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This proposal intends to preserve rivers through the collaborated efforts of engineers, politicians and local stakeholders.



The concepts of Management, Preservation, Restoration and Environmental Education are becoming ever more important in the scientific community. The interaction between communities and their rivers has the potential to be a tool for enabling the recovery and preservation of rivers; it simultaneously strengthens and encourages participation in the hopes of educating and empowering the community.

This paper proposes the preservation of rivers in a methodology similar to the Projeto Orla, a current public policy for coastal areas in Brazil, with the aim of planning the occupation of public areas and protecting natural resources. Brazil(2005).

The involvement of the stakeholders in the design, implementation, management and monitoring of the Projeto Orla is fundamental to its success, and it ensures the preservation of public areas. Therefore, it is guaranteed that the adoption of such a methodology -- the elaboration of an Integrated Management Plan for the studied region -- will have strong popular support; this means that local politicians will be less likely to negatively interfere. In addition, the integration among Federal, State, and Municipal public organizations as well as NGOs and Neighborhood Associations in the debate and approval of an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) would be a powerful tool to restrain the degradation in many areas.  It is therefore understood that the construction of a similar methodology –"Riverside Project" – would serve for the strengthening of the management and preservation of rivers in general; particularly the federal rivers in Brazil, where irregular occupations and degradation of rivers could be restrained. 

Another point to be studied is the improvement of the integration of the cities, riparian populations and civil communities with the Committee of the Hydrographic Basins. This integration insures the recovery of the watersheds of rivers and seas.

What actions do you propose?

There are hundreds of rivers in Brazil that are of an excellent state of preservation. However, it is important to note that the majority of these rivers lies in already protected areas, as figures 1, 2, and 3 show.

Figure 1 - Map of Protected Areas in Brazil.Brazil (2015).

Figure 2 - Comparisons of the protected areas in Brazil to other countries

Consequently, we have many rivers in Brazil that remain in very similar conditions to those at the time of the country's discovery. This is a point to be celebrated -- but Brazil needs more. Brazil needs to protect the remaining rivers with more care, as figure 4 shows. Future disasters, such as the one that recently happened in the Doce River, (, can be avoided with an increased participation of the local society in the decision-making processes.

Figure 3 - River in protected area.

Figure 4 - The Degradation of Federal Rivers in Brazil.

The decentralized model proposed for the management of the waterfront obeys the Brazilian Federal Pact. This involves the principles and procedures of a coalition between three governmental levels as well as the participation of the local society. The specific objectives of Riverside Project are shown in figure 5. It will be stimulated by the implementation of a network of stakeholders, with the main objective of a long term planning of preservation actions that clearly states the tasks for each step.  The execution of the project will be configured in the institutional arrangement formed by the National (NC), State (SC), and Municipal (MC) coordinations. These coordinations  are supported by a group of technicians in each institutional level of the Brazilian Federation. 

Figure 5 - The Specific Objectives of Riverside Project.

Figure 6 shows the Institutional Arrangement that we propose for the Riverside Project in the State of Rio de Janeiro.

Figure 6 - Institutional Arrangement.

National Coordination is going to have the technical support of the National Hydric Resources Council (NHRC). The State Coordination will have the State Technical Commission (STC), which is composed by technicians from different public entities in the different federal and state levels, as its liaison. The Municipal Coordination will have the Management Committee (MC), which should be composed by equal parts representatives from the Municipal Public Power and the Organized Civil Society (which has interests in the rivers).  Examples of those included in the Organized Civil Society group include: companies of sanitation, sand extractors, farmers, universities, neighborhood associations, NGOs, etc.. Of course, similar institutional arrangements can be adopted in other countries following their specific polices. In this case, the many projects implemented on the seacoast in Brazil would supply practical information to develop a similar arrangement for Brazil's rivers. Table 1 shows the main attributes of the different coordinations of the Riverside Project.

Table 1 - Attributes of the Coordinations.

This flowchart of implementation, which we propose for the Riverside Project, reinforces the local workshops as places for developing the Integrated Management Plan, and establishing the hierarchy of future actions. It is important to note that each workshop must be preceded by several studies developed by public entities. These studies should clarify the vulnerabilities of each river space: its threats, its morphological configurations, and its future tendencies.  Others impacts of water management, land use, and human health must be considered. In this point of view, Hansen & Sato (2016) have said that Human health is affected by higher temperature via impacts on heat waves, drought, fires, floods and storms, and indirectly by ecological disruptions including shifting patterns of disease (Lafferty 2009, Altizer et al 2013, IPCC 2014, ch 11).Figure 7 represents the initial area that will be prioritized for protection.

Initial Priority Area - Ricardo Castro (Oliveira.R.C.N.)

Figure 7 - Priority area for protection in river space

A generalized view of this coordinated management and the activities that are to be developed is presented in Figure 8. These are also the main steps in implementing the Riverside Project. Another point that must be emphasized is the great opportunity to strengthen environmental education through developing a system using these steps -- especially in aspects that concern the water cycle, preservation of riparian vegetation, dangers of runoff, reusing water, funding environmental services, etc.. The members of the State Coordination, supported by State Technical Coordination, will hold several meetings with the local collegiate institutions.

Figure 8 - Detailed Flowchart

This Flowchart details the main steps and activities that will need to be developed, such as:

1-           Voluntary Participation. The Riverside Project always starts with a formal declaration sent by the municipality to a SPU, or to a State Environmental Agency, requesting its inclusion in the project. Participation in this project can never be forced upon the municipality by the federal or state governments.

2-           Inventory. In this step, one identifies the river's natural resources, cartographic information, hydrologic data, vulnerabilities of the river space, threats, morphological configurations and future tendencies, etc.. Each of the public entities will need to participate in a survey concerning official documents and studies in the project area, including questions concerning federal justice processes and the federal prosecutor.

3-           Consolidation data. Data is obtained, consolidated, and shared. This process is based on executing the proposed meetings between the State Coordination and the State Technical Coordination. 

4-            Public Entities Workshop. In this workshop, the federal, state, and municipal coordinations work together with the Water Basin Committee in order to survey the main factors degrading the watershed. Some circumstances must be observed, such as the possibility of existing officially marked protected areas as well as the fact that the borders of the rivers belong to the federal government. However, if these circumstances are not present, then the workshop must prepare a plan for the demarcation of these areas. 

5-           Bankfull’s identification. The Municipal Coordination, working alongside the Municipal Environmental Agency, identifies the river's bankfull configuration, current ecological situation, threats to environmental preservation, land ownership identification, and municipality priorities. 

6-           Bankfull’s approvation. The Municipal Coordination, working alongside the Water Basin Committee, marks the line of the bankfull. This work will be followed by the State Coordination, which forms an official approbation and submission to the SPU and State Environmental Agency.

7-           Mobilization. A great effort must be made to guarantee the local society becomes aware and participates in the project. Remember that if the project is already underway in a municipality, this municipality must have had a public hearing in order to request the Riverside Project. At this hearing, the participation of local and regional media and press is encouraged.  

8-           Sectoral Workshops. In these activities the local stakeholders and the Municipal Coordination work together in order to identify different geomorphological rivers spaces in the field. They will need to clarify to all citizens the different aspects linked to river preservation, and they must clarify the future choices that should be made to implement waterfront design plans and actions to restore the river. These Sectorial Workshops must also promote strong discussion about the official demarcation of the environmentally protect areas as well as the federal lands in river space referred to in stages 4,5, and 6. In this phase, the river will be divided into specific topics following its main characteristics, such as: bankfull type, processes of urbanization, level of environmental preservation, etc.. Each of these topics will be confronted in a specific workshop after being linked with a landscape figure previously presented by the State Coordination. The intention is to clarify to all stakeholders the main characteristics of the river's different qualities. One of the main points of this workshop is the clarification by the citizens of the current use of the river space and the current tendencies of the community without changes as compared to the vision of the future that Riverside Project promises.

River Space Project. There is a discussion about future structural interventions. Each topic starts a specific discussion, and the proposed intervention is chosen through a hierarchical process. Finally, during the Sectoral Workshop, a draft of the Sectoral Integrated Management Plan with a chronogram of actions and responsibilities to each topic being addressed.

9-           Meetings in Schools. Another important stage of this project is the meetings held in local schools. During these meetings, the State Coordination supported by the federal and state governments will be obliged to present the methodology of the project and to hold discussions about river preservation.

10-            Consolidation Workshop. A final workshop, called the Consolidation Workshop will combine the different Sectorial Workshops into a general proposition for the river space being studied. Additionally, it will promote the general integration of the different stakeholders. It is important to note that during this workshop, the ideas proposed are not cut for the sake of a shorter document. 

11-           Preparation of the IMP. The draft, works, observations, and recommendations that are consolidated in a Consolidation Workshop are sent for a final analysis by the Municipal Coordination. The Municipal Coordination creates a first draft of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) and submits it for approval by the State and Federal Coordination.

12-           IMP’s analysis. The State Coordination is the first to review the IMP, and, if necessary, meets with the Municipal Coordination in order to discuss specific points and to add some changes to the IMP. Next, the IMP is sent to the National Coordination for analysis. Once approved by the National and the State Coordinations, the IMP will be sent to the Municipal Coordination, which will set the day of the public hearing required to officially approve the IMP.

13-           Public Hearing. This is essential for officially finalizing the IMP. It must be preceded by plenty of advertisement concerning what the hearing is, and when/where it is.

14-           Creation of the Local Manager Committee (LMC). As a guarantee that the IMP will be respected by public entities, and especially by the future mayors, on the same day as the Public Hearing a Local Manager Committee will be formed.

15-           Rules of Local Manager Committee. As a guarantee that the Local Manager Committee will keep a good balance between the public entities and local society, similar rules will be enforced as those that were used in the composition of the IMP. State Coordination will draft these rules for each specific municipality involved in the Riverside Project.

16-           Implementation of IMP. The implementation of projects, works, etc., will follow the chronogram present in the IMP. The budget of this tasks will be actualized by the LMC each year. The acquisition of funds to support the IMP is a responsibility held by the 3 levels of public administration.

17-           Review. The possibility of reviewing how the project is doing is upheld throughout the entirety of the Riverside Project. Although the first proposed general review has a time of five years after the approbation of the IMP at the public hearing, it is possible that it be changed earlier.

Who will take these actions?

The proposition of Riverside Project is to allow an integrated action among Federal, State, and Municipality governments supported by a local society. In the specific pilot area that will be proposed in the lower course of Paraíba do Sul River, it will be necessary that the following participate: SPU, INEA and Municipalities (Campos dos Goytacazes, São João da Barra, São Francisco de Itabapoana, Cardoso Moreira, São Fidélis, Cambuci, Aperibé e Santo Antônio de Pádua).

Where will these actions be taken?

The Paraíba do Sul River is one of the most important rivers in Brazil. From its source in the State of São Paulo, it travels 1120 km, to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean. The area of its watershed covers parts of the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, with a drainage area of about 55,500 square kilometers. Since 1952, with the inauguration of the dam of Santa Cecilia, it transfers about 160 m³/s, two-thirds of its average flow, to the Lajes Hydroelectric Complex, to the catchment of Guandu River, where is located the Water Treatment Station (Guandu). The Guandu Station has a capacity of 45m3/s and is responsible for the water supply of more than 8.5 million people in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro. The Guandu Station represents approximately 85% of the total water supply of the Rio de Janeiro City and 70% of the water supply of a group of peripheral municipalities. However, the high strategic and economic values of this river are still undervalued. Oliveira.R.C.N.(2011). Many factors have caused the degradation of this river and its tributaries, Figures 9 and 10 show the lack of communication among Federal, State and Municipalities governments leading to a lack of a demarcation of the area of permanent preservation along its riverbanks of the rivers (FMP), and the control of irregular occupation of federal areas in the banks. 

Ricardo Castro Nunes de Oliveira - Riverside Project - Figure 9

Figure 9 -Some degradations in the mouth of Paraíba do Sul River.

Figure 10 - Oliveira,R.C.N - Bananal River

Figure 10 - Degradation of the Bananal River. A tributary of the Paraíba do Sul River.

This degradation is very apparent in the lower course of the river, causing large challenges to the water supply and the control of the erosion in the riverbanks and in the sea coast near its mouth, Figure 11.

Ricardo Castro Nunes de Oliveira - Riverside Project - Figure 10.

Figure 11 - Degradation of the sea coast. 

We propose the Riverside Project in the lower curse. Figure 12 shows the area of the Riverside Project.

Riverside Project - Pilot Area - Ricardo Castro Nunes de Oliveira - changed.

Figure 12- Pilot Area. changed.


What are other key benefits?

The methodology of “Riverside Project” can be an important tool for identifying the main factors leading to the degradation of rivers. It would be, a holistic approach that also would consider cultural aspects, engagement, educational process, justice, and ethics. Amadei (1954);Lehmann et al (2008);Oliveira and Campos (2016). At the same time, it is a way to improve the crescent international cooperation among countries and researchers to preserve the river spaces.SERELAREFA - Nardine et al (2014) 

Additionally, it permits the adoption of measures to protect the population according to the IPCC predictions of Global Warming and Climate Change.The application of this methodology allows the interaction of watershed and coastal areas

However, the most important benefit of the Riverside Project will be the possibility of engaging and empowering the local population through an educational process. This will create a future generation with more knowledge about its rights and responsibilities.  

What are the proposal’s costs?

The majority of the costs of this project are already earmarked in the budgets of the Union, the State, and the municipalities. Since it is a non-structural action with no implementation needed, the main cost is linked to the payment of public workers and their travels to the local area of the project. Other costs such as the costs of meetings, field surveys, and holding public hearings will also be supported by the municipalities. In addition, it is important to note that one of the guidelines of this project is to use the public structure that already exists.

Time line

The timeline for the implementation of the Riverside Project will be five years, beginning with the agreement of the State Coordination until the approval of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) in a public hearing. After this, an additional five years will be spent to work on and intervene in the river space. After these ten years, a revision of the IMG will be completed. Then a new cycle of works and interventions will start. 

Related proposals

Riverside Project has a multidisciplinary approach, and there are many propositions in the contest Anticipating Climate Hazards and Fuel: Carbon Contributions that could be listed how related proposals. We remember that our proposal has some guidelines such as the involvement of stakeholders, empowerment of society, transparency, communication, environmental education, river restoration and recovery of riparian forests and last but not list, the integration between the rivers spaces and estuarine regions. Then, anyone proposal that can contribute to improving one of these guidelines can be related to our proposition. Bellow some of these:

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT IN AFRICA;A2R via Oceanic Resources Conservation/Adaptation (ORCA) Sea Farming Communities;Future Vision: educational data collection for community resilience;One Day One Tree: An Endless Mission to Protect The Future Generations;Afforest app: users really making the world green again like a game.


Amadei, Bernard,(1954); Engineering for sustainable human development: a guide to successful small-scale community projects. Copyright 2014 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Brazil (2005); Projeto Orla: Guia de Implementação . Brasília, DF: MMA, 2005.

Brazil (2015); Alcance Territorial da Legislação Ambiental, Indigenista e Agrária (EMBRAPA). Disponible on (2016); Globo-News, jornal das dez – reportagem sobre o rompimento da barragem da samarco. Disponible on

James Hansen and Makiko Sato ( 2016); Regional climate change and national responsibilities-Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, Columbia University Earth Institute, New York,NY10115, USA.

Lehmann, M., Christensen, P., Du, X., & Thrane, M. (2008); Problem-oriented and project-based learning (POPBL) as an innovative learning strategy for sustainable development in engineering education. European Journal of Engineering Education33(3), 283-295.

Nardine et al (2014); The Fluvial Space: a comparison amongst Chile, Brazil, México, Spain and Italy, within the Project UE-FP7-IRSES-PEOPLE “SERELAREFA”.

Oliveira, R.C.N; Campos, R.P. (2016); Political Hydrology. ASCE Congress - 2016 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress, West Palm Beach, Florida.