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The Spawning Channel
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The Itaipu dam no longer represents a major obstacle to fish migration on the Paraná River. Since December 2002 a man-made waterway connects the reservoir to the river, downstream from the power plant.

At 10 km long, the Spawning Channel allows migrating fish to reach reproduction and nursery areas upstream from the power plant during the spawning period and swim back in the fall and winter, the time of trophic migration to feeding areas. The connection is essential for biodiversity preservation.

The Spawning Channel uses a stretch of the Bela Vista River bed to overcome the average 120 meter difference in level existing between the Paraná River and the reservoir surface. The mouth of the Bela Vista River is 2.5 km below the site of the dam.

Rapids are interspersed with lagoons that work as resting areas for fish swimming upstream toward the dam. The lagoons allow species, whether migrating or not, to feed and take a break.

The construction of the Spawning Channel was preceded by a study called “The ichthyofauna found on the Bela Vista River”, which evaluated whether the stream would support the migration of species from the Paraná River.

Itaipu studies fish migration on the Paraná River in collaboration with the Unioeste Research Group on Fishing Resources and Limnology (Grupo de Pesquisas em Recursos Pesqueiros e Limnologia da Unioeste - Gerpel), the Yaciretá binational hydroelectric power plant (Argentina and Paraguay) and the Porto Primavera power plant (on the São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul border).

The joint effort enables the companies to monitor species dispersion along 1,000 km on the Paraná River and its tributaries, providing information on migratory cycles and helping implement environmental impact reduction procedures.

Itaipu also monitors fish population on the Spawning Channel in collaboration with the State University of Maringá (UEM) and the State University of Western Paraná (Unioeste).

Until August 2006, the Spawning Channel had been used by approximately 130 migrating and non-migrating species, an amount equivalent to nearly 70% of the fish species known in the area.

The behavior of large-size species like dourados, pacus, curimbas, jaús and surubins is monitored via implanted radio transmitters. Signals are received by five radio reception stations located along the Spawning Channel and designed to store dispersion information regarding the animals fitted with the equipment.

The results show that the Spawning Channel is used both for upstream migration towards the reservoir as well as downstream migration towards the Paraná River. There are records of animals tracked by Itaipu which have migrated 625 km up to the artificial lake at the Porto Primavera power plant.

Conceived as a genuine life line, the Spawning Channel has yet another purpose: the promotion of sports. A section of rapids called the Itaipu Channel is used for the practice of competitive water sports like rafting and slalom kayaking.

With length of 430 m and drop of 7.2 m, the Itaipu Channel was designed to generate the rough conditions typical of wild waters, when required, and to maintain its conversion at all possible flows, which range from 5 m³/s to 12 m³/s.

It has natural (boulders) and man-made obstacles for competitions, thus allowing currents to be modulated.

"Com 10 km de extensão, Canal da Piracema é um autêntico elo da vida"
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