

5/14/2011 US EPA Superfund meeting a great success

The Saturday, 5/14/2011 US EPA Superfund meeting at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites was a great success. The room was filled to capacity. Debbie Schechter, Linda Reeves, Svetlana Zenkin and Brian Davidson, US EPA Superfund and Alex Grubb, Weston Associates, Contractor for US EPA Superfund presented. Frank Nez, Hathalie (Medicine Man) gave an invocation. James Peshlakai and the former governor of the Village of Upper Moenkopi presented opening remarks. Frank Nez, Lucy Knorr, Ethel Nez provided translation. People had a chance to speak and ask questions and US EPA Superfund conducted break out groups on water, abandoned uranium mines and contaminated structures.

4/20/2011 Gallup Independent article: Delegate concerned about cleanup of Highway 160 site

Delegate concerned about cleanup of Highway 160 site, By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent, 4/20/2011, WINDOW ROCK – Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency has selected a contractor to begin cleanup of the “Highway 160 Site” in Tuba City and will host a Radiation Awareness Workshop next week at To’Nanees’Dizi Chapter House to educate the public, according to Navajo Nation Council Delegate Joshua Lavar Butler. “Area residents need to be reassured that the cleanup and transport of radioactive material is done in an effective and efficient manner without causing further harm to the surrounding area. During the summer it’s windy, and anyone downwind could be affected,” Butler, who represents To’Nanees’ Dizi, said.

“It is vitally important federal and tribal officials begin educating and notifying people of concerns for safety and activities associated with this cleanup. I will continue to keep our people informed and will urge the agencies involved to take all safety precautions to ensure it is done in a manner to protect the health of our people and of our environment,” he said.

The Radiation Awareness Workshop will be held 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 27-28, with three sessions April 27 for the general public, and two more in-depth sessions April 28 for emergency and public safety personnel, according to Butler.

The Highway 160 Site is located about 5 miles east of Tuba City along Arizona Highway 160. It is directly north of the former Rare Metals uranium mill owned by El Paso Natural Gas and managed by U.S. Department of Energy’s Legacy Management.

According to an October 2010 statement of work, the Highway 160 site was discovered by Navajo EPA in 2003. The agency conducted radiological and soil analysis the following May and released a final report in September 2004. The site was found to have high radiological readings, including a finding of more than 1 million counts per minute.

In 2006 and 2007, Navajo EPA contracted William Walker of Walker & Associates, Inc., to conduct further site investigation. Walker found evidence that linked the contamination to Rare Metals, including ceramic tumblers and Normandy pebbles possibly used in the mill processing operation. Radiological levels ranged from 400 counts per minute to more than 10,000 counts per minute.

Analysis was performed on 47 soil samples and Walker released a final report in 2007 identifying radiological concerns that are affecting the immediate environment as well as health and safety concerns for humans, animals and plants. Groundwater at the Highway 160 site has not been characterized, according to Navajo EPA.

Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa, who lives in the Upper Village of Moenkopi, is concerned, according to Butler. The Highway 160 Site is in close proximity not only to Rare Metals – where DOE has been treating contaminated groundwater for nearly a decade – but also another site known as the Tuba City Open Dump, where radioactive contamination also was found.

“There is some radioactive contamination that is showing up in a plume that is coming off the Tuba City Open Dump,” Shingoitewa said. “The plume is also moving into the drinking water, so both the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation are working as partners very closely to make sure that the open dump site will be cleaned up.”

The Highway 160 Site is within the customary use area of a family who used the area to graze their livestock. In late 2007, El Paso provided further surveys of the site and confirmed the presence of buried debris up to 13 feet deep. El Paso fenced nearly 8 acres of the 16-acre site and applied a polymer cover to prevent windblown contamination.

Stephen B. Etsitty, who has been executive director of Navajo EPA since 2003 and was confirmed again Wednesday by Council, said they fought DOE for years for recognition of the site, and finally in Fiscal Year 2009 received congressional authority and a $5 million appropriation through DOE to clean up the site. DOE will keep $500,000 of that amount for oversight of the project. “It will be a clean closure,” Etsitty said, meaning that all contaminated soil will be removed and transported away from the Navajo Nation to an approved disposal facility.

Cassandra Bloedel of Navajo EPA, in an exit interview in January with the 21st Council’s Resources Committee, said the waste will be removed this year, possibly by August, and transported on state highways for final disposal at the “Cheney Cell,” about 12 miles southeast of Grand Junction, Colo.