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Alckmin PAC Man | The Thirsty State of São Paulo


Source: Rede Brasil Atual

Brasília – The state secretary of Sanitation and Water Resources of São Paulo, Benedito Braga, announced today (January 17) in Brasilia that work on the interconnection of the Cantareira System with the Rio Paraíba do Sul System is due to begin this month. After a meeting with representatives of the National Water Agency (ANA) and the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, Braga says the meeting was “cordial” and focused on “technical data.”.

“Work is under way on the connector. Governor Alckmin met last month with President Dilma [Rousseff] and the two reached agreement on the financing and collocation of one of the key public works of the [federal] Growth Acceleration Program  [PAC]. Now, these works will begin very soon, by the end of the current month or early next month,” said Braga.

The meeting also dealt with the water security of the Rio Paraíba do Sul basin. The secretary emphasized that in the course of the technical discussions, a resolution with concrete provisions will be produced. Before taking effect, the document will be debated with civil society in the forum of the Hydrographic Commission of the Rio Paraíba do Sul.

According to Braga, the interconnection process will not interfere with the water supply of Rio de Janeiro and should be functional by March of next year. “I do not understand why [some are calling it] [a stop-gap measure], That is absolutely not the case.

I am unsure of how to translate the rubricated phrase: cobertor curto

The idea is to increase water security in the Rio Paraíba do Sul watershed. That is, we are going to store water in reservoirs to provide Rio with water security. We will interconnect the Rio Jaguari Basins with the Cantareira System so that São Paulo will also have water security. There is no conflict whatsoever,” said Braga. “What we have is cooperation, an interest in working together,” he added.

Where did I read that Rio and São Paulo will merge into one gigantic megalopolis by the 2040s or so?

Along with the interconnection a new reservoir will be built that will pump water to the Cantareira System. The project, proposed by Alckmin last year, provides for a channel linking the Atibainha dams, which form part of the system that supplies the São Paulo metro arera, and the  Jaguari reservoir, a tributary of the Paraíba do Sul River, the principal source of water for Rio de Janeiro and part of Minas Gerais.

The idea, according to the plan proposed by the state, is to build a “two-way” system. This means that when one of two reservoirs is overfilled, the excess volume is sent to another dam. Rio de Janeiro, however, has resisted the plan, given that two-thirds of the water in the Rio Paraíba do Sul Basin are siphoned off to supply the Rio metro area. The Rio, with headwaters in São Paulo and flowing through Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, contributes to the water supply of 15 million persons along the way.

While the interconnection is under construction, the São Paulo sanitation and water secretary says, the state will invest in the construction of sewage treatment facilities. “In that area the situation is quite complicated, we have some alternatives in the area of sewage reclamation — a task that could be added to the reservoirs. These will take less time to build, but will require at least six months.”

State-Federal Cooperation

To confront the water crisis in the São Paulo metro area, Governor Geraldo Alckmin apresentou à presidenta Dilma Rousseff (on November 10, 2014) a list of  eight public works calling for an investment of R$3.5 billion.

The list was presenting during a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia. Participating were cabinet ministers Miriam Belchior (Planning) and Izabella Teixeira (Environment), as well as the president of the National Water Agency (ANA), Vicente Andreu.

Miriam Belchior said, during a subsequent press conference, that the federal government is concerned by the situation in São Paulo and is inclined to help. To that end, a working group was created consisting of state and federal representatives, with its first meeting scheduled for November 17, to study the problem.

“The state government created a metropolitan plan that identified all the works that needing building to guarantee the water supply from now until 2035. What the governor brought with him today is a small part of this overall plan, involving only projects needed on an emergency basis,” said Miriam.

The minister explained that in October 2013,  São Paulo concluded, behind schedule, a strategic plan, financed with federal funds, that lists the interventions needed to guarantee the water supply in the greater São Paulo metro area until 2035. “But this is the first time the São Paulo government presented a set of works projects, some of which are already contemplated by the federal growth acceleration program (PAC),” she said.

The PAC 2 program is currently working on 434 water-related projects nationwide.

The political spin here is not that hard to follow: Miriam puts the onus on Alckmin for neglecting the issue and then trying to take credit for management of the problem. The appetite of the establishment newspapers for factoids supporting the contention that PAC has failed makes the issue difficult to track.

The  PAC, meanwhile, is reasonably transparent — here is the basic data on a project involving the Cantareira System — and, we hope, aspires to be corruption-free.  According to the program site, it includes 6,149 sanitation projects.