Water Wars Head South

Way down south, in Patagonia, Argentina we are trying to obstruct a government plan for the construction of a small dam (30 meters) on a small river (40 m3/s average flow), which happens to be our only source of water. The Senguerr River flows from the snowfall on the Andes and its disappearing glaciers, ending in Muster Lake and overflowing to Colhué Huapi Lake which is a giant (1,000 km) evaporation disc. We take our water from Muster Lake through a 150 km long aqueduct to the cities of Comodoro Rivadavia, Rada Tilly, and Caleta (population: 300,000) on the Atlantic coast.

The Colhué Huapi Lake has been contracting and expanding through its recordable history with a net trend of contraction. March 2001, one of the driest autumns had us using our automobile headlights at 4 PM with 10° Celsius falls in temperature. Our city is the world wind champion, regrettably always westerly—It is not surprising then that a recent study of minerals in mussels grown on our coast showed near toxic levels of cadmium and nickel.

Finding your report on Owens Lake has been a great support for my arguments against the construction of the dam (whose only beneficiaries seem to be oil and ore mining ventures). I intend to use this data as an argument in the environmental assessment study.

Miguel D. Webb.
Pediatrician
Comodoro Rivadavia, Chubut Argentina

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