In a short time, water will become more important than oil to a country. Increasingly we will see wars as nations fight over the control of rivers, oceans and seas. As people have built in dry areas on the planet, water will start to run out. Building dams to sustain those areas will in the end destroy our environment and not solve the crisis.
Takepart.com has picked the eight worse dams in the world that 'are cause devastating ecological ruin'.
Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam—Brazil
Located on the Parana River, the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam straddles the Brazilian and Paraguayan border. Construction began in 1970 and finished in 1984. In 2012, its 18 generators produced 98.29 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers called the Itaipu Dam one of the seven modern wonders of the world.
While at least 10,000 people were relocated to build the dam, the biggest travesty involving its construction was the drowning of the Guaira Falls, which were dynamited and can never be restored.
Belo Monte Dam—Brazil
The Belo Monte Dam is currently under construction on the Xingu River in northern Brazil. Once completed, the $18 billion project is expected to have the capacity to produce 11,233 megawatts of energy, putting it third in generating capacity behind The Three Gorges Dam and the Itaipu Dam.
Opponents claim the dam could displace up to 40,000 people and impact nearly 579 square miles of the Amazon River basin, a fragile and unique ecosystem along the Xingu River. According to one estimate, it will take 41 years for the dam to have a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
Completed in 1978, the Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam is located in the south-central Siberian Republic of Khakassia, a federal subject of Russia. Located on the Yenisei River, it is Russia’s largest power plant, complete with ten hydroelectric generators each with a capacity of 640 megawatts.
The dam had three small accidents with its spillway under Soviet rule, but the worst accident occurred in 2009. A short circuit caused two generators to explode, destroying four other generators, killing ten people with 72 missing. Due to power being knocked out in the surrounding area, local smelters were unable to contribute to repairing the dam. Worse still, 44 tons of oil were spilled and 440 tons of trout downstream were killed.
The HidroAysén Project is a proposed dam in Chile that would add 2,750 megawatts of hydroelectric power to the country’s energy coffers. It’s expected to be completed by 2025, but is currently being delayed. This project is part of a plan that calls for the creation of five dams in Chile’s Aysen Region, two on the Baker River and three on the Pascua River. Collectively, these dams would flood over 4,000 acres of forest.
The Aysen Region is in the southern Andes mountains, an area virtually untouched by developed civilization. Building the dams would displace the natives, as well as the habitat of the endangered southern river otter. The dams themselves are only the tip of the ecological-killing iceberg. To deliver their energy, extremely long power lines—the equivalent of the distance between Los Angeles and Houston—would have to be built.
The majority of Chileans are opposed to the project.
Three Gorges Dam—China
China’s Three Gorges Dam, which lies on the Yangtze River in the Hubai province, was completed in 2008 after 14 years of construction. The project cost roughly $26 billion. It has 32 large turbines, each of which can produce 700 megawatts of energy.
To construct the monstrous dam, over 1.3 million people were relocated from the surrounding farmlands—that’s a lot of displaced citizens for a plant that’s only expected to last 50 years. One of the largest problems with the dam is soil erosion in the reservoir and surrounding area—roughly 500 million tons of silt is yanked into the Yangtze every year.
Xayaburi Dam—Cambodia, Laos
Currently under construction in northern Laos, the Xayaburi Dam will have a 1,285-megawatt capacity when completed.
The dam’s reservoir will only displace 2,000 people and probably only affect 200,000 relying on the water downstream.
Despite what might look like a minimal environmental impact, the major problem with the Xayaburi is its effect on fish. The Mekong river stretches over 2,700 miles, crossing five countries from China to Laos. Fish are the main source of protein and make up the vast majority of the diets for people living near the river for the more than 40 million people in the Lower Mekong Basin. It’s believed that the dam could result in the destruction of the critically endangered Mekong Giant Catfish.
The Narmada Valley Project—India
If built, the Narmada Valley project would contain 30 large dams, 135 medium dams, and 3,000 small dams covering an 815-mile stretch along the Narmada River and its subsidiaries. The project has dragged on for over a half century due to concerns of citizen groups and poor planning.
The foundations for the Sardar Sarovar—the largest and first dam in the project—were laid in 1961, but full construction did not begin until 1979. Starting in 1999, when the dam was 80 meters tall, its height rose five separate times, and now stands at almost 122 meters. Each time the height of the dam has been raised, more of the surrounding land has become submerged, and more of the surrounding people have been displaced.
When completed—and who knows when that will be—the full project is expected to displace up to 1.5 million people in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
The Narmada Valley Project is not without its positive aspects, however. It could irrigate enough land to feed 20 million people, provide industrial water for 30 million people, and is expected to generate 4000 megawatts of energy.
Gilgel Gibe III Dam Project—Ethiopia
If built on Ethiopia’s Omo River, the Gilgel Gibe III Dam would be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa with a capacity of 1870 megawatts—but there is a strong opposition to the dam because of its impact on the environment and the indigenous peoples.
“The Gibe III dam will be a disaster of cataclysmic proportions for the tribes of the Omo valley,” said Survival International Director Stephen Corry, referring to the 200,00 people that depend on the land for survival. “Their land and livelihoods will be destroyed, yet few have any idea what lies ahead. The government has violated Ethiopia’s constitution and international law in the procurement process. No respectable outside body should be funding this atrocious project.”
There are also allegations of corruption surrounding the construction of the dam as the government did not open it to the bidding process.