Deep trenches split the paved streets into two in the popular neighborhood of Nossa Senhora Aparecida, in Curitibanos. Workers are installing the city’s new sewer network in them, whose wastewater will be directly treated starting at the beginning of next year by the new wastewater treatment plant under construction on the heights of the city.
As with sixteen other municipalities in the interior of the State of Santa Catarina (Rio do Peixe and Center-South coast regions), Curitibanos is a beneficiary of the Environmental Sanitation Program for Medium-sized Cities (30,000 to 40,000 inhabitants) implemented by CASAN since 2012 and financed with EUR 100m by AFD. The objective is to provide them with a sewer network by the summer of 2019, initially collecting 20 to 50% of their wastewater – a total of 500 km, 40,000 connections reaching 200,000 people, as well as nine new wastewater treatment plants.
This program is part of a comprehensive sanitation project for the whole of Santa Catarina, financed, for the other regions, by the Brazilian Government and other international organizations. While the State is the 5th richest in Brazil in terms of GDP per capita, it is indeed currently only 16th (out of 27) in terms of wastewater treatment (15% of the population, against a national average of 55%). When all the ongoing programs have been completed, Santa Catarina hopes to reach Brazil’s top 5, with 45% of the population covered.
The CASAN project comprises nine new high-end wastewater treatment plants, most of which are compact models, depending on the size of the city. Three are at present in service, in Chapeco for two years and since the end of last year in Canoinhas and Braço do Norte.
In Curitibanos, the construction site for the future wastewater treatment plant, a more imposing model than the others in the State, is making good progress. It started in June 2016 and should reach completion next November. “It will treat 40% of the city’s wastewater and subsequently discharge water that is 95% to 98% pure”, explains Marcio Rosa, one of the construction engineers. A lesser evil compared to the current situation: “Today, most of the city’s water points and courses are polluted”.
Sanitation does not have as much impact in terms of image as access to water. Yet it will have multiple long-term benefits for Santa Catarina, including major economic benefits. Firstly, a significant reduction in wastewater discharges into the State’s watershed will have the dual impact of allowing an environmental restoration of water courses and the coast and, consequently, the development of its tourism potential.
Many illnesses are disseminated by water pollution and particularly affect the most popular classes, which often live near water courses. If they are cleaner, their neighboring residents will consequently be less exposed to illnesses, which in the long term reduces public health costs. As in Curitibanos, the cities of Santa Catarina will then be able to devote their resources to other sectors awaiting attention, according to José Antonio Guidi: “These reductions in expenditure will benefit education or infrastructure”.