Espirito Santo Water Project

To illustrate how public participation can improve environmental decision making, the CO-SEED team gathered case studies from around the world. The case study below is part of our on-going series sharing these examples:

Espirito Santo Water Project included potable water, sewerage, and sewage treatment systems in 12 urban areas in the Brazilianstate of Espirito Santo, with the locations of the latter causing major environmental concerns. Public participation in the environmental assessment process resulted in the identification of two locations where communities would significantly suffer from the construction of the facilities: (i) Mulemba Valley, where the construction would have eliminated clay deposits vital for the subsistence of traditional artisans and (ii) Joanne D’Arc neighbourhood where local people already suffered from the impacts of an existing composting plant, a quarry, and an asphalt plant. A new sewage treatment system would have exacerbated these impacts.

In the Mulemba Valley case, alternative sites for the facility were lacking. Thus, scientists and artisans jointly decided on mitigation measures which would preserve local artistic traditions, life-style, and livelihood of the people. The artisans were guaranteed legal access to additional clay deposits; technical assistance and training in new clay technologies were offered; transport and storage of clay from the Mulemba Valley was organized; and assistance in commercialization techniques and a sales outlet in the state capital of Vitoria was provided. In the Joanne D’Arc case, public meetings provided opportunities for local people to express their concerns. In discussions a solution was found in cooperation with the state water company and the Secretary for Environment. Namely these organizations committed to constructing more green areas, planting tree barriers, and creating a recreational area in Joanne D’Arc.