The Paiva River - Young Reporters for the Environment

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THE PAIVA RIVER
The concern with the environment isn´t new to the young folk of our region, it´s because our city is
called “Ecological Capital” and the River that flows by it was considered, in 2000, the less polluted river
in Europe.
We have the privilege of living in a region that has aspects that are becoming ever more uncommon
when compared with many urban areas. This makes us more interested in the natural world.
This year we noticed that something was wrong with our River that was considered the less polluted
in Europe, there has been discharges of water from a Residual Water Treatment Plant (RWTP). The
colour of the water went from transparent and clear to murky and dirty, like the photograph shows. Our
region made the news on the TV channel SIC (see blog, created in the discipline of Project Area of the
12th year, with the link: http://4aquolicos.blogspot.com/) but not for the good reasons of before.
We, ourselves confirmed that the waters weren’t healthy. In the discipline of Project Area our theme
was “The water” and we had the opportunity to take samples of the water, test it and confirm that the
results were as expected.
In order to know what really happened with our River and to find out what is being done about this
matter we elaborated some questions that we wanted to ask to the Engineer of the Environment of the
Municipal Hall, Ricardo Coelho. We were very welcome and the Engineer answered all of the following
questions.
Students (S): Being considered Vila Nova de Paiva the Ecological Capital, isn´t it odd that the
river was interdicted during the last summer at the river beach in Fráguas?
Engineer (E): The River was interdicted during a limited time. Now we want the river continue in
good conditions and we will do everything in our power to maintain these conditions. We also have to
consider that the river is a complex ecosystem and it´s impossible to control all the variables that
influences it.
S: Is the Paiva River still being polluted by the RWTP?
E: The River is an ecosystem that receives treated water. I would like to point out, what would happen
if there wasn´t no RWTP, what treatment would the River need?
S: Why is there untreated water discharges from the RWTP?
E: There are no discharges of untreated water from the Plant. There are rare discharges that we call
storm discharges that are caused by periods of intense rain and by the possibility of existing illegal
connections of pluvial water to the water net-works of the residual waters.
S: Are the rest of the sewer waters treated in the municipal area?
E: They are treated about 95% of the municipal sewer waters. The type of treatment and it´s
efficiency varies from village to village.
S: Did you find any solutions in order to resolve the problem of the RWTP?
E: The main problem is indicated in the third question, the Municipal Hall has detected and altered
some of the problematic points of illegal connections. (Example: Social Bairro do Alto do Facho).
S: Do you think that the river beach of Fráguas is going to be interdicted this summer?
E: I think that everything is being done that is possible so that doesn´t happen.
S: Did the pollution of the River affect it´s biodiversity and it´s banks?
E: I don’t think so, the Rivers ecosystem withstands a lot of pollution and has the ability of autocleansing, I could say that if the River banks were free from the influence of Man, there would be a much
higher degree of auto-cleansing.
Is it all so simple and clear? Could we, young folk from this region go to the River beach this summer
in perfect security? Will there be taken short-term measures? Or is that what’s happening to our River –
murky waters – is also what´s happening all around this region?
Probably it´s not us who will answer these questions, because we are almost finishing the year, but we
will leave these questions for our colleges, who next year could continue this work, and we hope will
show us good news…
School: Escola Sec./3 Vila Nova de Paiva
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