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Understanding Water Management: The environmental and social profiles of the work of AySA Elizabeth Glatfelter and Amanda Goodgoll July 2010

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Integrated Water Management and the CMR The question of water as a resource is an important and multi-dimensional discussion. One crucial aspect of this is that different parts of the world have varying degrees of access to water and manage this resource in unique ways. In the context of a polluted river basin which integrates a variety of other issues such as health consequences and industrial contamination, for instance, water resources and water management must be carefully addressed; for this the concepts of water governance and water management are central. Peter Rogers of the Inter-American Development Bank explains the theory of water governance as “refer[ing] to a range of political, social, economic, and administrative systems that are in place to allocate, develop, and manage water resources and the delivery of water services for a society� (Rogers, 2). A useful expansion of that understanding is described in an ECLAC document which notes that “governance implies the capacity to both generate and implement appropriate policies. These capacities are the result of having established consensus, having devised coherent management


systems...as well as adequate administration of the system (based on social participation and acceptance, and capacity building)” (ECLAC, 9). Accordingly, in order for efforts on water management to be successful, three key components need to be in place: governance, capacity building, and financing (ECLAC, 8). With that in mind, good water management is the result of processes of good governance, where the vehicle by which to achieve this is through the adoption of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). The Global Water Partnership and other UN organizations describe this policy approach in terms of it’s cross-sectoral standards (Waterwiki). In this way, IWRM is founded on the notion that water is a natural resource which is inter-connected with the ecosystem and should be considered for its social and economic components (Waterwiki). However, in order for these processes to transfer to existing policies, it is important that IWRM “be viewed as a process rather a one-shot approach -one that is long-term and forward-moving but iterative rather than linear in nature” (Waterwiki). Fundamentally, IWRM can be understood using three basic pillars that are designed to avoid a fragmented approach to the management of water resources. The first pillar is an ‘enabling environment’ which consists of suitable policies, strategies, and legislation for sustainable water resource development and management. The second pillar addresses an ‘institutional framework’ of central/local actors and public-private actors to suggest that this is how policies, strategies, and legislation can be put into practice. The third pillar is the setting up of ‘management instruments’ such as assessment techniques, information disbursement, and allocation instruments that will allow institutions to carry out their roles. The concept integrates economic efficiency, equity, and environmental sustainability to be a constant consideration with regard to the goals of IWRM. With the establishment of these pillars and bearing in mind three crucial considerations, it is likely that a balance can be found between “water for livelihood” and “water as a resource” (Waterwiki). The application of the IWRM policy approach, however, requires effective and transparent governing institutions (Waterwiki). In addition, due to the undeniable “social character of water management and [the] close link to the fulfillment of basic needs” water management requires the strengthening of both institutional structures and social structures (ibid.). According to ECLAC, this system can be a base for cooperation that ultimately generates a functional system of effective water governance. Given the opportunity to work directly with the water managers of Buenos Aires, Argentina, what follows is an overview of the work of Aguas y Saneamiento Argentina (AySA). Time constraints allowed us to consider projects related to the environmental cleanup of the Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo (CMR). With both the Department of Environment and Development, and the Department of Community Development, we were given the opportunity to learn about the different projects underway and future works planned. From this thorough introduction to AySA’s role as managers of water in the City of Buenos Aires and it’s surrounding municipalities, we have come to understand the complicated work of integrated water resource management. We have learned that AySA is an inclusive and accountable organization fulfilling its defined responsibilities.


To begin this photo essay we introduce AySA. We then structure the essay according to three larger themes: I. the environment, II. the Plan Director, and III. Community Development. We conclude by assessing what aspects of the theoretical framework of Integrated Water Resource Management are currently being utilized by AySA and what could potentially be applied in the future.


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Introducing AySA As students participating in the New School International Field Program of 2010 Liz Glatfelter and Amanda Goodgoll have collaborated on a joint project for a two-month research investigation. The research was conducted in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was the beginning of a five-year Observatory where new students will build on the base-line information that was gathered this year. This Observatory Matanza Riachuelo (OMR) seeks to analyze a polluted river basin - la Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo (CMR) - which runs through the city of Buenos Aires and 14 surrounding municipalities. Each of the 15 students had specialized investigation topics which were brought together to inform the broader context of contamination. Our work was conducted through Aguas y Saneamiento Argentina (AySA) and is a look at their role in the river clean-up process. The goal was to build an environmental profile of baseline information to which future students will contribute. This baseline is comprised mostly of information gathered during our interviews with Carlos Palumbo of the Department of the Environment; as AySA has had the responsibility, as well as the expertise and capacity, of monitoring the levels of contamination throughout the Cuenca since 2008.


I. Environment

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Environmental Profile From an environmental perspective, the river has two very clear and pressing problems. The first is that the Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo, in general, does not have oxygen. The level of dissolved oxygen (OD) required to sustain life in a normal and healthy river is a standard 6.0 mg/L. Water with less than 5 mg/L of dissolved oxygen indicates that many living organisms will not survive. For instance fish will not survive, but algae will. As such, the CMR is not able to sustain potentially beneficial living organisms like fish, algae, bacteria, and protozoa which aid in oxygenating the water and is essential for maintaining the health of any body of water. While not a complete solution, the most recent suggestion toward a solution to this problem is the SEPA (side-stream elevated pool aeration) project which would divert and oxygenate water flowing downstream. The idea is to displace sulfur with oxygen in order to instigate a process of auto-recuperation. The second environmental concern regarding the CMR is the problem of sediment and sludge. Heavy metals (“metales pesados” - MP) and organic compounds (“compuestos orgánicos” - CO) are the primary elements. This is particularly important because of the three areas of the Cuenca and their respective environmental profiles. The area closest to the mouth of the river that connects most directly with the Rio de la Plata and ends near the Avenida General de la Paz is considered Cuenca Baja. It is the area of the river that has the most polluting industries and therefore has contamination of both heavy metal contaminants and organic compounds. Cuenca Media extends from the end


of Cuenca Baja to approximately the end of the municipality of Ezezia and La Matanza. The contamination found here is made up of a mix of organic compound and some heavy metals. Lastly Cuenca Alta which runs from the approximate boundary at the western edges of Ezezia and La Matanza to the starting points of each arroyo, mostly contains contaminants of organic compounds. Fundamental to the types of contaminants in each section of the Cuenca is its corresponding geographical location. This defines the future processes of cleaning up river pollution. In January 2009 AySA began a diagnostic study to identify which industries are polluting and where they are located, specifically in which part of the Cuenca. One of the most striking aspects of this study is the OD levels in the arroyos (stream). Formed by rainfall, six arroyos form the beginning of the Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo; when there is little or no rainfall, the arroyos dry up or have very low water levels. Their formation begins in Cuenca Alta and continues to flow through Cuenca Media. One point of contention is the level of, and importance of, contamination in the Cuenca Alta. The work of ACUMAR focuses on cleaning up polluting industries in the Cuenca Baja, as they contribute more toxic contaminants, such as heavy metals. It is very important to note here, however, that decontamination of a river has to take place at every point of contamination, especially the source of the river. To further understand the role of ACUMAR, consult the Perfil Institucional in the OMR.


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The Source of the Problem Buenos Aires has been a center of industrial activity for generations, much of which has located within the CMR. As the Argentine economy has grown and diversified, the meat industry has remained prominent throughout the country and particularly in Buenos Aires. FrigorĂ­ficos, where animals are raised, slaughtered, and shipped locally or internationally, are scattered throughout the Cuenca. There are a variety of chemicals that are used in the process of rearing and preparing animals for human consumption along with the blood, fat, and other organic wastes produced by the animals themselves. FrigorĂ­ficos are constructed to deal with this waste by including aeration tanks intended to remove solids from their wastewater. They treat the remaining water so it can be released into the Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo without having negative environmental impacts. This system, however, is not necessarily applied in practice. For example, legally these aerating tanks should be lined with a membrane to stop the diffusion of contaminants into the soil, and later the water table. However, it is not clear the extent to which industries are checked or monitored for compliance. When the organic waste from these industries is dumped into the river oxygen levels drop significantly, deteriorating the capacity of the river to clean itself.


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Arroyos Meeting the Matanza Trash litters the riverbanks all the way from Cuenca Baja to Cuenca Alta. With the combination of garbage and human and industrial waste originating from various sources, the Matanza Riachuelo acts as a cesspool for contamination. It is important to understand the situation in each of these rivers, as it brings awareness to the fact that this river is contaminated at its source. This area of the Cuenca Alta, falls outside of the jurisdiction of AySA, however the contaminating industries fall under the responsibility of ACUMAR as managers of industrial improvements. An assessment of the health of the six arroyos is noted in appendix A.


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The Colors of Nature May Not Be Natural The urban scene along the Cuenca Baja-Media is that of a more dense area comprised of industries, highly populated municipalities, and informal markets. Without the reliability of a well-established waste removal service, these three components create a recipe for high levels of river contamination. Chemicals and untreated waste from industries leak directly into the river such that the difference in polluted waters is visible. As municipalities don’t properly manage waste, garbage and untreated effluents end up in streams and ultimately the CMR. The informal market, La Salada, uses the banks of the river as space for its illegal market. Both vendors and patrons turn a blind eye to the trash that is dumped into the river as a result of a lack of funds and/or organization in the municipality. Refer to the Perfil Empresa y Economía of the OMR for further details on La Salada and refer to second section of the Perfil Ambiental for details on garbage services of the municipalities.


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Informal Housing As the largest city in Argentina, Buenos Aires continues to attract people from neighboring countries, such as Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru. With no form of an integrated plan for urban expansion, this has meant an increase in the growth of illegal and informal housing. Between 1981 and 2006, the number of people living in informal housing in the CMR has grown by 220% (AySA Estudio 2, 22). Villas de emergencĂ­a (also referred to simply as villas), are defined as precarious housing settlements that do not have formal roadways or sidewalks to connect the network of houses that make up the neighborhood. Asentamientos are also considered informal housing, however differ in that they do have a more formal roadway system. According to a report by AySA, the population in the Cuenca in 2009 grew by 491,390 inhabitants. The majority of this population is divided into villas (56.2%); asentamientos (19.2%); undefined villas/asentamientos (7.2%); and barrios populareshousing constructed by the government (17.4%) (AySA Estudio 2, 22). The areas most impacted by this increase in informal settlements are in the municipalities of Lomas de Zamora and La Matanza. This unregulated growth of communities has lead to urban expansion into areas of environmental insecurity. The most undesirable land is that which is located on the banks of the Matanza Riachuelo. Not only is it contaminated with physical garbage and heavy metals, in many areas it is a flood zone. Additionally, as these communities are established informally, they do not have access to water or sewage facilities. Often the solution is to dig homemade wells and pit latrines, leading to cyclical consumption and


contamination of untreated water. Unfortunately, the closest accessible water lies just below the soil and is often contaminated due to industrial and human activity.


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The Garbage Disposal Water and humanity intersect throughout the Cuenca. With a combination of clandestine garbage dumps and civic pollution, rivers and arroyos have become a depository of trash and human waste. There is a clear demonstration of a reciprocal relationship where people influence the environmental state of the river; while at the same time, the river impacts the health and well-being of people. An arroyo in Lomas de Zamora accurately captures this relationship. Due to the lack of a trash collection service in Lomas citizens have few options but to litter their waste. Furthermore, there is a lack of sewage service requiring that citizens dig pit latrines and ultimately contribute to the polluted water table. With arroyos running through their backyards, inevitably trash and human waste end up in the river itself. For many community members there is no sense of responsibility to maintain a clean environment and therefore the arroyo is a likely place for garbage disposal.


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“En-tubing” In Lomas de Zamora, the municipality is trying to combat the unsightliness of the polluted arroyo that is currently acting as a part of the sewage system. This construction effort - while effective in the sense that the arroyo will no longer be visible - does not take into consideration harmful repercussions. The process of “en-tubing” the arroyo will directly contradict ecological and environmental concerns. The construction process requires that soil and dirt be dumped on top of the arroyo. In that case, the arroyo and rainwater will dampen the soil and condense the ground floor. This process is repeated until the soil and dirt have absorbed the arroyo. What’s left is damp earth; precisely the appropriate conditions to install a large pipe for sewage. After construction dry earth will cover the pipe and in order to satisfy political interests, a road will be built above, increasing access in and around the municipality. The idea is that the sewage pipe will connect to the main AySA sewage system, however it is dramatically apparent that four serious issues will arise as a result of the decision to “en-tube” the river. Firstly, in Lomas de Zamora, sewage was once dumped into the arroyo. Now that construction will eliminate that option, where will sewage be disposed of? Secondly, the large pipe installation assumes that people have access to sewage service in their homes. As this is not the case, this issue needs to be addressed while simultaneously taking into consideration actions to limit illegal connections. Thirdly, there is a frigorífico upstream that currently is not connected to a sewage system. This will surely contribute to waste pollution if industry standards are not regulated more tightly. The fourth issue is that the land surrounding the “en-tubed” arroyo will still act as a riverbed because of its interconnectivity in the whole river system. This lends itself to a


consequence of severe flooding. While it is evident that this solution has come about due to the interests of the municipality, the decision would likely benefit from a IWRM analysis. If actors from different sectors, ie. AySA, municipalities, and non-governmental organizations, carefully and collectively addressed the answers to the above questions, an opportunity to create a system of integrated water management would arise. The result would be that some of these obstacles could likely be avoided or at least reevaluated.


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Informality and the Environment La Salada and other small industries are getting a lot of attention because of their apparent negative environmental impacts. Waste from these informal economies, whether it be from the manufacturing process or the lack of proper waste management practices within their markets, undoubtedly has an environmental impact in the Cuenca. The OMR’s Perfil Empresa y Economía further addresses the complicated realities of environmental and economic management in the CMR.


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Contamination Concentration La Boca is the mouth of the river and is most recognizable by two bridges sideby-side; their notability is in their sheer height and architectural design. The Matanza Riachuelo passes directly under these bridges and merges with the Rio de la Plata. This convergence marks the culmination of highly contaminated waters flowing into yet another body of water. Due to the concentration of polluting industries within Cuenca Baja the water and riverbed have exceedingly high levels of heavy metals and organic waste. Throughout the neighborhoods of Cuenca Baja there is an unmistakable odor of sulfur and rotting organisms. According to an AySA study, the water at La Boca has a dissolved oxygen level of of 1.7 mg/L. Due to this lack of oxygen, fish which have come from the Rio de la Plata are often found dead where the waters mix. These environmental tragedies provide a profound sense of the magnitude of the problem.


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Heavy Metals for Donation After years of negligence, steps are finally being taken to clean up the river basin. For instance, a private company is currently removing bulky contaminants from the river including abandoned boats from the bottom of the Riachuelo. Pieces of the wrecked boats which have fallen apart and deteriorated over time, are slowly raised from the river floor, cleaned, disassembled, and sold as scrap metal. The profits are donated to a local children’s hospital. Another clean-up effort is to remove trash on the surface of the river; this is done by a contracted company. It is achieved using a movable barrier running from one river bank to the other. For a visual understanding of the device, imagine a thick plastic median running perpendicular to the banks of the river. When floating trash meets the barrier, the trash is collected while the water continues to flow. A motor boat designed to plow the trash consolidates it and then moves it from the water to a dump. These efforts do not address industrial or sewage pollution, however, they are critical steps in the overall environmental clean-up of the CMR.


II. Plan Director

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Mapping the Master Plan The Master Plan (Plan Director) is AySA’s overall expansion plan of the city’s water and sewage network. Between 2007 and 2020, a variety of new works are scheduled to start and/or be completed. Included in this, is the implementation of entirely new systems and the expansion of existing works. Ambitiously, AySA aims to connect those without service to the services of water and sanitation, and will consequently impact the economy, the environment, and the communities within the Greater Buenos Aires Area. The Plan Director includes a number of measured steps that aim to accomplish full expansion of their services before 2020. The next goals are to be reached by 2013. AySA’s Plan de Saneamiento outlines them as the following: 1.76 million inhabitants will be connected to the network of potable water (which is 100% of those currently lacking service); cohesively incorporate services created by third parties or other urban development demands (for example, the sewage and rain water drainage works by municipalities); expand sewage services to 1.75 million inhabitants (which is 80% of those currently lacking service); improve the reliability and flexibility of the sanitation system; and instigate gradual environmental improvement. To achieve these goals, AySA has created a plan of infrastructural development. The full list of works is outlined in Appendix B, along with more details of AySA’s Service Area and a brief note on their organization.


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Increasing Sanitation The Project Sistema Riachuelo, or Manejo Sustentable de la CMR, is comprised of two levels of works to be executed through the World Bank loan, APL 1, and APL 2. The first phase of the project, APL 1, will contribute to achieving sustainable improvement of the sewage system services in the CMR. This work will be achieved by reducing industrial waste discharge, improving the system of urban drainage, and strengthening the capacity of ACUMAR to fulfill its fundamental role to decontaminate the river basin. The works being constructed in APL 1 are key structural works that will impact the future progress of environmental cleanup in the CMR. They include the Left Bank Collector, the Desvio Baja Costanera (the connecting pipe at La Boca), the sewage treatment plant at Dock Sud (Planta Riachuelo), and the pumping stations at the entrance and exit of the Planta Riachuelo and the subfluvial emissary into the Rio de la Plata. APL 2 follows with the work of APL 1 to greater amplify the capacity of the sewage system located in the Cuenca. The works in this phase include expansion of the Baja Costanera, the pumping station at Berazategui, the subfluvial emissary from the Berazategui plant, and further expansion of the primary and secondary sewage networks (Estudio de impacto ambiental del plan director de saneamiento, 9-11).


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Environmental Responsibilities AySA has the responsibility of assessing the potential negative environmental impacts of their works during their construction and throughout use. The Department of Environment and Development (DMAyD) is responsible for the organization and supervision of the implementation of distinct tools developed to mitigate and minimize the ecological footprint of each work. The Environmental Management Plan (Plan de Gestión Ambiental - PGA) is comprised of two distinct teams under the DMAyD. Both the Unit of Monitoring of Environmental Management of Works and the Unit of Monitoring of Environmental Management of the Installations are responsible for educating contracted organizations/ employees as well as AySA personnel in: monitoring air, water and earth quality; monitoring the management and disposal of wastes; and monitoring social impact. The Plan de Gestión Ambiental includes several programs. The Prevention Program includes measures of protection of the environment, the quality of life of people working along and living long the rivers and streams, the quality of existing infrastructure, and the management of waste. The Monitoring Program consists of observing and measuring environmental indicators. The Mitigation Program measures and minimizes negative impacts of AySA’s works. The Contingencies Program prepares


for emergency situations incurred by natural disaster, fire, or accidents. Finally, the Training Program ensures environmental education of AySA employees (PGA, 39).


III. Community Development "All environmental problems are also, by their very nature, social problems. This theme focuses on the complex relationships between people and water resources. The emphasis is on the human component of the equation and seeks to answer questions about attitudes, relationships, concepts and beliefs in order to provide guidelines for managing water resources in an equitable, sustainable and ethical manner." -UNESCO International Hydrological Program - http://typo38.unesco.org/en/themes/ihpwater-society.html


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Zavaleta is a crowded, informal housing settlement within the city of Buenos Aires that extends to the banks of the Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo. On a map, Zavaleta is situation at the edge of the ‘meander’ in the river.


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Instead of moving away from a highly polluted area, families are building additional stories to their homes. Settlements are becoming more dense, further complicating the environmental clean-up process.


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Informal housing settlements often do not have access to trash collection services, potable water, or connections to the sewage system.


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Families live among and contribute to the waste that blanket the river banks of the Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo. Above, a precarious fence acts as a barrier between a family’s home (to the left) and the highly polluted river banks (to the right).


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For the People by the People According to the Plan Director of AySA, a core goal is to provide potable water and sewage systems to the residents within AySA’s area of action between 2007-2020. The aim is to incorporate an additional 1.5 million people into the potable water network and incorporate of 3.5 million people into the sewage network (AySA). This will include the development of basic infrastructure, improvements in existing infrastructure, and renovations and repairs of the system networks; with a long-term goal of improving both the environment and the health and quality of life of community members. AySA’s principal management model for the expansion of services is a project called Agua / Cloaca Más Trabajo (A + T, C + T) (AySA). For more information on the health consequences of a polluted rover basin, please refer to the Perfil de Salud in the OMR.


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Water and Working Together The management model of A + T requires the participation of three primary actors: AySA, cooperatives, and municipalities. AySA has several key responsibilities throughout the project. One is that they are in charge of technical support for the work solicited by the municipalities (AySA). AySA designs the work projects to be completed by municipalities, finances the execution of the projects, and provides technical supervision while a project is in progress. Also, AySA trains cooperatives through the Instituto Leopoldo Marechal. Lastly, AySA organizes the logistics of materials for construction and allows the water network connection to be extended to individual households (ibid.). Cooperatives are the key link between AySA and the municipalities because they are doing the physical work of expanding the water service; this is precisely why the project is called Water and Work. This aspect of inclusiveness is one of AySA’s strongest managerial tools. Cooperatives are comprised of approximately 16 members from the corresponding municipality (AySA). They receive training at the Instituto Leopoldo Marechal in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Asociativismo y Economía Social (INAES). Additionally they receive monthly certification according to their advancement with projects (ibid.). Each month there is an inspection of the works completed where the advancement of the project is confirmed through the signing of two


documents by the president of the cooperative, the municipal director of the project, and AySA’s project inspector. Without the signing of these two documents, the Measurement Record of the Project and the Certification for the Advancement of the Project, the second stage of work will not continue (AySA). It acts as a system of checks and balances. The role of the municipality is to define the areas which are in need water service. They are also the executing agency for each of the projects requiring that they coordinate where the work will take place (AySA). Municipalities are responsible for managing transferred resources that are provided by AySA. This can take the form of physical equipment or skills-training and information regarding project plans. Lastly, the municipalities are responsible for contracting the community members that will staff the cooperative (ibid.).


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Tools for the Job AySA provides cooperative members with pamphlets and brochures that detail training procedures, provision of tools, installation processes, and information on how to benefit from and pay for the water service. According to one brochure, “Plan Agua + Trabajo: La Red de Agua Potable,” which explains the A + T project to citizens, it is important to define responsibilities and limitations. This understanding clarifies rights and obligations on the part of community members, AySA, and municipalities. For instance, an imaginary municipal line divides the responsibilities of both AySA and the customer. Customers are then able to see that the line runs directly in front of a family’s home where the street-side of the line is the responsibility of AySA and the house-side of the line is the responsibility of the user. This limits AySA’s responsibilities to reach the municipal line and legally does not allow them to cross onto the property of the family. As such, the customer can understand that the role of AySA remains within their capacity as a business - the maintenance and monitoring of a proper water system installation.


Consequently, the customer is responsible for their indoor property such as sanitary installations of faucets. In addition to their training, cooperative members are provided with information on how to understand the water system. They are given a booklet, “Manual para la instalación de redes y conexiones domiciliarias de agua potable,” which explains the steps involved in water expansion projects. First they are to understand that before work begins, workers have to learn the water network and the quality and type of earth with which they will be working. They also have to be aware of other systems that might interfere with their excavation. Included are details about how to dig the trenches, where pipes will lie, what digging tools should be used, and where and how to connect the water pipes with both the individual homes and the main water system. For the detailed explanation of these processes, refer to the database of information collected in the OMR. Community members affected by the water expansion project are also given information regarding how to connect their homes to the network, how to pay for the service, and programs that make bi-monthly payments easier. One example of useful information is a diagram on how to read the meter. It explains that reading the meter allows the customer to learn how much water is being consumed, but also that they can detect possible losses or leakages in the water system that aren’t visible in internal installations (Servicio Medido). AySA provides an informational pamphlet which outlines the payment structure of the service provided. There is a fixed payment for the water service which is billed to the customer. This fixed quote depends on the type of residence that is being connected to the service such as one household unit or more than one unit. The quote is determined using the following criteria with regard to type of service: an initial surface charge, the type of land within which the system functions, the type of building that uses the service, geographical location, general water tariffs, and the supply ratio (Bienvenido a la red). Payment options for users include online payment options, credit card payment, and cash versus check payment methods. For customers who are not able to properly pay for their new water service, AySA offers a subsidy program called, Programa Tarifa Social (PTS). The objective is to assist families who as a result of socioeconomic distress are not able to pay for water. There are 4 million pesos set aside each year to cover the cost of this discounted customer bill (PTS). As a result, the beneficiaries of the reduced payment are limited in number and remain within the area of action for AySA. The duration of the subsidy is one year with a possibility for renewal and can only be received by the type of residence (PTS). It is a $4 bimonthly subsidy which is applied to the fixed quote. Should a payment be missed, the social assistance will be canceled. Community members who are interested in receiving for the Programa Tarifa Social present themselves to their local municipality and complete an application form (PTS). Adhering to a specific methodology, the municipality is responsible for determining who will benefit from AySA’s assistance. Ente Regulador de Agua y Saneamiento (ERAS) of the Federal Government will approve the family and then the discount will be applied to their bills (PTS). For a more detailed


examination of the Perfil Socio-demografico of one barrio in la CMR, refer to the socioeconomic survey of Dock Sud found in the OMR.


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Progress and Pride Community members have benefitted from the opportunity to work in the cooperatives organized by municipalities. It has provided people with a chance to rely on a stable income in a setting that does not often provide that comfort. We had the chance to speak with cooperative members from Tigre who expressed to us their satisfaction with the work they are doing. For instance, one woman shared a sense of pride when she described her position as leader of the cooperative. People have the chance to work in the cooperative and then become in charge of the group itself. This has allowed people to feel a sense of status where they are coordinating and organizing community projects for the expansion of water services in their own community. Through conversations, we have come to understand that through the work of expanding water services and the training with which they are provided, cooperative members are exposed to transferrable skills which benefit and fulfill their lives in other aspects. As of 2009, 69 projects (both water and sewage) were underway, 133 had been finalized, and 132 were in service (AySA). A total of 334 projects are employing roughly 16 members in each cooperative; as such this program has impacted the lives of thousands of community members.


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Communication is Key In order to create a successful, trusting, and lasting relationship with municipalities, AySA establishes and maintains contact with what they call ‘key references.’ After the area of expansion of water services has been identified, but before a project is implemented, AySA approaches the community and asks for informed citizens who can act as representatives on behalf of the community. This person acts as the liaison between AySA and the community, and ensures that concerns regarding services are communicated. From our observations, this is an extremely effective and wellestablished system in that local contacts are in a position to work with AySA. As long as community members have access to the key reference and feel comfortable expressing concerns, dissatisfactions, and/or appreciation, AySA is able to get feedback from the very community it is working to improve. Additionally, because the cooperative members work in the community they live, workers take a personal interest in the system and can address specific and appropriate issues if need be. Not only is there a vehicle for the local voice to be heard, but there is a community-wide system to improve the situation of their particular villa or asentamiento. AySA’s field workers, those in daily contact with the key references, can feel assured that water service, and consequently health conditions are being improved based on the needs and requests of the citizens themselves. This is an appropriate demonstration of how AySA does have the capacity to incorporate principles of IWRM as they are already inclusive to actors at different levels.


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Sanitation: Beyond Water Provision In the numerous neighborhoods that remain unconnected to the sewage system, the waste water generated by the inhabitants contaminate the soil and the aquifers. This in turn leads to contaminated drinking water and disease. With the implementation of Cloacas Más Trabajo (C + T) AySA is replicating the A + T methodology tested and perfected from their experience with the use of cooperatives. The new C + T program, initiated in 2008 and still in its pilot phase, will ultimately improve sanitation within each neighborhood by: eliminating the points of contamination through effectively removing pit latrines and open sewers; efficiently removing effluents from their source to an adequate treatment facility; and ultimately conserving of the Cuenca’s natural resources. The city’s sewage system consists of effluents from three sources: domestic or sanitary – including sewage from people’s homes, to private and public buildings, including school and hospitals; industrial waste water; and rain water. Argentina utilizes a separated sewage network, meaning that they separate their rain water drainage pipes from their domestic and industrial sewage pipes.


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Complicated Cloacas The city’s sewage system has been developed to utilize gravity to maintain the flow from source to end point within the network. The smallest pipes, with the smallest diameters, are located at the highest points, and the largest pipes that collect large amounts of sewage from a variety of sources, are located at greater depths. Ensuring the precision at every step of this process is vital for the adequate construction of the sewage system. Unlike the water system, the sewage system is much more costly and labour/ time intensive. As is the case with A + T, AySA is responsible solely for installing the system up until the municipal line in front of the private home. Properly hooking one’s home up to the sewage system is the sole responsibility of the home-owner, and neither AySA nor it’s cooperatives, are legally allowed to work on that property. Thus far, a few cooperatives have been trained to construct the sewage system that expands the existing network constructed by AySA. Currently, the only municipalities using this methodology to expand their sewage networks are La Matanza, Avellaneda, and Quilmes.


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Expertise The need for expertise during the construction of the sewage network is essential to its proper implementation and connection to the larger network. The individual pictured above was employed by the contracted water company that ran Quilmes’ municipal water and sewage service during the 1990s. Fortunately, he now coordinates the work of the C + T cooperatives in Quilmes.


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Cleaning the Cuenca As part of the integrated plan to clean up the physical waste on the margins of the Matanza Riachuelo and its connecting streams, ACUMAR has contracted AySA to organize the work using cooperatives from each municipality. Limpiar los Margines (LlM) is one of the first organized and continuing programs to begin physical sanitation of the Cuenca. The garbage along the riverbanks comes from a variety of sources. Some is littered directly into the river and gets carried up and downstream because of the tides that change throughout the day; and in other cases, the riverbanks are used as clandestine garbage dumps. Waste collection is the responsibility of the municipality, however, as many municipalities do not have a coherent service of collection, community members have become accustomed to creating their own dumping sites where they see fit. For further information on waste management in the Cuenca, refer to the second half of the Perfil Ambiental. LlM is one of AySA’s newest projects in the Cuenca, and is being facilitated by the Department of Community Development. Stemming from years of experience working with cooperatives in all of the municipalities, AySA has been able to benefit from their existing understanding of working with cooperatives and municipalities. AySA personnel work directly with municipal directors of the cooperatives to ensure work is running smoothly and that obstacles are being overcome. If a riverbank is too steep, for example, AySA architects and engineers will assess the location in order to determine if machinery or further protective/security gear need to be used. Furthermore,


locations in or near dangerous neighborhoods, such as along the Arroyo del Rey in Lanus, security personnel are hired for the safety of cooperative members. Similar to the A + T and C + T work, AySA utilizes their “key references� in the community so that they enter each community with respect. These individuals are generally from the community or have lived there for many years and understand the often complicated social intricacies.


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Cooperatives and the Environment Cooperatives have been organized in Lanus, Lomas de Zamora, Avellaneda, Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Zavaleta), Esteban Escheveria‌ Each co-op is comprised of individuals from that municipality. Ages of the members range from teens to pensioners, and work schedule begins at approximate 7am and goes to 2pm, depending on the weather and time of year. Cooperative members are paid a salary of $1200 pesos per month by the municipality. AySA pays an additional $300 pesos to each member if they wear the protective gear provided, and another $300 pesos per month if they show up to every scheduled work day. AySA also provides the necessary health training, tools, machinery, and two large bottles of water per person per day. After visiting and interviewing a number of cooperatives during their work day, it was clear that the members work as a team and generally seem to enjoy their day. It is undeniable that the work is physically and emotionally challenging. For example, lifting car doors and tires entrenched in muddy waters, encountering dead horses or dogs, removing used needles from the clinic up the street, and repeatedly having to clean the same areas because the neighbors continue to dump their waste into the clandestine garbage dumps that litter the margins.


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Community Education Although the work of the cooperatives is effectively removing the solid waste from the environment in each municipality, the biggest issue is that community members continue to litter along riverbanks even when coop members are present at the site. As one co-op member eloquently said, knowledge of a clean environment starts in your home. AySA’s Department of Community Development is now working on determining the most effective ways to educate neighbors on proper waste removal.


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Conclusion This description of AySA’s work demonstrates how the institution functions as the manager of water in the city of Buenos Aires and the surrounding municipalities. When applying the concept of integrated water resource management (IWRM) to our analysis, it is clear that AySA already incorporates fundamental aspects of the proposed theory of water management. As a majority-state owned organization, AySA has well defined limitations to their capacities. They do, however, have a sound business-like approach that is demonstrated by their accountable and inclusive practices. Within the theory of IWRM, the World Bank states that good governance rests on these two core values: inclusiveness and accountability. It is clear from their high level of transparency, that AySA is accountable for their responsibilities. Regarding inclusiveness, AySA already demonstrates their ability to involve municipal, inter-agency organizations, and nongovernmental actors. In the complicated case of la Matanza Riachuelo, by increasing inclusiveness of other actors, AySA is able to confirm transparency. With these values in place, AySA effectively acts as a water manager capable of integrating more tools to efficiently and sustainably manage water within the CMR. Given the environmental and social profile which has been examined above, we have come to understand that AySA does have the potential to develop a more integrated approach to water management. To demonstrate, we can assess how AySA currently uses their role as manager to increase incomes and reduce poverty, as well as promote


education and awareness – crucial aspects of any IWRM approach. While their influence in increasing incomes and reducing poverty has not been measured, by understanding AySA’s comprehensive work with cooperatives, we see the undeniable connection to wage increases in the Cuenca. Co-op members are provided with an opportunity to work and in some cases are offered additional incomes when they adhere to safety regulations. Another goal of IWRM is the sustainable use of water supply to positively affect the health of a population. As a water manager, AySA does not have diagnostic studies connecting the heavy contamination of the Cuenca to the inhabitants living within it, nor do surrounding hospitals. However, a baseline understanding of the health in the CMR (facilitated by the Perfil de Salud) indicates that improvements in access to water and sewage would directly impact the health of the population. A critical contribution is AySA’s work in promoting education and awareness of the environment and water resources. AySA has a mobile school, an accessible museum, and informational packets to increase awareness throughout the city. Their educational tools, however, lack a clearly defined correlation between environmental consequences of water and sewage use. As demonstrated above, AySA is a conscientious water manager. However, by reexamining the framework suggested, we create space for some suggestions. Included in the framework of integrated water resource management are four principles that have become the basis for future global water reform; they are outlined by Waterwiki in the following way: Principle 1. Fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment Principle 2. Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels Principle 3. Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water Principle 4. Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic and social good While AySA does work within it’s capacity to address these principles, it is useful to consider a more evaluative reflection on exactly how these principles are currently being incorporated. Regarding the concept of participatory approaches, Principle 2 goes on to say that: a participatory approach involving all stakeholders is the best strategy to achieve long-term accord and consensus. Participation means taking responsibility for and acknowledging impact of this sector on other water users and water ecosystems as well as committing to increasingly effective use and sustainable development of water resources (Waterwiki). The work with cooperatives is an excellent example of AySA’s efforts to involve stakeholders and encourage further participation across different levels. Expanding on


that, it would be useful for AySA to consider ways in which it can increase effective use of water resources and create a vehicle by which to disseminate that information. That way there is an accomplishment of heightened inclusion that can lead to a more inclusive sharing of responsibilities. This in turn will lead to a collective improvement towards the sustainable use of water resources. Another reflective exercise for AySA can relate to the first Principle, which discusses water as a finite and vulnerable resource. Buenos Aires has no shortage fresh water. Although AySA’s advertising campaign of 2008 promoted household water-saving practices, currently the focus of AySA’s work is to expand services and increase the number of users. While it is necessary to improve the health of both the environment and the community it is imperative to keep the long-term realities of excessive and uncontrolled water consumption in mind. By sharing information, and using appropriate tools to properly manage water resources, AySA could ultimately promote sustainable use of this finite resource. Through analyzing the work of AySA, using the IWRM framework, we have been able to identify gaps where potential progress can be achieved. Some crucial questions to guide the process over the next five years include: - When considering inclusiveness at the community level, how might the improvement of services displace people? How do you measure social impact when you increase access to a basic need? - Are current decisions made by AySA leading to irreversible outcomes? How can these outcomes be fully understood given the current measures of evaluation? - Is the current division of responsibilities (between AySA, ACUMAR, municipalities, and other actors), truly effective in integrating the components of water governance and management? - The Global Water Partnership (GWP) suggests that working towards a more integrated approach is by no means a transformation that follows one administrative model. Rather it is a process that can be re-worked over time where the key to a successful approach is selecting the right tools for a given situation (Waterwiki). How is AySA equipped/ill-equipped to select an effective approach where milestones and time-frames are agreed on and incorporated into a successful strategy? - Focusing on expansion of services, is the current system adaptable to changes in the use of natural resources? How can the system (of managment or infrastructure) control or impact consumption? - As a business AySA has well-defined limitations, however do these limitations impede or hinder the process of environmental cleanup? - Does AySA’s effective corporate accountability leave room for further integration of water resource management? - How can AySA utilize its expertise in community management and development to influence knowledge and education of the environment?


Our photo essay aimed to create both a visual and textual understanding of the work of AySA. The purpose of section I was to highlight the environmental profile of the CMR which contextualizes and influences the work of AySA. Section II was meant to describe one of AySA’s specific projects, the Plan Director. This offers a perspective into the work of AySA in that much of their resources are being used to expand and improve infrastructure in the Greater Buenos Aires area and Capital Federal by 2020. Finally, section III addresses the community development portion of the Plan Director and explores AySA’s service expansion efforts. By applying the integrated water resource management policy approach, we conclude our essay with a brief assessment of the work of AySA. This report is by no means meant to be a conclusive argument about the Cuenca or AySA’s role within the Cuenca. Rather, it is meant to better understand the current role of AySA, provide visual support and clarification, and act as a baseline for future researchers. While we recognize this is an incomplete assessment, it should be used as a tool by which to learn from and reflect on. Our experience was extremely valuable in establishing an initial understanding of the water company and the environment in Buenos Aires; our hope is that this experience can be transferred and expanded upon for the years to come.


Appendix A The following discussion delves into the current health status of each arroyo that connects with and ultimately constructs the Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo. By identifying the level of contamination and the lack of oxygen throughout the system, a more clear understanding of the devastating lack of health throughout the river is made clear. Arroyo Rodriguez, Partido de General las Heras, is one of the six arroyos and has an average oxygen level of 0.0 mg/L. Surrounding this arroyo are businesses such as frigoríficos (refrigerated slaughterhouses) of both chickens and cows. Factories located in this area and around the other arroyos are supposed to be equipped with lined aeration pools in order to control their waste. However, many industries do not adhere to this as well as other regulations. They then contaminate the ground on which they lie as well as insufficiently treating their waste water and adding further levels of contaminated effluents into the CMR. Arroyo Cebey is a rural zone 60 km from Buenos Aires. The surrounding area is farmland for soy, wheat, and corn crops. There is no oxygen in this arroyo that is contaminated by high levels of nitrate used in fertilizers. For example, the diagnostic study notes that pools around the Grabya factory located near Arroyo Cebey appear to be red in color because of excess bacteria which indicates high levels of nitrogen. Logically, the more nitrogen and the more sulfur present, the more oxygen is displaced. Additionally, located near the Arroyo Cebey, are two frigoríficos, contaminating further organic compounds into the river: Liwin and Frigocañuelas. Arroyo Cañuelas is found to be most responsible for contaminating the Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo. At the source of this stream, a total of 5.7 mg/L of dissolved oxygen was present but quickly drops to 0 mg/L as a frigorífico dumps mostly untreated effluents directly into the river. Even though the river is able to recuperate, it then passes through the industrial park of Maximo Paz, where industrial effluents are unmonitored and eliminate any chance of natural oxygenation. Another arroyo of Cuenca Alta is Arroyo Chacón that has an oxygen level of 2.2mg/L. Nearby polluting industries include pharmaceutical companies, yeast factories, chemical plants, frigoríficos, and electrical power plants. With particular regard to the Central Electrica (Genelba) power plant, two kinds of water exit the plant through reverse osmosis: distilled water and raw water with salt and nitrates. The water with nitrates and salt enters into the Arroyo Chacón making it the arroyo with the highest level of salt. Arroyo Morales, which runs near the Gonzalez Catón garbage landfill site, has an oxygen level of 2.2 mg/L. It is believed that Arroyo Morales is the site where CEAMSE allows for unregulated contaminants to filter into the river. Additionally, there is a frigorífico nearby which contributes to the asphyxiation. Lastly, Arroyo Aguirre, healthiest of all the arroyos, has an OD level of 4.3 mg/L. The chicken processing plant Rasic, known commercially as Cresta Roja, is one of the industries allowing effluents to outfall into the CMR. As a business, they have high treatment standards, good quality control, and appropriate aeration systems. For this reason, what enters into the river from industrial runoff is exceptionally clean. The


assumption is that Cresta Roja exports internationally, and has a different set of environmental standards to adhere to. In terms of its environmental accountability this company is setting an example in the Cuenca.


Appendix B AySA was created in March of 2006 under Law 26.100 created by the national executive power. This charged AySA with the responsibility of providing potable water and sewage services to the city of Buenos Aires and the municipalities of Almirante Brown, Avellaneda, Estevan Echeverría, La Matanza, Lanús, Lomas de Zamora, Morón, Quilmes, San Fernando, San Isidro, San Martín, Tres de Befrero, Tigre, Vicente López, Ezeiza and in Hurlingham and Ituzaingó with respect to water services (AySA Estudio).

The provision of these services to this “Area de Acción” is defined by Law 26.221 and organized by the “Convenio Tripartito.” This governing body includes the Ministerio de Planificación Federal Inversión Pública y Servicios, la Provincia de Buenos Aires y el Goberieno de la ciduad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, and AySA (AySA Estudio). The Plan Director is defined according to the norms established by the Regulatory Framework of AySA and includes the following objectives: • Insuring the expansion of the sewage service in accordance with the plan to predict the treatment and disposal of bio-solids • Integrating improvements to the system by increasing security and operational flexibility of the works


To strategically reorient the investments in projects to integrate environmental concerns for the medium and long-term, most specifically in the CMR (AySA Estudio).

The actual works involved in this process include: • Completing construction of the Berazategui plant • Dividing effluents between the treatment facilities of Wilde and the future Berazategui plant • Constructing a fallout for the Berazategui effluents – including a pumping station into the treatment plant and a pumping station into the subfluvial emissary. • The development of the Sistema Riachuelo which includes pumping stations, the sewage treatment facility at Dock Sud, the left Bank Collector, and the alternative plans to the Right Bank Collector • Expansion of sewage treatment plant Sudoeste and the associated primary collectors • Expansion of sewage treatment plant El Jagüel and the associated primary collectors • Expansion of the northern sewage treatment plant • Western Tigre collector • Set in motion and expand the sewage treatment plant in Hurlingham • West collectors in Morón, Hurlingham, and Ituzaingó (AySA Estudio)


Works Cited A + T informational packetBienvenido a la red Manual para la instalación de redes y conexiones domiciliarias de agua potable Programa Tarifa Social Servicio Medido AySA 2009 “AySA - Una Empresa Para Todos,” Presentación Powerpoint IWA, Final. AySA Estudio 2009 “Estudio de impacto ambiental del plan director de saneamiento obras basicas en la CMR,” AySA report. AySA Estudio 2 2009 “Estudio Socioeconomico y Ambiental en La Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo,” Resumen Ejecutivo. Vol. 1, 22-41. ECLAC-Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean 2006 “Water Governance for Development and Sustainability,” Recursos Naturales e Infraestructura. Santiago, Chile, June, 1-84. Rogers, Peter 2002 “Water Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Inter-American Development Bank, Sustainable Development Department, Environment Division, February 2002, 1-81.

Waterwiki.net IWRM, Interpretations and Explanations, Key Principles, Applying IWRM, Origins of IWRM, Goals of IWRM, http://waterwiki.net/index.php/IWRM#cite_note-1. World Bank 2006 “Good Governance for Good Water Management,” Environmental Matters 2006 The World Bank Group. Annual Review, July 2005-June 2006 (FY06), 20-23.

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Informe preliminar sobre Aysa  

Informe preliminar sobre Aysa

Informe preliminar sobre Aysa  

Informe preliminar sobre Aysa

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