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The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio

Boundaries & Fights For Water In Rio de Janeiro

Bernard Asagai

Urban Planning Fundamentals SUS 561 Professor Paul Schultz Marylhurst University February 27, 2011


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio

Location: Rio de Janeiro System Choice: Water Abstract Water access is absolutely necessary for all economic and social strata within the city of Rio de Janeiro if it is going to attain its goal of being a model city and model economy. One of the instruments to measure if the city is on track for attaining many of its internal goals will be if all of its residents have access to water. This includes, but is not limited to, water for the consumption of humans, animals, regional ecologies, and uses of water for energy production. It also includes, methods for water conservation, water protection, and methods to clean and recapture contaminated and polluted water within the city. Introduction Urban growth in any city does not happen without the resource of water. Water is a vital resource for maintaining health within the public sector, production and expansion of goods and services within capital markets, and water is also a vital resource which allows populations to live in close proximity in order to achieve maximum density ratings with in given areas. In seeking to live more sustainable lives, such goals can only take place in the presence of water. Rio de Janeiro is surrounded by water, but it’s access is extremely political and forces ranging from formal political actors, to in-formal actors which are represented in the form of neighborhood gangs and corrupt police officials, all have a role to play when accessing basic resources such as that a water. Other areas which play a major role in the access to water is the water basin itself, which stretches from the Amazon regions at the top of Brazil, all the way to the southern regions below Rio de Janeiro. Water is not only used for population consumption, but also for farming the world’s largest producer of beef, the world’s largest producer of soy beans, one of the world’s largest producers of sugarcane for sugar production, as well as the production of ethanol. Finally, water also has a role to play in the explosion of market rate housing production that is currently occurring in Rio de Janeiro as well as in other sectors of the country as well. The continued production, conservation, and responsible


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio consumption of water are indispensably linked to the continued success of the region of Rio de Janeiro and the country of Brazil itself. Sadly though, access to it is not attainable by all, and there are many within the state, city, and the country as a whole that are suffering due to the competition for and ownership of the resource. Rio de Janeiro Water and Boundaries At least a third of the city lives in poverty and this reality reveals itself as water makes its way down the watershed that supplies the city with it’s water. Water is seen not only as a resource to supply the basic needs of a growing and expanding society, but is also seen as a method by many to gain a quick buck! In order to ensure that the local watersheds continue to produce fresh and clean water for the city of Rio de Janeiro, farmers and landowners who line the route that the watershed takes as it moves its way down to supply the city with water, financial incentive programs have been produced to supply them with financial support for ensuring that they take positive actions to keep the water clean as it makes its way down. (Harrington, C.) Many of Brazil’s cities are expanding, and are seeing record growth. As cities such as Rio de Janeiro continue to receive new residents from various rural and farming communities, more stresses are placed upon the residents that move upon the path that is taken as the water makes its way down to the city. Energy production via electricity dominates this subject and represents an enormous political boundary for every level of government within the country and has enormous ramifications that will decide if the city of Rio de Janeiro has the energy production necessary, to perform and project itself as a new and incoming South American city. Environmental impact statements have historically been hurdles for projects within the United States, but the era of such statements is now taking center stage within Brazil too, and depending upon what happens in the courts, it is going to have dramatic ramifications for the image of the city of Rio de Janeiro. (BBC, 2011)


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio Natural Water Barriers Barriers for water are an issue in every sector of society, but no more so than in the cities favelas (slums). These locations for many living within them are located at the tops of hills and cliffs. Such locations for many citizens do not have access to water. For many, to attain access to water means traveling up & down hills and cliff’s. This is dangerous for anyone, but especially for the young and the old. Such locations have many other dangerous, but access to water should never be one of them. (Carter, J., 2004) Interestingly though, once such locations attain access to clean fresh drinking water, their population numbers increase substantially too! Unnatural Water Barriers Just as there are natural barriers to attaining water within the city, there are unnatural water barriers as well. One of the greatest of these is impervious surfaces. Road construction projects that are needed to foster higher car sales also increase impervious surfacing within the city by the production of more roads. Construction of buildings for commercial and residential uses also elevates these levels too. Another behavior that increases impervious surfacing is the history that the city of Rio de Janeiro has with covering many public spaces with cement. Such behaviors make it extraordinarily difficult for water to enter into the soil and into underground natural water holding areas. This creates flooding, dirties the water supply, and has a direct correlation to the rate of car accidents on the roadways. (Kauffmann, M. O., Pimentel da Silva, L., & Kleiman, M., n.d.) Closing Remarks Other challenges to the resource of water also lie within within the ecological systems that are alive and are being affected by the actions of human development all along the path of the water basin. The environment is important in and around the region of Rio de Janeiro, but more importance seems to lie within being able to extract the power and resources that water supplies to the region. This can be witnessed in the high levels of pollution and litter that line many of the areas of the region’s water basin. An ideology


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio shift with regard to water is necessary within the region if sustainability of the resource is to be realized for the generations that are to come. Other challenges that remain as well lie within the area of reversing ideologies of water privatization. (Columbia Water Center, 2010) While certain programs are encouraging and assist in current watershed protection, they also might possibly be providing the infrastructure necessary which would see the privatization of the resource. (Padovezi, A , 2008) As long as the economy within the region remain strong, this may not seem like such a problem. What would happen though should the economy enter a recession, what will that mean for the general public? What is at stake in the current regional changes for the poor? Ensuring that they have access to water resources without having to pay corrupt officials, and corrupt police officers enforcing their shantytowns for access to water should be a high priority. Many changes are changing the landscape within the region of Rio de Janeiro, but much of these changes are due to the winning of the bid for the World Cup, as well as the Olympic Games. The fact that many of these changes have not taken place before these new possibilities raises many questions regarding what is going to happen for residents, after those events have taken place.


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio

Rio de Janeiro Water Images & Maps

Rio de Janeiro Harbour: Image Source: Platinum-adventures.com


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio

Image Source: Ambiente e Agua – An Interdisciplinary Approach


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio

References Carter, J. (2004). Residents of Rio's Favelas Face Diverse Risks [Rio Favela Locations Seen As Prime Real Estate ]. Retrieved 2004, from worldwatch.org website: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/4756 Fox, M. (2010, December 6). Rio Crackdown [Cleaning Up Drug Gangs to Create the Olympic City]. Retrieved December 6, 2010, from Newamericamedia.org website: http://newamericamedia.org/2010/12/rio-crackdowncleaningup-drug-gangs-to-create-the-olympic-city.php Harrington, C. (n.d.). Water Producer Program Launched In Rio de Janeiro [Innovative program designed to help protect the freshwater supply for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second largest city]. Retrieved 2010, from The Nature Conservancy website: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/greatrivers/newsletter/ar t28785.html


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio

Kauffmann, M. O., Pimentel da Silva, L., & Kleiman, M. (n.d.). Landscape Imperviousness Index: An Indicator of Water Conservation in Urban Areas [Landscape Imperviousness Index: An Indic. of Water Conserv. in Urban Areas]. Retrieved from http://www.grhip.eng.uerj.br/Artigo_Landscape_Imperviousnes s.pdf Loewenberg, S. (n.d.). Tackling the causes of ill health in Rio's slums [Open sewer runs through the centre of Nova Marilia, a small community on the edge of the mega-urban sprawl]. Retrieved March 12, 2005, from TheLancet.com website: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS01406736(05)71062-X/fulltext Padovezi, A. (2008, December 28). Atlantic Forest - Water Producer Strategy [Guandu Watershed (ID: 1546)]. Retrieved 2008, from Conpro.tnc.org website: http://conpro.tnc.org/1546/ Parenti, C. (n.d.). Retaking Rio [Taking Favelas Back From Gangs]. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from The Nation website: http://www.thenation.com/article/retaking-rio Renno, S. J., C.D. (2006). Ambiente e Agua - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Science[Hydrological Responses: Rainstorm Waterflow ]. Retrieved from http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/pdf/928/92810105.pdf Brazil judge blocks Amazon Belo Monte dam [A Brazilian judge has blocked plans to build a huge hydro-electric dam in the Amazon rainforest because of environmental concerns.]. (2011, February 26). Retrieved February 26, 2010, from BBC website:


The Complexities of Water Attainment and Water Boundaries In Rio http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12586170 Columbia Water Center Brazil Infrastructure Project (Full Version) [PepsiCo Foundation funded project to bring clean drinking water to households in rural Northeastern Brazil.]. (n.d.). Retrieved September 2010, from Columbia Water Center website: http://vimeo.com/15668600 Violence, Favelas, and Rio de Janeiro [Challenges To Attaining Basic Services]. (2010, July 1). Retrieved July 1, 2010, from blogspot.com website: http://athousandinvisiblecords.blogspot.com/2010/07/violenc e-favelas-and-rio-de-janeiro.html Wonders of the Natural World - Rio De Janeiro Harbour [Rio Harbour]. (2007, November 27). Retrieved from WatchMojo website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjG8GRQpgOo

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