So, really, where does your water come from?

By Cadija Tissiani

The greater São Paulo metropolitan area consumes 4% more water today than is available in the reservoirs that supply its water. In less than 10 years this percentage could be quadrupled if no action is taken in the short term, and people and industry could suffer the consequences of a shortage of this vital resource.

What are you doing about it?

If the answer is "nothing" or "not much", it is most likely because few people who live in urban centers know where the water they consume on a daily basis comes from, and therefore do not think about the issue or have a commitment to protect that resource.

Knowing where the water supply of a city comes from is the first step in raising awareness and creating room for planning appropriate actions to protect resources.

So, “do you know where your water comes from”? The Conservancy wants to challenge and mobilize residents of the largest city in Brazil to monitor and demand measures that protect the main water supply sources: rivers and lakes that form the PCJ watershed (formed by the Piracicaba, Capivari and Jundiaí rivers) and the Alto Tietê, which have been severely impacted by intense urbanization, pollution and the degradation of natural ecosystems.

The Where Does Your Water Come From campaign is scheduled to debut on Brazilian TV and in major magazines in August. This is part of an effort that the Conservancy has been involved in since 2006 aimed at showing that conservation and restoration of riparian forests is a fundamental part of an economically viable solution to ensure the availability of clean water to the population of São Paulo metropolitan area.

Forests play a vital role in the protection of springs since they are responsible for filtering pollution and stabilizing climate and water flows. Without vegetation, rain and wind carry earth, debris and other sediments into the rivers, which when filled with refuse become shallow, a process known as sedimentation. With time, the amount of water decreases and its quality worsens.

"That's what has been happening in São Paulo: watersheds can no longer provide the 'service' of delivering clean water in sufficient quantity for the population and industry. Engineering solutions alone, such as construction of new treatment plants and water mains, cannot meet the increase in the demand for water either. Therefore, green infrastructure must be improved, which means protecting forests" explains João Campari, director of the Conservancy´s Atlantic Forest and Central Savannas program.

The Conservancy and its partners hope to awaken the interest of the public about the origin of the water that goes to their homes, sharing with them the importance of environmental preservation and broadening public participation in the debate. "The water with which you wash your food and bathe your children does not come from the tap or the water company. It comes from a river that is born miles away. We need to get to know that river so we can want to protect it," concludes Campari.


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