Posts tagged dams.
A dog walks on cracked ground at the Las Canoas dam, some 59 km north of the capital Managua on April 26, 2013.. A large area of the dam has been dry since last February, as most of its water have been used by rice farmers for their crops, affecting around hundreds of peasants living in the area, according to local media.
[Credit : Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters]
Villa Epecuen: The Town That Was Submerged For 25 Years via Amusing Planet
By late nineteenth century, the first residents and visitors started to arrive to Villa Epecuen and set up tents on the banks. Villa Epecuen transformed from a sleepy mountain village to a bustling tourist resort. The village soon had a railway line linking it to Buenos Aires. Before long, tourists from all over South American and the World came flocking, and by the 1960s, as many as 25,000 people came every year to soak in the soothing salt water. The town’s population peaked in the 1970s with more than 5,000. Nearly 300 businesses thrived, including hotels, hostels, spas, shops, and museums.
Around the same time, a long-term weather event was delivering far more rain than usual to the surrounding hills for years, and Lago Epecuen began to swell. On 10 November 1985 the enormous volume of water broke through the rock and earth dam and inundated much of the town under four feet of water. By 1993, the slow-growing flood consumed the town until it was covered in 10 meters of water.
Nearly 25 years later, in 2009, the wet weather reversed and the waters began to recede. Villa Epecuen started coming back to the surface.
Neat, but that water is a polluted disaster of radiation and radon, metals like mercury, aluminum, and iron, and countless other poisons leaching from rotting concrete, underground sewer pipes, disintegrating metal infrastructure, etc… What an environmental mess.
Above, the gigantic Jirau Dam is one of 34(!) hydroelectric dams being built in the Amazon by Brazil. Thousands of people and dozens of communities and towns will be flooded by the dams. Meanwhile, environmentalists are left out of negotiations.
When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span the Madeira River, feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world and hold as much concrete as 47 towers the size of New York’s Empire State Building.
And then there are the power lines, draped along 2,200 km of forests and fields to carry electricity from the middle of South America to Brazil’s urban nerve center, Sao Paulo. Still, it won’t be enough.
The Jirau Dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few kilometers downstream will provide just 5 percent of what government energy planners say Brazil will need in the next 10 years.
So the country is building more dams, many more, courting controversy by locating the vast majority of them in the world’s largest and most biodiverse forest.
Excellent coverage by the Japan Times
Anonymous geologist blows whistle on China's decision to build 130 dams in earthquake hazard zones ›
Threatens millions of lives. Possible government corruption. China has 87,000 dams and reservoirs, many used for hydropower and thousands already on fault zone. Dam breaks from earthquakes exacerbate environmental destruction.
“More than 130 large dams built, under construction, or proposed in western China’s seismic hazard zones could trigger disastrous environmental consequences such as earthquakes and giant waves, finds a new report from the Canadian watchdog group Probe International.
The report shows that 98.6 percent of the dams being constructed in western China are located in high to moderate seismic hazard zones.
The location of large dams near clusters of recorded earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 4.9, and especially when the earthquake focal points are also close to the surface, “is cause for grave concern,” said the report’s author geologist “John Jackson.”
John Jackson is a pseudonym for a geologist with detailed knowledge of western China who wishes to remain anonymous to protect his sources.
In a worst-case scenario, Jackson reports, dams could collapse, creating a giant wave that would inundate everything in its path, including downstream dams, causing great loss of life and property.
Should a dam suffer catastrophic collapse, says Probe International Executive Director Patricia Adams, Chinese citizens could direct their anger to the hydropower industry for threatening their lives with dangerous dams.
To pierce the Chinese government’s secrecy over its dam building, the Probe report overlays a Chinese map of dam locations with U.S. Geological Survey earthquake data and a United Nations’ seismic hazard map.”
More at Environmental News
Drought reveals old cemetery in Bosnia reservoir: The 70-year-old Sunken cemetery is seen after the Jablanicko lake dried up near Jablanica. The dams on the Neretva river near the lake feed a system that normally produces an average of 2,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, but the drought that began in August has shrunk output to just a quarter of that amount.
The drought has also forced cash-strapped nations to import more power at higher prices. Bosnia, normally the one net power exporter in the region, paid 20 million Bosnian marka (14.4 million) to import electricity in January, compared with January 2011 when it earned 70 million marka from power exports. (source)
Non-profits around the world condemn Malaysia's plans to build 12 hydroelectric dams on Borneo. Ironically, the country is at overcapacity for electricity. The 12 dams will flood tropical rainforests, displace tens of thousands of people, destroy a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ruin sensitive rivers, and kill thousands of rare species. ›
Dams are terrible destroyers of ecosystem health and private property value. This old advert shows 26 dams in the TVA.
The Tennessee Valley Dams
The Best Dam Place in the Country
Valley of Opportunity!
Must watch video: Google Earth Tour: How a Global Dam Boom Worsens the Climate Crisis. You’ll hear (maybe for the first time?) the deep voice of the famous human rights activist Nnimmo Bassey. Bassey takes you on a visual walk around the world to discuss the problem of damming rivers - by the thousands. His focus is on how hydro-dams are taking water from millions of locals depending on natural river systems. You have to see it. There’s a link below for more information.
International Rivers and Friends of the Earth International have teamed up to create a Google Earth 3D tour and video narrated by Nigerian activist Nnimmo Bassey, winner of the prestigious Right Livelihood Award and chair of Friends of the Earth International. The production was launched on the first day of the COP 17 climate meeting in Durban, South Africa on November 28, 2011. The video and tour allow viewers to explore why dams are the wrong answer to climate change, by learning about topics such as reservoir emissions, dam safety, and adaptation while visiting real case studies in Africa, the Himalayas and the Amazon.
Source: International Rivers
“On October 4th 2010, the wall of a wastewater reservoir (bottom, right) for the Ajka alumina processing plant broke, sending 35 million cubic feet of corrosive ‘red sludge’ downhill into nearby villages and ultimately the Danube River. This ecological disaster has claimed eight lives and devastated many more by destroying homes, livestock, and crops. Meanwhile workers are rushing to build emergency dams to stem a second flood that is expected to occur should another wastewater reservoir wall collapse.
This ongoing situation is the latest reminder of the environmental risks associated with the thousands of hardrock metals and minerals operations around the world. The site in Hungary was listed as “risky” by an environmental non-governmental organization in 2006, yet this warning did not spur the type of response required by regulators and corporate executives to prevent the flood. Last summer the same type of disaster struck at a copper mine in southeastern China, where 2.4 million gallons of waste water laced with acidic copper spilled into the Ting River.”
The largest dam removal project in U.S. history will reopen more than 70 miles of pristine spawning and rearing habitat in the Elwha River and its tributaries. Salmon populations are predicted to swell from 3,000 to nearly 400,000 as all five species of Pacific salmon return to one of the Pacific Northwest’s most productive salmon streams.National Parks Service
From our amazing community, a report from the “opening” of the Elwha River dam. And by opening, we mean that in the literal sense, as a massive excavator tore out the first chunks in the biggest dam removal project in American history. Tear Down This Dam: Government Officials and Tribal Elders Preside Over the Removal of the Elwha River Dam
mark march of Progress… Natives lose 260 square miles of land to a hydro electric dam - that’s a reservoir roughly about the size of NYC’s land area. The article, which is worth a close read, notes that 100s of other land use rights cases may be thrown out as a result. Borneo is the third largest island in the world, and is rich in natural resources and rare plant and animal species. Its population and economy are growing quickly, and development pressures government to respond.
Interestingly, people do not have strong property rights in Indonesia. I found that the Malaysian Constitution is an amalgamation of English-colonial “common law, written law, syariah law and customary laws with the Federation Constitution as the supreme law of the land.” This means the law can be interpreted in countless ways - sometimes precedent prevails, sometimes modern interpretation of Muslim shariah prevails, etc. It’s a big mess.
Members of an indigenous tribe in Borneo lost a case in Malaysia’s top court Thursday challenging the state’s seizure of land to build a massive dam.
The verdict capped a decade-long legal struggle by a group of villagers who claim authorities in Malaysia’s eastern Sarawak state unlawfully wrested away land occupied by their ancestors for generations.
If you’re into it, the BBC covered this issue back in 1999. See, “Who owns Indonesia?” Pertinent quote,
LAND USE RIGHTS
Under Indonesia’s constitution, all land is owned by the state, ignoring traditional land rights.
Suharto enforced this law ruthlessly, as companies connected to his family and friends exploited resources like timber, gold and oil.
Fifty miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Colorado River Delta and its once-rich estuary wetlands—reduced by 95% since the river was restricted by dams—are now as perched as the surrounding Sonoran Desert. Only rare floods or cancelled farm orders allow the river to reach the Gulf of California.
Known by some as “America’s Nile,” the Colorado River stretches about 1,450 miles across seven states and two countries — and photographer Peter McBride has traveled the entire thing, shooting photos for his new book, The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict. […]
“This estuary used to be one of the largest desert estuaries in North America,” McBride says. “It ran to the sea for 6 million years, and the river basically stopped in the late ’90s. It used to be 3,000 square miles with lush forests and jaguars and deer. And having walked it … it’s nothing but a cracked, parched arid landscape.” […]
This is happening now.
A home broke apart as it was engulfed by Missouri River floodwaters Wednesday in the Hoge Island area of Bismarck, N.D. In some parts of northwest Missouri, meanwhile, the river hit historic highs.
Photo Credit: Brian Gehring