Guarda do Embau, the ninth World Surfing Reserve, has continued to work diligently towards the long-term protection of the most important ecosystem attribute for the coast, the Rio do Madre. It is this river that flows from the mountains of the Serra do Tabuleiro State Park down to the breaking waves at Guarda that is the heart and soul of the surf ecosystem and the most vital asset in terms of water quality and public health. This important watershed also is critically important for fish and wildlife of the region and provides the sediment needed to create the sandbanks that make Guarda’s waves world-class.
Three years ago as part of the WSR stewardship plan, the LSC of Guarda created a water monitoring project in order to understand the changes in water quality over time, be able to communicate and educate the public about the impairments to Guarda’s water quality, and have scientific data to advocate for water and sewage treatment. Through this monitoring, the team has been able to pinpoint the problem areas for water quality and now have a significant dataset to understand the problem. Armed with this information, the LSC has been working with the local and regional government to instigate a technical analysis that would set the wheels in motion for a new sewage treatment facility that can meet the changing needs of the community and to enhance water quality in the river. Additionally, students from the Municipal School of Palhoça and Professora Olga Cerino began to monitor the collection of surface water from the Madre River with the objective of providing students with firsthand knowledge of the importance of water quality data and how the WSR of Guarda do Embau is protecting a vital community asset.
While it takes significant amounts of time and dedication to manage and implement a water quality monitoring program, it provides the necessary basis for doing any restoration, policy or infrastructure work to make a difference. Guarda is now using their dataset to advocate for a systemic change that will lead to cleaner water and waves for the community for generations to come.
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