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Environment and health

In 2010, taking into account the Water Quality Index (WQI) of the National Sanitation Foundation of the United States of America, of the 1 988 control river points throughout Brazil 6 percent have excellent water quality, 75 percent good, 12 percent regular, 6 percent bad and 1 percent very bad quality (ANA, 2012). In 2006, out of 1 173 control river points, 9 percent had excellent water quality, 70 percent good, 14 percent regular, 5 percent bad and 2 percent very bad quality. In 2000, out of 859 control river points, 5 percent had excellent water quality, 71 percent good, 14 percent regular, 8 percent bad and 2 percent very bad quality. Most of the control river points with bad or very bad quality are located closed to municipalities with a high population density (ANA, 2012).

Despite the country being rich in water resources, basins located in areas with a combination of low availability and extensive use of water resources are in situations of scarcity and water stress (ANA, 2009).

In 2007, there was a concentration of drought events in the arid northeast, covering the areas of the San Francisco, Parnaíba, Northeast Atlantic (eastern part), East Atlantic and a portion of the Araguaia-Tocantins basins. The Northeast Atlantic (western part), Southeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, Paraná, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Amazon basins, did not show a significant number of drought events. In 2007, of a total of 5 564 Brazilian municipalities, 788 (14 percent) had decreed an emergency due to drought, of which 88 percent are located in the Northeast region.

In 2007, of the 5 564 Brazilian municipalities, 176 (3 percent) had decreed an emergency due to flooding. Compared to droughts, the critical events of floods are fewer and have more specific characteristics, with scattered occurrences in Brazil. Among them small concentrations of these events are located in the San Francisco basin, the East Atlantic basins, specifically in the Jequitinhonha river basin, and the Southeast Atlantic basin, specifically in the basins of the Rio Doce and Paraíba do Sul (ANA, 2009).

The extension of the areas with natural waterlogging, called “varzeas”, is 13.35 million ha. Until 2000, waterlogging problems caused by irrigation practices have only been recorded in the Nupeba project for an area of 170 ha.

Natural saline areas in Brazil are quantified on average at 86 million ha, located especially in the driest areas with average precipitation below 1 000 mm/year. The area salinized by irrigation is estimated at 15 000 ha, mostly in the Northeast.

The National Action Plan against Desertification and Mitigation of Drought Effects (PAN-Brasil) was launched in 2004 by the Secretariat for Water Resources of the Ministry of Environment, the main objective of which is to reduce the areas affected by desertification through a variety of actions of mitigation of drought effects in eleven states of the country. To date, two studies about desertification have been performed in the state of Espirito Santo, with more to come (World Bank, 2009).

In 2001, aiming to encourage new investments in the sanitation sector to expand services of wastewater treatment in the country, ANA has developed the Basin Pollution Control Programme (Programa Despoluição de Bacias Hidrográficas (PRODES)). PRODES consist of a financial incentive to sanitation services that invest in the construction, expansion or operational improvement of sewage treatment plants.

In 2008 a National Plan on Climate Change was launched, which principal focus was to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Availability of water resources and forecasting of extreme hydrological events are also included in the plan (ANA, 2012).


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