[BRAGA] One question is important to be asked:
is it advantageous to exchange water for sand?
If we observe this situation ...
We are here in an area of the Capibaribe River
that was a sand exploration, recently embargoed,
where the sand was being removed from its basic bed
and placed in piles to be taken out.
And that sand was on the bed before,
protecting this water that we are seeing here.
This water gradually evaporates and disappears.
Here on the bed of the Capibaribe River,
above Santa Cruz do Capibaribe
and below the Poção dam,
we find wells, big, large wells,
which at the moment the sand is removed,
do not resist and collapse,
like this one, whose wall is
at least five meters high.
[Maria de Lurdes] This river, when the water comes,
when it's winter, it has a flood, right?
Then the flood came,
the river found no sand,
it knocked down the big well.
Then it fell apart.
There were three large wells to draw water,
but two are broken ...
I think there is still one, isn't there?
This large well is still standing,
and it is almost the height of the other,
around five meters.
You can see a belt up there,
made with a thicker cement,
which is the part that was exposed.
From the exposed brick to the base
is a masonry that was inside the sand itself.
And here, on the basis of this structure,
you can see an overlap
practically on top of a shallow sand soil,
and some support rocks.
The water naturally entered here from below,
filtered by the sand,
and offered a condition of good use
within that well.
Evidently, with the removal of sand by exploration,
there is a disappearance of the ability
to support these walls.
That's why it falls apart.
The result is a lunar landscape,
an arid landscape,
a landscape without water, without sand, without vegetation,
and with these "stone ridges" appearing
- which are natural ridges -
that make the water barrier,
making it possible to have a large water source
between one crest and another.
Unlike that other stretch we saw,
where the removal of sand made this granite "wall"
appear five or more meters high,
here there is still an accumulation
of water in the alluvium, protected by the sand.
We will see this when we visit the large well points
that farmers make to use this water all year round.
- This one looks like a "baby" well
[AMARO] - Yeah, this is just for home ...
to wash dishes, bathe, wash cloth ...
we don’t use it here, we channel it home.
And it's kind of far, you know? About two hundred meters ...
- How deep is that well?
- It's about five meters, from here to the bottom ...
- Now, how deep is the water here?
- It's just a little, about two meters only.
- Are you afraid that sand extraction will arrive here?
- Wow, that guy over there, "come on",
if he comes this way, I'll be screwed.
It’s going to be a mess here,
but thank God...
- have you always kept this sand here?
- By God, I don't sell it.
If it depends on selling, I wouldn't sell for a million,
not even a load of sand ...
[MARIA] Now, when there was sand, the water was good.
But after they removed the sand,
the water was like that, you know...
- Brackish? - Salted.
- You mean you can't drink, right? - We can't drink, no.
- Não dá para fazer quase nada? - Nós não faz nada com ela.
- Do the animals take it?
- They take it, because it's what they have, right? So.
- Do you bathe with that water, too?
- Bath, no.
We take a bath with the water we buy ...
... we buy a water load.
- Ah! Buy water now? - Buy water!
We buy water here, a car, for seventy reais.
- Come on ...
- And put it in the cistern.
- The water you use here, now...
where does it come from?
[DONA BRANCA] - To wash is from the weir,
but the dams, this year, winter did not fill.
But then I bought a load of water
and put it in the neighbor's cistern.
- Oh, was it? How much is it?
- Seventy... Eigthy... - Really?
- It's not even good, it's canal water,
but what can I do?
- And this small wall here, when was it made?
That barrier over there. To keep water, right?
[MARIA] - It was to see if this water was suitable for use here,
but when they put the water in,
it was salty.
[DONA BRANCA] Because if sand was removed, there is no water.
or the water is bad ...
[MARIA DE LURDES] Water flowed here!
When the Poço Fundo dam has water,
the canal water flows, but the reservoir is dry now,
it is barely enough for Poço Fundo,
so they don't release water for us.
- So you too ran out of water from the canal?
[DONA BRANCA] It's over, they closed
and told water is only for Jataúba and Poço Fundo use.
Also said that even if rains come,
there's no water for us.
- So, ma'am, how do you buy water now?
- Now I have to go to the city and they find it,
I think it's from the rivers they take, I don't know.
[BRAGA] And how long hasn't the river
flow over here?
- Over? - Water over the river.
- Here? - Here.
Flooding everything, even rapids.
- This year... Not even a drop.
- Two years there's no water over the river?
- How deep is this well?
[DENIS] - Four meters.
-And this water that is outside, when will it dry?
- I don't think it will last more than thirty days,
because that stone was covered with water last month
and look how much it has already lowered the level...
about two meters, right?
And the sandbanks started to appear there ...
If you increase the water withdrawal,
it will be quick here.
- Now I noticed that you also opened that other well,
was it for cleaning?
- Yeah - And water was undermining.
[NINO] It's green outside
but in the well it comes filtered in the sand,
that's why she looks like this, look.
- It is transparent and clean.
- Do you think that evaporation,
the wind, the sun, also helps?
- Also! There are days that it is so hot here...
Right there, on the other side, at the farm,
there is a lake at the edge of the road,
which does not draw water, does not take anything from,
and is disappearing,
without agriculture, or livestock, or anything.
- Just evaporation? - Only evaporation.
[AMARO] There is no more water.
The water flows from here to there,
for those who have livestock.
If there was sand, the people didn't need it.
[BRAGA] This truck here,
it takes how many liters, more or less? - 30 thousand liters.
- You mean she takes almost twice the smallest?
- That's right - Do you own the truck?
- I do. - Okay
- How many trucks come out, here, per day?
[DENIS] I believe that...
around thirteen, fifteen, per day.
- Three?! - THIRTEEN..
- Per day?! - Yes, about that.
- How much are you paid to fill a truck?
- Fifteen reais.
- The smallest truck? - Yes, the smallest.
[BRAGA] And this water... Where does it go to?
[DENIS] It goes to Santa Cruz, to the suburban houses,
as some neighborhoods have no water
for over two months
- Really? Public distribution? - Yes.
[NINO] Around - distant - Pará village,
people are taking water from here.
what if you didn't have that water?
- Yes, hard.
- The right thing is not to remove sand ...
... because if the sand runs out ...
it's the end.
[DENIS] Here it will be the same as
the Santa Cruz perimeter, the urban perimeter.
There's nothing else there.
No sand, no water, no nothing.
- And there was sand extraction there? - Yes, sand was removed.
- Ah, so those rocks weren't visible before?
[NINO] There was as much sand there as over here now.
People began taking it, taking it, so...
From here to Santa Cruz, there is almost no more sand.
- And there's no water. - And not even water, yeah.
It's getting harder...
The less sand, the harder...
[BRAGA] In fact, this transformation
of the dry bed of the Capibaribe river
makes traditional uses,
even in critical periods of drought,
cease to exist.
Especially the capture of water in wells
dug and maintained by the local population
for agricultural, livestock and domestic activities.
But that does not mean that sand exploration
is not possible.
What is needed is the creation
of normative, regulatory conditions, so that
sand exploration can be carried out without conflict
and without jeopardizing
the use and conservation of water
in the dry bed of intermittent rivers
in the semiarid of Pernambuco.