Co-Investing in Water Solutions for Measurable Impact in Jaguariuna, Brazil

Posted: June 05, 2021
Co-Investing in Water Solutions for Measurable Impact in Jaguariuna, Brazil

More than just a key ingredient in our products, water is a critical resource for the health and well-being of every community around the world. As the world's leading brewer, we are committed to being a part of the solution to the growing water challenges across our communities and supply chain. Our goal is that by 2025, 100% of our communities in high stress areas will have measurably improved water availability and quality.

We know there is no single, one-size-fits all solution to building water resilience and security. To address the challenges specific to the local context, we have developed and implemented a comprehensive 7-step watershed management process at our sites located in water-stressed areas. The process focuses on convening stakeholders, identifying specific local water challenges and potential solutions, implementing agreed solutions with governance and financing mechanisms in place, communicating progress and measuring impact.

Jaguariuna, Brazil, is one of the locations where we are implementing this 7-step process. Read below to learn more about the specific water challenges the city is facing and how we're partnering with others to address them.

The Challenge

The Jaguari River basin is the water supply for 95% of the population of Jaguariuna, Brazil. Low rainfall has impacted water availability in the basin, with average water flows in the Jaguari River on a downward trend according to data from the Agência Nacional de Águas (the Brazilian water agency). The data also indicates that water available for concession is close to capacity, hindering economic growth in several municipalities. Moreover, climate change is exacerbating the overall availability of water as well as seasonal unpredictability of rainfall.

Further, the area has also faced quality challenges due to sedimentation and about half of the Jaguari River extension exceeds nutrient limits established by the Brazilian regulatory board. The Jaguari basin has lost approximately 80% of its native vegetation due to population and agriculture pressures and only 30% of riparian forests remain. This significant land use and land cover change, combined with poor maintenance of unpaved roads and common agricultural practices, has resulted in high sediment loads in the Jaguari River and its tributaries. There are also challenges associated with sewage and animal waste contaminating water bodies.

What We're Doing

Through the Bacias Jaguariuna water fund, we have partnered with public institutions, technical agencies, and NGOs including The Nature Conservancy, the City of Jaguariuna, Agência das Bacias PCJ, Embrapa, and the Agência Nacional de Águas to address these challenges. The partnership conducted a thorough assessment of the watershed, including an environmental diagnosis and complete property mapping within the Jaguari basin using remote sensing, GIS tools, and field validation.

Following this assessment (steps 1-3 in our 7-step process), the water fund developed a Payment for Environmental Services program that incentivizes the adoption of conservation practices such as conservation of soil, permanent preservation, and forest maintenance. It has also enabled implementation of watershed conservation and restoration projects to increase water availability and better manage seasonal flows, including agricultural terrace installation, ecological restoration through reforestation, soil and road management (including construction of sediment traps), and fencing of riparian areas and existing forests. This represents steps 4-6 in the 7-step process. The consortium approach of the water fund has enabled financial sustainability through shared investment costs across partners, as well as a robust governance structure and business plan.

Measuring Impact

Our collective efforts are aimed at improving both water availability and quality, focusing specifically on maintaining natural base flows and reducing sedimentation and nutrient loads. A hydrological monitoring plan was developed to identify monitoring points for measuring the impacts of the program and tracking progress towards our shared objectives, with monitoring sites established in the upper part of the basin (outside of the area of implementation) and mid- and lower-parts of the basin where the projects are being implemented.

The key output indicators we are tracking to measure progress in implementation are the number of hectares of land under sustainable management, including areas under conservation, being ecologically restored, or with improved management practices (i.e. soil conservation); we are also tracking kilometers of road under management. Since implementation started in 2015:

  • More than 160 hectares are already undergoing restoration
  • 166 hectares of forests are being conserved as part of the Payment for Environmental Services program
  • 174 km of agricultural terraces have been constructed
  • More than 5 million Brazilian Real leveraged to invest in green infrastructure

Our 2025 Water Stewardship goal is focused on measurable improvement in water quality and availability, so through our expert partners we are also measuring outcome indicators to determine the impact of these efforts. Jaguariuna is one of the first sites where we have achieved Step 7—measurable impact in a high-risk watershed–and serves as a leading example for other sites. Specifically, we are measuring turbidity in wet and dry seasons, electrical conductivity, and average dry season water levels and can demonstrate tangible impact in water quality and availability. So far, the results are promising: an increase in depth shows higher seasonal water levels and decreasing electrical conductivity demonstrates less nutrient loss from soils. However, we have also faced some setbacks as changes in land use have resulted in increased turbidity.

Looking Ahead

Achieving measurable improvement in watershed health requires sustained efforts. Through our engagement in the Bacias Jaguariuna water fund, we will support continued implementation of the Payment for Environmental Services and conservation program, as well as the associated hydrological monitoring, through 2025 to scale our impact. Through water fund we will also support an expansion of the program to another basin in the city of Jaguariuna, called the Camanducaia basin. With our partners in the water fund, we have developed an effective governance and financing structure for driving measurable water improvements in the Jaguari River basin, enabling the communities, ecosystems and businesses like ours that depend on it to thrive.

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