The Guarani Aquifer

water for the future?

Uses of the Guarani Aquifer

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Groundwater pumping has been used for years to supply the city
of Mercedes (Corrientes Province, Argentina). Those wells tap a rather thin unconfined
aquifer, which is currently overexploited and showing evident signs of quality
degradation. Decision has been made to drill deeper wells (no source of surface water is
close to Mercedes), so that waters from the Guaraní Aquifer would potentially supply
the city.
NB The Ramsar Treaty: since 1995 Argentina has
assumed the preservation of the Iberá wetlands (fed up by the Guaraní Aquifer
in that region). Therefore, any groundwater pumping is allowed as long as the
wetlands recharge is not affected.

Much of the water in the aquifer is under pressure, which saves on pumping costs. In the central zone, geothermal heat produces hot springs. In other parts, the water is at a depth of 1,500 meters below sea level.

Brazil makes the greatest use of the aquifer, which totally or partially supplies more than 300 cities and towns with drinking water, including Sao Paulo, population 18 million, Brazil’s largest city.

However, environmentalists warn that the rising volumes of water extracted from the aquifer and pollution from agro-chemicals and urban and industrial waste threaten the reserves that millions of people depend on for clean water.

Livramento eyes commercialization of water from Guaraní aquifer

December 2006

Brazilian city Santana do Livramento – on the border with Uruguay – plans on exporting water from the Guaraní aquifer to Jordan, Uruguayan paper El País reported.

The city’s municipal government plans on developing the resource, which is shared by Mercosur countries and not regulated in terms of common use.

Local authorities will evaluate the creation of a mixed capital company whose main objective will be to export water to Jordan. The process has taken longer than expected since officials have had to comply with a number of state and federal requirements, said the president of local basic service utility DAE, Marcirio da Silva.

According to da Silva, the company will be in charge of the water’s industrialization and export. A total 51% of the new JV will belong to the Livramento local government.

Livramento officials plan on financing the development of the city’s sanitation network with funds earned through the water sale.

Since the utility’s offices are located on the Uruguayan side of the border, the water would be bottled in Uruguay before being shipped to Jordan, under the name of Agua Guarany.

Santana do Livramento has some 100,000 inhabitants, but that number doubles when also considering Uruguayan city Rivera. The two cities are separated only by an avenue that marks the international border.

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Written by Annabel Symington

May 3, 2009 at 5:19 pm

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