Organizations Worldwide Call For Alternatives to Biscarrués Dam

Friday, May 27, 2011

On May 27, International Rivers, along with organizations and individuals who attended the Third International Meeting of Dam Affected People and Their Allies sent the following letter to Doctora Aguilar Rivero, Spain's Minister for the Environment, expressing concerns about the proposed Biscarrues Dam on the River Gallego. If built the dam would destroy one of the last stretches where the river runs freely.

Dra. Rosa Aguilar Rivero
Ministry of Rural and Marine Environments
Fax: +91 597 5981

Dear Dra. Aguilar Rivero:

Warm greetings. We, the international civil society organizations mentioned below, respectfully write to express our great concern regarding your government's plans to construct the Biscarrués Dam in the vicinity of the impressive Mallos de Riglos in the Comarca Altoaragonesa de la Galliguera.

Kayakers enjoy the beautiful Gallego River
Kayakers enjoy the beautiful Gallego River

If this dam were constructed it would destroy a significant tributary of the beautiful Gallego River, which has contributed for over twenty years to the socioeconomic development of the Comarca de la Galliguera. The river provides exceptional conditions for boating and its natural beauty attracts more than 80,000 tourists each year to enjoy activities such as rafting and kayaking. The volume of income generated through these activities is estimated at between ten and twelve million Euros annually, contributing to the development of an area that extends beyond the district of Reino de los Mallos.

The evaluation report carried out by the Center for Research and Public Works Experimentation (CEDEX) about the Environmental Impact Study of the project, after an extensive review, recommended the following:

"The project should be rejected for threatening to cause serious environmental impacts, lacking adequate justification, lacking a rigorous evaluation of alternatives, and not reasonably demonstrating that it could safeguard the general interests from an integrated and global perspective..."

The dam has been rejected by the inhabitants of this region, as well as by a multitude of environmental collectives, people who use it for recreation, and business associations. The affected branch of the Gállego River is of paramount importance to all, since it is one of the last stretches where the river runs freely. The general state of the river would be worsened because, from the upper reaches of the Pyrenees of Huesca, to the reservoirs of Formigal, Lanuza, Bubal and Sabiñánigo, there are multiple hydroelectric dams reaching as far as the reservoir of La Peña, making the Gállego River one of the most dammed rivers in Spain.

Other more reasonable options exist to satisfy the water needs of the Monegros region, which would be a substantial improvement upon the estimated cost of this project, such as:

1. Improve efficiency of the Gállego and Cinca hydroelectric plants
2. Repair and improve efficiency in already existing irrigation works
3. Provide batteries for dry wells in the Bajo Gállego
4. Modernize the floodgates to the reservoir of la Peña

We ask you to:

  • Conserve and declare this section of the river to be a national inheritance for the benefit of the future and present generations.
  • Adhere to the recommendations of the CEDEX report.
  • Not construct the Biscarrués Dam.

As organizations and individuals that defend the rights of people and communities affected or threatened by dams, we also ask that you make yourself available to listen to those affected by the Biscarrués project so that they are able to express the reasons for their opposition. Before making a decision it is important to hear the objections of these communities in order to undertake a truly democratic, transparent and participatory process as your country deserves.

Thank you for your attention,


Monti Aguirre
International Rivers, USA

Endorsed by:

African Rivers Network, Uganda
Amigos da Terra Brasil, Brazil
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Thailand
Bios Iguana A.C, Mexico
Borneo Resources Institute, Malaysia
CEIBA Amigos de la Tierra, Guatemala
Censat Agua Viva, Colombia
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fr. Francisco de Vitoria O.P", A.C, Mexico
COAGRET - Asociacion Rio Aragon, Spain
Colectivo Voces Ecológicas, Panama
Consejo Indigena MONEXICO, Nicaragua
Coordinator, EcoDoc Africa, South Africa
International Accountability Project, USA
Living River Siam, Thailand
Marea Creciente Mexico, Mexico
OFRANEH, Honduras
Otros Mundos AC/Amigos de la Tierra México, Mexico
Plataforma Korrosparri, Spain
Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC), Mexio
River Research Centre, India
Volta Basin Development Foundation, Ghana
Jacques Gelineau, Canada
Carmen Diaz, Mexico
Marco Antonio Velázquez Navarrete, Mexico
Nithia Castorena Sáenz, Mexico