Sunday, 9 November 2008

Initiatives on water conservation in Brazil

By Jaqueline B. Ramos

Articles published at OOSKAnews report - Latin America issues -

October, 21, 2008
Water Use Charges in Paraíba do Sul Basin to Reach $4.5 Million in 2008


The charge for the use of water in the Paraíba do Sul hydrographic basin must reach, by the end of 2008, a total tax of $4,5 million USD.

The prediction was announced by the Agency of Paraíba do Sul hydrographic basin and the Water National Agency, the regulatory agency of the Brazilian Government.
Since the beginning of the charging process, in 2003, it has raised the sum of $17 million USD. From 2004 to 2007 the money raised was invested in the basin area as follows: 78 percent in structural projects (construction of water treatment stations, residual treatment), 15 percent in planning projects and 6 percent in management projects, which includes campaigns and environmental education programs.

Photo: Paraíba do Sul river in São José dos Campos, São Paulo countryside
According to Hendrik Mansur, AGEVAP’s management coordinator, in 2008 the strategy for the use of the money raised was different, with only 34 percent being invested in structural projects.

“The basin committee, which decides the best investment strategy, believes that from now on it should have more effort to use the money in projects that could lead to new ways of raising more funds to the recuperation of the river,” explained Mansur.

Paraíba do Sul is one of the most important rivers in Brazil and it is located between the two largest Brazilian cities: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

It crosses along 1.12 kilometers through a region with high population density and great concentration of industrial activities. The whole hydrographic basin comprehends three states in the southeast – Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Minas Gerais.

The charge for the use of water in Paraíba do Sul basin was the first one implemented in the country.

October, 28, 2008
Satellites Used for Water Quality Control Support Environmental Inspecting in Paraíba do Sul River


A project developed together by Cetesb (Environmental Sanitation Technology Company of São Paulo), Inpe (National Spatial Research Institute) and the Committee of Paraíba do Sul hydrographic basin – São Paulo is proving to be of great importance to the environmental inspecting work in one of the most important Brazilian rivers.

Paraíba do Sul River crosses one of the main industrial poles of the country, in São Paulo state, and is also very important to the industrial cities of Rio de Janeiro state, like Volta Redonda and Resende. Project “Stations Net for Data Collection of the Quality of the Water of Paraíba do Sul River – São Paulo area” consists of a data collection system operated via satellites, called PCD.
The stations collect water samples every 10 minutes at three different points – in the future there will be seven stations – and generate measurements every three hours.

The objective is to monitor and control the quality of the water measuring parameters of precipitation, river level, flow, acidity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen, among other information.

“The data and measurements achieved with this technology help us to identify if there is anything abnormal in the quality of the water’s status. If it is the case, we open an investigation process to check, for instance, if there has been any release of prohibited effluents,” affirmed manager and technical coordinator of the project Mario Luiz Alves of Cetesb.

Alves explained that Cetesb has deep knowledge about the river, as monitoring devices have been developed for more than 10 years. Therefore, the company knows the normal parameter ranges of the river. Any number out of this range is considered to be an alert.

“This advanced technology allows us to know what is happening almost in real time. As a result, it is possible to fulfill a more effective environmental inspection work in the river,” said Alves.
The project is the first of its kind to be implemented at the basin and to use such high technology. As a result it has been selected as one of the 18 final competitors of Water National Agency (ANA, in Portuguese) Prize 2008, whose winners will be announced in December. The project has a five-year contract to develop activities till 2010 with an anticipated extension.

November, 4, 2008
Water Quality Improved Through Seedling Plantings


Forty thousand seedlings of native Atlantic forest trees have been planted in 35 nascents located in brooks near the Paraiba do Sul River in São José dos Campos located in the countryside some 90 kilometers from São Paulo, with a population of 500,000, is part of a pioneering project in Brazil.

Photo: planting of seedlings in one of the nascents

Called “Revitalization of Nascents,” it was created and developed by the local Environment
Secretary for the city in 2006. The project involved planting of native plant seedlings in an area of 50 meters around the location of the nascent, which leads to an average of 1,500 seedlings planted at each point.

After the planting phase, a team of specialized professionals visits each point regularly
to inspect and maintain the growing trees for a minimum of two years. This should guarantee the conservation of the new young forest that will ultimately be responsible for a good quantity and quality of the waters that spring from the ground and form the Paraíba do Sul River.
“In almost two years of activities we had lost only one nascent, because of arson, and we are able to check that some of these 35 nascents already present a rise in the quantity of the water. We considered this an excellent result and we are also very satisfied that we already promote planting activities in all the regions of the city,” said Andrea Sundfeld, the project coordinator
and environmental education consultant of the secretary.

From the 35 nascents that are monitored by the project, five were “adopted” by companies
of the region, which became partners and are in charge of the planting and conservation
of their nascent points. Among these companies is Embraer (Brazilian Aeronautical
Company), whose main plant is located in São José dos Campos.

Apart from the planting of seedlings, the project also develops environmental education
activities. These involve students, community leaders and residents from areas where the nascents are located, in hopes that they will become partners and continue the project.

By the end of 2007, 7,000 children had participated of the project’s activities, including
the ones in the field. Currently, the Environment Secretary is about to start the third phase of the project, which involves owners of private lands that have nascents on their property.

For the results achieved since 2006, this pioneering initiative was recognized by the National Water Agency (ANA) and the project is one of the final competitors of the ANA Prize 2008. Results of that competition will be announced in a month.

“It’s important to point out that the revitalization of the nascents does not consist only of the conservation of water resources. We are also contributing to recuperation and protection of biodiversity and the improvement of air quality, not to mention the contribution to control global warming,” explained Sundfeld.