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WIN! Federal University of Lavras becomes a ‘blue university’

Barlow presented a ‘blue university’ certificate to UFLA today. Photo by Andrew Davis.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow presented a ‘blue university’ certificate to Dr. Jose Roberto Sores Scolforo, the Rector of the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), while both were at the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) conference at the University of Bern today.

Representatives from the University of Bern (which has already been recognized as a blue university) and the Brazilian embassy in Switzerland were also present at the ceremony.

UFLA has now committed to:

1- Recognizing  the right to water as a human right.

2-Promoting the use of tap water from public infrastructure by ensuring that university facilities and services offer water from public taps wherever possible.

3- Managing water responsibly.

4- Promoting publicly financed, owned, and operated water and wastewater services.

5- Cultivating public–public partnerships with international partners and advocating the right to water at the international level.

6- Doing research on sustainable governance and management of water following the state of the art in education with regard to water use and management.

UFLA was originally founded as an agricultural school by Dr. Samuel Rhea Gammon in 1909. Total enrollment is now over 16,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, and distance-learning programs. The city of Lavras is situated about 450 kilometres north-west of Rio de Janeiro.

There also appears to be momentum now to have the University of Zurich and the University of San Carlos in Guatemala become blue universities.

It should be noted too that UFLA is located in the state of Minas Gerais. In June 2014, Barlow visited São Lourenço which is located in Minas Gerais and about 180 kilometres south of Lavras.

Nestle Waters has a bottled water operation there.

A petition in Portuguese notes, “The [taking of 53,000 litres of water per hour] is not adequately supported by any technical/ scientific study that ensures the preservation, as required by the laws of gaseous mineral waters…” Corporate Watch further explains that, “Now the mineral content of the water is being reduced by over-pumping by Nestle/Perrier for its Pure Life brand. …Residents discovered that Nestlé/Perrier was pumping huge amounts of water in the park from a well 150 meters deep. The water was then demineralized and transformed into Pure Life table water. …The Brazilian constitution does not allow mineral water to be demineralized….” And BBC notes, “The company has stopped demineralising water [but] Nestle is permitted to continue pumping and extract carbon dioxide from the water.”

Barlow has now accepted an invitation from the Rector of UFLA to visit Minas Gerais on World Water Day in 2017 to fight for these mineral waters.