Towns located along Rio Doce river cut off water supply

The river is contaminated by iron residues from mining tailings, after

Published in 13/11/2015 - 18:48 By Da Agência Brasil - Brasília

Governador Valadares (MG) - Passagem da lama pelo Rio Doce, por causa do rompimento de duas barragens em Mariana, Minas Gerais, causa desastre ambiental (Leonardo Merçon/Instituto Últimos Refúgios/Divulgação)

According to the photographer and environmentalist Leonardo Merçon, after the mud wave arrived, the water of Rio Doce river "looks like a chocolate drink with a rusty smell."Leonardo Merçon/Instituto Últimos Refúgios

Governador Valadares is the most affected town after water supply was cut off, since the mud from the collapsed dams in Mariana had arrived to Rio Doce river. The population is queuing to buy mineral water and complains about the lack of solution to the problem.

The town is 300 kilometers away from the village where the dams burst and has a population of 280,000 people. Water supply had to be cut off after the mud wave containing mining tailings reached the river, which is the main source of local water supply. The municipality declared state of emergency.

Housewife Denise Cruz, resident of Governador Valadares, has bought ten water gallons, with 5 liters each, for the family’s basic needs. "I waited for more than two hours to buy them. I was very lucky. It will be enough water to drink and cook. We're bewildered, not knowing when we’ll have pure water again."

For retired José Monte who has always lived in the town, Governador Valadares is living the worst moment in its history. "No one knows when there will be water again. No one knows what to do," he reported.

On Thursday (Nov. 12), residents of the town have protested against the company Vale, which together with BHP controls Samarco mining company, responsible for the collapsed dams in Mariana. They blocked the railway line used by the mining company, asking for a solution to the lack of water supply.

Governador Valadares city hall reported that 38 water trucks run around the area to fill the tanks, and return back to provide water supply primarily to hospitals, schools and day care centers.

Samarco reported that from today (Nov. 13) they will send 2.4 million liters of water a day to Governador Valadares.

Rio Doce river

According to the photographer and environmentalist Leonardo Merçon, after the mud wave arrived, the water of Rio Doce river "looks like a chocolate drink with a rusty smell." He coordinates the NGO Latest Refuges (in an unofficial translation), working to preserve the environment. He went to Governador Valadares to check the situation and photograph it.

"It is possible to see fish dying asphyxiated, shrimp going to hot rocks to escape the mud," he said. "All living beings from Rio Doce river that need water to breathe have died," he added.

Governador Valadares (MG) - Passagem da lama pelo Rio Doce, por causa do rompimento de duas barragens em Mariana, Minas Gerais, causa desastre ambiental (Leonardo Merçon/Instituto Últimos Refúgios/Divulgação)

People are eating these dead fish, not knowing whether they have diseases, Merçon reported.Leonardo Merçon/Instituto Últimos Refúgios/Divulgação

Merçon reported that many residents of the region are not aware of how delicate the situation is. "People are eating these dead fish, not knowing whether they have diseases. Others are collecting them to sell. But many people have complained that the fish are smelly and say that the situation is becoming unbearable. No one knows when things will go back to normal."

Espírito Santo

This weekend, the mud should cut off water supply in the towns of Baixo Gandu and Colatina, in the neighbor state Espírito Santo. "Our focus here is Colatina, where there are more than 120,000 residents. When the mud arrives, the whole water supply will be cut off. Residents of the town will be unable to get water from Rio Doce river," said State Development secretary João Coser to Agência Brasil.

According to him, the state government is seeking alternatives to stay for "weeks without water supply. We need now to provide water supply to people. We have many cars to provide it. And we’ll place some water tanks in some parts of the city," Coser added.


Translated by Amarílis Anchieta


Fonte: Towns located along Rio Doce river cut off water supply

Edition: Graça Adjuto / Nira Foster

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