Application of Systems Thinking to the assessment of an institutional development project of river restoration at a campus university in Southern Brazil

  • Fabiane Andressa TascaEmail author
  • Roberto Fabris Goerl
  • Gean Paulo Michel
  • Nei Kavaguichi Leite
  • Djesser Zechner Sérgio
  • Saman Belizário
  • Jakcemara Caprario
  • Alexandra Rodrigues Finotti
Advances in Receiving Water Quality Models


Rapid urban growth and high population density have become a problem for urban water resources, especially in developing countries. In general, the pollution of rivers and degradation of ecosystems are the result of both management failures and lack of sewage treatment. River restoration appears as a solution to improve this scenario, but it is common for there to be an absence of a systemic vision in these projects. Thus, this work analysed one of these projects as an initial approach to create coherent (qualitative) shared perspectives on the same problem. This project was developed in a Brazilian university territory in response to a Public Civil Action. Rivers within the university surroundings are degraded due to sewage disposal and wastewater pollution from external and internal sources within the university, but the programme actions contemplate only interventions within the perimeter of the university while excluding the other parts of its watershed. We analyse this problem under a Systems Thinking approach by using causal loop diagrams, being clear that ecosystems cannot be reduced to territorial limits only. The systemic map shows many actions that contribute to the water quality degradation, with emphasis on illegal dumping of wastewater (sewage) and land use change in the upstream areas prior to the university. Point measures are palliative and do not guarantee the quality of river water. Regulation of impervious surfaces and correct disposal of wastewater can improve the current panorama, but greater integration between stakeholders and other key actors is required.


Causal loop diagrams Mental models Receiving waters Socio-ecological system Urban water management Water governance Water resources 


Funding information

The first author gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development of Brazil (CNPq).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabiane Andressa Tasca
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roberto Fabris Goerl
    • 2
  • Gean Paulo Michel
    • 3
  • Nei Kavaguichi Leite
    • 4
  • Djesser Zechner Sérgio
    • 5
  • Saman Belizário
    • 1
  • Jakcemara Caprario
    • 1
  • Alexandra Rodrigues Finotti
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sanitary and Environmental EngineeringFederal University of Santa Catarina, TrindadeFlorianópolisBrazil
  2. 2.Department of GeosciencesFederal University of Santa Catarina, TrindadeFlorianópolisBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Hydraulic Works, Institute of Hydraulic ResearchFederal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and ZoologyFederal University of Santa Catarina, TrindadeFlorianópolisBrazil
  5. 5.Federal University of Santa Catarina, TrindadeFlorianópolisBrazil

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