PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA
people and caused extensive flooding, soil erosion
and water-quality issues—
putting the $23 billion
megaproject in the crosshairs
of antagonistic stakeholders.
Not all hydroelectric
projects go wrong, of
course. But when they do,
they often remain mired
in the public consciousness—skewing public
opinion about future
can be avoided or at least
reduced through communication from the project
outset, says Tryggvi Jonsson, manager of marketing
and business development
at Mannvit, a global engineering firm in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Project sponsors should openly discuss
potential problems such as environmental disruption or breeches in the dam. “You’ve got
to lay everything on the table and be honest
about the benefits and the risks,” Mr. Jonsson
Stakeholders should also be educated on the
plans to mitigate those risks—whether or not
those risks actually become a reality.
“Honesty is the only way to build the trust
you need between the construction team and
the community,” he says.
“Dam projects are all about environmental
assessment,” Mr. Jonsson says. “But even when
a project passes all the assessments, there will
always be a part of the community that will be
A demonstration in Barcelona, Spain against HidroAysen’s Chilean dam project
MEET THEIR DEMANDS
Stakeholder protests can wreak havoc on the
project budget and schedule. In June, for
example, a Chilean court shut down a $7 billion
hydroelectric dam project in the Patagonian
wilderness in response to environmental-
ist opposition. A court of appeals ultimately
overturned the decision, but the project was
delayed three months.