Separating the French Overseas Department of Guiana and the Brazilian State of Amapá, the Oyapock River is a physical boundary between the American Continent and the European Community. This river rises in Brazil at the Tumucumaque Mountains and empties into the Atlantic Ocean, after traveling approximately 350 km throughout an area with little human interference.
The area of its basin is roughly 30,000 km², a large portion of which is in a natural preserved area that includes the Tumucumaque Mountains National Park in the Brazilian side (almost 9,000 km²), and the Guiana Amazonian Park in the French side (with approximately the same area of the park on the Brazilian side).
Therefore, it can be said that about sixty percent of the Oyapock river basin area is preserved.
In spite of the fact that France and, to some extent, Brazil are quite advanced in monitoring and evaluating their own resources, there is, in the particular case of the Oyapock basin, a significant lack of systems in surveying and processing raw data, in generating reliable information and in making them available in a timely way and with wide dissemination.
A regional initiative aiming at collecting and disseminating data and information is hugely important in the awareness of governments and local population in order to better leverage their resources. A key step in enabling the management of the water resources and the establishment of responsible and effective guidelines and policies concerning its uses is the development of a reasonable knowledge of these resources. For the development of this knowledge, it is imperative to implement an effective system of monitoring and sharing data and information between the Hydrological Services of both countries.
Besides the advantages for the region itself, the implementation of a HyCOS component in the Oyapock basin increases the possibility of accomplishing future HyCOS components in the RAIII, such as in the Amazon and in the Plata basins.
One day after the International Workshop on Hydrometrics, held in the Brazilian city of Manaus in May 2012, a meeting of representatives of the South American Hydrological Services was carried out. After this meeting, twenty-one points were thought of as the most relevant to South America, as far water resources are concerned.
The first of these points states that it is necessary to continue the effort to implement HyCOS components in South America.
In July 2013, there was a meeting in Brasilia with the participation of the ANA (National Water Agency of Brazil), the IRD (Research Institute for the Develpement of France) and the INMET (National Institute of Meteorology of Brazil). The participants concluded that the establishment of the system is of great importance for the region and agreed to make efforts to establish the necessary procedures for the creation of the HYCOS-Oyapock, and the consequent establishment of cooperation agreements and sharing of hydrometeorological data and information.
The next step to be carried out by ANA shall be to issue a letter of intent to DEAL-Guyana, to the National Bureau of Meteo France, to the IRD and to the WMO, in order to trigger the request stage for the creation of the first HYCOS component in RAIII.
Brasília/Brazil, 7th October 2013
Antônio Cardoso Neto
Hydrologic Advisor of the PR of Brazil