Rights Of River Running Through Ecuador’s Capital Violated By Pollution, Court Rules

Rights Of River Running Through Ecuador’s Capital Violated By Pollution, Court Rules

The rights of the Machángara River in Ecuador have been violated and measures to decontaminate it must be implemented right away, a court has ruled, after an action was filed in the hope of safeguarding the river and its sources against pollution. The river runs through the Metropolitan District of Quito, the country’s capital.

The rights of nature are actually enshrined in Ecuador’s constitution: “Nature, or Pacha Mama, where life is reproduced and occurs, has the right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles, structure, functions, and evolutionary processes. All persons, communities, peoples, and nations can call upon public authorities to enforce the rights of nature,” it states when translated into English. “The State shall give incentives to natural persons and legal entities and to communities to protect nature and to promote respect for all the elements comprising an ecosystem.”

“This initiative responds to the serious violation of rights that directly affects the river and, indirectly, the 2.6 million inhabitants of the Ecuadorian capital and all the populations through which the river passes, as well as those that receive its waters downstream,” the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN) said in a statement.

They cite the dumping of industrial and domestic wastewater into the river, a low percentage of dissolved oxygen in the water, plus the presence of “tons of garbage” as concerns. “The degradation of the Machángara River not only contributes to environmental insecurity, but also directly impacts the quality of life of citizens,” they state. “The Machángara River has lost its identity, it is no longer a symbol of pride that accompanied the history of the city and that was part of the life of its inhabitants.”

The Machángara River was represented by social movements and the Kitu Kara People, with the action being delivered to the Constitutional Judge of Pichincha in the Northern Judicial Complex, GARN stated on May 28.

On July 5, they posted an update declaring that the Machángara River has “been declared a subject of rights” and that the judge has ordered plans for decontamination to be implemented immediately, although they state that the municipality of Quito has filed an appeal against the decision.

“This is historic because the river runs right through Quito, and because of its influence, people live very close to it,” Darío Iza of the Kitu Kara said, AP News reports.

On July 7, it was announced that Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Agua Potable y Saneamiento de Quito “has the green light to move forward with the studies, designs, and search for financing for the construction of three large Wastewater Treatment Plants.” One, named PTAR Quito, will serve the Machángara River basin and treat a flow of 4.38 cubic meters per second (154.68 cubic feet per second).

“The idea is that we can start the program, which could take 17 years, with an investment of around 900 million dollars,” said the mayor of the city, Pabel Muñoz.

“Decontaminating the river is not only a responsibility of the local government, but an imperative need to guarantee a sustainable future for all,” GARN explained.

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