Open access peer-reviewed chapter

# A Flood Control Approach Integrated with a Sustainable Land Use Planning in Metropolitan Regions

By Paulo Roberto Ferreira Carneiro and Marcelo Gomes Miguez

Submitted: November 11th 2011Reviewed: June 10th 2012Published: November 7th 2012

DOI: 10.5772/50573

## 1. Introduction

The Brazilian National Water Resources Policy, instituted by Law no. 9.433 in 1997, is based on six fundamental principles that structure the whole National Water Resource Management System: 1) water is a commodity in the public domain; 2) water is a limited natural resource, endowed with economic value; 3) in situations of scarcity, the priority water resources use is for human consumption and watering animals; 4) the management of water resources must always provide multiple water uses; 5) the hydrographical basin is the territorial unit for the implementation of the National Water Resources Policy and the activities of the entities belonging to the of National Water Resources Management System; 6) the water resource management must be decentralized and have the participation of public authorities, water users, civil society and communities.

This Law and its regulatory texts incorporate municipalities, along with users and civil organisations, into the management system, ensuring a greater balance of power on water resource committees and boards. However, no legal text has clearly defined the relation between water management, which is a state or federal attribution, and land use planning, which is responsibility of the municipalities. In this sense, there remains a lack of definition regarding the fundamental role of municipal administrations as formulators and implementers of urban policies with impacts on water resources, whether through direct investment, or by means of actions of regulatory nature.

Besides the gap pointed out above, the occurrence of conflicts of competency is also observed in the hydrographical basins related to metropolitan areas, given that the 1988 Brazilian Constitution did not establish clear management rules for these territories. The definition of the needed and related administrative organisation for the metropolitan areas is left to the federative states. On the other hand, overlaps is observed in the attributions of the local, state, or even federal administrations, and various undefined roles are identified, which make the task of coordination and sharing of the responsibilities even more complex.

Based on these elements, and departing from Brazilian reality, the proposed chapter deals with the need of integration of land use planning with water resource management, seeking to establish relations between the types of land use, urban settlements and the problems involving urban flooding.

A case study was developed for the Iguaçu-Sarapuí River Basin, located in the western portion of the Guanabara Bay Basin, which lies at the Rio de Janeiro State Metropolitan Region, in Brazil, and is one of the most critical areas in the state in relation to urban flooding. In this region, urban expansion dynamics is, in general, marked by irregular occupation of risk areas, without the appropriated infrastructure in terms of land tenure.

The significant investments in infrastructure in progress in the region, mainly the construction of the Metropolitan Ring Road[1] - will bring substantial transformation to the region current urban configuration. The scenarios built with the aid of mathematical modelling demonstrate that the disorderly urban expansion, induced by the accessibility to the rural areas in the interior of the region, may be degrading for the medium and long term urban flooding control in this basin.

## 2. The role of the municipality in water resource management in Brazil

The competence of municipalities in federated countries is concentrated on functions that, in general, are related with the allocation or rendering of local public services and with the functions of planning, incentive and inspection of the territorial order, environmental protection and also with some level of regulation of economic activities [1]. In the case of Brazil, recently, municipalities with greater capacity of investment have begun to incorporate functions related with the provision of more comprehensive social services, which, traditionally, were restricted to the state and federal spheres.

In the specific case of water resource management, however, municipal participation in basin committees has been the main form, if not the sole, of interaction with other public and private actors related with water. Many factors hinder the municipality action in the water management sphere, the main one being the legal impossibility, by Constitutional definition, of the municipalities directly managing water resources, even in the case of basins entirely contained by their territories. The exceptions may be associated to the transfer of some specific attributions through cooperation agreements with the states or the Federal Government.

Although local administrations are closer to local populations, their politico-administrative role does not allow a systemic vision of the territory in which they lie. More effective participation of local governments in water management is hindered, or even made unviable, also by the absence of clear definitions about its nature and functions, and by the fact that the majority of municipalities have limited budgetary autonomy, bearing in mind that they depend heavily on fund transfers from the other levels of government administration.

Regarding the financial restrictions [2], it is alarming that most of the multilateral financial agencies, except the Global Environment Facility – GEF, still have not included, in their agenda, projects of integrated natural resources management articulated to land use planning, particularly in urban areas. There are few planning experiments implemented articulating water conservation and/or preservation measures and land use regulation, despite the dysfunctions of urban growth.

Another aspect is that the sectoral nature of local government interests makes them act more as users than as “impartial” managers of water resources [3]. The debility and lack of institutional hierarchy of local governments confronted by actors wielding greater power would lead to greater vulnerability and to the possibility of capture and politicisation in water management [3]. These aspects are aggravated in metropolitan areas, where municipal administrations often express antagonistic interests and priorities among themselves, creating atmospheres of dissension with little space for cooperation.

Although there are restrictions on the participation of municipalities as direct managers of water resources, there is no doubt related to the importance of local governments in territorial planning, as well as in its consequences to water resources conservation. It is the attribution of municipalities to devise, approve and inspect instruments related with territorial order, such as master plans, zonings, development of housing programs, delimitation of industrial, urban and environmental preservation areas, among other activities with impacts on water resources, mainly in the case of predominantly urban hydrographical basins.

These attributions have recently been strengthened upon approval of the Brazilian Statute of the City. This is a Federal Act, established in 2001, which proposes standards of public and social interest to govern the use of the urban property in favour of the collectivity safety and welfare, as well as the environmental balance. The urban policy established aims to organise the fulfilment of the social functions of the city and of the urban property by the application of a set of general guidelines, from which the following topics are detached:

• the guarantee of the right to sustainable cities, meaning the right to urban land, housing, environmental sanitation, urban infrastructure, transport and public services, work and leisure for present and future generations;

• the democratic management through people's participation representing segments of the community in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of plans, programs and projects for urban development;

• the planning of city development to prevent and correct the distortions of urban growth and its negative effects on the environment;

• the supply of urban infrastructure and community equipments, transport and public services to serve the interests and needs of the population;

• the protection, preservation and restoration of the natural and built environment, besides cultural, historical, artistic and landscape heritages.

Several important urban management tools were made available in the context of the Statute of the City and the Urban Master Plan is considered to be the basic instrument for the urban developing policy.

The possibility of achieving a sustainable water resource management must necessarily pass through a clear articulation with land use plans. What is observed in Brazil, however, is the disarticulation between instruments of water resource management and land use planning, reflecting, perhaps, the lack of legitimacy of planning and urban legislation in Brazilian cities, marked by a high degree of informality, and even illegality, in land use occupation. According to Tucci [4], the greatest difficulty for the implementation of integrated planning arises from the limited institutional capacity of municipalities in facing complex interdisciplinary problems, and in the sectoral ways in which local administrations are organized.

Here, however, it is worth stressing the differences among municipalities: while in large cities, mainly metropolitan cores, it is possible to find efficient administrations, with good capacity to access information and with relatively modern legislation, in other minor cities, like peripheral municipalities in metropolitan areas, a total obsolescence in the legislation is verified. This is aggravated by the absence of reliable general data and information about the processes of urban structuring and also by the small number and low qualification of the technical staff [5].

This inequality in the municipal scale presents a great obstacle for a greater effectiveness of water resource management structures and for the cooperation among the different hierarchical levels of government.

## 3. Flood control in the Baixada Fluminense lowland

Baixada Fluminense lowland is located in the western portion of the Guanabara Bay basin, in one of the most critical regions of Rio de Janeiro State, in terms of urban flooding. It is particularly interesting as an empirical study, considering the following aspects:

• its location is in the metropolitan periphery;

• there are areas with consolidated urban and industrial growth;

• there rural areas in a process of urban development

• the basin also contains rural areas still protected from urbanisation;

• several areas present land use patterns that do not ensure minimal standards of living, especially those of poor drainage;

• consequently, several serious flooding problems occur in the watershed plain areas;

• water sources found in the basin area are used for complementing the Metropolitan Region drinking water supply;

• Tinguá Biological Reserve, the main remnant of the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro State, is situated in this territory;

• organised social movements, congregating federations of residents associations and entities involved in matters of environment, sanitation, housing, among others, are present in the basin, what demonstrates the great organisation capacity of its population vis-à-vis the questions related to citizenship and quality of life;

• local administrations are becoming more committed to efficiency in public affairs, although in a still timid process;

• the presence of major private and public investments in infrastructure will lead to significant transformations in the present urban configuration of the region.

### 3.1. Physical and socio-economic characteristics of the basin

The Iguaçu-Sarapuí River basin is situated in Baixada Fluminense lowlands. Its drainage area covers around 727 km2, all of which is situated in the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Region. Iguaçu River springs in Serra do Tinguá massif, at an altitude of 1,600m. Its course runs southeast for approximately 43 km, until it reaches the outfall at Guanabara Bay. Its main tributaries from the left margins are Tinguá, Pati and Capivari Rivers, and, from the right margins, Botas and Sarapuí Rivers.

The physiography of Iguaçu-Sarapuí river basin is characterized by two main elements: the Serra do Mar Mountains and Baixada Fluminense lowlands, with a marked difference in altitude. The climate in the basin is hot and humid with a rainy season in the summer, the average annual precipitation being around 1,700mm, and the mean annual temperature approximately 22o C. The rivers run down the mountains in torrents with great erosive force, losing speed after reaching the plains, often overflowing their banks into large wetlands.

The basin fully encompasses the municipalities of Belford Roxo and Mesquita, also hosting part of the municipalities of Rio de Janeiro (covering the neighbourhoods of Bangu, Padre Miguel and Senador Câmara), Nilópolis, São João de Meriti, Nova Iguaçu and Duque de Caxias (Figure 1). According to the 2010 Brazilian census, the population of these municipalities reached 9,225,557 habitants (Table 1). However, just two of these municipalities are totally inserted in the basin.

 City Municipal Population Total Area1)(ha) Area inside the basin(2) (ha) % (*) Urban Rural Total Belford Roxo 469.332 - 469.332 7.350 7.350 10 Duque de Caxias 852.138 2.910 855.048 46.570 27.359 38 Nilópolis 157.425 - 157.425 1.920 1.042 1 Mesquita 168.376 - 168.376 3.477 3.477 5 Nova Iguaçu 787.563 8.694 796.257 53.183 27.894 38 Rio de Janeiro 6.320.446 - 6.320.446 126.420 3.290 5 São João de Meriti 458.673 - 458.673 3.490 2.293 3 Total 9.213.953 8.694 9.225.557 242.410 72.705 100

### Table 1.

Municipal population, total municipal area, and insertion in Iguaçu-Sarapuí River Basin

It is in the lower parts of the basin, with elevations near the medium sea level, where it is concentrated mostly of the urban area, with something about 1.5 million people living there. Calculations from IBGE, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, show that the incidence of poverty in these municipalities is quite significant, especially in Belford Roxo, Nova Iguaçu and Duque de Caxias, affecting more than half of their populations (Table 2).

 Belford Roxo 60,06 Duque de Caxias 53,53 Mesquita - Nilópolis 32,48 Nova Iguaçu 54,15 Rio de Janeiro 23,85 São João de Meriti 47,00

### Table 2.

Poverty and inequality map – Brazilian Municipalities, 2003- Poverty incidence in Baixada Fluminense Lowlands

The structural analysis of per capita income and the capability to finance investments by municipalities in the region, according to the Observatory of the Metropolis [6], demonstrate the strong differences between the municipalities belonging to the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro. Such differences constitute obstacles to cooperation in solving common problems. Moreover, the fragile financial structure, coupled with the shortage of technical capacity, particularly in the areas of planning and budget, strengthen the uncertainty, discouraging long-term partnerships in infrastructure projects that could be used to promote social and economic development for the region.

After a century of intense population growth, Brazil has entered the new millennium with quite modest rates of population growth. As shown by the data of the last Census, the Brazilian population grew at an average rate of 1.6% per year in the 1990s, following a decline trend after the strong growth happened from the 1950 to 1970. Projections developed recently estimated that the Brazilian population is growing at rates below 1.3% per year.

The city of Rio de Janeiro has been the centre of services for the Metropolitan region, although this characteristic has not reflected in a high degree of attractiveness for population in recent times. The region remained with the lowest population growth rate among large Brazilian cities. It should be noted, however, that in absolute terms, there was a warming of migration in the last decade towards Rio de Janeiro. Between 1980 and 1991 the total number of migrants towards the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro was around 570,000 people, while between 1995 and 2000 (just in five years) the total migration reached 330,000 people. The capital of the state remained the main pole centre, receiving these migration flows and housing 195,000 migrants, i.e. 62% of the total [6].

## How to cite and reference

### Cite this chapter Copy to clipboard

Paulo Roberto Ferreira Carneiro and Marcelo Gomes Miguez (November 7th 2012). A Flood Control Approach Integrated with a Sustainable Land Use Planning in Metropolitan Regions, Environmental Land Use Planning, Seth Appiah-Opoku, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/50573. Available from:

### Related Content

#### Environmental Land Use Planning

Edited by Seth Appiah-Opoku

Next chapter

#### The Role of Socioeconomic and Behavioral Modeling in an Integrated, Multidisciplinary Dam-Management Study: Case Study of the Boardman River Dams

By Matthew F. Bingham and Jason C. Kinnell

#### International Development

Edited by Seth Appiah-Opoku

First chapter

#### Nutrition-Sensitive Agricultural Development for Food Security in Africa: A Case Study of South Africa

By Hester Carina Schönfeldt, Nicolette Hall and Beulah Pretorius

We are IntechOpen, the world's leading publisher of Open Access books. Built by scientists, for scientists. Our readership spans scientists, professors, researchers, librarians, and students, as well as business professionals. We share our knowledge and peer-reveiwed research papers with libraries, scientific and engineering societies, and also work with corporate R&D departments and government entities.

View all Books