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Dams: How important can the environmental impacts of Garabi and Panambi have?

Dams: How important can the environmental impacts of Garabi and Panambi have?

By Raúl Aramendy

Large dams are detrimental to the environment because they flood valuable ecosystems, dramatically alter the natural flow of water, destabilize wildlife habitat, and obstruct the trajectories of various species, to name just a few of the impacts. Furthermore, "Today there is more than enough evidence to show that large dams are the major source of pollutants that exacerbate climate change," according to Patrick McCully, executive director of the International Rivers Network-IRN.


“We will protect all of this for posterity. We will cover it with water so that no one can disturb it. " - Commentary (humorous?) From a Brazilian dam engineer contemplating a picturesque stretch of river that would be flooded by the Cachoeira dam. Porteira, 1984.

We are forced to ask the title question because when observing the behavior of certain public officials, especially the National Government, we cannot help but have the feeling that for some people - and I am not just referring to the "dam builders" whose The business consists of doing them at any cost or losing the business - the environmental impacts are trifles to which, unfortunately by law, we must pay some attention, although we already know very well how to overcome this “obstacle” to impose a Mega-dam.

It is appropriate to ask ourselves this question, in this fourth article on dams and their relationship with sustainable development, so touted lately, since the National State, ignoring the concerns of the missionary people, has continued to advance towards the Garabi dams and Panambi (perhaps the first steps towards other dams such as those of Corpus, Roncador and more) by opening the specifications of the International Public Bid No. 01/2010, called “CONTRACTING OF COMPANIES OR CONSORTIA OF SPECIALIZED COMPANIES FOR THE REALIZATION OF THE PROJECTS AND THE BIDDING TECHNICAL DOCUMENTATION OF TWO (2) HYDROELECTRIC USE LOCATED IN THE URUGUAY RIVER BASIN IN THE SECTION SHARED BETWEEN ARGENTINA AND BRAZIL ”, on December 14, 2011.

Three specifications, with three bidders, of which the Presidency of the Nation would choose one, for the month of March of the current year, which would be paid, according to official information, from the public treasury, the sum of 48 million dollars per carry out a study that, according to the Terms of Reference thereof, "has the objective of preparing the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) and the respective Environmental Impact Report (RIMA), environmental licensing instruments, for the feasibility of Hydroelectric Development (AH) Panambi, planned to be implanted in the Uruguay River, in the international section between Brazil and Argentina, occupying lands of the municipalities of Alecrim, Dr. Mauricio Cardoso, Novo Machado, Porto Mauá, Santo Cristo, Tucunduva, Tuparendi, Crissiumal, Derrubadas, Esperança do Sul, Tiradentes do Sul, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, and in the municipalities of 25 de Mayo, Alba Posse, Campo Ramón, Colonia Aurora, Los Helechos, Panambi and El Soberbio e n the Argentine province of Misiones. " As also, and in similar terms, carry out the Garabi EIA.

What is an EIA, how is it done, what law requires it?

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a legal-administrative procedure for collecting information, analyzing and predicting, intended to anticipate, correct and prevent the possible direct and indirect effects that the execution of a certain work or project causes on the environment. . Allowing the Administration to adopt the appropriate measures for their protection.

The Environmental Impact Assessment will assess the direct and indirect effects of each action proposal on the human population, fauna, flora, land, soil, air, water, climate, landscape, and the structure and function of ecosystems expected to be affected.

It will also include the estimation of the effects on material goods, cultural heritage, social relations and conditions of public tranquility, such as noise, vibrations, odors and light emissions, and that of any other relevant environmental incidence derived from the development of the performance.

In Argentina, Law 23.879 establishes a general regime for EIA from large hydroelectric works and dams.

Some first questions for the companies that are going to carry out the EIA of Garabi and Panambi

We know that it is mandatory to carry out a study on the seismicity of the place where the hydroelectric project is to be carried out. Don't let Yacyreta happen to them, built on a geological fault, in a seismic zone, which endangers the future of the wall and the inhabitants of the downstream river ... in addition to flora and fauna, those two values ​​that matter little to the repressists, but … Law requires boys. Remember that the earthquake of 2010, 3.5 on the Richter scale, according to detailed information and images that circulate on the Internet and that would have been taken by one of the divers hired by EBY to evaluate the cracks, alert us to the consequences already observed and makes us think about those that could come if another tremor were to occur.

When we read, on the official EBISA website, the Bidding Terms and Conditions with which private companies were called to offer themselves for the EIA, and which according to the Argentine state company was "issued as a result of the provisions of the" Treaty between the Government of the Argentine Republic and the Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil for the Use of the Shared Water Resources of the Border Sections of the Uruguay River and its Tributary the Pepirí-Guazú River (the italics are ours) ”, dated 17 of May 1980, we found that not only do they think, against the majority opinion of the missionaries and thousands of Corrientes and Brazilians, to build dams (at least two) cutting the Uruguay River, but they also think to build, we don't know what, about the Pepirí-Guazú River. River that rises in the Sierra de Misiones over the cities of Bernardo de Irigoyen and Dionisio Cerqueira, and heads south until it flows into the Uruguay River a few kilometers before the Moconá falls. Do you think that if they affect Pepiri-Guazú, the Saltos del Moconá will not be seriously affected, destroying, among other issues, a flourishing tourism that is helping to develop El Soberbio?

Three consortia were submitted to the tender called by the Government, namely: a) the companies CNEC Engenharia, ESIN Consultora and PROA SRL; b) Grimaux & Asociados, Themag, Andrade & Canellas Energia, Inconas and ATEC; and c) Consular Consultores, Engevix, Grupo Mesopotamico, IATASA, Interchne and Latinoconsult. Are none of them interested or linked to interests that seek to minimize the Environmental, Economic and Social Impacts of the Garabi and Panambi Mega Dams? Because if it were, we would have asked the fox to take care of the chickens, right? To begin with, we would like to read a public statement, of an ethical nature, from the bidding companies, outlining any interest in "all the studies supporting the construction of the dams" beyond the damage that they would cause to our ecosystems and the life of our rivers and their coasts. The claim is very simple: that first we see IF WE ARE SUITABLE AS PEOPLES these dams, with a truly independent study, and then, recently, we decide whether to do them or not. Otherwise it would be "a great verse" to study the impacts, because, whatever comes out, the decision to make them, illegally and illegitimately, I believe, would already be taken and therefore the "throwing away" 48 million euros would not be justified. dollars from the public purse in studies that we would already know in advance what they are going to say. On these things, and others, we hope that our legislative representatives, at all levels, will say something. As well as the Political Parties.

Do you know why, gentlemen representatives, we distrust a lot? Because just by looking on the Internet we find that, just to give an example, the company ESIN Consultora, a member of one of the bidders, says on its website that it is “a company that develops energy generation, transmission and distribution activities ”, Illustrating the main page with a series of photos of mega-dams. They confess, in the same place, that they are dedicated "to carry out energy systems" and are in charge of both "project management and executive coordination of studies." We are talking about the same company that “worked” on the La Elena hydroelectric dams in Chubut or La Leona in Santa Cruz, and other activities like that. Do not miss reading your website, and other websites.

All of this sounds like: we ask the "damming" companies to study and inform us about the Impacts that they themselves are interested in showing as insignificant to guarantee their realization and the great business that this matters for the builders of dams. Something smells rotten in Denmark… goes an old saying. And how the citizens, through what mechanisms, are going to control that they are not deceived? Hopefully my mistrust is not justified and everything is legitimate, legal, transparent and putting the interests of the people above the business of some. I will be the first to congratulate a government that acts in this way. If the impacts would not be immense and irreversible, I would add myself to those who say "nothing happens, everything is a tremendous amount of ecologists who do not want development." If it is not SUSTAINABLE, of course not. If it is SUSTAINABLE, and this is possible, of course it is.

Climate Change and Dams.

"In 2007 the world became aware that human beings were the cause of climate change, that it was definitely taking place and that the global collective effort made up to then to keep greenhouse gases at a" safe level "Was extremely insufficient."

"The current situation", report of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). (one)

Practically not a week goes by without us hearing or talking about Climate Change, caused by human intervention on the planetary climate, with the uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases due to our NON-sustainable development model.

Every time we know more about this serious danger and we are inclined to take into account, we say, the citizens - I am not referring to governments or large economic corporations - the opinion of the absolute majority of the world's scientists (more than one 80% of them) who demand urgent changes to avoid greater evils.

For this reason, we will not delve into the details of Climate Change although, so that the relationship that Mega Dams have with Climate Change is well understood, we will say a few things. For example, the two main greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).

The Undersecretary of Large Enterprises of Corrientes, Sergio Cangiani, who declared himself a defender of hydroelectric plants and environmental studies, considered that the executive project "is going to begin to show the benefits of carrying out the works" since the cost of oil and its derivatives is increasing.

"The environmental problems must be compensated equitably with the benefits that the provinces where the sites are located may have.", He said and explained that this type of power plant is the least affected, since it does not generate carbon dioxide or the problems of thermal power plants.

Scientist Iván Lima and his colleagues at the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) have published in scientific journals that large dams could make the greatest contribution to global warming, emitting 104 million tons of methane gas each year.

The calculations made by Lima imply that the 52,000 existing dams in the world currently contribute more than 4% to global warming due to the impact of human activities. They also explain that reservoirs are the largest source of human-caused emissions, contributing to about a quarter of these emissions.

Methane is a more powerful gas than carbon dioxide at trapping heat, although it does not last as long in the atmosphere. One year of emissions from a large dam, as Lima has estimated, has a warming impact equivalent to more than 20 years of 7.5 trillion tons of carbon dioxide - this is higher than the total carbon dioxide emissions that are emitted. by burning fossil fuels in the United States. Methane is created by the decomposition of organic matter in reservoirs. The massive amounts produced in tropical areas by hydroelectric dams mean that these dams contribute more to warming than dirtier power plants. Plants that should be immediately replaced by the clean generation of electricity, through sustainable systems (wind, solar, biomass with total methane capture, tidal power, etc.)

New studies, such as that of Professor Lima or Philip Fearnside, on the Tucuruí dam, in Brazil, reveal a negative aspect that is still little known about the impact of large dams on the climate and human society. This is also stated by the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences.

Even Lima has published nationally the first estimates of methane emissions from dams in Brazil, China, and India. These estimates show that dams in Brazil and India are responsible for a fifth of the impact of global warming. Dams in China have been estimated to produce 1% of the country's climate pollution, although for methodology reasons this figure is probably underestimated.

“Today there is more than enough evidence to show that large dams are the largest source of pollutants that exacerbate climate change,” said Patrick McCully, executive director of the International Rivers Network (IRN).

Adding: "It is unfortunate that the Lima study has arrived too late to be included in the recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)."

The influence of the megahydraulic industry and the governments that support it have not paid attention to the importance of methane generated in dams as a factor that will aggravate climate change.

For sure, that's why we don't even ask in the chapter on the little questions, in the EIA that will be carried out during 2012 and, probably also during 2013, this type of impact will not be evaluated.

Will we maintain a suicidal attitude towards Climate Change, with the false hope that “someone will take care of solving it”, “in some way that does not demand any sacrifice”, before we flood and cook ourselves?

Climate change occupies a unique position among environmental threats because its risks have been systematically underestimated.

But, as Hamilton teaches us, "Accepting it intellectually is not the same as accepting it emotionally." We understand it with our heads but ... it happens to us that we "feel the need" to consume the greatest amount of electrical energy right now and at any cost (our "energiboro" character), this affects our own life in a few more years, or the very life of our children and grandchildren. We don't even talk about our grandchildren's grandchildren, we don't have any emotional connection with them. Consumerism has made us its prisoners. And in that jail we have lost civic responsibility to our fellow men and to future generations.

But, happily, that does not happen to all of us, badly despite the "repressors" and their mega-businesses. In this province we have not yet lost our ability to reason and our connection with nature.

The missionary people - and if you do not believe me, consult it as soon as possible, comply with the law - says NO to new dams, continues to say NO, as with Corpus. It is time for this citizen will to become a provincial law, as the entrerrianos already did.

The Environmental Impact, which means impacts on our daily lives, we must evaluate it taking into account the importance of stopping Climate Change and all the elements related to a healthy and livable environment. For this reason, let us not stop considering what the AIDA report (Inter-American Association for the Defense of the Environment - November 2009) entitled "Large Dams in America: is the remedy worse than the disease?" (3) tells us when he explores these serious impacts and explains about the international standards that must be applied to protect the environment and human rights. The report exposes the dangers of using large hydroelectric dams to meet the growing demand for energy in Latin America.


In the report “Large Dams in America”, AIDA analyzes five large hydroelectric dams that violate a range of environmental and human rights laws: Yacyreta in Argentina and Paraguay, Rio Madeira in Bolivia and Brazil, Baba in Ecuador, Chan-75 in Panama and La Parota in Mexico. These specific cases illustrate how governments generally do not pay attention to obligations and regulations, such as the need to conduct corresponding environmental, social, economic and cultural impact assessments. It also illustrates how local families suffer when they are forcibly evicted or evicted by dams and lose their valuable agricultural land, water sources or traditional fishing grounds. It also documents how the people who are most affected by large dams are people belonging to the most vulnerable groups, such as indigenous people, Afro-descendants and poor peasants.

"Great Dams in America" ​​also dispels the myth that dams are a source of "green energy." In reality, as we have been discussing, large dams are detrimental to the environment because they flood valuable ecosystems, dramatically alter the natural flow of water, destabilize wildlife habitat, and obstruct the trajectories of various species, to name just a few. the impacts.

Large hydroelectric dams have been erroneously praised, we now know, as the panacea for the climate change crisis. Although dams do not depend on fossil fuels to generate electricity, they continue to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Hydroelectric dams create huge pools of river water that flood the valleys and lead to the decomposition of organic matter in immense quantities. As trees and other biomass decompose, they release carbon dioxide and methane, the same greenhouse gases created by "dirty" technologies like coal-fired power plants. Turbines also release methane trapped in deep water and emit carbon dioxide as they release pressure from the reservoir. In tropical regions, dams can emit up to eleven times more greenhouse gases than a conventional plant of similar size would.

Given the negative impact of large dams, the AIDA report recommends that decision makers seriously consider other solutions that protect human rights and our natural ecosystems, save energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Other solutions may be: improving energy efficiency, reducing demand, making better use of sustainable energy sources, investing in technologies and infrastructures that are efficient in terms of energy consumption and eliminating barriers that hinder the exchange of technology between companies. nations.

For decades we have been led to believe that dams generate clean energy and are associated with development. So we ate Yacyreta but they couldn't get us to eat Corpus. Will we eat Garabi and Panambi?

Due to lack of information in most cases and shame in others, the people who question the mega-dams are accused, by the “repressors” (almost always large transnational corporations and some of their partners and / or local employees), as "enemies of development".

But after the Report of the World Commission on Dams (WRC) in 2000, it became clear that dams are a dirty energy mechanism, 30% of the world's freshwater fish have been extinguished by dams; 60% of the largest basins on the planet have already been dammed. Mangroves, forests and other ecosystems have disappeared because of these mega-projects.

We insist, dams cause climate change for several reasons. On the one hand, thousands of hectares are flooded under water. In the case of Panambi and Garabi (two for one) there would be around 40,000 hectares only on the Argentine side.

Who is going to breathe the CO2 from the atmosphere if not the trees? The plant layer of the planet absorbs 40% of the CO2 that exists in the atmosphere. If dams are built, this percentage decreases and the concentration of gases increases and therefore global warming. On the other hand, by displacing thousands or millions of people (the Three Gorges Dam in China displaced more than a million people), they cause more deforestation since they have to settle on new land, cut down more forests or jungles, deforest to building houses or for other farmland which generates more emissions of CO2, methane and other greenhouse gases to the environment.

The flooding of the vegetal layer causes the decomposition of organic matter in the reservoir to cause large amounts of GHG: Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O). And if the dam is not in a desert or sparsely vegetated area, but in tropical regions, the GHGs they cause are even higher, even more than electric power plants generated with fossil fuels (gas, coal and oil products such as gasoline or diesel). When the organic carbon in the reservoir decomposes, carbon dioxide (CO2) is formed. But methane (CH4), a gas 25 times more powerful than CO2, is produced when organic matter is decomposed by bacteria when there is little oxygen, at the bottom of the reservoir. This gas begins to bubble or come out through the turbines or the gates when they are opened. In the case of nitrous oxide (N2O), it is produced by the bacterial breakdown of nitrogen.

There is research showing large amounts of CO2, CH4 and N2O up to 40 km downstream from the Petit Saut Reserve in French Guiana.

Other research confirms that at the Balbina dam in Brazil, downstream methane emissions are equivalent to 3% of the total methane released from the central Amazon floodplain. We repeat: the great dams in the world, whose curtains measure more than 15 meters in height, emit 104 million metric tons of methane every year from the surface of the reservoir, turbines, landfills and rivers downstream.

As Peter Hartmann, Coordinator of the Citizen Coalition for Aisén Reserva de Vida, from Chile, informs us: "What is happening in Chile should help us not to continue down the wrong path of mega-dams." In case we did not learn enough with Yacyreta, we added.

Now that we enter the EIA section, let us remember when in 2010 Hartmann warned us: “The most unusual thing about this being in fashion is that neither of the two environmental impact studies (EIA) delivered by both HidroAysén and Energía Austral they make the least effort to calculate or even analyze whether by chance these projects emit gases, the kind that are responsible for global warming, and the volume of those. Furthermore, the HidroAysén EIA undertakes the task of taking stock of the current emission of these gases in the region, but the project itself? any!"

Climate scientists inform us that emissions are going to double every 25 years. Missionaries, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Brazilians, do we want to join this disaster with new mega-dams?

Hasn't the time come to put limits on our greed, our materialism, and our alienation from nature? Above all by saying, as we officially repeat every day, that we opt for Sustainable Development or swearing that we want to maintain and defend the Paraná jungle, our flora, our fauna, our health and that of our ecosystem. Even saying that we want to empower the Missions of tourism, while we plan or allow others to plan the destruction of our jungle and our beauties. That the famous Park Way project (the park route) on the Uruguayan coastal route is subjected to the flooding that the Garabi and Panambi dams will cause in more than one place along this route. Or do we say one thing but actually want to do the opposite?

But as worldwide we would be condemned for this, we transform the "better to say is to do" into "better to say is to say the opposite of what we are actually going to do."

The Copenhagen Convention of December 2009 was, it seems, the last chance to get off the path to the abyss. Now, this year, at Rio + 20, in June 2012, I will evaluate, the world, what was done to not continue advancing towards the abyss during these last 20 years. And everything indicates that the parsimony of the powerful danced on the deck of the Planet-Titanic, also in this new opportunity. While thousands of people from the most conscious social, cultural and political movements begin to mobilize to try to influence this event.

Will the power of industry, the rise of money politics, and bureaucratic inertia reign supreme? In the conflict of the dams on the Uruguay River, in Rio + 20 and in the world?

And the plebiscite? Or will they consult us when everything is cooked?

The Provincial Law, approved unanimously in our House of Representatives, at the end of last year, with the name of “New economic partnership for Missions: Energy Sovereignty. Decisional Process of the Natural Heritage of the Missionaries ”, clearly defines, in its article 1, that“ The Province has the fullness of the imprescriptible and inalienable domain over the natural water resources existing in its territory ”. Isn't the National State violating this domain of the missionaries, resolving over us? And the proclaimed federalism, where was it?

Article 6 of the Provincial Law approved unanimously says, verbatim: "To carry out hydroelectric projects and dams, the prior participation of the people of the province of Misiones is required, through the mechanism of a mandatory, binding and inalienable plebiscite, and whose effects last as long as the particular and historical conditions that gave rise to the plebiscite's decision endure. " Adding, before developing article 7, that "The House of Representatives establishes by law the need for a plebiscite and the Executive Power calls the plebiscite act."

When? Doesn't the situation seem serious enough to you that in March repressive studies and projects will be awarded that endanger the respect for the popular sovereignty of the missionaries by the National Government?

Or are they going to consult us in a plebiscite when everything is cooked to see if that is how they impose the decision on us?

Mr. Governor, call the plebiscite NOW. For the good of our beloved province and the harmony that must always reign among all its inhabitants, I beg you.

Mrs. President of the Argentines: do not violate our provincial laws, or do not make them unfeasible with an excessive action and out of the moment. Stop with Garabi and Panambi until the missionary people decide, sovereignly, and without intervention or pressure of any kind, about our destiny! We are a province that loves nature, loves justice, loves peace and wants a sustainable and harmonious development, with a true distribution of benefits for everyone. Protecting our resources and our environment for ourselves and for generations to come. I beg you, humbly, as a citizen, listen to the cry of the missionary people. That is the voice, that of the people, which every good ruler must listen to and follow. Stop! until our plebiscite decides what the majority of missionaries think and want.

Sometimes it is too difficult to face the truth.

"Scientific facts are fighting forces that outweigh them." Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at the Australian National University Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. (2)

The International Hydropower Association (IHA), together with the World Wind Energy Association and the International Solar Energy Society, formed the International Energy Alliance Renewable (International Renewable Energy Alliance - IREA). La IHA sostiene que la energía hidroeléctrica produce muy pocas emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en comparación con las opciones de generación con combustibles fósiles. Sin embargo, las afirmaciones de la IHA ignoran un creciente cuerpo de evidencia que muestra que las represas y reservorios en los trópicos son fuentes significativas de metano. Patrick McCully de la Red Internacional de Ríos (International Rivers Network) ha analizado las afirmaciones de la IHA y concluye que son “diversamente irrelevantes, incompletas o simplemente equivocadas”. Más de 260 organizaciones han firmado la declaración de la IRN para que se excluya a la energía hidroeléctrica a gran escala de las iniciativas de energía renovable.

Las directrices de sustentabilidad de la IHA sí mencionan el desalojo forzado, aunque no en esas palabras: “cuando sea necesario el desplazamiento de la población, se deberán desarrollar e implementar planes amplios de reasentamiento y rehabilitación en consulta con la población afectada” (la cursiva es nuestra). ¿Cuándo van a consultar a los ribereños del Río Uruguay? Parece que después que esté todo cocinado, para que solo puedan decir el sí que se les impone, antidemocráticamente.

¿Cuándo van a consultar a los habitantes de Alba Posse y de Porto Mauá, las dos localidades urbanas más afectadas? En el caso de los núcleos urbanos cuya área sería afectada en más del 50%, Alba Posse (ARG.) y Porto Mauá (BR.) estan considerando que el núcleo sería reasentado por completo.

¿Cuándo van a consultar a las tres comunidades guaraníes que serán afectadas muy directamente y a todas las otras que serán afectadas indirectamente?

En relación con las áreas indígenas, y en base a la información manejada en el estudio de inventario, “los aprovechamientos no generan impactos directos sobre los territorios ocupados por las comunidades indígenas”. Para poder estimar, preliminarmente, el impacto indirecto sobre dichas áreas se tomó la proximidad de los embalses a las mismas, tomando un límite de 15 km de distancia. Tres de las nueve áreas indígenas consideradas en el estudio se encuentran a menos de 15 km del emprendimiento Garabi, ellas son: Comunidades Ojo de Agua, Pindó Ty e Y Haka Miri, que se ubican en la margen argentina. En que quedamos, entonces: se afectan o no se afectan? Esta es la falta de seriedad con que se avanza hacia las nuevas aventuras represistas.

Las recomendaciones de la Comisión Mundial sobre Represas incluyen el principio del libre consentimiento, previo e informado de los pueblos indígenas. Éste les da a los pueblos indígenas el derecho a negarse a permitir las represas propuestas que puedan afectar sus tierras. También les da el poder de negociar las condiciones en que se puede implementar un proyecto. La palabra “indígena” aparece sólo una vez en las directrices de sustentabilidad de la IHA, en una sección que trata la gestión de las represas existentes. El consentimiento libre, previo e informado no se menciona para nada. O sea: otra vez gato por liebre.

Argentina tiene 101 represas, y la energía entregada al subsector eléctrico por las hidroeléctricas varía entre un 40 y 45% según el año. A su vez el subsector eléctrico constituye el 13% de la matriz de oferta secundaria de energía del país. La represa del Chocón finalizada en 1973, inundó 83 mil hectáreas y desplazó a 700 personas, la de Salto Grande cubre unas 29 mil hectáreas y se relocalizaron unas 20.000 personas y Yacyreta ya casi completa generó un lago que cubrirá 166.600 hectáreas y en total 80.000 personas resultaron directamente afectadas.

La represa de Futaleufú, significó la pérdida de hermosos lagos, con sus bosques costeros, los rápidos que los conectaban y las playas naturales. Una pérdida similar amenaza al río Carrenleufú en Chubut, donde está proyectado un sistema de seis represas que inundará más de 10.000 hectáreas, y que las comunidades locales, incluidos campesinos y mapuches, resisten.

En relación con la pérdida de vegetación nativa, de acuerdo con la estimación realizada, Garabi 89,0 m (o sea a cota 89) afectaría alrededor de 20.000 has de bosque nativo (básicamente Selva Fluvial y remanentes de Selva Mixta) y alrededor de 24.000 has de áreas de pasturas, considerados como campos debido a que en el área de estudio, la ganadería se practica mayoritariamente en los pastizales naturales, en lugar de en pasturas implantadas. Esto se afirma en la página 13 del Estudio denominado ESTUDIO DE INVENTARIO HIDROELÉCTRICO DE LA CUENCA DEL RÍO URUGUAY EN EL TRAMO COMPARTIDO ENTRE ARGENTINA Y BRASIL, realizado por EBISA y ELETROBRAS en noviembre del 2010 (el resaltado en negrita y cursivas es nuestro).

Todas las represas generan, indefectiblemente, un lago artificial o embalse aguas arriba de su construcción. Este es el principal impacto ambiental que producen, ya que se inundan en forma permanente amplias extensiones de tierras altas y las turbulentas y someras aguas de un río son remplazadas por un tranquilo y profundo lago. La fauna terrestre es desplazada a áreas aledañas al embalse, que no siempre son adecuadas para su supervivencia, y debe competir con las poblaciones ya existentes en ellas (aves, mamíferos grandes y medianos, reptiles grandes, algunos insectos voladores), o muere ahogada durante la inundación (mamíferos y reptiles pequeños, anfibios, la mayoría de los insectos, arañas, caracoles, lombrices, etc.). Las praderas y bosques cubiertos por las aguas muere indefectiblemente y su lenta descomposición condiciona la calidad de las aguas embalsadas.

La mayoría de las represas hidroeléctricas no son renovables porque atrapan los sedimentos, los que gradualmente colmatan los embalses. Aguas abajo, por lo tanto, estas estructuras despojan de sedimentos las orillas de los ríos, los ecosistemas ribereños, e incluso los deltas (pensar en el Delta del Río de La Plata), aumentando la erosión, las inundaciones y disminuyendo a la vez la productividad de los bordes costeros.

Los críticos más severos sostienen que los costos sociales, ambientales y económicos de estas represas pesan más que sus beneficios y que, por lo tanto, no se justifica la construcción de las represas grandes.

Algunas presas presentan fallos o errores de construcción. Esto parece estar ocurriendo en Yacyreta, tomando en cuenta las declaraciones del director paraguayo de la Entidad Binacional, cuando, hace muy pocos días, denunció que la represa tembló cuando pusieron las turbinas a funcionar al máximo, o el video que está colgado en internet donde se pueden apreciar rajaduras en la presa productos del último temblor sísmico sufrido hace poco más de un año. ¿No sabían que construían una Megarepresa en zona sísmica? Si, lo sabían, había antecedentes registrados en Corrientes. Igual la hicieron, demostrando la irresponsabilidad con que se encaran estas megaobras, por el sólo hecho de constituir unos verdaderos meganegocios.

La masiva intervención de los ríos del mundo es una de las razones fundamentales que explican por qué las aguas dulces están en mucho peor estado que cualquier otro tipo importante de ecosistema, incluyendo las selvas tropicales lluviosas.

En todo el planeta, alrededor de un tercio de las especies de peces de agua dulce están clasificadas como “extintas, en riesgo o vulnerables”. No hay información oficial disponible sobre el impacto global de las represas sobre los moluscos, los anfibios, las plantas, las aves acuáticas y otras especies que dependen de los ríos, aun cuando el daño es seguramente significativo.

Tal como concluyó la Comisión Mundial sobre Represas financiada por el Banco Mundial después de dos años de intensos estudios: para garantizar los beneficios de las represas “en demasiados casos un precio inaceptable y a menudo innecesario ha sido pagado —particularmente en términos sociales y ambientales— por las personas desplazadas, por las comunidades aguas abajo, por los contribuyentes y por el medio ambiente”.

Esto demuestra que la producción de energía hidroeléctrica no es inocua para el medio ambiente y la comunidad sino que tiene efectos perniciosos sobre ellos. Es importante tener en cuenta esta realidad antes de seguir instalando represas en el trópico o en los subtrópicos sin demasiado análisis. Los embalses de poco tamaño y bien ubicados podrían ser considerados, si cumplen una serie de importantes parámetros ambientales, una fuente de energía más limpia –aunque no tan limpia como la opción solar y la eólica, pero si incluida entre las formas sustentables, ante imperiosas necesidades reales de los pueblos- pero cuando se construyen obras hidráulicas faraónicas y en zonas inadecuadas, como serían los casos que estamos tratando de evitar, de Panambi y Garabi, generan más efectos negativos que positivos.

Fundamentos sobran, ¡Es hora de actuar!

Raúl Aramendy – Serpaj – Misiones – Argentina – Represas, sustentabilidad y modelos de desarrollo – Nota No. 4

References:

(1) Se lo puede consultar en http://unfccc.int/portal_espanol/informacion_basica/items/6168.php

(2) Ver su libro “Réquiem para una especie”. www.editorialcapin.com.ar

(3) http://www.aida-americas.org/es/refdocs/1374


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