With 36 votes in favor, Brazil’s National Council of Water Resources approved the opinion delivered by the National Water Agency (ANA) that the quantity of water in the São Francisco River is sufficient for the basin integration project.
Ten councillors abstained and two opposed. Now the ANA will officially publish the authorization for the use of the waters of the river known as “Old Chico.”
According to the interim head of the Ministry of Integration, Pedro Brito, the social benefits of the project are so great and necessary for human development that economic analysis of the project could be dispensed with.
Brito pointed out that the economic benefits include increased job creation, through 180 thousand direct jobs, and a 7% increase in the regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the states that will receive water from the São Francisco River basin.
Still, the decision of the National Council of Water Resources, which deemed “sufficient” the São Francisco River’s hydric capacity for the basin integration project, will be contested in court by the National Front for the Defense of the São Francisco River.
According to Marco Amigo, a member of the Front, the organization claims that the process of judging the ANA’s opinion, which considers that there is sufficient hydric capacity for the integration project, breached the law in two points.
The first has to do with the determination of urgent status, which was allegedly not respected. The second is that the matter should be submitted to the technical chambers.
During the meeting of the Council, the Technical Chamber of Authorization and Accountability of the Rio São Francisco presented arguments to the effect that the project does not serve the rural population.
“It will serve a good portion of the urban population, but the segment that migrates is the segment most vulnerable to the effects of the drought,” argued Marcelo Cauás Asfora, ccordinator of the Technical Chamber.
Translation: David Silberstein