Posted by: JohnnyRook | July 27, 2008

EcoNoticiario # 7: Irrigators, “hippies”, bicyclists, litterers, oh, my!

In EcoNoticiario #7 we have (Spain) feuding between irrigators and “hippies” over water, (Mexico) a report of a possible new eruption of the Chaitén volcano in Chilean Patagonia, (Costa Rica) conflict between bicyclists and drivers in San José, (Guatemala) heavy rainfall leads to landslides and loss of life, (Colombia) the Colombian authorities launch a campaign to pick up plastic-bag litter, and (Chile) the Chilean government decides to extend its restrictions on electricity use for a couple more months.

Today’s Spanish Words:

ice core–testigo de hielo

ice cap–casquete de hielo

ice sheet–casquete glaciar

ice shelf–banco de hielo

polar ice cap–casquete polar



Irrigators and “Hippies” Battle Over Water

Irrigators from the Alpujarra region of Granada and hippies who have been living in the area for decades are in a face-off over water. The drought has contributed to a reduction in the amount of water in the irrigation channel which supplies farms located between the towns of Órgiva and Cáñar.

The use of the water by the hippies is causing a “catastrophic” situation in the countryside according to farmers in Las Barreras, an area annexed to Órgiva.

At least that’s the way the president of the Irrigation Commission of the Irrigators Association of Las Bareras, Miguel Orellana, sees it. Orellana asserts that nearly 500 hectares of land are not receiving more than 70,000 liters of water an hour because of the “illicit” use by the people squatting in the area who number between 200 and 300.

The hippies deny this accusation and defend their right to consume water from the river. According to Orellana, they are the ones who divert the water to the river in order to make use of the spring water, the rights to which are held by the irrigators. “We use it for personal consumption: drinking watching and to water a small garden that supplies us with food”, says Javier, known as El Sirio, who has been living in the Beneficio commune for more than a decade.

It’s an old problem and every summer the irrigators come and cut the hoses that the hippies use to take water from the river, water that they say “doesn’t belong to anyone”. The farmers maintain that if they used only the water necessary for personal consumption there wouldn’t be a problem, but instead they use it for other things.”

The farmers have threatened a lawsuit over the use of the water and the “hippies” are threatening to sue over the cutting of their hoses.

El País, Madrid July 24, 2008


For background information see EcoNoticiario #5.

Warning about a Violent Eruption of Chaitén

The Chaitén volcano is threatening a new and violent cycle of eruptions after the intense seismic activity that has been noted since Wednesday in the area, 1220 kilometers to the south of the Chilean capital, vulcanologists declared.

Chaitén Volcano

The more than 200 movements of the earth that have been recorded in the last 48 hours (the majority of which have not been felt by the population), indicate the presence of a new stream of magma below the mountain, affirmed the Director of the National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin), Jorge Muñoz, in a statement to Radio Cooperativa.

“A new deep injection of magma and an obstruction of the upper channel would be the worst scenario that we could have,” said vulcanologist Muñoz.

“This means that some time in the next few days, we could have an important explosion and reactivation of the volcano”, he emphasized.

Chaitén at 960 metros high, and which erupted on the second of last May has maintained a low-level process of eruption in the last few weeks with a smoke column only 2 kilometers high in contrast to the 30 kilometers it reached last May.

The column of ash and pyroclastic material that the powerful eruption produced, destroyed the city of Chaitén, whose population was evacuated, and even affected cities in Argentina…

El Universal, Mexico July 26, 2008

Costa Rica

In San José more people are riding bikes, but there is a shortage of bike lanes.

Drivers Trading in Cars for Bicycles due to Costs and Restriction [on Automobile Use in the City]

Three weeks ago, Alejandro Araya dusted off his bicycle and left his Jeep parked in his garage.

The 27-year-old decided to adventure out into the asphalt jungle of the highway on his mountain bike.

The biologist covers 9 km from his house in Lagos de Heredia to his job in the neighborhood of Tournón de San José.

bicycle sign

Electromechanical engineer, Carlos Troyo, has also replaced his automobile with a bicycle.

He travels at least three times a week from San Ramón de Tres Ríos, La Unión, to downtown San José, going from his home to work and back; a total of 20 kilometers.

They are part of the new cyclists in the Central Valley who have taken to the street pushed by vehicle restrictions based on license plate number and the cost of gasoline.

Exercise, health, and making a small contribution to the conservation of the environment also are motivations.

The lack of infrastructure and the bad habits of drivers are a constant threat to their lives.

The cyclists recognize that they are courting danger every time they take to the streets, and they complain that there is no place in the Central Valley for the friendliest and most ecologically sound means of transportation.

bicycle sign

… the Aconvivir group made up of 150 persons and formed by cyclists who have been victims of traffic accidents is leading an initiative to make the streets more secure for cyclists.

“We want signs, that instead of saying “Cyclists Prohibited”, say “Caution, Cyclists on the Roadway”, declared the organization’s president, Ramón Pendones.

Better signs, protection for cyclists and spaces where they have priority are some of the requests.

La Nación, San José July 27, 2008


Heavy rains have caused landslides and road closures in Guatemala.

Hillside Collapses in the Municipality of La Unión

Between 50 and 70,000 m³ of Earth fell yesterday in the biggest landslide of this winter.

For the inhabitants of Zacapa when it rains it pours. Following a landslide last weekend that left a total of 12 dead, yesterday part of the El Campanario hill fell onto the village of Tres Pinos, provoking alarm among the inhabitants.

Guatemala earthquake 1976

As of yesterday no victims had been reported, but the villagers lost patience and decided to go to Camotán, in the municipality of Chiquimula, whose mayor, Guillermo Antonio Guerra, confirmed the fact.

“We have 70 people in our gym and we have sent at least 15 pickups to help the population evacuate their things,” he declared.

Landslide after 1976 Guatemalan earthquake

The executive Secretary of the National Coordinating Committee for Disaster Reduction, (Conred), Alejandro Maldonado, declared a red alert in the municipality of La Unión.

Of the 12 people who died in the first landslide, 9 of them were children.

The central government after a little foot-dragging has declared the area a disaster area.

The flooding also caused highway closures:

In the Villalobos area traffic was suspended for around four hours. The river of the same name overflowed over the bridge and produced several landslides leaving the asphalt covered with mud and tree trunks that blocked the passage of vehicles and caused chaos on the roadway.

Diario de Centroamérica, Guatemala City July 27, 2008


Colombia moves to clean up some of its litter.

National Campaign to Pick up Plastic Bags Launched in La Guajira

The idea is to prick them up on highways, beaches, parks and other public sites and put a stop to the pollution that they produce in water sources.

Last Friday around 400 volunteers from schools in La Guajira, members of indigenous communities, and the environment police, met in Uribia to begin the cleanup of as much trash as possible from the “4 vías” area.

This area, located 15 km from Maicao, was chosen as a launching point for the campaign because it is one of the most polluted areas in the country. The intersections there are surrounded by a large number of commercial establishments.

The idea behind the campaign is to make as many people as possible conscious of the need to reuse the bags and to prolong their useful life. For that reason it is hoped they will be recycled so that they do not end up in lakes, rivers and landfills. Today, only less than 1%of the annual production of plastic bags is recycled.

According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, 46,000 pieces of plastic trash float in every square mile of the sea and around 100,000 marine mammals and a million birds die annually when they ingest them or get tangled up in them.

One irony: one of the chief sponsors of the campaign is Cerrejón, “the largest open pit coal mining operation in the world“.

El Tiempo, Bogotá July 27, 2008


Government Extends Rationing Decree Until October

The National Energy Commission(CNE) has decided to extend the preventive measures in the electrical sector for two months longer than originally planned in order to see what will happen with the elements that caused it, principally the hydrological situation of the country.

Sector analysts had argued that the best thing to do was continue until the end of August with the electrical rationing decree, as was originally planned, rejecting an early end to these measures based on the hydrological improvements that the country has seen.

The sector’s proposal however was deemed insufficient. The National Energy Eommission (CNE) decided to extend these preventive measures for two months in order to avoid an electrical deficit that would translate into programmed cuts and it that will allow it, among other things, to be conservative in the use of water. The only measure that will cease as originally planned (on the 31st of August)will be the 10% reduction in voltage.

Three reasons were given for the extension:

1. Despite the improvement in the national water supply,which currently stands at only 27% below normal as opposed to 40% in January, supplies are still below normal levels.

2. To see if the 368 MW Nehuenco power plant comes online as planned or if its start-up date will have to be postponed as it has several times in the past.

3. To see what the summer spring melt looks like. Preliminary data indicate that snow accumulation this year is the fifth worst out of the last 50 years.

El Mercurio, Santiago July 25, 2008

[All translations are mine-JR]

Crossposted at Daily Kos



  1. Bonjour

    avez vous David ? little french rainbow. met at temporary rainbow community Baranco de Maro April 2006. Born Lyon France, attends Rocket Festival.


    Thank you

    God Bless


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