River diversion and hydropower plants: The unknown Ribeira Valley (states of Paraná and São Paulo) - PDF

River diversion and hydropower plants: The unknown Ribeira Valley (states of Paraná and São Paulo) A. Oswaldo Sevá Filho and Luciana Maria Kalinowski Ribeira and its partial and idealized images The basin

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River diversion and hydropower plants: The unknown Ribeira Valley (states of Paraná and São Paulo) A. Oswaldo Sevá Filho and Luciana Maria Kalinowski Ribeira and its partial and idealized images The basin of the Ribeira de Iguape River extends from the ridge of the Paranapiacaba Mountain Range to the southern tip of the state of São Paulo (SP) and from the Serra do Mar Mountain Range in Paraná to the east border of this state, including some of the municipalities in the metropolitan region of Curitiba. The Ribeira River, which was one of the first access routes of European settlers into the Brazilian hinterland, houses secular cities along its banks such as Iguape, at the river mouth, and Iporanga, in the middle section. Its banks and tributaries have been mined for gold and precious metals since the 17 th century and, not by chance, between these two cities lies another one called Eldorado, an iconic name and toponymy of different locations in South America. During the pioneering period, when indigenous people were the only inhabitants, groups of African and Afro-descendent slaves came into the valley or fled there later, giving rise to some of the current rural communities of descendants of runaway slaves (Quilombolas) established between these cities. Until a few years ago, silver and gold were obtained as a byproduct of lead ore, which for decades was exploited in mines close to the Ribeira River between Cerro Azul and Adrianópolis in the state of Paraná (PR), as well as in the surroundings of the São Paulo side of the Betari River. Even today, mineral resources are highly exploited in some parts of the territory, particularly limestone in the region of Apiaí (SP) (mining and cement plant of the Camargo Correa group) and along the opposite ridge on the Paraná side, in Rio Branco do Sul and Campo Largo, in the metropolitan region of Curitiba, one of the country s largest lime and cement centers (cement plant of the Votorantim group). Phosphate rocks are also mined and processed for manufacturing NPK fertilizers in the region of Cajati (SP), whose brand Serrana belongs to the multinational group Bunge (Bitar, 1990). estudos avançados 26 (74), The original vegetation cover (Atlantic Forest) of these Serra do Mar mountain ranges has not yet been significantly destroyed in the coastal part, what unfortunately has happened in the hinterland part (in the territory of the Sorocaba and Paranapanema river basins). In the early 2010s, Atlantic Forest deforestation fronts were found in the municipality of Taparaí (SP) in the Juquiá sub-basin, with the subsequent charcoal production from pau-flor or manacáda-serra trees and from the eucalyptus plantations. Additionally, eucalyptus and pine trees spread quickly over the highlands of Paranapiacaba, and particularly on the Paraná plateau (e.g. in the municipalities of Tunas do Paraná and Jaguariaíva), to feed the burgeoning wooden product industry and the expansion of pulp production in that state. In the São Paulo section of the Ribeira Basin and adjacent areas, different state Conservation Units were defined: Intervales Park in the interfluve between the Ribeira and Paranapanema Basins; Petar in the cave region between Apiaí and Iporanga; PEJ, located further below, around the municipality of Jacupiranga; and an extensive Environmental Protection Area (EPA) of Serra do Mar mountain range, with nearly 5,000 square kilometers, stretching from close to the metropolitan region of São Paulo to near the border with Paraná. The harvest of Juçara palm heart on the lower slopes and piedmont in both states was a major source of income in past decades and, while this practice does not lead to massive deforestation, it is being strongly opposed by environmental enforcement agencies and promptly replaced by palm tree plantations (e.g. close to Juquiá (SP)). Two plant products symbolize the region s rural economy: banana, with plantations stretching for more than 100 hectares from the foothills of the mountain ranges to the banks of the Juquiá and Ribeira de Iguape rivers (e.g. in Sete Barras and Eldorado), and tea, with the country s largest production center located in the largest city in the valley, Registro, at the intersection of the Ribeira River and the Regis Bittencourt Highway though tea has also been planted and processed in the upper part of the municipality of Tapiraí (SP). In other riparian niches and lower hills, tomato, other vegetables and fruits such as passion fruit and orange are also planted for commercial purposes for example, in the municipality of Cerro Azul (PR), which holds an annual orange festival. In the lower Ribeira and particularly in the lower Juquiá, sand ports have proliferated since the 1970s and 1980s and are still in operation, supplying the construction industry on the south coast and in the metropolitan region of São Paulo. In the coastal lowlands, a part of the wider estuarine system extends from the Iguape region, where it borders the Jureia-Itatins Ecological Station, all the way southeast to the city of Cananeia, where it edges Ilha do Cardoso State Park, which is still in good natural condition and thus allows for traditional local populations to engage in fish and seafood production. However, several sections of these wide lowlands are covered with banana plantations (e.g. along the São Lourenço River Valley (SP)), while others (e.g. close to the municipality 270 estudos avançados 26 (74), 2012 of Pariquera-Açu) have been deforested and cleared for the production of peat used as fuel in the phosphate industry in Cajati. The territory of this river basin is part of the road network of the two states and crossed from northeast to southwest by the Regis Bittencourt Highway, known as BR-116, a road of national significance. An old route that links São Paulo to Curitiba, passing through Itapetininga, Apiaí, Ribeira, Adrianópolis and Tunas do Paraná, has been paved and carries heavy cargo truck traffic. In São Paulo, an old connecting route between Juquiá and Sorocaba is being used that goes up the Paranapiacaba Mountain Range through Tapiraí and Piedade. In Paraná, the road linking Curitiba to Cerro Azul was only paved in On the São Paulo side of the Ribeira de Iguape River basin, a single paved road links the riverside cities of Registro, Eldorado and Iporanga, going all the way up through the Betari River Valley to the city of Apiaí. In the case of Ribeira de Iguape, while it is true that the main river has not yet been affected by the construction of large dams, it was once affected by a large hydraulic project that led to a serious fluvial and economic problem. At its end, after flowing for almost 500 kilometers, the river s natural embouchure into the Atlantic Ocean in the municipality of Iguape (SP), in a place called Barra do Ribeira. However, since the construction of the Valo Grande channel in 1825, a significant part of the water flow is diverted into the Pequeno Sea, between the mainland and the Comprida Island (Bitar, 1990). While the main river has not yet been dammed, twelve power plants with a total capacity of almost 540 MW are operating on other rivers in the same basin, most of them on the Juquiá River (SP), its largest tributary. Over half of this installed capacity belongs to a single company, the Brazilian Aluminum Company (CBA), owned by the Votorantim group, whose electricity is transmitted exclusively to this factory located close to Sorocaba (SP). The most powerful among all power plants that use river water of the Ribeira basin was built by the Paraná state electricity utility (COPEL), whose dam is located on the Paraná plateau on the Capivari River (tributary of the Pardo River, which is a tributary of Ribeira), while its 260-MW powerhouse lies on the bank of the Cachoeira River in the coastal lowland of Paraná the third largest river deviation project among the four existing ones on this same wall of mountain ranges (Figure 1). This issue will be discussed in this article. This brief overview of the Ribeira de Iguape River Basin is not meant to give a complete account of its social, economic and geographic conditions, as it derives from a partial point of view, i.e., from the analysis of a number of partial and specific studies by different researches on different aspects of the region and its problems. It also results from recent visits by the authors of this paper to some parts of the region. In this case, the main motivation was to figure out what would be the physical and social consequences if the four medium-sized power plants were built on the Ribeira River basin (Sevá Filho et al., 2007). estudos avançados 26 (74), As part of this activity, we had to create a realistic picture of the region, but we were faced with some widespread conflicting views on the Ribeira Valley. On the one hand, for example, it was portrayed as a miserable, old Valley, the poor cousin of the rich Southeast Region. On the other hand, some people strongly defended it as a Valley full of caves and preserved forest, a Valley housing Quilombola riural communities (from the revolted negro slaves who rejoined the quilombos ) and indigenous villages, both remnants of groups that were much more numerous in the past and that survived slavery and extermination. There is also the sometimes romanticized view of the Valley as portrayed by fishermen and shellfish gatherers, the traditional peoples. From this point of view, the region is to be preserved and protected not only by governmental agencies, but also by entrepreneurs involved in adventure tourism, cave visits and river sports such as rafting. Accordingly, some local advocacy NGOs and other larger socio-environmental NGOs such as the influential Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA), which is based in São Paulo and has an operating office in Eldorado (SP) established many years ago, as well as other NGOs headquartered in Curitiba or in small cities like Pariquera-Açu and Cananeia (SP) and Cerro Azul (PR), have shifted their focus to the Valley. In addition, a program for university extension activities was implemented by the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), with the specific aim of strengthening Quilombola communities. Also in this research stage, we faced methodological limitations, as many sources are based on a wrong assumption: they treat the Valley as if it belonged to São Paulo only. The Paraná part is often forgotten or left out, resulting in mutilated maps and lowering the chances of correctly matching reliable data on the whole basin. In some cases, the Valley s geographic scale also includes coastal preservation areas extending from Jureia to the Cardoso Island, while in others its geographic bounds are pushed even further down to the south coast, encompassing the Mel Island and even the Superagui National Park and the Antonina and Paranaguá bay complex in Paraná. Meanwhile, also in Paraná, the so-called developed center is located in the land of the Iguaçu basins such as in the capital Curitiba and some municipalities in its metropolitan region, and in the city of Tibagi and defines an inland route from Ponta Grossa to Londrina and upstate. In any case, this center faces away from the Ribeira Valley and almost all citizens in the metropolitan region of Curitiba and users of the BR-116 highway are probably not even aware that the Capivari Cachoeira dam is located on a river in the Ribeira basin. The over-dammed Ribeira Basin rivers The land drained by the Ribeira de Iguape River Basin extends over an area of approximately 25,000 square kilometers, 7,800 sq. km. of which in the state of Paraná and 17,000 sq. km. in the state of São Paulo. From the foothills of the Paranapiacaba Mountain Range in Paraná flow the Lajeado and Itapir- 272 estudos avançados 26 (74), 2012 apuã rivers, the left-bank tributaries of the Upper Ribeira. Flowing from this ridge on the first Paraná plateau to the metropolitan region of Curitiba are the right-bank tributaries: the Santana and Açungui rivers, considered the sources of Ribeira de Iguape, the Ponta Grossa River, which crosses the city of Cerro Azul. There is also the Rocha River, which drains the waters from a karst region between Cerro Azul and Adrianópolis, where lead ore was mined in the past, and then the Grande and São Sebastião rivers (ADVR, 2002). Among other smaller rivers, special mention should be made of the Capivari River, where the Capivari Cachoeira dam was built on the first plateau. From this dam, the natural flow of the Capivari River branches off: 1) a large part flows through a tunnel system under the Serra do Mar Mountain Range into the Cachoeira River, which finishes into the Antonina Bay in the Paraná coast, and 2) the second flow, when left over from the dam s hydroelectric operations, follows the natural course of the Capivari River all the way down close to the Régis Bittencourt Highway, and then joins the largest right-bank tributary of the Ribeira de Iguape River, the Pardo River, which runs through the city of Barra do Turvo (SP). From the coastal areas of Paranapiacaba and the southern recesses of Serra do Mar in São Paulo flow dozens of left-bank tributaries of the Ribeira de Iguape River, such as the Tijuco and Catas Altas rivers, which flow close to the cities of Apiaí and Ribeira (SP), and the Betari River, which flows above the city of Iporanga (SP) and is currently more geared toward tourism, though a few decades ago it was exploited for lead ore to feed the Cobrac/Plumbum industry in Adrianópolis (PR). The already mentioned Juquiá River is the largest tributary, a sister river of the Ribeira de Iguape. Further east, across the Régis Bittencourt Highway, the São Lourenço and São Lourencinho also stand out, as they flow down and thicken the Ribeira de Iguape River in its etuarine section. estudos avançados 26 (74), * Figure 1 Location of the Capivari-Cachoeira System in the Serra do Mar Mountain Range and the Paraná Coast. (Prepared by A. O. Sevá Fo. from a Google Earth image) The known fact is that all of these sources of the Juquiá and Ribeira Rivers flow down quickly from the Paranapiacaba and Serras do Mar Mountain Ranges through many falls, waterfalls, canyons and rapids, a condition considered necessary in the initial phase of hydroelectric capitalism (early to mid 20 th century) for the successive utilization of these waters through dams and power plants. The river is full of turns and its waterfalls, one of its main characteristics, become a commodity. It is not specifically about the altimetric accident, the term used then, but rather about the ability to produce energy from the conversion of hydraulic power generated by moving water. In any case, one of the river s natural features was beginning to take on an unprecedented meaning. The rivers would now be exploited to identify favourable sites to produce electricity (Arruda, 2008). Based on the official information available, twelve power plants (still in operation, aacording to sources) were installed on the rivers of this basin in the period, two in the state of Paraná and the other in the state of São Paulo, almost all of them in the sub-basin of the Juquiá River. 2 Not to mention the small power plants that drived the life of farms, villages and even cities, and then, as in many mountainous regions in Brazil, were abandoned and even scrapped such as the one that supplied the city of Eldorado with electricity for decades, built on a tributary of the Ribeira River a few miles from the municipal government seat. 274 estudos avançados 26 (74), 2012 The oldest of these power plants, which is still operating today, is the 7.2- MW Jurupará, built on the Peixe River in the municipality of Piedade by the Brazilian Aluminum Company. A 0.4-MW power plant called Piedade was later built on the same river and is currently operated by the company Faixa Azul Ind. de Móveis para Escritório Ltda. The Brazilian Aluminum Company also built six more hydropower plants on the Juquiá River. Describing them in the counter-flow direction, from downstream to upstream, the first one is the 40.4-MW Barra Power Plant, built in 1986 in the municipality of Tapiraí; then there is the 24-MW Serraria Power Plant in the municipality of Juquiá, which began to operate in 1978; next comes Alecrim, the plant with the highest capacity (72 MW), built in 1970 in the municipality of Miracatu; further upstream we find the 28.4-MW Porto Raso Power Plant, established in 1982 also in the municipality of Tapiraí, and two plants in the upper portion of the river, close to the metropolitan region of São Paulo and to the BR- 116 Highway: the 36.4-MW Fumaça Power Plant, completed in 1964 in Ibiúna, and the França Power Plant in Juquitiba, which has a capacity of 29.5 MW and was the first to be built on this river, completed in In the municipality of Juquiá, the Brazilian Aluminum Company dammed the tributary Açungui River to build another 36.9-MW power plant, known as Salto do Iporanga, which was inaugurated in 1989 and is the newest of all these plants, thus totaling almost 268 MW installed in this sub-basin. Also in the state of São Paulo, the 4-MW Catas Altas Power Plant began operations in 1963 on a river by the same name, close to a highway connecting the cities of Apiaí and Ribeira, and is currently operated by Orsa, a business group in the pulp and paper industry. On the Paraná side of the basin, the 1.5-MW Santa Cruz Power Plant was built on the Tacaniça River in the Municipality of Rio Branco do Sul by the company Cimentos Rio Branco S/A, also owned by the Votorantim Group and established in the same city. The largest of all of these hydroelectric projects in this basin, herein referred to as Capivari Cachoeira System, began to be built in 1963 by CO- PEL, a Paraná state company. The powerhouse is located in the coastal lowlands of the municipality of Antonina and has a current installed capacity of 260 MW. It was later renamed Governor Parigot de Souza Power Plant in honor of a former governor of Paraná, and will be analyzed in greater detail in this paper. River divertions from the plateau to the coast through the Serra do Mar Mountain Range The Serra do Mar Mountain Range, a wall with an average height of 1,000 meters that falls all the way down to the ocean coast of Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, aroused the creative greed of engineers in the early 20 th century for a clear reason: if the waters of the rivers originating there in the countryside region, flowing to the West hinterland, could be diverted into the coastal area, the highest waterfalls in the world would be then artificially created and used to generate electricity. Indeed, this was done in an almost unrivalled estudos avançados 26 (74), capitalist impulse that laid the actual foundations for urban-industrial development in the two largest Brazilian cities: the Billings Cubatão system for São Paulo, and the Piraí Lajes system for Rio de Janeiro. 3 Although they share the same impressive engineering scale, these two systems differ in terms of geography: 1) The Billings Cubatão system began to be built in the 1920s and was completed in 1950 by the renowned Canadian company Light SP. It takes the waters of the Upper Tietê River and its tributary Grande Pinheiros and uses several dams equipped with gates and hydraulic pumps to reverse their flow toward the ridge of Serra do Mar and pour the diverted flow all the way down the mountains, a fall of more than 700 meters. The flow of up to 100 m3/s is conducted through surface and underground aqueducts to feed two power plants (old and new Henry Borden ), with a combined installed capacity of 880 MW. After going through the turbines, the water flows down through tailraces to the Cubatão River in the coastal lowlands, and is also used strategically by indu
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