The Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal, a Boost to the Sustainable Development of the Country's Environment
Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., Limited (HKND Group), the concessionaire of the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal Project, participated as one of the sponsors in the V National Recycling Forum of Nicaragua, held on November 27 and 28 in Managua, whose theme this year was “Environmental Management of Cities and Towns”.
On the occasion of this forum, which is an important mechanism to systematize the environmental management among public institutions and the sectors involved in comprehensive sustainable development, HKND Group highlighted the environmental management plans of the Nicaragua Canal Project, emphasizing its objective to contribute to the sustainable development of the important natural resources of the country, such as water and soil.
The President of the National Recycling Forum of Nicaragua, Kamilo Lara said, “We must all carry out the actions required to maintain the available natural capital in an adequate and appropriate way, and thereby achieve decent and quality living standards.” “Private companies play a very valuable role regarding the responsible consumption of natural resources,” he added.
Lara highlighted that HKND Group has been a responsible company with its valuable work carried out in the areas of environmental management and resources conservation in Nicaragua, and stressed that the company has been an active player in participating and organizing events to promote environmental protection.
Over 250 experts and representatives from private companies, universities, government institutions,
National Assembly, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, community and religious organizations,
among other sectors, participated actively in the forum.
Photograph: HKND Group
A Sustainable Future for Lake Nicaragua
Water is the most precious resource that will keep the competitive advantage of the Nicaragua Canal. Hence, it is mandatory to guarantee the sustainability of this resource. The construction of the Canal in Lake Nicaragua will not disturb the sediments to the extent possible in order to maintain water quality, and will be carried out in an environmental-friendly manner with suction dredges, avoiding using blasting.
The Canal will not affect the water levels of the Lake, since the design of the waterway and its locks ensures that there will be no net use of the Lake water for the Canal operation. The Canal will divert surplus water from the Punta Gorda basin, which currently flows into the country’s Caribbean coast, toward the west, to the Lake, and the design of the locks will save 60% of water usage.
It is worth noting that the Nicaragua Canal will help Lake Nicaragua reverse its deterioration and thus will represent an opportunity for its sustainable development. The Canal will provide water supply to compensate for the loss of Lake water caused by climate change. In addition, a second reservoir will be built in the east section of the Canal, at 80 meters above sea level, to ensure the stable water supply during extreme weather conditions, as well as for hydro-electric generation for the east lock and port of the project.
Likewise, to ensure and even increase water supply, a large scale reforestation will be carried out along the Canal. HKND Group will also cooperate with the Government of Nicaragua on reforestation programs around the Lake, to improve the water retention ability of the area, which at the same time will significantly reduce the sediment flowing to Lake Nicaragua.
Scientific Management of the Largest Civil Earthmoving Operation
The management of materials excavated during the Nicaragua Canal construction is also one of the most important issues of the project, given that this would be the largest civil earthmoving operation in history, with an excavation volume of approximately 5 billion cubic meters.
The excavation would include about 4 billion cubic meters of "dry” uplands materials (e.g., rock and soil), to be placed in approximately 22 excavated material placement areas (EMPAs) along the Canal. Each of these areas, being mainly deforested areas, has been located to reduce environmental and social impacts, such as avoiding primary rain forests, river courses and large inhabited communities. These areas would occupy 31,500 hectares, which will be restored and will become fertile land for agricultural and forestry purposes.
The project would also require dredging 1 billion cubic meters of marine and freshwater materials, including 715 million cubic meters of sediments from Lake Nicaragua, which also will be handled according to international best practices.
The fine surface sediments, which are expected to contain most contaminants, would be disposed of in two confined facilities in the Lake and on land at the eastern side of the Lake. An in-water confined disposal facility is an engineered structure surrounded by a dike or other structure that extends above the water surface, ultimately forming an island and creating an enclosed disposal area for the containment of dredged material, thus isolating the said material from adjacent waters. These islands would eventually become natural reserves especially for birds that migrate over Lake Nicaragua.
The coarser, deeper and cleaner sediments would be placed to the south side of the Canal in the Lake. Some of the dredged materials from the eastern portion of the Lake will be placed in an upland excavated material placement area on the land adjacent to the Lake.
HKND Group reaffirmed its commitment to achieve a Net Positive Impact with the Canal Project by minimizing the environmental and social impact as far as technically and financially feasible, and generating positive impact to compensate the negative effects.
The forum brought together more than 250 experts and representatives from private companies, universities, government institutions, National Assembly, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, community and religious organizations, among other sectors.
This activity was a valuable opportunity to address issues such as the responsible consumption of natural resources, waste management and recycling models, among others. The experts presented experiences, policies, regulations and solution proposals to existing problems, contributing to achieve Nicaragua's sustainable development.
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