Bel Juruna, of the Juruna (Yudjá) Indigenous people, points her camera at the Xingu River, beside which she lives in Mïratu village in the Paciçamba Indigenous Territory on the 130-kilometer (81-mile) Volta Grande (Big Bend), in Pará state, Brazil. The video shows a shoulder-high, light-colored waterline streaking a dark exposed boulder. Just days before, that boulder was mostly submerged and the river ran at a much higher level, but its flow has been drastically, suddenly, intentionally, and possibly illegally, reduced — threatening the Xingu’s fishery and the people who depend on it for food and livelihoods. On February 8, Belo Monte mega-dam operator Norte Energia received permission from IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, to immediately reduce river flows to less than 13% of normal — shifting the water to the dam’s electricity-producing turbines. This dramatic flow reduction was completely unanticipated by riverine Indigenous and traditional peoples, Bel’s video shows the effects: canoes with outboard motors stranded on dry rocks, aquatic vegetation exposed to the air. “These plants are usually on the bottom [of the river]; they are water plants. And because the water won’t come [here] any more, they’re all going to die,” Bel says. Norte Energia’s action comes during the piracema, a time of year when fish should be traveling on seasonally rising waters, deep into the flooded forest to feed and spawn. The government’s water reduction decision effectively closes the door on this reproductive window — an opportunity that comes but once a year. “The Volta Grande will turn…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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