Amazonian tribes unite to demand Brazil stop hydroelectric dams

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 4/30/2015

Four Amazonian tribes have joined forces to oppose the construction of hydroelectric dams in their territory as the Brazilian government ramps up efforts to exploit the power of rivers in the world’s biggest forest.

The Munduruku, Apiaká, Kayabi and Rikbaktsa released a joint statement on Thursday demanding the halt of construction on a cascade of four dams on the Teles Pires – a tributary of the Tapajós.

They say the work at the main area of concern – the São Manoel dam – threatens water quality and fish stocks. The site has already reportedly expanded almost to the edge of a nearby village, although the local communities say they have not been consulted as they obliged to be under national laws and international standards.

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Brazil’s worst drought in history prompts protests and blackouts

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 1/23/2015

The taps have run dry and the lights have gone out across swathes of Brazil this week as the worst drought in history spreads from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro and beyond.

More than four million people have been affected by rationing and rolling power cuts as this tropical nation discovers it can no longer rely on once abundant water supplies in a period of rising temperatures and diminishing rainfall.

The political and economic fallout for the world’s seventh biggest economy is increasingly apparent. Protesters in dry neighbourhoods have taken to the streets, coffee crops have been hit, businesses have been forced to close and peddle-boat operators have had to cease operations because lakes have dried up.

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New laws threaten Brazil’s unique ecosystems

Phys.org, 11/6/2014

Brazil’s globally significant ecosystems could be exposed to mining and dams if proposals currently being debated by the Brazilian Congress go ahead, according to researchers publishing in the journal Science this week.

The new report by a group of Brazilian and British researchers comes in the wake of Brazil’s recent presidential elections. It warns that new legislation could pose a serious threat to protected areas, weakening Brazil’s international status as an environmental leader.

One of the proposals of particular concern is the call to open up 10% of the most strictly protected areas to mining. In a new analysis, the research shows that at least 20% of all Brazil´s most strictly protected areas and reserves for indigenous people overlap with areas that have been registered as under consideration for mining. In addition, many of the river systems associated with protected areas will be influenced by the construction of large hydroelectric dams.

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El Nino Rains Won’t Refill Brazil’s Key Hydropower Dams

Vanessa Dezem – Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/1/2014

The drenching El Nino rains that may replenish Brazil’s hydropower reservoirs will probably miss the nation’s most important dams, now at historic lows as the country endures its worst drought in eight decades.

The weather phenomena that’s causing floods in Brazil’s south won’t travel far enough north to help refill reservoirs in Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo states, where 70 percent of Brazil’s hydropower capacity is located, said weather forecasters Climatempo and Somar Meteorologia.

“There is no hope that El Nino will fill the southeastern water reservoirs,” said Thaize Baroni, a meteorologist at Sao Paulo-based Somar. “It won’t change conditions for this year and it can make it worse, as the region may have even dryer weather in the next few months.”

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