Myopia "Coast and Rivers Converted into Sewers (Mercosur)"


To make adequate decisions, in order to achieve INTEGRATED WATER AND COAST MANAGEMENT goals, it is necessary to harmonize the interests and dynamics of the populations with the conditions and dynamics of the environment where these populations live, in particular in relation to the basins hydrographic and coastal systems.

The water and marine resources constitute one of the main and most valuable components of the natural capital of Uruguay (Mercosur) and as such they have been grouping points and substratum for social and economic development. Therefore, its current situation reflects the consequences of an environmental liability that is expressed in the deterioration of the quality of the waters and a serious decrease in the natural supply of the resource in large areas of the national territory.

Uroecopol 12.2001. Hospital waste would be contaminating the Santa Lucía River, an official denounces having deposited burned hospital waste 400 meters from the sucker of the river where the water is extracted for the population of the metropolitan area of ​​Montevideo.

Uruecopol 12.2001. High levels of nitrate and sulfate were found in the waters of the Santa Lucía river basin, attributed to urban and suburban pollution and poor construction of perforations in rural areas with deficiencies or absence of the sanitary seal on the walls of drilling or open wells. In the GUARANI aquifer - the underground water system of Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay - is one of the largest fresh water reservoirs in the world, the water is contaminated (LATU).

Uroecopol 12.2001. The Yaguaron River is polluted with hospital waste.

Uroecopol 01.2002. The Montevideo Municipal Government disabled the bathrooms on Carrasco, Buceo and Miramar beaches when it verified that the water was contaminated with substances from an industrial landfill in Canelones. An analysis carried out on January 22, upstream of the Carrasco stream, detected 2 million fecal coliforms per milliliter of water when the maximum considered suitable for bathing is 2000.

Search 02.2002. According to a study by the Uruguayan River Administrative Commission (CARU) industrial waste pollutes the waters of the Uruguay River, only one of the eight companies that belong to the food and sandstone tannery sector registers acceptable rates. The brewing industry for example discharges a flow of 4 million liters per day.

Search 02.2002. OSE authorities warned the population that the water supplied in the cities of Maldonado, Punta del Este and Piriápolis IS NOT SUITABLE FOR DIRECT CONSUMPTION and recommends boiling it before using it. The discharge of fecal matter without treatment into the waters of the San Carlos stream, causes the risk of contracting serious diseases, such as hepatitis, 19 million coliforms were found per 100 ml of water.

Uroecopol 02.2002. Destruction of the port of Punta del Este, a collector with a valve is built in case the main collector becomes saturated, the sewage will go to the port, as well as fuel oil fats.

The management of natural resources and their ecosystems, especially the resources of the hydrographic and coastal basins, constitute a problem of DEMOCRACY and PARTICIPATION. It is necessary that in Uruguay, as in the rest of the developed economies, the gravitating role of the protection of resources and the environment, active and informed control of citizens, workers, coastal communities - hydrographic, - coastal and consumers.

In order to make adequate decisions, in order to achieve INTEGRATED WATER AND COAST MANAGEMENT goals, it is necessary to harmonize the interests and dynamics of the populations with the conditions and dynamics of the environment where these populations live, in particular in relation to the basins. hydrographic and coastal systems. This means that decisions must integrate knowledge of the characteristics of human behavior with the characteristics of the environment where they live. This necessary articulation of knowledge provided by the so-called SOFT SCIENCES (such as sociology, anthropology, jurisprudence, economics and politics) with the so-called HARD SCIENCES (physics, chemistry, biology, ecology and engineering) to make decisions does not occur in practice.

The lack of articulation systems, to combine the contributions of both groups of disciplines and sciences, is one of the causes of ungovernability in terms of integrated water and coast management. Decisions are usually made in a simplified and partial way, with pre-established paradigms, and most of the time ignoring the behavior of the natural environment where such decisions are applied.

Until a few decades ago, the rivers and coasts and in general, the resources of our planet, were considered as an immeasurable environment in which the human being was so insignificant that any action would remain without consequence. This is how its waters are used in Uruguay as a universal garbage dump, dumping all kinds of waste, and although it has been really notorious, the capacity of the Río de la Plata and Atlantic Ocean to absorb all this is reaching the limit! Discharges of sewage into these ecosystems cause aesthetic problems, pose potential risks to ecology and public health, and sometimes have negative economic consequences by restricting tourism.

Human activity is the main responsible for the threat to the diversity of life in hydrographic basins and marine life, one of the main factors that cause damage to ecosystems is wastewater discharges, both industrial and urban and agriculture, coupled with deforestation, construction and excessive development in these areas. Almost 60 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean lives in coastal areas and only less than 20 percent of the wastewater is treated, therefore there is a need for an effort that meets the remaining 80 percent. For this reason, this task must be declared a regional priority, which must be assumed as an urgent matter. Garbage, chemicals, plastics and especially fecal matter threaten the balance of water and the health of the
riparian populations. The Miguelete stream and the Carrasco stream (Montevideo) are witnesses, now mute, of that indolence that led to their physical death.

The large amount of wastewater that Uruguay currently generates does not receive adequate treatment, and is disposed of, contaminating its bodies of water, affecting its ecosystems without realizing the future consequences that this situation may cause. The issue of pollution is today one of the most serious. In general, it is in this section where very little has yet been achieved despite the fact that there are laws that regulate polluting activities.

The line of the coast and its rivers in Uruguay is used for urban, industrial and port infrastructure purposes, the social pressure to keep the waters clean is minimal, since there are no direct and immediate functional damages on the already consolidated economy of the mentioned activities. Housing developments, industries and ports can continue to function without major problem even with severely polluted waters, BECOMING SEWERS. In minor
Something similar happens with beach tourism. It is common for beaches for recreational use to be washed by polluted waters, either at certain times of the year or intermittently throughout the year.

The concentration of fecal coliforms in the waters of the San Carlos stream (Maldonado) has registered values ​​of 19 million coliforms per 100 ml of water, the limit established by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States for the cultivation of bivalves is 14 fecal coliforms per 100 ml of water and the International Health Standards establish that if more than a thousand coliforms per 100 ml are exceeded, there is already a health risk.

The pollution produced by the industry is highly varied depending on the sector in question. It can produce pollutants that have chronic toxic effects, even when released in small amounts. Cadmium, lead, arsenic, and selenium levels are high downstream from the metallurgical industries. The phenols that serve as the basis for the manufacture of drugs, dyes, explosives, herbicides, insecticides, detergents, disinfectants, and which are also auxiliary in the textile and leather industry, appear more and more frequently in the monitoring carried out to rivers and lakes.

Domestic discharges contain a large amount of organic matter and nutrients, which when reaching the receiving bodies eutrophicate them, that is, they produce overnutrition that contributes to the growth of algae, microorganisms, plankton and benthic animals. This can cause all the oxygen in the body of water to be consumed and anoxia occurs, which involves the death of fish and bad odors.

This impact of the deterioration of the waters in Uruguay not only threatens tourism but also the limnological and marine habitat and human health. About 16 percent of the animal protein consumed on the planet comes from fish. Diseases such as hepatitis, cholera and diarrhea, as well as many of the skin conditions are directly linked to water pollution. In addition, research has shown that the increasing mortality of fish is directly related to the lack of oxygen in the water, a phenomenon caused by
urban waste discharges.

The developing world is depleting its water reserves at an alarming rate. Two out of every three people in the world will suffer from water shortages in 2025, unless drastic measures are taken. Those people will also live in the developing SOUTH. Drinking water consumption increased sixfold between 1900 and 1995, more than double the population growth rate.

The articles published by Uroecopol show that there should be a consensus on the need to incorporate the environmental dimension of water and coastal resources, in relation to extraction rates and quality, in order to face in an integrated way the management of water and coastal resources to ensure its conservation, its quality and its rational use. In this area, it is essential to develop an integrated environmental policy for water resources. The basic contents of a policy proposal
water and coastal areas include the classification of water courses according to their possible uses, identifying critical basins due to excess demand; the rational allocation of the resource; the establishment of quality criteria; and the design of instruments and regulation models to conserve the resource and ensure the required quality. Uruguay must also generate capacities to have a prospective vision of the demands of water and coastal resources and their impact on sources and ecosystems.

Will rivers and coasts continue to be CLOACAS in Uruguay? Will your margins not be respected? What about flood protection measures? How many recovery plans for rivers and natural basins that cross urban centers exist in Uruguay?


CULTURE of water! What does that mean? Why not define it? Water culture is knowing that you have to take care of it, that it should not be polluted, that an aquifer or coastal ecosystem should not be overexploited, that it is a finite, vulnerable, random resource? Is it sometimes teaching the MUNICIPALITIES themselves that it is not necessary to dump garbage into the riverbeds and coasts, that we must take care of the quality of the water, the banks of rivers and coasts, the recharge of underground waters? Or water culture is knowing how to obey the message on a sign that says; danger, do not bathe, polluted waters! Or know that you have to boil drinking water and not drink water from the tap in such a way as to let it continue to contaminate without doing anything? What do inhabitants have to pay to keep the watershed where they live?

How can a water culture be instilled in school students if this topic is not included in the school books? What is done in the region so that urban centers do not turn their backs on the rivers that run through their hull or on the basins from where they capture water for the population?

Normally, it seems to be assumed that there is no culture, policy, or awareness regarding water and coast management, at the time of formulating the proposal, and that it is only necessary to create a policy, a culture and a conscience to get ahead, further It does not indicate what the new consciousness, culture or politics will be that will be transmitted with the proposed project.

Culture is the way human beings express themselves in their social and spiritual relationships with the environment. It is the way in which human beings relate to the world and can make decisions to improve their quality of life.

* Dr.M.Sommer
E-mail: [email protected]

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