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The Izenaide’s vegetable garden. The “Family Biowater” project in Brazil is feeding the circular economy

5 min.

The Izenaide’s vegetable garden. The “Family Biowater” project in Brazil is feeding the circular economy

In Brazil, Enel Green Power has developed a project to reuse domestic “gray” water for agricultural purposes. This is a great example of a sustainable economy protecting the environment and guaranteeing health and hygiene.

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Rainwater, one of nature’s most abundant clean resources, is already widely reused by many people. What if there was an effective way to reuse ‘gray’ water after showering or washing dishes and clothes?

Enel Green Power’s answer to that question is the “Family Biowater” project. Morro do Chapéu has introduced a system to reuse “gray” water in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, where one of our wind farms is located. After treatment, the water is used to irrigate vegetable garden and crops.

Antonio dos Santos was immediately interested in the project. He and his daughter live in a small house completely surrounded by flowers in Lagoinha. What’s their main pastime? Taking care of their vegetable garden. 

 

“I enjoy gardening. Sometimes I clean every part of my lemon tree just to make it more beautiful. It’s work. I dig a little hole and plant a seed of whatever. Then it grows and soon I have a plant. Look at these little tomatoes! The drought destroyed everything I had, so I started planting these little plants and now I already have tomatoes.”

– Antonio dos Santos

 

Thanks to the “Family Biowater” project, Antonio has seen his vegetable garden transform over the last six months, becoming sturdier and lusher.

How the project works

A specific canal collects the water that’s used in the house, with the exception of sewage. The collected water flows through a filter, then to a tank where it awaits further filtration. Finally, a manual pump moves the water through tubes leading from the tank to the final destination, gardens or fields. Each phase of the system is directly handled by the families involved in the project, a total of 60 households.

The “Biowater” system meets all hygiene and sustainability standards. The water never comes in contact with humans and is used for drip irrigation, a technique that prevents waste as the water is disbursed directly on the soil, not on leaves. 

 

“The tube system is really great. Every now and then the water drips out and keeps everything green,” affirms Antonio. “There aren’t any flowers yet, but soon there will be. I’m pleased to share what I have. Sometimes people come here and say they want to buy some of my cilantro, but I tell them no. We harvest what we have and we give it away. That’s the most important thing for me.”

– Antonio dos Santos

 

Another step towards sustainability

In addition to the new recycled water irrigation system that Mrs. Izenaide uses in her home, she’s also learned new things thanks to the seminars about planting and nutrition that are part of Enel Green Power’s “Family Biowater” project.

 

“I’m learning a lot. The project team has good, patient teachers who give us new information. After the project, I started planting and I love it. Thanks to this project, I managed to find the strength and develop the courage to fight.”

– Izenaide Bispo

 

These seminars are important because most of the families involved in the project live in extreme poverty and don’t earn enough to buy healthy food. Therefore, the idea is to help them become interested in planting new varieties of crops to enrich their diet and improve their nutrition

 

“I’d never heard of chickpeas, but now I’m growing them in my yard. They brought them, I ate some and liked them, and now I can introduce them to other people. I already know how to harvest and cook them. I build planters, do research, plant and sometimes sell the harvest. Sometimes I plant three seedbeds of cilantro. I’m not going to eat it all, so I take it to market. I sell a little cilantro, some onions, beans and squash. I make some money. It’s not much, that’s true, but we can use it for whatever we need.”

– Izenaide Bispo

 

With initiatives such as this, Enel Green Power demonstrates its dedication to sustainability benefitting the land and the local people who live on it. 

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