Historic low flow of Amazon’s main tributary

São Paulo, Oct. 16 (EFE) – The Negro River, the main tributary of the left bank of the Amazon, registered a flow of 13.59 meters on Monday, the lowest since records began in 1902, the Manaus harbor in northern Brazil reported.

The river, which stretches 1,700 kilometers through Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil, broke its previous record of 13.63 meters, set in June 2010 in the midst of one of the worst droughts in memory in the Amazon region.

Since the beginning of July, the flow of the Negro, named for the dark color of its waters, has decreased from 28 meters to 14.4 meters.

The decrease in the flow of the rivers that make up the Amazon basin has complicated the navigation of the cargo ships on which the region depends to import and export goods.

The Brazilian Association of Coastal Shipowners is alarmed, predicting that this year’s drought will prevent the transport of 50% of goods and that “in the worst case scenario” navigation will be impossible.

The problem of low water levels has been on the increase for the past 10 years, which is why the authorities imposed restrictions of up to 50% on river navigation between October and November 2022.

Manaus is home to Brazil’s second-largest port by cargo volume and is essential for transporting raw materials mined in the region, as well as household appliances and chemicals manufactured around the regional capital.

The government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva pledged two weeks ago to invest 138 million reais (about 27 million dollars / 25 million euros) in drainage work on the Madeira and Solimões rivers to improve navigation, as well as aid to fight the fires that are multiplying in the region.

The combination of high temperatures, linked to the El Niño phenomenon, and low flows in the Amazon’s tributaries caused the deaths of more than 140 dolphins from two endangered species between September and October.

In June, July and August, Manaus recorded 131 millimeters of rain, compared to a historical average for that quarter of 202 millimeters, according to the National Institute of Meteorology.EFE jmc/mcd

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