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Pressure from urbanization

The main source of the water supply for the city of Jundiaí, the basin of the Jundiaí-Mirim river, which also serves the municipalities of Jarinu and Campo Limpo Paulista, is under pressure from indiscriminate urbanization – and problems with the handling of the soil, water, and the remaining forest have caused degeneration of the environment and jeopardized the quality and quantity of water resources.

A project that is looking for solutions to roll back this picture has been developed by the Campinas Institute of Agronomy (IAC), in partnership with the Municipal Government of Jundiaí, and with funds from FAPESP, under the coordination of its scientific researcher Jener Fernando Leite de Moraes. Satellite images acquired from Inpe and from an American company have made it possible to make a detailed analysis, now in its first stage (from November 1999 to July 2000), of the occupation and use of the area of the basin, in the Jundiaí region.

They were able to map what remained of the old forest, the risks of erosion, based on the types and topography of the soil, the quality of the water, and the existence of waste. That brought to light some important revelations: the existence of a small area of preserved forest; riverside woodlands, along the banks in less than 5% of the basin; the presence of several cultivated areas on the banks of the basin; contamination of the water, in several spots, by fecal coliforms and residue of fertilizers, at higher levels than those permitted by Cetesb (the environment authority in the state). Besides this work, the first stage of the project left some practical results, such as the creation of the Municipal Program for the Conservation of Soil and Water and the training of technicians (who will later be able to pass on their knowledge to other interested parties).

“The project shows the conflicts in the use of the basin, and makes it possible to analyze alternatives. So, for example, the areas where the banks of the water supplies are more sloped must not be cultivated, to prevent the rain from taking fertilizer residue to the water and increasing the risks of erosion in areas ploughed using tractors”, says Jener de Moraes. “You have to teach mechanized practices that do not damage the soil, show at what periods times they cause most damage, and make the population aware of the need for conservation.” These issues will be explored in the course of the second stage of the project, which started last November and is expected to finish in October 2002.

“At this point of time, environmental education is fundamental. The communities need to understand the importance of the controlled use of the basin”, adds Afonso Peche Filho, from the IAC's Center of Farm Mechanization and Automation (CMAA) and a member of the team. The gathering of data is being extended to the municipalities of Jarinu and Campo Limpo Paulista, and it also includes a social economic mapping of the basin's rural and urban communities. They will receive guidance including stories articles published in the papers. “The idea is to popularize the project”, Peche concludes, “emphasizing the importance of the local water source and the significance of environmental management today and in the future”.