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The Yacyreta Dam
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The Yacyreta Dam
General Informations

A part of our text is inspired by Wikipedia Infomations on Yacyreta :

Yacyretá-Apipé (or just Yacyretá, often Yaciretá) is a hydroelectric dam located on the Paraná River between Argentina and Paraguay, 83 kilometers downstream of Posadas City, next to Paraguayan city of Ayolas, and Argentine city of Ituzaingó, Corrientes Province. It was named after the Yacyretá Island (Guaraní: jasy "moon", reta "country"), now 80% covered by the waters of the reservoir, and the Apipé islands, now completely covered.
The dam is 808 metres long and has 20 turbines with a power of
4 050 MW that can produce 19 080 GWh per annum, with maximum water flow of 55 000 Cubic metres per second.
There is a canal lock to let ships through the dam overcoming the
25 metre water difference, as well as a system to allow fish to go upstream during their reproductive season.
The project was heavily criticised before construction, as 1600 square kilometres of land were to be covered by water as reservoir to the dam, which finally eliminated the natural environment of a number of species. As a result, a lot of fish died right after the dam was filled (due to the oxygen difference in the water), and fish mortality is at high levels. The reduction of inhabitable environment has decreased the number of several species of the area. Also in danger were the Iberá Wetlands in Corrientes, through suspected underground infiltration. City floods during heavy rains have been also said to be caused by the higher level of the waters. Before flooding the reservoir, new houses had to be built for the relocation of 40 000 people who lived in the area. ( Phase 1)
Even though it was started at the end of 1983, it was not until 1994 that the dam started working, in the middle of a corruption scandal (often called "The Monument to Corruption"), and after the original budget was largely exceeded.

Since 1998 all the generators are working, but the water level only reaches 76 metres over the sea level, which is 7 metres less than the original planned level of 83 metres. For this reason, the dam only generates about 60% of its planned power. While 7 meters may seem like a small difference, because the dam is located on a plain, that additional height of water would cover 500 extra square kilometres and affect the homes of 80,000 people (Phase 2)
In 2006, amid concerns about energy shortage in Argentina, President Néstor Kirchner vowed to study the feasibility of finishing the works by 2008. A few months later, the governments of Paraguay and Argentina reached an agreement to cancel Paraguay's debt of $11,000 million, by having smaller countries supply Argentina with
8 000 GWh per year during 40 years in exchange.]

End of the Wikipedia text
The Yaciretá dam, is a joint project between Paraguay and Argentina. The project, although generally overshadowed by the colossal Itaipú project, was one of Latin America's major publicsector projects in the 1980s. Established hastily by Argentina's Peronist government on December 13, 1973, the Yacyretá project was stalled for years as a consequence of regional maneuvering, lobbying by the Argentine nuclear and oil industries, and political instability in Argentina. After ten years of delays, the first major engineering contract finally was awarded in June 1983. As with Itaipú, Yacyretá was hindered by the general lack of physical infrastructure at the dam site. Also as with Itaipú, Paraguayan firms did not receive equal work, despite stipulations in the initial agreement. Construction of the dam and the hydroelectric plant continued throughout the 1980s, but the major construction phase did not begin until the late 1980s, and numerous delays-- mostly political--persisted. Yacyretá was not expected to become fully operational until the mid-1990s, more than twenty years after the treaty's signing and at a cost of as much as US$10 billion, five times the original calculation.
An early point of contention between Paraguay and Argentina was the percentage of each country's land that would be flooded for the project's dam; more than 1,690 square kilometers would be needed--a larger area than was flooded for Itaipú. It esd sgreed that flooding was to be just about equally divided. Another disagreement involved Paraguay's exchange-rate policies. Exchange rates determined the final price Argentina would pay for the plant's electricity. This issue continued to be negotiated in the late 1980s.
The massive reservoir is the source of big problems for people living along the river, most notably the poorer merchants and residents in the low lying areas of Encarnación (Paraguay) , a major city on the southern border of Paraguay and in Posadas ( Argentina). River levels rose dramatically upon completion of the dam, flooding out large sections of the cities lower areas.
The last step is to rise the water level in 2008 for 5 - 8 meters and will affect 60 000 people in Argenina and Paraguay.
When completed, Yacyretá would be roughly one-quarter of the size of Itaipú.

The affected people ( the forgotten people of Yacyreta)

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all photos :
Pawel Wiechetek

Part of the Yacyreta dam

Part of the Yacyreta dam

The gates

One of the turbines

Flooding land and forests

Flooding villages

confrontation with police

forced to move away

forced to move away

some houses for a little part
of the displaced people

again and again confrontation