In 1987 at the Symposium of ABRHidro, held in Salvador, Bahia, participants were exposed to ideas and concepts that would break with the paradigms that previously guided purely technical and scientific activities of the Association. The new paradigm sought to align the country with what was already happening in of the more developed countries and advocated by concepts such as decentralization and participation of society in decision-making, by the water value as an essential element for economic development and at the same time as an inseparable factor of good environmental quality. Also advocated by holistic and systemic approach to the sector, the promotion of multiple and rational use of water resources and the need to deploy qualified institutions to take charge of such gigantic tasks. In short, from this date, planning, management and institutional aspects started to be part has been part of the Association’s agenda. Many colleagues have shared and engaged for effective implementation of these concepts. The role of these people was very important and this space is not enough to express the gratitude of our community to them all.
However, three facts are indisputable: first the role of ABRHidro, which housed and encouraged discussions and became a true launch pad of the ideas that were being consolidated, then the symbolic significance of the Symposium of 1987 which marked the beginning of new directions and finally, the remarkable participation of the engineer Flávio Terra Barth as one of the leaders of this movement.
Born in Itapetininga- SP in 1942, early left us in 2000, bequeathing the country a transcendental meaning of contribution. Those who were fortunate enough to know him, feelings are always full of admiration, respect, gratitude and affection.
He graduated in Civil Engineering at the Polytechnic School in 1966. Newly formed, he joined the Department of Water and Energy of the State of São Paulo where he retired in 1996. Initially devoted to technical functions as resident works in regional offices DAEE, later moving to design and planning stages. At this time, he set up teams of young technicians who have been trained and more than that, inspired by him. Many of these ” “old youths” are prominent people in the national community water resources and, here too, the space is not enough to quote them.
In the 80’s he convinced himself that his knowledge of hydrology, hydraulics, statistics and hydraulic projects, although solid, would be insufficient to address the issue of water resources with the fullness and importance deserved. With the holistic approach that characterized him, he approached the environmental, legal, social and economic areas.
The conviction encouraged him that the question of the rational and sustainable use of our water resources could only be addressed by integrating these areas with technical expertise was extremely exciting. Moreover, he used to say that having technicians and competent well-intentioned scientists would not bem enough. It was essential to “win hearts and minds” of the various segments of society to the cause of multiple and rational management of our water resources.
Strictly speaking, even at that time, these ideas were not new. It was remarkable, however, Flavio’s ability to formulate them in a clear and didactic way, to reach different segments of the community, to convince the most skeptical and finally to turn these abstract concepts into reality. Finally, hearts and minds were won in an unusual way for a quiet, polite, almost shy personality, who was equipped, nonetheless, with high capacity aggregation, solid intellectual formation and high ethical standards.
Flávio had a very clear vision of the role of ABRHidro with issue of the water resources. The Association, first of all, should be a forum where the society could freely discuss their ideas, exposing divergences and conflicts to look for ways to better attend the interests of the society.
Public demonstrations of the Association should always be based on the principles governing the rational and sustainable multiple use of water resources. These principles were set out in the first two letters of ABRHidro, approved by the General Assembly of the Association held during the Salvador (1987) and Foz do Iguaçu (1989) Symposia’s, with the active participation of Flavio in the discussions of the concepts and wording of the texts. These letters, besides already being part of the history of Brazilian management of water resources, is required reading for all who are interested in the area.
For many following years Flávio was responsible for Water Resources Commission of ABRHidro. In this condition he organized events, encouraged debates, he participated and contributed with achievements which today are part of the history of the water sector of the country. It helped many institutions to formulate their policies, to formalize their duties and arrange their activities. At the time when the internet were still in the beginning and the so-called social networks did not even existed, he founded the Water Resources ABRHidro Forum. He served as the Forum mediator to the end of his days. His mediation reflected the values he believed in: ethics, common sense and respect for the views of participants. When necessary, to prevent any excesses of the participants, he used to use only a fine sense of humor that characterized him.
In the late 90s, matured in the ABRHidro the idea of making public the thanks and recognition for outstanding contributions Flavio matured in the ABRHidro. The Advisory Board and the Executive Board approved the holding of a tribute, which should be held during the Aracaju Symposium 2001. But fate wanted Flavio to leave us before this event, without even knowing the gesture ABRHidro preparing him. The tribute was held “in memoriam” with the presence of his widow, who was handed a sculpture designed by the gaucho artist Ana Norogrando.
In order to perpetuate the honor to Flavio, ABRHidro instituted the Award Flavio Terra Barth, which is granted every two years, on the occasion of the Symposia of the National ABRHidro. The award is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves by significant contributions to the development of rational and sustainable use of water resources.