UPDATE – IADB funds Brazil’s Uruguay River study

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has approved US$1.2 million to help finance a master plan for sustainable development of the Uruguay River hydrographic region in Brazil.

The total US$2.7 million program is intended to improve management by Brazil’s Santa Catarina State and Rio Grande do Sul State of the region’s economic development to ensure economic opportunities and water and natural resources protection.

The technical cooperation funding was provided by the Japanese Trust Fund at the IADB. It is aimed at sustainable development of the Uruguay River watershed, one of three that recharges the Guarani aquifer, one of the world’s largest aquifer systems. IADB acknowledged the importance of the Uruguay watershed.

“It has great economic importance to Brazil because of its hydroelectric potential and agro-industrial development,” the bank said.

Brazil agency hears effects of proposed 2,700-MW Garabi

Meanwhile, Brazil’s energy research agency is active in the Uruguay River Basin, conducting hearings in seven communities on potential social and environmental effects of the 2,700-MW Garabi hydroelectric project. (HNN 8/29/06)

Brazil and Argentina agreed in January to make construction of Garabi on their joint border a priority, with immediate development of technical and environmental studies. The agreement followed work by governors of three area states — Rio Grande do Sul (RS) in Brazil, and Misiones and Corrientes in Argentina — to facilitate feasibility studies to revive Garabi.

Brazil’s Empresa de Pesquisas Energetica (EPE) scheduled public hearings on integrated environmental evaluation of hydroelectric development of the Uruguay Basin. The purpose is to evaluate the cumulative effects of such development on natural resources and populations in the basin.

Technician Paulo Soares Blessmann of the RS Energy, Mines, and Communications Secretariat, said earlier meetings in August took into account the need to make the generation of energy compatible with conservation of biodiversity, social diversity, and socio-economic development of the basin.

Public meetings are set September 18 in Florianopolis, September 19 in Porto Alegre, September 25 in Lajes, September 26 in Chapeco, September 27 in Erechim, September 28 in Ijui, and September 29 in Uruguaiana.

Garabi had been shelved in the 1990s as infeasible due to high environmental and social effects. Although the project originally was planned to be 1,860 MW, it now has been proposed to expand it to three 900-MW dams totaling 2,700 MW. Officials estimated construction bids could be solicited in 2007 for the estimated US$3 billion project.

For information, contact Secretaria de Energia, Minas e Comunicacoes, Governo do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Borges de Medeiros, 1501, 7 andar, Porto Alegre, RS – CEP 90119-900 Brazil; (55) 51-32885300; Fax: (55) 51-32265893; E-mail: gabinete@semc.rs.gov.br; Internet: www.semc.rs.gov.br.

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