Bereciartúa stated that “The transparency requirements have been met and so has the professional capacity needed for these types of jobs.”
“We believe that it is correct for the Tambolar dam to be carried out to its completion,” said the secretary of Water Infrastructure for the Nation, Pablo Bereciartúa, questioned by Diario de Cuyo about the government from La Pampa taking the case to the National Supreme Court. Taking a cautionary action, the government from La Pampa asked that the highest court in the country stop the construction of the dam in San Juan with the argument that the San Juan river crosses provincial borders, and is a part of the Desaguadero Basin, which feeds the water resources of that area.
According to the national official, there are two arguments that support the continuance of the project. The first is that the “San Juan river is already regulated; decisions have already been taken.” Here the reference is to the fact that Tambolar is the 4th dam to be constructed over the river, and others are already present downstream—Caracoles, Punta Negra and Ullum. The other argument is that “Tambolar is a project that is already under construction and that the part being tendered off is the last part of the dam.” He added that “We aren’t talking about a new project, but rather one that is already underway.”
Support from the national secretary took place last Thursday in an event that was headed by governor Sergio Uñac, an envelope opening for economic bids for the 3 companies that remain in
the bidding. With a strong presence of signatures from national figures, this is a major key to adding points towards determining the winner and who will continue with the work—the official goal is to start work in the next 45 days, and have everything finished up by 2024. The project has an official budget of 748 million dollars plus VAT, and will divided into stages. The first, which finished in July of last year, had a cost of around 70 million dollars. It included the diversion of the river, tunnel construction, formation of the surge tank area, and the work-site offices and structures. Now the 2nd stage is being transitioned into, which includes the dam, headrace tunnel, spillway, power house, and a power line to carry generated energy.
This is not the first time that La Pampa has a dam from San Juan to the supreme court, as it understands the borders for water resources and their jurisdiction. Before there had been lawsuits against only the Country itself. La Pampa presented lawsuits against the reservoirs of Los Caracoles, Punta Negra, Ullum and also for Cuesta del Viento. None of those cases received attention from the national authorities. This time however, the supreme court has issued a memo saying that they will intervene in the situation.
According to the governor of La Pampa, the supreme court’s reaction was “strong support on behalf of the government.” However, Jorge Alvo, a lawyer from San Juan, assured that the lawsuit “has no implications whatsoever.”
“This is not a fault. Rather, it is merely a resolution put forward by the Court, which assumes the role of competency with regards to the lawsuit from La Pampa, which has been filed as a protective measure. This situation requires lots of debate, and a large-range of tests, which is not “a protective measure,” but rather should be filed as a regular lawsuit,” explained Alvo.
The lawsuit filed by La Pampa was done so last October and involved not only San Juan, but also the National Government. The idea that the government of La Pampa was trying to carry out was explained by the Attorney General of La Pampa, Pérez Araujo, in statements made to a local newspaper called La Arena—the idea was to “solicit a cautionary measure by means of the court to paralyze the project and all of the paperwork in relation to it being carried out.” Until now they have been complying with a series of requirements demanded by the national government. The filer made reference to the law of the Natural Environment (General de Ambiente), the Regulation of Management of Natural Water Resources (Régimen de Gestión Ambiental de Aguas), and that
which is regulated by the law of Water Works (Obras Hidráulicas), which sets out that it is necessary to have public audiences in the provinces and an evaluation of environmental impact for the project that affects more than one jurisdiction.
What complicates the situation is that the authorities from La Pampa understand the San Juan river to make up part of the Desaguadero Basin and feed vital nutrients into the Salado river, just as the Atuel river does that comes from Mendoza. La Pampa started lawsuit proceedings in a similar situation against a neighboring province that had a favorable decision in the supreme court: Mendoza had to ensure that the minimal flow coming from the river was enough to maintain the ecosystem of La Pampa. They are demanding that the same happen from San Juan.
Regarding the decision of the supreme court, Bereciatpua said that “I want to express my respect for the decision of the court. But I feel calm about the decision that we have taken with respects to the dam being carried out.”
“The Great San Juan Aqueduct will guarantee that the members of the province will have potable water for the next decades with financing coming 50% from the national government, in line with the fixed priorities of President Macri.”
“There is a plan of action in which the national government will generate employment for Argentines and show a long-term vision because public works are being created not for the next elections, but rather for the next decades.”
“We will continue to work on projects that aim at the generation of work positions on a national level because we believe that it is necessary to generate real resources for development—and so that regional economies, like that of San Juan, can grow.”