This article was originally published on International Water Association.


“Balneário Camboriú is both a famous Brazilian beach destination and a water supply management puzzle. The population of the city is just 170,000 year-round but swells to over 800,000 during the summer high season. Like many water utilities facing growing demand and an uncertain climate, the local water company, EMASA, must invest carefully to secure water for its fluctuating customer base.

Unlike many water utilities, however, EMASA is investing in the natural system where its water comes from. By investing in “natural infrastructure” such as forests through conservation and restoration, EMASA controls soil erosion entering the Camboriú River, allowing them to reduce related water treatment costs and water losses. As EMASA’s Environmental Engineer Rafaela Santos says, “This river is the only supply that we have to Camboriú and Balneário Camboriú municipalities, so it’s important that EMASA invest in actions to preserve this resource to last more time and with a better quality”.

Around the world there are a growing number of contractual arrangements – sometimes called “water funds”—between municipal water companies and upstream land owners aimed at improving source water quality or quantity. Nevertheless, the potential of natural infrastructure options for improving water quality or flows far exceeds current spending. According to the Beyond the Source report—which analyzed 4,000 cities to demonstrate the health, climate and biodiversity benefits of source water protection—costs can be fully offset by water treatment savings alone in 1 out of 6 cities…”

Read on at: International Water Association.