OSE proposes to promote the “Neptuno Project” in the Arazatí resort, San José, which consists of the construction of a water treatment plant, a new pumping station and an 80-kilometre adductor pipeline. The future work is a private initiative presented by a consortium of five construction companies.
In this framework, the general secretary of FFOSE, Ramón Parra, assured, in statements to LARED21, that the “Neptune Project” is unconstitutional because in the 2004 plebiscite, the citizens said -with 64.7% of the votes- that the water throughout its route, from potabilization, distribution and commercialization, has to be provided by a state legal entity, and in this case the only autonomous entity that is qualified to do so is OSE”.
“No private person can come to market water, because the Constitution of the Republic does not allow it,” the union leader remarked.
He explained that the consortium of five multinational companies will privatize the water from its extraction in the Rio de la Plata, construction of a desalination plant, to the installation of an 80-kilometre pipeline to Montevideo, while the government and OSE agree to buy the 30% of the total water produced.
In consultation with society
Parra said that the project is also “without consultation with society because it was done in an express situation.” In this sense, he recalled that on March 1, 2021, the President of the Republic, Luis Lacalle Pou, said in Parliament that an investment of this type would be made.
While on April 1, 2022, the company delivered the feasibility project that was approved by OSE, not knowing its technicians in charge of the matter and the technicians of the Ministry of the Environment.
“The corresponding areas were not consulted either. OSE is the only entity that purifies, distributes and markets the water that reaches all citizens. The Neptuno Project compromises the interests of the entity, because for 30 years it has to buy water from the consortium. The canon that will be paid will end up falling on user fees, “warned the union leader.
He stressed that the project is unconstitutional, privatizing and all users will pay for it with the rates.
He said that the Neptuno Project will involve building a new intake in the Río de la Plata to help the Aguas Corrientes plant that supplies the metropolitan area, where 60% of the population lives.
“FFOSE considers that a new intake is necessary, because in the conditions in which the Santa Lucía River is found and the population density in the metropolitan area, with almost 2 million people, the only plant we have must have an aid, and It’s okay for a private company to do it, because OSE doesn’t have the capacity to do it, but once the two years of assembling the plant and the pipeline are over, it has to pass into the hands of the State,” he said.
He indicated that the union does not accept that drinking water remains in private hands and that the people have to buy it from a private company, because water is a fundamental right essential for life and has to be state owned.
Parra remarked that the plant model to be approved is at stake. “We will look for the option that once it is completed it will be handed over to OSE, which for 70 years has made water drinkable and commercialized.”
In this sense, he assured that the union will go to the last consequences. He said that they do not rule out any possibility, such as: presenting an appeal of unconstitutionality, appeals before international organizations or, even, the occupation or landing in strategic places.
“The Neptune Project is privatizing, the people will pay for it with increased rates, besides, water is not a commodity and we must defend public companies,” he said.