Free Rivers - SOS Epuyen River

Free Rivers - SOS Epuyen River

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By Lucas Chiappe

The Provincial Government has just announced the solution (?) For the floods caused by the occasional overflowing of several Andean rivers in Chubut: Several million pesos that the State "borrowed" from the IDB and that it will pour into the coffers of some "repairing company of waterways ", which announces its arrival with its draglines, bulldozers and trucks ...

In the popular imagination, rivers always represented the veins of the planet through which the liquid element that feeds, irrigates and oxygenates that enormous celestial body that we know as planet earth runs ... And today more than ever it is obvious that manipulation Its riverbeds is a very sensitive issue and one that has often caused more disturbances than solutions to riverine populations. Examples abound, however, I think it is enough to mention the disastrous result of the so-called repair work carried out in the Quemquemtreu river in El Bolsón in recent years and which resulted in October 2002 in the worst flood ever seen in that town (it is worth mentioning that the only place on the riverbank that did not suffer these dire consequences was the section in which the riverside neighbors prevented the entry of the huge bulldozers that, turn by turn, tried to straighten and deepen its channel ...).

Straighten, dredge and clean

But let's now try to analyze the reasons why some residents are enthusiastic about the idea that a good "dredging and cleaning" added to a "straightening" of their route would allow them to live in peace. With few exceptions, those who favor a drastic intervention in a watercourse as powerful as the Epuyén River are people who do not know or intend to ignore certain natural hydraulic laws and, failing that, they fully trust the power of machines and man "above nature "...

The reasoning of these people is simple and linear, straightened, dragoon and clean and that's it, the water runs easily and without obstacles and remains quiet in a suitable channel ... However, it is good to note that this "desire" lacks its share of Common sense: Dredging a river with a fast and changing regime such as the Epuyen River with a bulldozer or a dredge means removing a stable bed worked by nature for thousands of years and the immediate result of this alteration will be that it stops be compact and become a loose mass of gravel and sand that remains available to the force of the river during the next winter floods.

This effect will produce a constant instability of its "bed" and its consequence will be, the accumulation of stones in curves and straits, the formation of natural dikes and sandbanks and the consequent inevitable overflow of the waters ... Perhaps this it does not happen the first year, but there is no doubt that once the river bed is "dredged" the only remedy will be periodic dredging to avoid worse and worse evils ... It would be interesting for the people who fight for this supposed "solution" Analyze what real possibility exists that the Municipal or Provincial Government often obtain millionaire loans to repeatedly dredge tens of kilometers of its bed.

If, in addition, to this intervention we add the proposed "cleaning" of its coasts, which means the felling and removal of the trees that grow on its banks, the risk we run increases, since many of those willows planted by the riverside inhabitants They have been the ones that have helped to retain the erosion of the Epuyén coasts during the last 50 years.

And while it is true that these trees are not native but have been planted and have spread by their own means, a massive and sudden intervention would inevitably have undesirable side effects in the short, medium and long term.

For its part, the "straightens" and standardization of its natural layout, full of curves, pools and backwaters, has the inevitable consequence of the acceleration of this impressive mass of water in times of flood, causing a much greater dragging of stones and logs than in Somewhere they would accumulate, causing new dikes and overflows, in addition to the disappearance of fords that historically allowed riverine neighbors to cross the river on foot or on horseback. Suppose that after straightening, dredging and cleaning the Epuyén river at once and with the use of heavy machinery we will have controlled the floods that occur every 10-15 years is to ignore an ancestral reality that, on the contrary, suggests a lot of respect for the assumption remedy is no worse than the alleged disease.

Without being an expert, simply an obstinate observer of natural phenomena, I have no doubts after almost 30 years of living on the banks of the Epuyen River that one of the main problems of the recurrent overflow of this wonderful watercourse is the great contribution of stones, gravel, sand and clay that occurs annually through several of its tributaries such as Blanco, Santillan, Minas, Pedregoso etc. However, I have not read anywhere that recovery work has been contemplated in these battered waterways, which have been intervened with heavy machinery over and over again, until they have become veritable quarries of loose material. To give just one example: No one talks about reforesting the Blanco springs destroyed by successive fellings and forest fires, or strengthening its coasts, or rebuilding the gabions that were buried by tons of material because the minimum maintenance work that was not carried out they required… Not to mention the Santillán stream devastated by road bulldozers to export material necessary to pave the roads of Lago Puelo.

In summary, analyzing the disaster that has occurred so far after each intervention, it is essential to demand and publicly debate the Environmental Impact Study required by law for this type of project ... And that coincidentally does not appear anywhere.

Private businesses with state subsidies

And at this point of reasoning, we must analyze the underlying reasons for this work that requires a huge investment by the State at a time when the priorities that are set in terms of improving the living conditions of the majority should be respected. of the population above the economic interests of a small minority that supposedly would benefit from this project. Let us start from the premise that whoever buys a property on the banks of any watercourse anywhere on the planet is exposed knowingly of the possible consequences that the overflows that will occur sooner or later may bring; since every mountain river or stream has always a highly variable flow depending on the season and the rain and snowfall. Taking charge of this certain variability, the riparian owner who decides to invest in a territory prone to flooding should assume that personal risk and bear the consequences of that decision and that risk. On the other hand, as happened last year by those who call themselves "the producers" of the town of El Hoyo, the state has been required to repair their private damages that of course we would end up paying all the inhabitants of Chubut. This is a huge mistake that continues to drag in its entrails the old concept that if the business suits me the profit is mine but if it goes badly the State is obliged to help me ...

An absurd position that can only be a consequence of the old welfare that led this country to bankruptcy and the enrichment of a few privileged people who functioned without any risk and under the full protection of the state. Let's be logical, if I buy a property exposed to recurring meteorological phenomena such as a hurricane in the Caribbean region, the risk is mine and if I really want to be safe from possible damages, they exist in all parts of the world, including the N.O. Chubut insurance companies that in exchange for a monthly fee take that risk and cover the client ... Of course, if I am a rogue with enough power of conviction or with friends fulfilling government functions I will save that monthly money and if the "disaster" arrives I shout to the sky and it magically replenishes even the strawberry seedlings that I never owned but that would be great for me to expand my plantation ... This is how things have always happened in our payments and as if this were not enough now what is intended is that the state (I repeat it in case they have already forgotten, the state is all our pockets), invest figures that would be much more useful for so many other priorities in sight in these communities. Finally, and not because it is minor damage, but quite the opposite, in addition to the risk that all this work will be more damaging than the occasional floods (something similar to what happened last year had not happened for more than 50 years), there is the certain and inevitable landscape and ecological damage that has not been taken into account and that implies an irreversible devaluation of the entire Puelo basin, and we cannot forget that we are talking about an extremely fragile area in terms of biodiversity and waters that provide a great annual flow to the lake that constitutes one of the emblematic Parks of Patagonia:

Lago Puelo National Park. Is it possible that once again we Argentines have fallen into that fatal trap that characterizes us: Launching into adventure without taking into account the long-term implications of our actions?

By Lucas Chiappe Coordinator of the "Lemu Project" (Epuyén-Chubut)

Video: RIVERS SOS Rivers of shame (July 2022).


  1. Elek


  2. Dean

    Wonderful, it is a precious answer

  3. Naramar

    remarkably, valuable information

  4. Tydeus


  5. Eshan

    next time I ask you to pay attention to the topic of the blog and not be scattered over trifles with such a post. otherwise I will not read you.

  6. Monte

    Okay, this brilliant idea has to be on purpose

  7. Carleton

    everything can be

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