Letter | Civil Society Tells Argentine Congress Why Dams on the Santa Cruz River Are a Bad Idea

Monday, July 24, 2017
The Santa Cruz River.
The Santa Cruz River.
Fernando de Gorocica, via Wikimedia Commons

On July 19, 2017, a large group civil society organizations submitted a letter to Argentinean decision-makers detailing their concerns about the Kirchner-Cepernic Hydroelectric Complex (KCHC), a hydroelectric project proposed for the Santa Cruz River.

The Santa Cruz River is one of the last, largest free-flowing rivers in Argentina. Its originates from two glacial lakes, Viedma and Argentino, in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981.

The Kirchner-Cepernic Complex will alter the course of the Santa Cruz River and turn over 50% of it into stagnant reservoirs. This will clearly affect the river’s volume while leaving 47,000 hectares of our Patagonia under the water. This project may generate irreversible loss of and severe damage to the rich biodiversity, flora and limnological communities, as well as cultural values.

Ninety-six civil society groups, including International Rivers, COAGRET, Greenpeace and WWF, submitted the letter on July 19, in time for the public hearing held on July 20 regarding the feasibility of the project. 

The letter begins:

"We write out of deep concern for the crossroads facing the Argentine people: protect the immeasurable ecological heritage of Patagonia, or jeopardize Chinese funding for a significant number of infrastructure and energy projects. We understand that this is not a minor issue, and we hope that the Argentine Congress will make use of the Public Hearing on July 20, not only to evaluate in depth the Kirchner-Cepernic Hydroelectric Complex (KCHC), but also to open up a fundamental conversation for Argentina and all of Latin America: on the development of a truly clean, sovereign, and efficient energy model."

Read the full text of the letter here.