Residents of the Monte Cristo community, in Florianópolis (SC), had their homes invaded and destroyed after the rupture of a reservoir belonging to Companhia Catarinense de Águas e Saneamento (Casan), in the early hours of this Wednesday (6). Two people were injured. The Civil Police reported that they will open an investigation to determine the causes of what happened.
This is the second rupture of the state-owned company’s reservoir recorded in the capital of Santa Catarina in less than three years. On January 25, 2021, an artificial infiltration lagoon at the Lagoa da Conceição Sewage Treatment Station (ETE) spilled more than 100 million liters of organic matter in the Lagoa da Conceição neighborhood.
To date, according to the Public Security Secretariat of Florianópolis, there are 85 residences affected by Wednesday’s accident, with 15% of them having serious and disabling structural damage, and 90 families affected.
The Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), however, points out that the rupture affected around 200 families. The number “blatantly exceeds 90 families”, says Rodrigo Timm, a member of the MAB coordination team.
According to Casan, around two thousand cubic meters of water leaked onto Luís Carlos Prestes Street. The company informed, in a note, that company teams, in addition to the Civil Defense, Fire Department and Military Police, provide assistance to families and assess material damage.
The reservoir has been operating for two years and serves 80,000 people in the region. Even with the disruption, the company said there is no risk of discontinuity in the water supply. In the municipality, there are another 20 reservoirs.
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On social media, governor Jorginho Mello (PL) stated that he ordered the investigation of the causes. “I was informed this morning by the president of Casan about the rupture of the reservoir in Monte Cristo. I determined that all efforts should be directed towards accurately determining the causes and providing assistance to the affected population”, he published.
State deputy Marquito (PSOL) posted on his social networks that the affected residents were being taken to a local church. The parliamentarian also highlighted that this is not an unprecedented episode.
“Our entire team, from the most different areas, is mobilizing to help the population in this tragedy. Water invaded several houses in the Monte Cristo community, in Florianópolis (SC), leaving people injured and properties destroyed. There are already more than 300 dams with a history of human rights violations in the state”, he pointed out.
The rupture of the artificial infiltration lagoon at the Lagoa da Conceição Sewage Treatment Station (ETE), in 2021, released more than 130 million liters of organic matter, being considered the biggest environmental disaster in Florianópolis.
In addition to the homeless, the episode left the waters of the traditional Lagoa da Conceição with an oxygen level close to zero – according to monitoring by the Phycology Laboratory, at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC). A month later, in February, fish and crustaceans appeared dead in Costa da Lagoa, a fishing hotspot in the region.
According to Casan, the dam collapse was an accident caused by excessive rainfall. Days before the disaster, company technicians visited the site, following reports of partial collapse of the structure by residents. Measures, however, were not taken.
According to MAB, 70 families were affected by the rupture in 2021. “MAB has been denouncing the situation of dams and water reservoirs in general in Santa Catarina and throughout Brazil. There is still no state policy on rights for the affected communities. There is also no national policy. We realize that it is rare for reservoirs, dams and dams to have emergency systems, contingency systems, alarm systems, and also evacuation plans”, says Rodrigo Timm.
Brasil de Fato questioned Casan about the presence of emergency, alarm and contingency systems and evacuation plans for the region in the company’s reservoirs. Until the publication of this report, however, there was no response.
“Unfortunately, countless families live close to these projects, they do not know that they are neighbors of reservoirs and dams that have great potential damage associated with them and that they only discover this when water invades their homes”, says the MAB member.
“Privatization is not the solution”
Despite the rupture recorded this Wednesday (6), Rodrigo Timm is against the privatization of Casan, which is today a public company with mixed capital and open capital, which acts as a concessionaire in the sanitation sector. The MAB member states that, even in this model, there is a “privatist” stance in the company’s management.
“We know that groups that call for the privatization of public services use these disruptions to promote privatization, when, in fact, privatization is not the solution. The managers who currently occupy political positions in Casan’s public administration act with a privatist stance. It will possibly be Casan’s own managers who will take up positions in this new private company, if it is one day privatized,” he states.
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“We are not in favor of the privatization of Casan. On the contrary, we defend public control of water and energy companies. Effective public control, in the sense of monitoring public policies, guarantees much better parameters at these points”, he concludes.
Editing: Geisa Marques