Brazil took an important step to ensure the preservation and the quality of fresh water in the country over the next ten years. The Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (OTCA) and the Plata Basin Countries’ Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee (CIC) endorsed a letter of understanding in which they pledge to exchange experiences and information regarding projects and activities implemented in the Amazon and Plata Basin regions.
The Amazon region is the world’s largest hydrographic basin in terms of water quantity, accounting for 20% of the planet’s fresh water.
For its part, the Plata Basin, which comprises the Paraná, Paraguay, and Uruguay Rivers, is considered the second largest hydrographic basin on Earth.
“We are dealing with humanity’s most important resource. People’s quality of life depends upon the quality of water we have in the world’s most diversified regions,” observed the Secretary-General of the OTCA, Rosália Arteaga.
The Secretary-General said that she is optimist about the results cooperation will bring to South America, since the OTCA is formed by eight countries directly interconnected by freshwater rivers: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, and Venezuela.
“We are certain we are beginning an efficient job of water management,” she emphasized.
The Secretary-General of the CIC, Hélio de Macedo Soares, believes that the letter of understanding will make available the Committee’s experience in water resource management.
The CIC, which was created in 1969, contributed to negotiations involving the construction of the Itaipu Hydoelectric Plant (the largest in operation in the world, a binational undertaking by Brazil and Paraguay on the Paraná River, with an installed capacity of 12,600 MW), among other activities, and is presently endeavoring to guarantee the construction of the Paraná-Paraguay waterway.
According to Macedo Soares, this year the Committee finished implementing a kind of “regulatory standard” for projects in the Plata Basin””an experience that can be transferred to the rivers of the Amazon region.
In the next ten years, the OTCA intends to introduce the Program for Integral and Sustainable Water Resource Management in the Basin, which is expected to cost around US$ 30 million by the time it is finished.
To begin with, the Organization has signed an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS), which will assure US$ 700 thousand for the first phase of the program.
The cooperative effort between the OTCA and the CIC is counting on resources from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), according to each organization’s requirements.
The GEF is an international cooperation fund that receives donations from various bodies and provides resources to developing countries to finance environmental protection projects and activities. The OAS and the United Nations Environmental Program will coordinate the transfer of funds and the activities in connection with the integration between the two basins.
The OTCA is already considering doing a study of the levels of mercury deposited in the rivers of the Amazon region by miners and adjoining municipalities.
According to the Secretary-General of the OTCA, the objective of the organization is to expedite a joint study, making it possible to establish rules for the mercury indexes each country allows to be deposited in the rivers, since each country has specific laws governing this practice.
Reporter: Gabriela Guerreiro
Translator: David Silberstein