1999 Research Report
Marson Teixeira De Andrade
"Study of Sensitivity at Upper Sao Francisco Basin:
Searching for Sediment Source"
CLAS Summer Research Report: "Environmental
History of the Lower Sao Francisco River"
Report: Voices from the São Francisco River Valley, September
|A statue of Santo
Francisco located at the top of the headwaters of the
Sao Francisco River.
build storage reservoirs or power dams to store water, and
mortage our irrigated valleys and our industries to pay for
them, but every year they store a little less water and a
little more mud. Reclamation, which should be for all time,
thus becomes in part the source of a merely temporary prosperity."
Aldo Leopold, The Virgin Southwest, 1933
|Sao Francisco River
in the National Park of Canastra.
general, countries and civilizations have faced water shortages
due to natural climate variability, anthropogenic changes
and desertification, or overexploitation and pollution of
the resource base. Management of water resources inherently
entails mitigating the effects of hydrological extremes and
providing a greater degree of reliability in the delivery
of water-related services. Because different users have different
priorities and risk tolerances, the balance points among
them during climate changing could be quite different from
the present (hydropower and instream uses may be lost disproportionately
compared to water supply). My project studies the effect
of climate variability on hydropower generation, comparing
USA and Brazil cases.
|Sandmining at Para
River (tributary of Tres Marias Reservoir).
study case, the Sao Francisco River, is one of the most important
rivers in Brazil, and is referred to as the National Unit
River. It runs an extension of 2700 km from the rich southern
region towards the semi-arid northeast region, sharing life
to the poorest area of Brazil. Almost 25 million people live
in this basin and depend on the water flowing from the Sao
Francisco River for irrigation, electricity consumption,
drinking water and navigation. The Sao Francisco Basin has
a total area of 639,219.4 km2, and 53.8% (343,784.1 Km2)
is located at the driest area of the country. There are 10
dams in the Sao Francisco River, and three of them have big
reservoirs behind the dam as Sobradinho, Tres Marias and
|Crossing the Tres
Marias Reservoir by Ferry-boat.
vulnerability to climate change (El nino effects on droughts
intensification) and also to anthropogenic influence (land
use, reservoirs, river regulation, water pollution) is one
of the main concerns expressed by NGOs, local and national
agencies, and community groups to the sustainable development
in the Sao Francisco River Basin. There is already a growing
electric energy deficit in Northeast region that is compensated
by importing energy from other regions. During the normal
dry season (no El Nino years), some reservoirs have depleted
40-60% of their total capacity. During El Nino, the situation
can be worse.
|Inside of the Tres
Marias Dam, Hydropower Monitoring Room.
field work helped to collect important material to evaluate
the Upper Sao Francisco River basin, where the Tres Marias
Dam is located. ASF Environmental Association of high Sao
Francisco's diagnostic of the river's bank along National
Park of Canastra (headwaters) and the Lagoa da Prata municipality
(243.5 km), between 1990-1991 years, showed that only 4.03
% of the total edges still have riparian vegetation. The
other 95.97 % were deforested and replaced by pasture/agriculture
|Inside of the Tres
Marias Dam, Hydropower Monitoring Room.
registered many of the erosion caused by deforestation and
farming, diamond and sand mining, and also by Eucalyptus
plantation farms. They are some of the many wounds in the
Sao Francisco river basin.
1: Sao Francisco Basin and the Upper Sao Francisco basin
highlighted, where the author did her research
field research had basically a general purpose that depended
upon three specific objectives to be targeted.
understand and evaluate the actual and historical pattern
of land and water use, and climate variability in the upper
part of the Sao Francisco River Basin.
collect data: references, maps, hydro- meteorologic and
sediment data, and pictures of sensitive areas in the Upper-part
Sao Francisco Basin;
interview some key people that works on federal and local
Agencies and/or non-government institutions,
to visit the upper-part of the catchment and six gauges
in that area.
field research at Sao Francisco Basin consisted on two phases,
a desk study related to the organization of the field work
and developed through the contact with the key people working
on ANEEL, CEMIG and other important institutions, and a field
study related to the field research per se.
spent almost five weeks preparing the desk study, travelling
from Sao Paulo to Brasilia and also to Belo Horizonte city.
The desk study consisted basically on:
and document gathering: at Aneel (National Agency of electric
energy) and CODEVASF (Development Company of the Sao Francisco
Valley) in Brasilia; at CEMIG (Minas Gerais Electric Company -Energy
Utility) and CPRM (company of Mineralogical resources research),
in Belo Horizonte. Maps of the basin (geological, physic,
topographic), maps with gauge localization, rain, stream
flow and sediment data at gauges.
and meeting with key people that works with water resources
management, hydrology, meteorology and sediment: Prof.
Marcos Freitas (Aneel), Eng. Rui (CODEVASF), Eng. Antonio
Jose Machado (CEMIG), Prof. Newton Carvalho (Eletrobras),
Naziano Pantajola (Aneel), Alice and Marcelo (CPRM), Prof.
Ruibran (CEMIG/PUC), Prof. Yone (PUC-MG).
spent one week visiting the Upper-part of the Sao Francisco
River Basin. We drove from Belo Horizonte City towards the
headwaters of the High Sao Francisco Basin, at Canastra National
Park, southern of Minas Gerais State, stopping at Tres Marias
Dam. The original plan included one week more on boat to
observe the Sao Francisco River catchment from Januaria city
(Northern Minas Gerais State) to Tres Marias city, but it
was cancelled because the low flow and river siltation didn't
allowed the boats to sail from Januaria to Pirapora during
field trip consisted of:
visiting: with the Civil Eng. Antonio Jose Machado from
CEMIG, we drove around 1200 km, leaving from Belo Horizonte
city towards the Tres Marias Reservoir and the Sao Francisco
headwaters at Canastra National Park. We visited four fluvial
and sediment gauges located at four tributaries upstream
of the Tres Marias Reservoir: Porto Indaia station at Indaia
River, Porto Andorinhas station at Sao Francisco River,
Porto Mesquita station at Paraopeba River, Porto Para station
at Para River. Plus 2 fluvial gauges (see map), Tres Marias
station at Sao Francisco river downstream the dam, and
other at Abaete River, Sao Francisco River's tributary.
Area observation: by taking pictures, identifying sensitive
areas: land use, erosion, landslide, deforestation etc.
the Canastra Mountains to the Tres Marias (reservoir), where
it is not eucalyptus plantation and coal industry, it is
sugar cane plantation or cattle grazzing."
L et alli, Rio Sao Francisco, uma caminhada entre vida
e morte, 1995
main results are still in analyses. Basically, the collected
material can be categorized as some maps and references,
tables and pictures.
August. "Viagem `as nascentes do Rio Sao Francisco" ,
Editora da Universidade de Sao Paulo, 1975
MMA, "Recursos Hidricos e o desenvolvimento sustentavel",
- MME, "Legislacao
Ambiental de Interesse do Setor eletrico" , Brasilia,
MMA, "O estado das Aguas no Brasil", Brasilia,
- PLANVASF, "Diagnostico
Sedimentologico na Bacia do Sao Francisco" , report,
- MMA, "Plano
de desenvolvimento sustentavel da bacia do rio Sao Francisco
e do semi-arido nordestino", Projeto Semi Arido, relatorio
tecnico, sintese. Brasilia, 1998
- MME, "Diagnostico
das Condicoes Sedimentologicas dos principais rios brasileiros",
second edition, Brasilia 1998
C. A. C., " Previsao de Volumes de Espera em tempo-Real
para Usina Hidreletrica de Sobradinho". IPH, Rio Grande
do Sul, 1996
Frei Luis F., Martins, A. Kirchner, R. " Rio Sao Francisco:
Uma caminhada entre vida e morte". Vozes Ed., 1995
- Aneel, "Vulnerabilidade
Climatica e recursos hidricos no Nordeste brasileiro",
records from six gauges, fluvial records and sediment data
from four gauges (the sediment data are not available yet);
maps; and almost 200 shots (using a digital camera Minolta
400) of the main gauges, land use and erosion on the landscape
and rivers bank.
Marson Teixeira de Andrade is a PhD student at Berkeley in
the Energy and Resources Group.