Among all the infrastructure sectors in Brazil, the basic sanitation is the one which presents the worse conditions.
While strategic development areas such as telecommunications, energy and transports have started out from the contribution of capital and private operation, the sanitation area has faced a shortage of investment for decades.
The reality of the sector places Brazil in a true situation of social “apartheid”, where basic rights as the drinking water access and worthy sanitary conditions are ignored for great part of the population.
Data of the SNIS (National Information System on Sanitation), 2016 edition (referring to 2015), indicate only 55% of sewage collection, which only 42.67% are treated for disposal in bodies of water. In addition, more than a third part of the produced drinking water is lost in obsolete systems and without proper maintenance.
Reports published by the ANA (National Water Agency) in the years of 2010 (Water Atlas) and 2017 (Sewage Atlas) disclose that only 60% of the Brazilian Municipalities have water security and fresh water reserve for the public supply. The reports show that one in each four Brazilians have no sewage collection and treatment in their residences. And when the data of the organic load of the generated sewage – that is, the “quality” of sewage treatment – is analyzed, only 23% of the population is served by systems that have pollutant removal rates greater than 60%, which is a minimum standard according to CONAMA Resolution nº 430/2011.
In Brazil, only 39% of the generated organic load (9.1 tons of BOD/day) is removed with the existing sewage treatment infrastructure. The remainder, about 5.5 tons of BOD, is daily disposed of into recipient waters.
There are several sewage systems that have been abandoned or have not entered into operation due to technical and management problems.
On the other hand, to achieve the goals established by the National Sanitation Plan, it will be necessary to deploy 612,000 km of sewage collection network until 2033.
With the fiscal crisis of the States and Municipalities, the scarcity of financial resources to invest in great projects and the weak performance of official programs as the PAC (Growth Acceleration Program), the need to further the cooperation between the public and the private sphere in the sanitation becomes bigger.
There is scarcity of resources also in the Federal sphere. Data from the National Secretariat of Environmental Sanitation, linked to the Ministry of Cities, show that the Federal government transfers to the States and Municipalities for sanitation expenses fell 12% in the first half of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016.
The National Plan of Basic Sanitation (Plansab) published in 2013 recommends an annual investment of R$ 20 billion so that all Brazilians have basic sanitation. However, this level of investment has never been achieved. Given how the sector has behaved in the last ten years, with a mean of R $8.6 billion investment, the goal of achieving the sector’s universalization will only be achieved in the 2050.
It is necessary to point out that the financial contribution for the implementation of solutions in sewage system will not prove effective without the necessary institutional technical capacity for the management of the services.
Therefore, the cooperation between the public and the private sphere becomes fundamental for the improvement of performance and productivity, losses reduction, energy efficiency and technological innovation.