Municipalities can take care of themselves rivers and springs?Monday September 14th, 2015
Despite the water crisis and the evidence on the importance of protecting vegetation in the maintenance of water sources that supply our cities, currently in the House of the Representatives a proposal that threatens our native forests and urban green areas. The aim of the bill (PL) 6830/2013 by Mr Valdir Colatto (PMDB-SC) are the Permanent Preservation Areas (PPAs) located in the urban area of the metropolitan areas.
The bill states that in urban areas, the banks of any watercourse natural water will have its width determined by the master plans and land use laws, after consultation with state and local environmental councils.
In practice, the project is more an attempt to change the Forest Code (Law 12,651 of May 25, 2012), modifying Article 4, which sets limit of at least 30 meters to the banks of protection of streams, creeks and rivers, including within cities. The issue is that since the term of the new Forest Code, insist on the release to protect and restore the PPAs, especially in urban areas.
The Forest Code defines Permanent Protection Area as a protected area, with the function of preserving water resources, landscape, biodiversity, soil and ensure safety and well-being of human populations. APPs work even as a large filter maintainer of water in cities.
The proposal to move the power to municipalities to directly change the limitations of permanent preservation areas located in metropolitan and urban areas was already a demand from some lawmakers in Congress during the discussions on the new forestry law, but was vetoed by President Dilma Rousseff in 2012, when it was sent to the penalty, which represented a gain to the urban environment and respect for the Constitution.
Also important to remember that, according to the Federal Constitution, the waters and forests are the heritage and responsibility of the Union and the States ensure that property, so it is not up to the municipalities exclusively legislate on them. Are the states that regulate the use of water through the granting of licenses under an agreement with the Union, which is justified because there are rivers that divide states and separating different cities. The waters, rivers and forests do not follow political and administrative boundaries and, therefore, the Brazilian legislation adopts the river basin and the biomes as planning units. The cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, for example, depend on the supply rivers which have their sources in Minas Gerais.
It is important that municipalities are able to plan strategically the use and occupation of land, which can revitalize and improve their urban green areas, its groundwater recharge areas, flood control and restrictions for hazardous areas. For this, no need to change our legislation, as this is the prerogative of the municipalities that should prepare their municipal master plans and specific instruments such as the Municipal Plan of the Atlantic. Just follow the federal standard already set, which is the Brazilian Forest Code and, from it, be more restrictive tailoring these areas to local uses.
History has demonstrated with tragedies and needs of urban populations that we can not repeat the same mistakes of the past, allowing occupations riverbanks and flooding slopes sliding ceivando lives. And even in areas that were occupied before the 1965 Forest Code, as the marginal Tiete and Pinheiros rivers, although consolidated require huge investments for flood control, pollution and sanitation to remedy inadequate urban models. In many cases, the denaturalization of these areas through the removal of irregular uses behind huge gains, as with the evacuation of the Serra do Mar in São Paulo and with the creation of Wetlands Park Tiete, for flood control, climate and water resources.
Instead of reducing the areas of protection of the banks of streams and rivers that cross our cities, we need to actually protect them. And a good solution for the conservation of these areas is the creation of linear parks, urban interventions associated with the waterways to protect and restore the urban environment, connecting green areas and providing leisure, comfort, beauty and social life to the population.
Devastate and occupy improperly urban APPs is a huge risk for the precious environmental services and quality of life. Urban Permanent Preservation Areas must be protected and society needs to mobilize to not allow more this setback. Nature can not be at the mercy of political and economic issues. After all, today we die of thirst in front of huge water reservoirs and fountains that are deforested and polluted.
** This article was originally published on the blog Planet , Period magazine.