Merry Xmas: Two International Dams on Hold--Peru's Marañón and Mexico's Usumacinta

The Río Marañon is the parent stream or "mainstem" source of the Amazon,

The New Year is ringing in well for international paddlers and environmentalists…plans for two dams, one on Peru’s Marañón and another slated for Mexico’s Usumacinta, have been tabled.

According to, Odebrecht Energia del Peru has pulled its proposal for the 750-MW Rio Grande hydropower project for the Marañón from Peru's General Directorate of Energy and Environmental Affairs
A notice from the agency, Direccion General de Asuntos Ambientales Energia (DGAAE), shows Odebrecht requested the environmental impact statement filed for the plant be removed, effectively stopping the project from advancing. Neither Odebrecht nor DGAAE have offered reasons why the proposal has been tabled -- or if the project will be resumed -- though DGAAE had asked Odebrecht to respond to nearly 150 comments on its environmental assessment earlier this year.

The move is welcome news to outfitter SierraRios owner Rocky Contos, who pioneered the run. “We previously reported on how Odebrecht suspended plans to move forward with the Chadin II dam project that would flood half of the Lower Grand Canyon section,” he says. “But the Veracruz project downstream and two other dam projects upstream (Río Grande I and II) were still being pursued by Odebrecht or affiliates."

"The latter dams would flood most of the Central Grand Canyon section between Chagual and Balsas," he adds. "However, the latest news release from Odebrecht is that these projects have been put on hold. It’s time to celebrate.”

If constructed, the Rio Grande dam project would consist of two plants -- the 600-MW Rio Grande 1 and 150-MW Rio Grande 2 -- both of which would be located on the Maranon. The facilities would have a combined price tag exceeding $2 billion.

The Río Marañon is the parent stream or "mainstem" source of the Amazon, meeting no stronger rival at any junction, maintains Contos, on its route to the Atlantic. From its birthplace at glaciers on the highest tropical mountains in the world, 22,000-foot Yerupajá and Huascarán, the Marañon courses north over about a third of the length of Peru in the central Andes. A SierraRios expedition in 2012 explored it, learning of plans for over a dozen hydroelectric dams, and is now one of the sole outfitters on the section.

In other dam news, dams slated for Mexico’s famed Rio Usumacinta also will not be pursued. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto recently commented when visiting the Lacandon area that his administration is not supporting or moving forward with dams on the Usumacinta.

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