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5/20/18

Colombia: 120,000 people threatened by a potential dam collapse

The Hidroituango dam project in the Cauca region of Colombia is a multi-billion dollar hydro-electric dam project that was supposed to go online in December last year, but has been plagued by problems for several years and has always been a bit of a white elephant in the country. But now things have taken a sinister turn, because the latest reports from the project show that the poor planning and design of the dam mean it's now under serious risk of collapse. High water levels over the last year have stopped emergency contingency works that would have alleviated the burden from being completed and the project is now making big headline news. For example, a technical report dated February this year states, "...geological and geotechnical conditions which have been found were more comlicated that estimated during the exploration and design stages", which is engineer speak for "We Are Very Big SNAFU".

At risk are up to 120,000 people who live down valley, including the town of Puerto Valdivia which, according to scientists and their calculators, would be hit by a 26 metre high wave of water if the collapse occurred. A good Spanish language report entitled "Hidroituango In The Hands Of Nature" (i.e. at the mercy of) with a nice graphic on the issue at the bottom of the page (for those who like lingua franca pictures more than Spanish words) is right here on this link.