News

Questions and Answers on the Diversion of the San Antonio Creek

May 25, 2016

Regarding the news published in recent days regarding the request to modify the environmental license for the La Loma project to divert the flow of the San Antonio Creek, it is important to bear in mind that from the beginning the national and regional environmental authorities have been involved in the studies and analyses. In fact, CORPOCESAR was officially notified about the request before it was submitted to the National Environmental License Authority (ANLA) back in 2014, and ANLA was the co-host at the public audience in January of this year. In this Q&A document, we clarify doubts there may be about this project:

  • Does the San Antonio Creek supply drinking water to the towns in your area of influence?

No. There are no towns that use water for human consumption from the San Antonio Creek downriver from the project. The supply of water for human consumption in the towns located in the La Loma project´s area of influence comes mainly from underground wells. Therefore, this project will not affect access to water for any community.

  • Will the entire Creek be diverted?

No. Of the San Antonio Creek’s 67 kilometers, a length of 9.2 kilometers will be realigned, building a channel using the highest technical and environmental standards.

  • Is the section that is going to be diverted the one where the community engages in recreation?

No. The 9.2 kilometers of the creek that will be realigned are on Drummond´s private property. The site for the realignment project is 14 kilometers away and downriver from the Municipality of La Jagua´s urban area, and the project will therefore have no impact on the usual recreation and tourism of the inhabitants of this municipality upriver from the project.

  • Is it true that the realignment will end up affecting the flow and making the tributary disappear, with the resulting impact on farmers in the region?

No. The realignment will guarantee that the same flow will exist downriver as what exists currently. The project will not generate any loss of water that might imply a risk to the supply for the agricultural and livestock activities that take place downriver from the realignment. There will be monitoring, nevertheless, to watch over the efficacy of the measures to guarantee they are met.

  • How is the realignment going to affect the flow of the creek? In other words, will what Drummond does on its land affect the flow in the rest of the creek to which people have access?

No. The channel will reproduce the characteristics of the current watercourse, such as slope, length, and water speed and flow, a cross section that considers flood conditions, and stabilization structures that consider fish movement. The design was developed by the Hydraulic Department at the Colombian School of Engineering in Bogotá.

  • Did the community reject the diversion of the tributary in the public hearing?

The video and audio recordings of the audience made by the ANLA demonstrate that the great majority of the communities present supported the project. There was a small group of people who are not located in the direct area of influence of the project, who expressed their disagreement. The officials from the ANLA even expressed after the hearing in January that it was one of the few times that they saw such a majority level of support for a project.

  • Is it true that this project did not engage in an adequate analysis of the impact on environmental components?

That is not true. The company began in-depth studies and analyses for the project in 2012, including potential impacts and management or mitigation methods. Once the studies and designs were submitted, which were prepared by the Hydraulic Department at the Colombian School of Engineering, the ANLA took 17 months to issue an opinion and approve the license. The company filed the request with CORPOCESAR, as per the norm, before submitting it to ANLA.

  • What environmental management measures is Drummond committed to taking to protect the creek?
  • It will begin by rescuing the wildlife located in the current section, and relocating it in forests near the project that have the appropriate load capacity to receive those species.
  • Subsequently, a stage is planned for collecting native seedlings and seeds, in order to reproduce native species in the company’s greenhouse and then replant them in the areas set aside for revegetation and reforestation.
  • Timber species that could be of benefit to nearby communities will be donated to them for various uses.
  • The vegetation and the organic soil will be gathered and placed in soil piles that will be protected by planting grass species until it is necessary to use them once again for the revegetation and reforestation of the intervened areas.
  • Before connecting the new realignment channel with the old channel, the fish will be captured that are present in the current channel, to be relocated in the new channel.
  • Once the realignment has been concluded along with all of the engineering works designed for it, connection will begin of the water with the new channel so that the water begins to run in the new watercourse, without affecting the flow downriver. That is the case if the connection is made in the rainy season. If it is done in the dry season, the connection can be done very simply because there is no flow in the creek bed.
  • Using the recovered organic soil and the native seedlings and seeds rescued, a planting process will begin in the corridor of the new creek bed along its entire length and with a width of 30 m on each side of the new realignment. In this way the process will begin for the ecosystemic recovery of the new realignment.
  • Subsequently, and when the creek bed has stabilized, a program to repopulate the water with fish will be developed in the same creek bed to compensate for possible loss of fish during the phase for starting up the operation of the new realigned channel.
  • Who will supervise to make sure Drummond meets its environmental commitments in this project?

The ANLA is the institution that is required to provide oversight of compliance with the project’s environmental obligations. To do that it will make annual follow-up visits, and it also has a regional inspector who is continuously visiting and watching over the projects. In addition, the ANLA invites the Corporation Corpocesar and the Department’s Secretary of the Environment to accompany the follow-up visits. Regardless of the above, any national, regional, or local institution is and will continue to be received by the company for any supervisory work deemed pertinent.

  • What is the difference between this diversion and others that have been sharply questioned, like that of La Guajira, which motivated protection by the Constitutional Court?

Drummond can only answer for its own projects. We have no technical knowledge of those projects, nor is it our place to give an opinion regarding them.

  • Did the different realignments of the creek’s bed cause the current lack of flow?

The realignments have not caused the decrease in the flow of the creek, precisely because we have always developed the projects with designs that ensure this will not happen. This can be corroborated by the owners of farms located downriver from the project, who have even benefited from the contributions of the Paujil Dam to the San Antonio Creek in the dry seasons. What has affected the flow of rivers in Colombia and in the world is related to long dry seasons and a lack of rain.

  • How many meetings were scheduled to share information and was there any controversy during the public hearing in January?

Although different meetings were scheduled during the studies with the community near the area of the project, the company formally carried out 1 meeting to share information with the community and other stakeholders from the municipality of La Jagua during the study phase. Once the studies were completed and evaluated by the ANLA, a public pre-hearing was held in December 2015, and the Public Hearing was held in January 2016. The video and audio recordings of the hearing, made by the ANLA, demonstrate that the great majority of the communities present supported the project. There was a small group of people who are NOT located in the direct area of influence of the project, who expressed their disagreement.

FOR FUTHER INFORMATION

Pablo Urrutia – Cell phone 318-735-7445, Phone (1) 587-1000 Ext. 5809

Amilcar Valencia – Cell phone 318-716-9827

Margarita Saade – Cell 316-312-4180, Phone (5) 571-9300 Ext. 8581

Wilma Calderon – Cell phone 310-287-6085, Phone (1) 611-5014