Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Was the Riachuelo navigable again?: Answer divides experts

Although the abandoned boats are gone, although the banks are clear, although the smell is strong but not nauseating, there is one question that still hangs over Argentina’s most polluted river: Is the Riachuelo already navigable? Can the over a decade old ban be lifted? Or does the decline level still prevent it? A government request revived the debate.

Navigation through the Matanzas Riachuelo Basin has been judicially suspended since 2011, within the framework of the cause of the cleanliness of the river. A proposal to cross it again was presented last year by the Ministry of Tourism of the nation to the Federal Court of Morón, with the accompaniment of the tourism agency of the city, along with other state precedents.

The national government’s proposal is part of a much wider and more ambitious plan: the creation of A Nautical Walk and Tourist Circuit between Quilmes and Tigre, Within this project, there is a need to “facilitate access to the socio-cultural circuit of La Boca and Isla Maciel, linked by the crossing of the historic Nicolás Avellaneda Ferry Bridge”. For that, you have to rehabilitate the navigation in that area.




Currently, only official boats can navigate the Riachuelo. Photo Ferdinand of the Order

At the request of the ministry, the court intervened the Matanza Riachuelo Basin Authority (Acumer), which was in charge of implementing its sanitation, To determine whether it is technically and environmentally feasible, Two public hearings on the project were held this month. The result: positions for and against, even within the same neighborhood and ecoregion.

Among those opposed are Raúl Estrada Oyuela, president of the Argentine Academy of Environmental Sciences, and representatives of the La Boca Neighborhood Association, one of the organizations that make up the collegiate body of NGOs that govern sanitation.

“The idea of ​​going back to navigate the Riachuelo is categorically rejected Whereas contamination persists due to the inactivity of the accumulator. It was not reduced, despite a 2008 court ruling,” says Estrada Oyuela. This refers to the ruling that ordered the nation, the city and the province to clean up the basin, which it has yet to complete. There is a long way to go.

Sweeper Boats Clean The Waters Of The Riachuelo.  Photo Ferdinand Of The Order


Sweeper boats clean the waters of the Riachuelo. Photo Ferdinand of the Order

For Estrada Oyuela, “only cosmetic changes have been made, such as the removal of abandoned hulls on the banks, and grass and small trees in the Avellaneda ravines. But Untreated industrial and sewage pollutants continue to be discharged,

“The Left Bank collector works send sewage discharge from Buenos Aires into the Río de la Plata, without treatment, to be deposited near the ISA’s water intake,” says Estrada Oyuela.

It refers to the collector that will allow the transport of sewage from the AMBA and will be connected to the flow of the Cloaca Maxima, which conducts most of the sewage liquids of Buenos Aires. According to Accumer, the Left Bank Collector is almost ready but Will start using it within a yearOnce the Riachuelo system is operational, the expansion that will prevent pollution of the river by sewage flows.

For Andrés Napoli, expert in environmental law and executive director of the Environment and Natural Resources Foundation (FARN), “the proposal to navigate the Riachuelo Follows only to show something in management and to pave the way for the larger sandbanks that wish to navigate it”.

“We always raise the need for transparent and systematic industrial control, so that industries can change their behavior as necessary. Your results should be published: Names of downloaders not known”, comments Napoli.

Some Experts Warn That The Riachuelo Cannot Yet Be Navigated Because It Continues To Discharge Untreated Pollutants.  Photo Ferdinand Of The Order


Some experts warn that the Riachuelo cannot yet be navigated because it continues to discharge untreated pollutants. Photo Ferdinand of the Order

on the other side

In favor of a return to navigation is, among others, Accumer himself. Its General Director of Political and Social Management Antolin Magallanes clarifies that “this is the first and sensible step to think about the navigation of the Riachuelo. We want it to be tourist type only And for the time being only from kilometer zero, at the mouth of the Río de la Plata, to the transborder bridge, 600 meters inland.

“Is it contaminated? Yes, but the work that was being done is definitely making a difference. We leveled the riverbank, the transporter bridge was recovered, we have a mirror of water that doesn’t contain any amount of supernatants. Also, Many rivers are navigable with some level of pollution.Like the Thames, where you can fish and row a boat, but not swim”, says Magellan.

Rowing X Riachuelo Which Was Done On 5 November.  Photo: X La Boca Foundation


Rowing x Riachuelo which was done on 5 November. Photo: X La Boca Foundation

From her position as an expert, oceanographer Marcela Dubas argues that the Riachuelo is indeed navigable. And he says this as an expert in Diagnostic Studies and Environmental Assessment and a Master in Environmental Management. In 2019 he co-wrote Preliminary study of the navigability of the Riachuelo from Cuatro Bocas to the Central Market of Buenos Aires from UBA’s Faculty of Engineering and the Graduate School of Port Engineering.

“I studied surface water in 2019 and concluded that it is bad for aquatic life but It doesn’t have the toxic presence to do harm, There is no chance that you will swallow all that water while rowing. This is not skiing, this is navigation, in principle for tourist purposes. In turn, water transport is more energy efficient, consuming much less fuel than land transport”.

For Dabas, the neighborhood issue also plays an important role: “Those living along the river feel that a part of their life was taken away from them when the navigation was suspended. For everyone else, this plan is also important because we recover a resource and we can enjoy it again. It’s a nice walk,” he says.

There Are Experts Who Say That The Pollution Is Not Dangerous For Those Navigating The Riachuelo.  Photo Tailam


There are experts who say that the pollution is not dangerous for those navigating the Riachuelo. photo tailam

Jorge Zalbeit, environmental advisor for the Riachuelo program of the Fundación X La Boca, also believes that this river “can be navigated” and that “significant contribution to drainage, since their activity gives them oxygen and creates favorable conditions for their hygiene ”. Of course: It clarifies that the activity is subject to “restrictions given by the depth and dimensions of the bridges”.

“Acumar, AySA and the City Government control and trace polluting discharges – Stresse Zalabite-. Acumar, with inspections and closures. AySA, ends with the construction of the Left Bank Collector, which collects all polluting discharges at the edge of the city of Buenos Aires. Will solve the dumps. The city government, with remote-controlled robots, is detecting secret dumping in basins towards the capital.

It now remains for the Federal Court of Morrone to see which of the positions weighs more on the navigability of the basin. Or, in other words, to find out whether a walk along a part of the Riachuelo will be part of the near future or, for the time being, just a utopia.

NS

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