Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam

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The Chixoy Dam (Spanish: Planta Hidroeléctrica Chixoy) is a reinforced concrete dam and power plant spanning the Chixoy River between the Departments of Baja Verapaz, El Quiché and Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. It is the largest structure of its kind in the country.

Chixoy Dam
Planta Hidroeléctrica Chixoy.jpg
Official namePlanta Hidroeléctrica Chixoy
LocationSan Cristóbal Verapaz
(Alta Verapaz)
Coordinates15°16′54″N 90°29′27″W / 15.281536°N 90.490952°W / 15.281536; -90.490952Coordinates: 15°16′54″N 90°29′27″W / 15.281536°N 90.490952°W / 15.281536; -90.490952
Construction began1976
Opening date1983
Construction costUS$ 944 million
Operator(s)EGEE - INDE
Dam and spillways
ImpoundsChixoy River (Río Negro)
Height90 m
Length250 m
Width (base)12 m
Total capacity460 million m³
Surface area14,000 hectares

It was built between 1976 and 1985 and it generates approximately 15% of the country's power.

The dam's construction was very controversial and displaced many indigenous Maya Achi peoples. Government forced relocations resulted in the Río Negro massacres which claimed up to 5,000 lives between 1980 and 1982.


Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam bridge
Coordinates15°16′54″N 90°29′27″W / 15.281536°N 90.490952°W / 15.281536; -90.490952
Width12 m

Construction on the dam started in 1976, with funding from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Major redesign work was needed to address adjusted seismic criteria for the dam and tunnelling works, following the heavy 1976 earthquake. Additional costs were made to correct engineering errors, and to finance repairs to tunnel damage in the first year of operation, resulting in substantial over-budgeting.[1] From the US$372.7 million calculated costs in 1978,[2] the Chixoy project ended up costing US$944 million.[3]

The construction of the dam, and its reservoir, displaced several local communities with a total population of 3,445 people.[4] Community resettlement efforts were poorly handled by the consecutive military governments at the time. Subsequent popular protests and claims were met with extremely brutal repression by government forces, and culminated in what is known as the Río Negro Massacres.[5][6] Claims have not yet been settled 25 years after the hydro-electric plant went into operation.

Power plantEdit

The hydroelectricity plant has 5 x 60 MWe pelton turbines with an effective capacity of 275 MWe, which is approximately 15% of Guatemala's total electricity production (2006) and 60% of INDE's electricity production.[7] A 26 km long tunneling system with an elevation difference of 433 m, feeds the water to the plant's turbines.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Barbara Rose Johnston (2005). "Chixoy Dam Legacy Issues Study" (PDF). Center for Political Ecology. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2008. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ Worldbank - Regional Projects Department (1978). "Staff Appraisal Report Worldbank - Guatemala Chixoy Power Project, June 15, 1978" (PDF). Retrieved 2008. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ L. Álvarez (2008). "Advierten una filtración de agua en Chixoy". El Periódico. Retrieved 2008. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ George Ledec & Juan David Quintero (2003). "Good Dams and Bad Dams: Environmental Criteria for Site Selection of Hydroelectric Projects, November 2003". Latin America and Caribbean Region Sustainable Development Working Paper 16. The World Bank, Latin America and Caribbean Region (LCSES). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2008. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ Comisión de Esclarecimiento Histórico (CEH) (1999). "Guatemala: Memoria del silencio. Caso ilustrativo no. 10 - Masacre y eliminación de la comunidad de Río Negro".
  6. ^ United Nations Environment Programme - DDP Secretariat. "Chixoy dam". Dams and Development Project. Archived from the original on 2009-03-15. Retrieved 2008. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ INDE. "Comisión Nacional de Energía Eléctrica, Hidroeléctrica Chixoy".
  8. ^ INDE. "Hidroeléctrica chixoy".

External linksEdit