Balbina Dam

Coordinates: 01°55′02″S 59°28′25″W / 1.91722°S 59.47361°W / -1.91722; -59.47361
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Balbina Dam
LocationAmazonas, Brazil
Coordinates01°55′02″S 59°28′25″W / 1.91722°S 59.47361°W / -1.91722; -59.47361
Construction began1985
Opening date1989
Dam and spillways
ImpoundsUatumã River
Height33 m (108 ft)
Length2,920 m (9,580 ft)
CreatesBalbina Reservoir
Total capacity17.54 km3 (14,220,000 acre⋅ft)
Catchment area16,502 km2 (6,371 sq mi)
Surface area2,360 km2 (910 sq mi)
Maximum water depth30 m (98 ft)
Power Station
Operator(s)Manaus Energia
Commission date1989
Turbines5 × 50 MW (67,000 hp)
Installed capacity250 MW (340,000 hp)

The Balbina Dam (Portuguese: Usina Hidrelétrica de Balbina) is a hydroelectric dam and power station on the Uatumã River in the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil. The location is under the municipality of Presidente Figueiredo jurisdiction, in the state of Amazonas.


The Balbina Dam was built from 1985 to 1989 and is managed by Manaus Energia, under the Eletronorte system. The first of five generators began operating in February 1989. The dam has an installed capacity of 250 megawatts (340,000 hp) and floods a 2,360-square-kilometre (910 sq mi) area.[1][2]


The dam was established to provide a renewable electricity supply to the city of Manaus but was considered by locals a controversial project from the start, due to the loss of forest and displacement of tribal homes grounds.[3] About 2,928.5 square kilometres (1,130.7 sq mi) of land formerly occupied by the Waimiri-Atroari was removed from the Waimiri Atroari Indigenous Territory and flooded.[4] The dam was also criticized for its expensive construction and maintenance costs.[3] As a result of the methane released from its vast reservoir, proportional to its output, the Balbina Dam emits ten times more greenhouse gases than a coal plant.[5][6] The dam is the least efficient in Brazil in terms of the area flooded for each megawatt generated.[7]


The lake and island ecosystems formed by the dam are protected by the 938,720 hectares (2,319,600 acres) Uatumã Biological Reserve, a strictly protected conservation unit created in 2002.[8] The west shore is protected by the 374,700 hectares (926,000 acres) Caverna do Maroaga Environmental Protection Area, established in 1990.[9] Downstream from the dam the Uatumã runs through the 424,430 hectares (1,048,800 acres) Uatumã Sustainable Development Reserve, created in 2004.[10] The dam regulates the river flow through the reserve, and reduces seasonal flooding.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hydroelectric power stations in Brazil". Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  2. ^ Philip M. Fearnside 2006.
  3. ^ a b Balbina, a hidrelétrica que não deu certo – CEPA.
  4. ^ Baines 2008, p. 50.
  5. ^ "Dams in the Amazon: The rights and wrongs of Belo Monte". The Economist. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  6. ^ Grossman, Daniel (18 September 2019). "Deliberate drowning of Brazil's rainforest is worsening climate change". New Scientist. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b Sobre a RDS – RDS do Uatumã, Geografia.
  8. ^ Unidade de Conservação: Reserva Biológica do Uatumã.
  9. ^ APA Caverna do Maroaga ... ISA, Informações gerais (mapa).
  10. ^ RDS do Uatumã – ISA, Características.