4th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Charles Crones
Session Name Poster Session: Managing water for people and the environment
Poster Number 56
Author(s) Randy Crones,  TCD (Presenting Author)
  Simone  Athayde,  LATAM
  Stephanie Bohlman, SFRC
  Hydroelectric Dams in the Amazon: Direct and Indirect Socio-Cultural Impacts on Local Communities
  This project developed within the Amazon Dams Project, under the direction of the Tropical Conservation and Development Program and the Center for Latin American Studies at UF. The Amazon Dams Project is actively developing an interdisciplinary network of international researchers addressing questions related to the social-environmental impacts of hydroelectric dams. To meet the nation’s projected energy needs, Brazil’s government has begun implementing its plans for a massive network of hydroelectric dams in the Amazon. Development of this scale will have dramatic effects, including the disruption of river functionality, intensified deforestation, and accelerated methane emissions. The direct and indirect impacts of dam construction escalate both social and environmental uncertainty and risks, most notably the loss of ecosystem services. These services provide critical benefits such as climate regulation (i.e. flood/drought cycles), nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, water storage, etc. Research will focus on three main variables confronting Indigenous and embedded local communities: water quality and water related diseases; rivers as means of transportation; and rivers as food providers. This research aims to better understand the direct and indirect socio-cultural and health effects within the designated area of direct affect, as well as the areas up and down river indirectly affected through a loss of river connectivity. Specifically, research activities for this project poster will consist of gathering existing data from current hydroelectric dam sites in two Amazonian watersheds, the Tocantins and the Madeira. Data will then be analyzed and preliminary findings will be reported. By understanding the impacts to local population health, as well as ecological and socio-cultural systems, we aim to identify useful analytical tools with the potential to help policy and decision-makers find the best paths forward as they consider new hydroelectric dam projects.