Brazil is a country that relies heavily on dams for both hydroelectricity and water supply. The National Water Agency is committed to building its capacity on various aspects of water resources management that are areas of expertise for the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Reclamation has expertise to share with Brazil on areas such as dam safety, dam inspections, emergency management, and water conveyance systems operations and maintenance.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), with the support of the U.S. Department of State, has partnered with Brazil’s National Water Agency (ANA) and its Geological Survey to conduct training and technical assistance on a variety of water resources management subjects. Both the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are working with USGS on this program, bringing a variety of U.S. Government expertise and resources to the Brazilian partner agencies. This program touches on all of the strategic objectives of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, particularly encouraging the sound management and protection of freshwater resources.
Reclamation and USGS are working together to provide training and technical assistance on management, operations, and maintenance of large-scale water conveyance systems. So far, this has included one study tour and workshop in Brazil, where Reclamation and USGS experts toured the Sao Francisco Water Conveyance Project (PISF) with their Brazilian counterparts, and one Reclamation-led study tour in the United States, where 13 experts from ANA and the Ministry of Integration toured Reclamation’s Truckee-Carson Project in Nevada and the Central Valley Project in California. These knowledge exchange opportunities provide a rapid way to build relationships that can be drawn on in the future, and increase readiness to pursue new approaches to water-related problems.
These programs will be followed up by a workshop in Brazil in 2020, where the observations and ideas spurred by the study tours can be put into action for stronger, better managed water systems. The collaboration between ANA and Reclamation has been extremely valuable since there are many parallels between the PISF and Reclamation’s Central Valley Project, a complex, multi-purpose network of dams, reservoirs, canals, and hydroelectric power plants that extends over 400 miles through central California. The primary areas of interest for ANA are canal safety and inspections, water use enforcement, operations and maintenance, and water use contracts; the forthcoming workshop will emphasize these key skills.
Conducting technical assistance programs with foreign counterparts helps to maintain Reclamation’s reputation of excellence and professionalism. Reclamation continues to be a positive example of U.S. leadership and expertise globally while providing much needed assistance to its international counterparts.
Reclamation employees also benefit greatly from working with Brazil on the PISF. The program has been very informative as Reclamation has not constructed a modern water carriage system of the style or complexity of that underway in California in recent institutional memory, and so it provides an excellent example of the challenges associated with newly built systems, something that Reclamation employees are not often exposed to. This activity is thus of benefit to the people of Brazil, and here at home.