Environment

The Belo Monte Dam is killing the Amazon’s ‘house of God’

Satellites over the Amazon capture the choking of the ‘house of God’ by the Belo Monte Dam – they can help find solutions, too

satellite The main hydropower dam in the Belo Monte complex, in Altamira, Pará. Photo: Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress
The main hydropower dam in the Belo Monte complex, in Altamira, Pará. Photo: Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress

The Xingu River is revered as the “house of God” by the Indigenous people living along its Volta Grande, or Big Bend, in the Brazilian Amazon. The river is essential to their culture and religion, and a crucial source of fish, transportation, and water for trees and plants.

Five years ago, the Big Bend was a broad river valley interwoven with river channels teeming with fish, turtles, and other wildlife. Today, as much as 80 percent of the water flow is gone.

That’s because, in late 2015, the massive Belo Monte Dam project began redirecting water from the...

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