21 Jun 2017 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
WARRENTON VA, United States

A new study suggests that the environmental impact of Amazon dam-building will have worse environmental impacts than anticipated.

“Damming the rivers of the Amazon basin”, published by Nature, observes that more than a hundred hydropower dams have already been built in the Amazon basin and that numerous proposals for further dam constructions are under consideration.

The authors argue that accumulated negative environmental effects of existing dams and proposed dams, if constructed, “will trigger massive hydrophysical and biotic disturbances that will affect the Amazon basin’s floodplains, estuary and sediment plume. The study calls for “collective action among nations and states to avoid cumulative, far-reaching impacts (and) institutional innovations to assess and avoid the likely impoverishment of Amazon rivers”.

“Nobody considers the teleconnections,” says lead author Edgardo Latrubesse, a Professor at the Department of Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin. “If I build the dam here, what is happening upstream, what is happening downstream? And if you build the dam in multiple places along a river, the impact is magnified. This isn’t considered when they build the project.”

As reported by Popular Science, when completed in 2019, the 11,233 megawatt Belo Monte dam will reach 295 feet high—a bit shorter than the Statue of Liberty—and stretch more than 2 miles across.

When fully operational, Belo Monte will be the world’s third-largest hydropower producer, after China’s Three Gorges and the Itaipu facility on the border of Brazil and Paraguay.

Belo Monte has faced opposition from indigenous groups and environmental organizations since its inception. Indigenous people have repeatedly protested the dam and have succeeded in halting work several times.

There have been several incidents in which police have reportedly fired on indigenous protesters at the Belo Monte dam site.

Also this week, it has been reported that China is expected to fund the $14 billion USD Indus River Diamer-Bhasha mega-dam project in Pakistan with work beginning in 2018.

Diamer-Bhasha has faced frequent delays since 2006, as Pakistan has struggled to secure financing. Some potential funders have been skeptical of Pakistan’s ability to undertake such a large project, given a history of cost overruns, corruption, and delays in executing previous projects.

The project has faced political pressure from neighboring India, which claims that its location is in a disputed region. New Delhi has lobbied hard against any international financing for Diamer Bhasha.

When completed, the dam, located on the Indus River in Gilgit-Baltistan, would reportedly generate 4,500 megawatts of hydropower, store 10.5 billion cubic meters of water for irrigation and drinking, extend the life of the downstream Tarbela Dam by 35 years, and control help flooding on the river.