by Darcy Gaechter
An Ecuadorian company has been awarded what many believe is a questionable concession to build a dam on the remote and wild Piatua River. This hydro-electric project is a trans-basin diversion that would significantly de-water the last 20 kilometers of the river before its confluence with Anzu—the entire paddling section of the Piatua River.
Currently Ecuador has a large surplus of electricity production and only uses 47% of its installed capacity, which leaves many people questioning the need for this project.
Ecuador has several measures in place to protect its environment from these sort of short-sighted projects: Ecuador was the first country to give constitutional rights to nature, and new development projects must prepare an environmental impact statement and complete a process of public participation with the affected population before they can be approved. Sadly, we did not see these considerations and requirements met on the Piatua hydro-project, and there will be consequences of this dam that reach far beyond the paddling world. If built, this dam would cut off fishing and water supply for indigenous communities. It would endanger a species of catfish endemic to the Piatua River as well as 9 species of frogs who live in and along the river and who are considered critically endangered and at risk of extinction. It would also cut off an important ecological corridor between the Andes Mountains and the lower Amazon River Basin.
“This will be the test for the future of Ecuador as a paddle sports destination.” – Matt Terry, director of the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute
Small World Adventures and the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute are embarking on a last-ditch effort to stop this project because we believe the future of environmental protection and of whitewater kayaking in Ecuador depends on the outcome of this case. The ERI is fighting the dam in the courts and Small World Adventures is raising money to support this effort through a summer-long fundraiser and gear giveaway—100% of the money raised will be donated to the ERI. We believe that a positive outcome is possible in this case, and we are putting our all behind these efforts.
Here’s what you can do to help:
1.) Donate to our Save the Piatua fundraiser. 100% of the money raised in our fundraiser goes directly to support the legal action explained above. https://go.rallyup.com/savethepiatua (When you donate to the cause, you’ll get chances to win awesome whitewater prizes.)
2.) Sign the petition in favor of keeping the Piatua free-flowing. http://chng.it/bCNNFRqtm4
3.) Share both the fundraiser and the petition on your social media outlets. The more we can spread the word the better!
4.) Come to Ecuador and paddle the Piatua! We want to show local governments that tourism is a viable and sustainable form of development.
When you donate to our Save the Piatua Fundraiser, you’ll have the chance to win awesome prizes from our fundraiser sponsors: Small World Adventures, Jackson Kayak, Werner Paddles, Kokatat, Snap Dragon Designs, AS Watersports and Kayak Session Magazine.
Thanks everyone for any help you can offer. Save the Piatua!