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Opening of the three chutes breaks visitation record
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The opening of the three spillway chutes at the Itaipu hydroelectric power plant, on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, drew a record crowd to the plant. By 5 pm on Sunday, 22, more than 10,000 people visited the attraction. The flow of the 14 floodgates rose to 11,000 cubic meters of water per second, equivalent to the average volume of eight Iguaçu Falls. This is excess water, that is, it cannot be used to generate electricity, as the reservoir is at its maximum level.
On both side of the attraction, in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, and in Hernandarias, Paraguay, locals and tourists from the four corners of the globe packed the two spillway observatories to witness the spectacular discharge.
Armed with cameras, smart phones and selfie sticks, everyone jostled to find the best spot to ensure the perfect angle, but what really mattered was getting in the shot.
Local turnout
According to the Visitor Reception Center on the Brazilian side of the plant, 6,251 people took the tour. To meet the needs of such a huge flow, extra buses were put in operation. Demand outweighed positive expectations, though. According to the superintendent of Social Communication, Mr. Gilmar Piolla, who also presides over Fundo Iguaçu, the surprising turnout this Sunday shows just how close the relationship between Itaipu and the region has become.
"At each event, locals have been visiting in huge numbers. We arranged special logistics to cater to tourists and residents from Foz and the surrounding region. More than 25 buses were put in circuit to fetch and carry people to and from the Visitor Reception Center and the spillway".
Revived excitement
Retiree Ivo Santos, who worked at the plant for 35 years and first saw the spillway open in 1982, insisted on bringing the whole family to watch the discharge with the three chutes open. Accompanied by his wife, Cristina, daughter, Keila, son-in-law, Fábio, and his little grandson, Pedro Otávio, he relived a little of times gone by.
"It's like stepping back in time. Back then, I was working and it was really impressive, seeing the discharge. Today, I'm here with my family, and it's a little different, but Itaipu is always outstanding, even more so when you get an opportunity like this. It's something you've got to see", said Ivo.  His daughter said: "It's wonderful to be here with my father, who worked at this company for so many years. We had already visited here before, but we had never had the luck to see the three chutes open. It's incredible". Mrs. Santos summed up, saying: "I simply love Itaipu".
Much more beautiful being here
Dental surgeon Luciana Mattias, from Foz do Iguaçu,  heard that Itaipu would be opening three chutes of the spillway on the company's fan page. It was an invitation she couldn't refuse. Accompanied by her daughter, Amanda, she to see the show and was swept away. "I thought this was a unique opportunity. I didn't want to miss it and it really was worthwhile." Amanda commented: "I couldn't believe the force of the water. It's so much different close up than when watching on TV or in a photo. It's much more beautiful being here".
Broker Rudinei Carboni, his wife, Vilma, and God-son Samuel, also took advantage of the Sunday action at the spillway to enjoy an outing with the family.  They had never visited the plant during the day – having previously only attended an evening event. They were astounded by the spectacular water show. They set aside the date as soon as they heard the spillway would have three gates open. They were forced to cancel other commitments, but it was well worth it. "You never know when this will happen again. The best idea is to see it now", said Vilma. The trio simply adored the tour.
German tourist Annelie Heyn, visiting Brazil for the first time, is enchanted by the country. "I just couldn't be happier! Besides very welcoming people, I've had the luck to visit Itaipu at a very rare moment. It's wonderful. I'm going to recommend this trip to everyone back home", she said.
Itaipu opened the three chutes this Sunday as part of operational tests. The discharge began at 10 am and continued to a little after 2 pm. Maximum discharge flow hit 11,158 m3 of water per second, in the morning. Discharge will continue through at least one chute for the week ahead.
Itaipu Tourism
The Itaipu plant is an amazing attraction on its own, and a trip worth taking anytime of year.  More information is available at: