The waters of the Teles Pires River once ran so clear that Indigenous riverine villagers could fish with bow and arrow, just as their Amazonian ancestors did, and also drink safely directly from the stream, say the Apiaká, Kayabi and Munduruku peoples. Then came the Teles Pires dam, constructed from 2011-2014, and then the São Manoel dam, which received its operating license in 2017, filling its reservoir in 2018. Afterward, water quality deteriorated, with residents reporting “dirty, polluted, muddy” water. It carried sediment, organic matter from inundated decomposing trees and vegetation, such as the toxic vine timbó, that wasn’t previously removed — plus pesticide runoff from upstream soy plantations that have replaced the rainforest. This drastic decline in water quality impacted Indigenous health near the Teles Pires dams, with traditional communities seeing a rise in malaria due to mosquitoes breeding in stagnant pools caused by the dams’ varying flows. The São Manoel dam under construction in April 2015, as an Indigenous Rikbaktsa man looks on. The four to five Teles Pires River dams — the highest concentration of dams in Brazil — were touted as green energy despite significantly high methane emissions. The Fórum Teles Pires association of community groups says environmental impact reports seriously underestimated impacts. Image by Caio Mota/Fórum Teles Pires. There’s also been a rise in skin rashes and diarrhea, which Indigenous residents say results from bathing in, and drinking, the now-polluted river water. Equally concerning: migratory fish decreased, and became difficult to find in the murky…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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