Harnessing the Power
of the Amazon

Water Quality Monitoring, Santo Antônio Dam Reservoir

Using the high flow of the Madeira River—the Amazon’s largest tributary—the Santo Antonio Energia (SAE) Santo Antônio Hydroelectric Plant will be one of the largest power generators in Brazil and one of the 15 largest dams in the world once complete. From 2009 through 2016, Ecology Brasil implemented water quality monitoring programs, including limnology and macrophytes studies, during filling and post-stabilization of the reservoir.

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THE CHALLENGE

Volume and Ecological Significance of the River

With an average discharge of 19,000 cubic meters per second at the dam site, the Madeira River is the largest river ever dammed. It is significantly biologically diverse, and serves as a major source of nutrients that naturally fertilize downstream floodplains. E & E’s challenge was to assess dam-related changes in water chemistry and propose viable alternatives that minimize limnological impacts.

OUR SOLUTION

Build Partnerships

Ecology Brasil led a multidisciplinary team of specialists from federal universities and partner consulting companies. With greater combined capacity, the team can sample a range of aquatic ecosystems within the reservoir and rapidly identify changes in water chemistry using real-time data. The collaboration provides staff resources to regularly share findings with contractors and environmental agencies and make recommendations for monitoring.

THE RESULT

Ready for Operation

Ecology Brasil helped the contractor obtain all necessary permits to operate the hydropower plant and developed action plans to responsibly handle any future water quality issues, like how to manage potential cyanobacteria.

To safeguard people living nearby and the aquatic ecosystem, the water quality of Brazilian hydroelectric reservoirs must be monitored during their entire lifecycle. Ecology Brasil’s multidisciplinary team of ecologists has been managing the water resources impacted by the Santo Antônio dam, and our success has been recognized by both the constructor and the environmental agency.

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