Environmental assessment

Environmental assessment can be carried out in a specific way or within a synergistic and integrated vision.

Specific studies: one of the main specific environmental studies related to water resources is the downstream conditions evaluation to obtain environmental licenses of the projects that alter water quantity and quality

Integrated assessment: Tthis is a phase that should precede specific studies and integrate projects into their different components. In water resources, the Integrated Assessment must be carried out of the government entities to guide the licensing and must be divided by basins.

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Environmental assessment

  • Environmental and hydrological assessment of hydropower projects
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Stability assessment and dam safety
  • Environmental studies for mining concession
  • Contingency plans for power plants

Specific projects

The installation or expansion of an enterprise must pass through the environmental licensing process. The licensing practice consists of several phases: Preliminary License, which defines the viability of the enterprise; Installation License, which approves the projects and authorizes the beginning of construction; Operating License, which authorizes the start up of the project and during the operation of the monitoring and follow-up. For specific projects, specific studies are required.

When these studies involve, for example, a water permit, the effects on water quantity and quality, environment, economic and social conservation and preservation are verified. The most common example of this type of project is an evaluation of the conditions of the reduced flow sections (RFS) in hydroelectric projects. In RFS, a minimum reduced flow rate and is rated as conditions mentioned above.

The quantity condition evaluates whether the flow reduction considers uses in RFS. The water quality condition evaluates whether effects on water quality are experienced in RFS. In the environmental part, it is verified that the change in the flow affects the flow conditions in the dry season, small and large floods. In these scenarios, the effect on the fauna, floodplain area and the consequent environmental impacts are evaluated.

Environmental Impact Assessment

This kind of study is developed based on EIA is carried out based on the Environmental Impact Studies (EIS). This study assesses the economic, social and environmental impacts of an enterprise and presents guidelines to minimize these negative effects. The study is an entrepreneur's responsibility to obtain the different licenses involving its implementation, regarding the environmental licensing process. The evaluation of a project by an EIS (CONAMA, 1986) is a process that examines decisions already made on individual projects.

New concepts of environmental assessment were created to develop a more sustainable management. They are called Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Integrated Environmental Assessment (IEA).

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA): involves the early and integrated evaluation of policies, plans and programs that affect the environment. It is a proactive environmental assessment, seeking to avoid impacts of inadequate management. The water resources national policy; National, Regional and Basin Plans, and sectoral policies and their derived programs would be the focus of the SEA.

Integrated Environmental Assessment (IEA): it is the interdisciplinar and social process, linking knowledge and action in public decision making context for the identification, analysis and evaluation of all relevant natural and human processes and their interactions with current and future state of environment and resources quality in the appropriate scales of time and space, thus facilitating the definition and implementation of policies and strategies.