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What’s the point of dams?

Local authorities in Quindío (Colombia) are currently trying to rekindle enthusiasm for the construction of reservoirs, which they are presenting as the solution to the problem of dwindling water supplies and drought in the region.


quindio-salento-colombia-pixabayJohn Elvis Vera S.


There is already talk of more than one dam: it is claimed that every municipality will have its own lake to guarantee the supply of this precious liquid for all despite excessive urban growth, which is enabling construction entrepreneurs to make use of all available space.

They will do everything in their power to achieve their goal of “development” in the region and stop their dreams being thwarted by “mere environmental obstacles”.

In their opinion, economic objectives should not be shackled by natural factors that are linked in turn to the well-being of all of us who live in this beautiful corner of Colombia.

It is hoped that urban growth will continue unabated, regardless of the limitations of our own planet.

They do not care about the destruction of natural heritage, and they give little or no thought as to whether their plans threaten the rights or even the lives of local peoples.

Luis Carlos Serna G., educator and investigator with the University of Quindío and environmental organisations representative on the executive board of the CRQ (Corporación Regional del Quindío, Quindío Regional Board), has written a letter to La Mesa Ciudadana de Salento (Salento Citizens’ Round Table), in which he highlights the negative aspects of building a reservoir in the municipality.

quindio-salento-colombia-commons-wikimediaThey include:

  • Altering subterranean water levels: reservoirs cause levels to fall and alter their surroundings. This has a negative impact on flora and fauna species depending on the same.
  • Evaporation of the reservoirs.
  • Eutrophication (excess of nutrients): reservoirs cause the overproduction of phytoplankton, which results in oxygen being lost from the water, bad odours and an unpleasant taste.
  • Interruption of the transportation of sediment. Over the years, reservoirs cause silt (a build-up of sediment).
  • Such reservoirs often provide an opportunity for the introduction of exotic species for commercial or recreational purposes (for so-called “leisure fishing”). These invading species then become one more factor in the extinction of native species.

Serna G. concludes that “any changes to the land must be based on knowledge. We cannot continue to have an impact on the landscape, flora, fauna, air, soil and society without assessing the risks involved. Building a reservoir in our region represents an imminent knee-jerk reaction involving many risks that we have yet to discover.”

Currently, there is a proposal to hold forums to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of building such reservoirs in our region. We hope that these will shed light on this crucial topic.

quindio-salento-colombia-wikipediaAs environmentalists, we continue to argue that reservoirs do not produce water, that reservoirs and lakes are counterproductive for the ecosystem and that they are not a long-term solution.

*John Elvis Vera: Ecologist.

Fotos: Pixabay, Wikipedia y Commons Wikimedia – (Translated by Rosalyn Harvey)

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