Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Where does the Iguaçu River come from?
Photos courtesy of the Piraquara City Government, Secretary of the Environment and Tourism. 1. Avenida Getulio Vargas (Avenue) between the Mountain Range and Curitiba. 2) One of the 1.000 plus wellsprings of the Iguaçu River
There were three questions that I hated the most when I worked as a guide in the Iguassu Falls area back in the late 70s when I was younger and foolish. The first had to do with the geological formation of the Falls. We then learned, as we learn today, that the Falls orginated from a volcano. Which volcano? Where? The second was which side is more beautiful the Brazilian or the Argentine? Depending on who asked you might be in big trouble. The third was: where does the Iguassu River come from? The answer then was normally what it still is today: the Iguaçu River comes from Curitiba – like the Government. Curitiba is the seat of the Paraná State Government – a Government headquartered at the Palacio Iguaçu in the Curitiba’s Civic Center.
I am writing this today to answer the third question. The Iguaçu / Iguazu or Iguassu River orginate from thousands of water springs found on the high flatland (Plateau) on the Western foothill of the Southern Atlantic Mountain Range around the Curitiba Metropolitan Region (RMC). The RMC is made up of 26 cities most of them havng something to do with the Iguaçu River but as far as this posting is concerned I will concentrate my efforts on the municipalities located to the East of Curitiba proper and between Curitiba and the Mountain Range.
Piraquara is my focus. The city claims to have catalogued 1.162 springs that form the heart of the Upper Iguaçu River Basin – the headwaters of the Iguaçu. Beacause of such a privilege Piraquara, Piraquara also “houses” the headwaters of several small river basins like the Piraquara River, The Iraí and the Ipiranga rivers who will end up in the Iguaçu River somwhere and somehow downstream. Why do I say somewhere and somehow?
The City Hall (Prefeitura) of Piraquara affirms that 93% of its territory is Headwater Protection Area and that another 7% is Mountain Slope Protection Area. Which means that 100% of the city is compromised with environmental protection. It also means that there are serious restrictions to growth, progress, economic development – as the saying goes.
If you look for a good reason for so much protection – all you have to do is to stop on Avenida Getulio Vargas and look westward – you see Curitiba with its population of 1.7 million sprawling down there. Piraquara is responsible for 50% of the water Curitiba uses to drink, bathe with, flush toilets, wash cars, laundry and so on. Climbing the nearby mountain will reveal the existence of dams or reservoirs of all sizes. Among them the Piraquara I and II Dams plus the Iraí Dam all owned by the partly (half) State-owned water and sewer company called Sanepar. Unlike other dams down river – in the middle and lower Iguaçu, these are not intended to produce the much needed electricity. They are part of the Curitiba Water Supply infrasctructure.
It is only past Piraquara and other municipalites that the Iguaçu River already polluted will be called by this name. I wil come back with more on the Iguaçu River’s birth, suffering and glorious (?) end later on. I am on the road and checking things up. See you then.