Dams

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Major development banks are funding logging, mining and infrastructure projects that are having enormous impacts on nature. Here, forests are being razed along a newly constructed road in central Amazonia. William Laurance

Development banks threaten to unleash an infrastructure tsunami on the environment

Big new investors such as the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank are key players in a worldwide infrastructure, and that could be bad news for the environment.
There are still concerns over the impact of upstream coalmines on water in the Warragamba Dam, a key part of Sydney’s water network. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Cuts to WaterNSW’s science staff will put Sydney’s water quality at risk

The cutting of senior staff from WaterNSW, the body that oversees the safety of Sydney's water supply, poses serious risks to Australia's most complex water network.
Despite a decade of drought and declining rainfall in parts of Australia, there’s still plenty of water to go around. Maroondah reservoir from www.shutterstock.com

Declining rainfall in parts of Australia, but still plenty of water available: BOM report

The Millennium Drought ended more than five years ago, but several years of below-average rainfall and El Niño have brought drought back to many parts of Australia. Our latest report on water in Australia shows rainfall is continuing to decline in eastern Australia and increase in the north.
The Nairobi-Thika highway is being built by China Wuyi, Sinohydro and Shengeli Engineering Construction, and is funded by Kenya, China and the African Development Bank. Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Chinese investment: why the buck stops with African governments

China offers an alternative to traditional donors and investors in low- and middle-income countries. Adding to its appeal is its focus on infrastructure projects.
A view from above the burst Samarco dam in Brazil. Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Who should we blame for the Brazil mining dam disaster?

Six people are dead and more than 20 missing following the Samarco mine disaster in Brazil. But in the rush to blame we must consider the complexity of such failures.
Despite the noble intentions behind charity wells, they may not be the best thing. Franco Volpato/Shutterstock

Africa’s aquifers aren’t being protected as they should

The digging of wells in Africa has often been thought of as the solution to helping rural women walking to get water, but they may cause more harm than good.
The white paper on developing northern Australia outlines a solid vision - now for action. Andrew Campbell

Is the white paper a game-changer for northern Australia?

The White Paper on Developing Northern Australia represents the most comprehensive attempt yet to think through the development possibilities of the north.
Cane toads are still spreading across northern Australia. UNSW

Building fences could stop cane toads in their tracks

Cane toads, introduced in 1935 to control cane beetles, have now spread across a huge swathe of Australia, from the Kimberley in northern Western Australia to northern New South Wales. They’re still spreading…
Australia won’t be building anything as big as the Gordon Dam any time soon. JJ Harrison/Wikimedia Commons

Dam hard: water storage is a historic headache for Australia

The agricultural green paper released last week proposes 27 new water and irrigation projects, which the government claims will be necessary for Australia’s agricultural expansion. The emphasis is firmly…
The Ord River dam, completed in 1971, formed Australia’s largest artificial lake in the far north west. Graeme Churchard/Flickr

Dams are not the smart way to secure water for agriculture

Some 27 irrigation and dam projects are highlighted in the green paper for agricultural competitiveness released this week by agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce. Six of the projects – five in Tasmania…
Warragamba Dam, supplying drinking water to over four million residents of Sydney.

Axing water overseer could leave regional Australia high and dry

Summer is coming and, with it, dry conditions for many parts of Australia. While it may be difficult to imagine for city dwellers, parts of regional Australia will likely face severe water shortages over…
The once-popular Loch McNess north of Perth has dried up almost completely after a decades-long dry period. ron_n_beth/Flickr

Saving water in a drying climate: lessons from south-west Australia

Since 1970, average rainfall in the south-west of Western Australia has decreased by nearly a fifth, and the science suggests that this is linked to human-caused climate change. Across Australia, CSIRO…

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