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Drinking Water Fears in Australia Over Cattle in Rivers

07 September 2009

AUSTRALIA - Concerns over drinking water have been raised in Victoria, as local governments prepare to re-issue licences allowing stock to roam on river frontages.

Welcome for San Carlos Bioethanol lant PHILIPPINES - Philippines President Gloria Macapagal -Arroyo, has welcomed the launch of the P3-billion San Carlos BioEnergy Inc. plant, which, she said, is a realisation of her dream to make the country less dependent on imported fuel.

The President was to lead in the groundbreaking ceremony of the country's first bio-ethanol plant, but she failed to make it to the ceremon because of bad weather.

Instead, she sent Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to represent her and deliver her message.

Secrtetary Reyes said the President hoped that more bioethanol plants would be put up in Negros' sugar mills to feed the requirements not only of motor vehicles, industrial equipment and electrical appliances but also to supply power to the main electric grids of the country.

He said the President, who monitored the construction, is glad the plant has become operational to benefit the farmers and growers.

"She also directed me to ask your other concerns, and if I could resolve them at my level then I should do so and just keep her posted on whatever actions I have taken," Secretary Reyes said.

Jose Mari Zabaleta, chairman of SCBI, reported that the plant is the first to get the approval for its carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol.

The SCBI, which is funded by the Development Bank of the Philippines, buys sugarcane for ethanol conversion from planters in this city and surrounding areas.

With SCBI's operations, plantation owners and farmers now get better prices for their produce. The city is now considered a "planter's market," with sugarcane price rising to over P1,700 per 50 tonne of cane from less than P1,500 per tonne of cane in the previous year.

The Environment Department has been warned that continuing to allow cattle to roam on Crown land river frontages poses a risk to human health, reports The Age.

Environmental groups have long opposed the renewal of these licences, claiming that cattle damage river health by eroding banks, dirtying water and creating more algal blooms.

These concerns coincided with a report by a not-for-profit environmental law group, the Environment Defenders Office, that warned of a "legal liability risk" for water authorities and the Government over cattle-polluted waterways.

A spokesman for the Health Department, who monitor water authorities' performance under the safe drinking water regulations, told The Age that the departement did not have a formal position on whether the licence should be renewed. He said that they would seek to better inform farmers of how their cattle could adversly affect drinking supplies.

The spokesman, Mr Alexander stressed that high standards of drinking water were being maintained accross the state.

In 1908, Reyes pointed out, the first sugar syrup factory was established at the San Carlos mill.

"Now after 100 years, we are putting up the first bioethanol plant in the country right here," he said.

Mr Reyes said he shares the President's hopes that the San Carlos bioethanol plant will be replicated all over the country so that "we can finally liberate ourselves from the uncertain fuel oil situation and promote cleaner energy in our local industries."

"We're (an ideal country) for renewable energy because we have abundant supply of geothermal, solar, wind, coastal and hydro power," Mr Reyes said.

"Nothing should stop us from going renewable. We have what it takes to fulfill this dream and our laws are there to support in this direction."

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