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With Olympics in sight, Rio beaches and lagoons will get a billion dollar cleanup

Criado em 05/06/13 15h39 e atualizado em 06/06/13 10h17
Por Vladimir Platonow Edição:Juliana Andrade / Lícia Marques Fonte:Agência Brasil

Rio de Janeiro – A huge cleanup plan designed to depollute Rio de Janeiro’s landmark beaches and waterways (some of them 2016 Olympic Games venues), has been announced. The plan, with a budget of R$ 2 billion (US$ 940 million), is intended to make a significant improvement in water quality in areas including Guanabara Bay, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, and the Barra da Tijuca lagoons. According to the state water utility (“CEDAE”) chairman, Wagner Victer, “Around 70% of our sewage-related projects for the Olympics are already complete or near completion. We expect all of our depollution projects will be implemented at least a year ahead of time.”

Victer mentioned several initiatives designed to improve beach water quality. An example was the expansion of the Alegria wastewater treatment plant located alongside the “Linha Vermelha” expressway that leads to the airport. The plant serves a population of 1.5 million.
“We'll start working on major Olympics-related construction projects over the next weeks. These include cleaning up the Urca, Praia Vermelha, and São Conrado beaches. For the Barra lagoons, our goal is to treat 100% of wastewater by 2016. In Guanabara Bay, we will nearly triple the output of the Alegria plant from 2,500 to 7,000 liters per second, treating all sewage flowing down the Faria-Timbó river from the Complexo do Alemão and Manguinhos slums. We anticipate these works should be ready by 2015,” explained Victer.

The CEDAE chairman went on to say that the purpose of the projects is to improve the bathing quality standards of several open-sea and bay area beaches, which all get massive inflows of organic pollution from neighboring towns where about 12 million people live. He also said that the sewage system of the Paquetá Island in the bay will be completed within eight months. The efforts are focused on reducing pollution levels and the amount of litter in the waters which could cause problems during Olympic sailing competitions.

Also, according to Victer, the cities and towns across the bay, especially São Gonçalo, have to tackle solid waste collection to prevent it from flowing into the sea. Although not responsible for the collection, CEDAE is building River Water Treatment Plants (“ETRs”) to filter out most of the waste. “There is an array of projects under the State Environment Secretariat designed to ensure ETRs are created in areas including Irajá, which contributes a large portion of the waste. Other upcoming plants include that for the Sarapuí River, already operational and set to expand output for discharges coming from Baixada Fluminense (the state lowlands). The Pavuna plant (which will cover sewage from the North Zone) and the São Gonçalo plant are expected to be completed within ten months. And there's another plant to be built in the Alcântara district.”

The CEDAE president also reported that the old Guanabara Bay Depollution Program (“PDBG”), a multi-billion dollar plan created during the 1980s, achieved only modest results and has already been outdone by current initiatives. According to Victer:  “The original PDBG consisted of projects that delivered a much lower level of treatment. Primary treatment levels at the plants were as low as 40% of the organic load. Now there are secondary-level plants that can handle up to 98% of the organic load. By 2016, we will be able to welcome locals, tourists, and athletes alike to a much cleaner Guanabara Bay.”

Edition: Juliana Andrade / Lícia Marques
Translation: Mayra Borges / Allen Bennett

Creative Commons - CC BY 3.0

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