• January 2015
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec   Feb »
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • Pages

  • Marginalia

  • Accumulations

Well, Well, Well | The Aquifer Underground

640px-Aquifer_en.svg

Note: this post is still suffering from a problem I am having with WordPress image insertion, as near as I can figure.

Source: Diarioweb.com.br

Topic: Black-market artesian wells and the pending water crisis

Neighbors here in São Paulo are already chatting over the back fences about how long it will take before we start receiving our water from caminhões-pipa — tanker trucks that carry treated water to the neighbourhoods subjected to rationing.

Viomundo offers a lengthy and informative interview with an expert in the field, while the Web site of a modest but remarkably informative regional newspaper in Rio Preto, São Paulo, a small city in the interior, dedicates reams of virtual pages to the topic.

Both deserve kudos for dredging up information on an aspect of the black-market economy — that I had never thought of before. Electricity, gas, pay TV, transport, yes, but according to our expert, water for the tap is an enormous black market. Another instance of entrepreneurial spirit among the poor, as celebrated by the neocon Hernando de Soto.

Let us allow the journalists set the scene, and then hear from the expert.

Ninety Percent

It is a Swiss cheese. That is how we might describe the Bauru and Guarani aquifers, the principal subterranean watercourses serving Rio Preto and the regions.

Most of the 6,000 artesian wells drilled in the regions — 88,3% — are not registered with the local water and power authority (DAEE) Departamento de Águas e Energia Elétrica (Daee). This report by the Diário da Região discovered how easy it is to order a clandestine operation. Indiscriminate drilling in this form of water supply, popularly known as artesian wells (the difference lies in the depth and the form of capture) compromises the quality of the water supply on account of chemical contamination seeping through the soil.

The DAEE office in Rio Preto estimates that 90% of the city’s wells are clandestine. The same percentage applies to the Votuporanga, Fernandópolis, Jales and Santa Fé do Sul regions. In Rio Preto, of the 3,500 existing wells, according to DAEE, only 400 are registered, which means they were drilled up to the standards set by Law 7,663/91.

The Drill Teams Flourish

IHU –What has been the cause of the digging of black-market wells in São Paulo state? Is it possible to estimate the percentage of wells dug because of the current water crisis?

Reginaldo Bertolo – São Paulo state is not the only place where the digging of irregular wells is happening, but the need is nationwide and more critical than in São Paulo. The Brazilian Association of Subterranean Water (ABAS) estimates that only 10% of wells being buil are properly licensed in Brazil. In São Paulo, that figure is larger, estimated at some 30%.

The principal cause is that informal construction is cheaper. It demands less time to get started and it is less bureaucratic to dig an unregistered well. Besides, the user sees no advantage in registering the well, because there is no answering gesture, such as water services, by the State. The state should serve to discipline the use of subterranean to guarantee a quantity and quality of water supply in the long term for users of the well.

It is difficult to estimate the number of irregular wells dug in response to the water crisis. One can observe, however …

Viomundo offers a lengthy and informative interview with an expert in the field, while the Web site of a modest but remarkably informative regional newspaper in RioPreto, São Paulo, a small city in the interior, dedicates reams of virtual pages to the topic.Both deserve kudos for dredging up information on an aspect of the black-market economy — that I had never thought of before. Another instance of entrepreneurial spirit among the poor, as celebrated by the neocon Hernando de Soto.

Let us allow the journalists set the scene, and then hear from the expert.

Ninety Percent

It is a Swiss cheese. That is how we might describe the Bauru and Guarani aquifers, the principal subterranean watercourses serving Rio Preto and the regions.

Most of the 6,000 artesian wells drilled in the regions — 88,3% — are not registered with the local water and power authority (DAEE) Departamento de Águas e Energia Elétrica (Daee). This report by the Diário da Região discovered how easy it is to order a clandestine operation. Indiscriminate drilling in this form of water supply, popularly known as artesian wells (the difference lies in the depth and the form of capture) compromises the quality of the water supply on account of chemical contamination seeping through the soil.

The DAEE office in Rio Preto estimates that 90% of the city’s wells are clandestine. The same percentage applies to the Votuporanga, Fernandópolis, Jales and Santa Fé do Sul regions. In Rio Preto, of the 3,500 existing wells, according to DAEE, only 400 are registered, which means they were drilled up to the standards set by Law 7,663/91.

Drill Teams Flourish on the Down Low

IHU –What has been the cause of the digging of black-market wells in São Paulo state? Is it possible to estimate the percentage of wells dug because of the current water crisis?

Reginaldo Bertolo – São Paulo state is not the only place where the digging of irregular wells is happening, but the need is nationwide and more critical than in São Paulo. The Brazilian Association of Subterranean Water (ABAS) estimates that only 10% of wells being buil are properly licensed in Brazil. In São Paulo, that figure is larger, estimated at some 30%.

The principal cause is that informal construction is cheaper. It demands less time to get started and it is less bureaucratic to dig an unregistered well. Besides, the user sees no advantage in registering the well, because there is no answering gesture, such as water services, by the State. The state should serve to discipline the use of subterranean to guarantee a quantity and quality of water supply in the long term for users of the well.

It is difficult to estimate the number of irregular wells dug in response to the water crisis. One can observe, however, that the number must be a significant one. Drilling companies are experiencing growing demand for construction of new wells with 10% to 200% of the capacity during normal times.

IHU On-Line – How does the digging of unlicensed wells affect subterranean water supplies?

Reginaldo Bertolo – It is imposable to engage in any planning for the rational use of subterranean hydric resources if we do not know where the wells are and how much they draw from the aquifers. Areas where wells are densely distributed represent over-exploitation of the aquifers. And it is impossible to avoid the emergence of the type of area where the number of wells remains unknown. Not only that, the irregular wells are often built without respect for …

IHU –What has been the cause of the digging of black-market wells in São Paulo state? Is it possible to estimate the percentage of wells dug because of the current water crisis?

Reginaldo Bertolo – São Paulo state is not the only place where the digging of irregular wells is happening, but the need is nationwide and more critical than in São Paulo. The Brazilian Association of Subterranean Water (ABAS) estimates that only 10% of wells being buil are properly licensed in Brazil. In São Paulo, that figure is larger, estimated at some 30%.

The principal cause is that informal construction is cheaper. It demands less time to get started and it is less bureaucratic to dig an unregistered well. Besides, the user sees no advantage in registering the well, because there is no answering gesture, such as water services, by the State. The state should serve to discipline the use of subterranean to guarantee a quantity and quality of water supply in the long term for users of the well.

It is difficult to estimate the number of irregular wells dug in response to the water crisis. One can observe, however, that the number must be a significant one. Drilling companies are experiencing growing demand for construction of new wells with 10% to 200% of the capacity during normal times.

IHU On-Line – How does the digging of unlicensed wells affect subterranean water supplies?

Reginaldo Bertolo – It is imposible to engage in any planning for the rational use of subterranean hydric resources if we do not know where the wells are and how much they draw from the aquifers. Areas where wells are densely distributed represent over-exploitation of the aquifers. And it is impossible to avoid the emergence of the type of area where the number of wells remains unknown. Not only that, the irregular wells are often built without respect for technical specifications (this is why they are cheaper), and can extract water from shallow reservoirs of inferior quality, increasing the likelihood that the water supplied is not potable. This presents risks to to the health of well users.

IHU On-Line – How is the quality of subterranean water managed? And what more remains to be done in this area?

Reginaldo Bertolo – Normally, for the purposes of the public water supply, the concessionaires are obliged by law (Order 2.914 of the Ministry of Health) to run chemical tests for potability of water used in the distribution system and take steps to correct any problems of potability that might be found. In parallel fashion, the state secretaries of the environment are responsible for managing contaminated areas in their home state, which favors the identification of areas with a more significant risk of contaminated aquifers. In São Paulo state, CETESB (the State Environmental Company) carries out a systematic inspection of water quality in a network of some 300 wells. The Geologic Service of Brazil is initiating a similar service on the federal level. But this network is small and needs expansion.

IHU On-Line – Federal law determines that an artesian well can only be drilled with the authorization of the body that regulates water resources. In each state, however, there are different agencies performing this task, and many states have differing legislation. Does this legislative confusion contribute to the digging of illegal wells? What would an ideal legislation look like?

Reginaldo Bertolo – The concession affording the use of subterranean water is performed by agencies of each state. The concession affording the use of superficial water depends on the extent of the basin: If it lies completely within the borders of a given state, then the confession is granted by the state. If the river is divided among various states, then the National Water Agency (ANA) is the issuer of the concession. I don’t see this as contributing to the digging of irregular wells …

Advertisements