Press Release

After two years of contingency, the Ituango hydroelectric project is progressing in its recovery

Bnamericas Published: Sunday, April 26, 2020

This EPM release was published using machine translation.

The protection of the communities located downstream of the dam, the care of the environment and the technical recovery of the work have been the priorities in the attention of the contingency in the Ituango hydroelectric project, which this Tuesday April 28 is two years old.

The General Manager of EPM, Álvaro Guillermo Rendón López, indicated that “in these two years of contingency our Company has not spared efforts or resources to reduce the risks of the populations located downstream of the Project and carry out one of the most important infrastructure works important in the country, which when fully operating will generate 2,400 megawatts of energy to meet the needs of more than eight million Colombian homes, in a contribution to their quality of life and development.”

Social and environmental progress

 The Specific Action Plan is the roadmap that to date has guided EPM's decisions and actions for the recovery of the ways and life conditions of the communities impacted by the contingency. These are the achievements and challenges:

Housing: 1,990 families from the township of Puerto Valdivia, in Bajo Cauca, Antioquia, have returned to their homes. EPM continues to provide financial support to the 265 family groups that have not yet returned to their homes. The delivery of these supports amounts to nearly $ 31,000 million.

Of the 74 families affected, 65 have signed contracts with EPM. To 27 the payment of the damages was made and they were offered guidance for the investment of the resources delivered, 10 families opted for direct purchase, 15 as tenants were paid for their belongings, rental fee and clothing kit The owners of these homes were paid for the properties. Additionally, with 13 productive infrastructures, agreements and payments have already been carried out, as well as the owners of two commercial premises.

Livelihoods: the recognition process continues for affecting formal and informal economic activities. To date, offer acceptance contracts have been signed with 280 merchants. EPM's priority is to move quickly in validating the claims of more than 1,200 merchants waiting to be recognized.

To strengthen the economy in the affected populations, EPM implemented social contracting, through Asocomunal, for projects and recovery works, worth close to $ 680 million.

Transport and accessibility: 70% is the repair of the El Doce bridge, located in the municipality of Tarazá. The El Turcó and Palestina bridges already have the definitive designs for their construction and EPM is still waiting for some environmental permits from Corantioquia to begin work.

Work on the Simón Bolívar bridge, in the Puerto Valdivia district, is 12% complete. However, they are suspended for lack of social guarantees. This pedestrian construction, 97 meters long and 3.07 meters wide, will be supported by a system of main cables, anchored on both banks of the Cauca River.

Health: For the construction of the health center and the community center of the municipality of Valdivia, EPM acquired a property in the sector known as Remolinos, located in the village of La América. The designs have already been socialized with community leaders and the municipal administration.

While the health center is built and begins to provide its service, EPM will continue to provide the basic manned ambulance service, available 24 hours a day, between the municipal seat of Valdivia and Puerto Valdivia, through a contract signed with the Red Cross-Sectional Antioquia. Additionally, in alliance with the University of Antioquia, training activities are carried out with the Local Committees for Epidemiological Surveillance to strengthen their capacity to attend to public health issues in Antioquia's Bajo Cauca.

Strengthening of risk management: 8,026 people have participated in 189 disaster risk management workshops that EPM, in coordination with the Red Cross-Sectional Antioquia, has given in the municipalities of Valdivia, Tarazá, Cáceres, Caucasia and Nechí, with in order for each locality to prepare and implement emergency and contingency plans for flood risk.

Education: improvements or maintenance were carried out in the Marco A. Rojo institution and in the rural educational centers Cachirimé, Buenos Aires Zorras, La Paulina, Nutabes, Puquí and Playa Rica. The designs for the primary headquarters of the Marco A. Rojo institution, which will be built on the grounds of the Remolinos sector near the health center and the community center, were also prepared.

Environment: EPM signed 15 agreements and / or contracts with universities and institutions with a recognized track record in environmental and social issues, to study and conserve the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of Bajo Cauca, Antioquia. These processes are long-term and start from the diagnosis of current conditions to implement the first actions this year.

Human rights: with the Regional Ombudsman and the municipal ombudsman offices, spaces for information, socialization and consultation with the communities affected by the contingency of the Project have been carried out, with due diligence and respect for human rights.

Technical advances and risk reduction

Cave complex: after repairing and enabling the main access tunnels to the power house and ventilation and evacuation, the pumping of the water that flooded the cave complex was completed. Once the site was accessible, the cleaning work began, including the removal of the main overhead crane and the damaged equipment. The diagnosis of the state of civil works identified the need to install new turnbuckles and bolts, as well as to change the coating of shotcrete.

At this time, the works focus on filling and repairing the gap that was found between catchments 1 and 2, which is already finished and is in final revision. The repair of the cave complex is 65% complete and daily monitoring of its structure reports 100% stability.

Dam: a bentonite screen was installed on the wall of the reservoir, between levels 380 meters above sea level (masl) and 418 masl, in order to waterproof the priority fill that was built during the contingency. The lifting of the dam wall continued until reaching 435 masl, the level required by the Project design.

With these works, the reservoir can operate properly even in the face of an increasing return period of 10,000 years. The current state of the dam allows control of the maximum possible risk from the future power generation plant, which is the passage of 22,500 m3 / s through the landfill, which would be the maximum flow that the Cauca River could bring in its history. With the recovery efforts, this risk has been mitigated to protect the safety of the communities located downstream.

In November 2019, the road was handed over to the communities on the crest of the dam, which allows mobility to and from the municipality of Ituango, in the North of Antioquia.

Diversion tunnel closure: the two gates of the auxiliary diversion tunnel were repaired and reinstalled. The assembly of both gates reduced the level of risk for the communities, since their structure is capable of withstanding the pressure of the reservoir at its maximum filling level.

The recovery efforts are focused today on the adequacy for the construction of a 23-meter-long concrete plug, which allows the gallery to be sealed. In the right diversion tunnel, where the contingency originated, a pre-stopper is built to enable safe advancement in the final stopper.

The intermediate discharge tunnel is reinforced in its structure to increase its hydraulic capacity. From this tunnel, work is carried out on the pretamping of the right diversion tunnel. On another construction site, fillings and repairs are carried out in the gap between catchments 1 and 2.

Landfill: the landfill works are finished and its operation is normal and stable, which constitutes a good guarantee for the communities located downstream, because it prevents possible sudden floods from being generated in winter.

EPM Technical Monitoring Center: staffed by expert personnel who monitor the main civil works fronts and the rocky massif, operates 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year. With the special devices installed, close to 650 geotechnical, seismic, hydrological, hydraulic and climatological variables, among others, are monitored and reviewed. The permanent monitoring of the works of the reservoir allows timely decision-making to mitigate risks. Today there are two rooms: one located in the Tacuí camp and the other in the EPM Building in Medellín.

The General Manager of EPM, Álvaro Guillermo Rendón López, said that “these milestones have been possible thanks to the commitment of our officials and contractors, the expert council, the permanent support of the local, departmental and national authorities and, above all, to the articulated and permanent work with the communities and their leaders. To all of them, our eternal thanks.

EPM is aware that the works to mitigate risks in the Project must continue, even in times of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the measures of mandatory preventive isolation. For this reason, the Ituango hydroelectric project has implemented a protocol for prevention, containment, mitigation and a care route -articulated with municipal authorities, regional health secretariats and the provisions of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Colombia- to protect the health of contractors, officials and the communities of the municipalities of the area of influence in the North of Antioquia and Bajo Cauca, as well as the places of origin of the workers.

Related multimedia content

Álvaro Guillermo Rendón López, General Manager of EPM

Audio. Download link:

Video. Download link:

Declarations William Giraldo Jiménez,

Vice President of Power Generation Projects EPM

Audios. Technical advances. Download link:

Videos. Coronavirus measurements (COVID-19). Download link:

Other supporting statements and images on video

Environmental management. Declarations Ana Milena Joya Camacho,

Environmental and Social Manager Projects and Engineering EPM.

Download link:

Róbinson Miranda Statements,

Environmental, Social and Sustainability Director of the Ituango hydroelectric project.

Social management. Download link:

Environmental management. Download link:

Territory management. Declarations Isabel Cristina Correa Tamayo,

Territory Management Director of the Ituango hydroelectric project.

Download link:


Reel works Project.

Download link:


General Manager of EPM, Álvaro Guillermo Rendón López.

Download link:

So is the Project today.

Download link:

Historical images of the contingency.

Download link:

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