TRANSFORMATION OF THE PANTANOSO BASIN

MONTEVIDEO (URUGUAY)

Client: The World Bank
Date: 2019
Status: Completed
Program: Urban activation and transformation of the Pantanoso Basin
Scope: Consultancy and participation processes

The Pantanoso River is one of the two tributaries to the Bay of Montevideo, its basin is located entirely in the zone of Montevideo and occupies 13% of its surface area. The Pantanoso basin is an area of high social vulnerability, housing precariousness and environmental degradation, where approximately 190,000 people live, 35,000 of which are in informal settlements and with more than 2,000 dwellings located in critical socio-environmental situations. According to the 2016 Continuous Household Survey, households in poverty in the basin reach 15%, while in Montevideo as a whole this value drops to 8%. Within the basin, significant differences are also observed: in the riverside area of the stream and its floodplain, the percentage of households in poverty rises to 21%.

Other social variables also indicate territorial inequity: for example, the average number of years of schooling of the population of the basin is significantly lower than the average for Montevideo. Other social indicators related to overcrowding, qualitative housing deficits due to lack of access to basic services, etc., show values that are twice as negative as those of Montevideo, with the riverside area being the area with the worst indexes in the basin.

The Pantanoso stream receives solid waste (dumping on the banks and in the waterstream), direct inputs of untreated effluents from irregular settlements and direct discharges of industrial effluents. The water quality index used, ISCA, indicates that the category corresponds to impaired waters in the accesses to Montevideo, near the mouth of the bay, and raw waters upstream. The data evaluated also recorded values above the limits of the regulations in force, mainly for the parameters of fecal coliforms and nutrients. According to 2017 measurements, conditions similar to those evaluated in the last 10 years are maintained.

There has also been an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme meteorological events that alter the hydrodynamics of the watercourses and their drainage basin, modifying their quality. 

The workshop was a unique opportunity for the exchange of ideas between more than 80 local and international experts on the future of the Pantanoso Creek. The two days of activities alternated phases of knowledge of the local context and its current problems, with moments of collective reflection during the working sessions. In addition, presentations by 5 international experts inspired the discussions by introducing topics for debate and presenting relevant case studies. The dynamic format of the workshop ensured a lively rhythm due to the alternation of lectures by local and international experts with collective work sessions and sharing of reflections. 

The working sessions were spread over the two days of the workshop, introducing specific themes and objectives during each session.

On the morning of the first day, a bus tour of the Pantanoso areas was conducted under the guidance of the heads of the Planning Sector of the Municipality of Montevideo (IM). After the visit, and after the inspiring presentations of the international speakers, the first collective reflection session took place. The participants worked in groups of about 10 people with different experiences and backgrounds. The debate was structured around 4 thematic axes of reflection: Equitable Wetland, Environmentally Sound Wetlands, Connected Wetlands, Wetland Generator of Opportunities.

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