Água Carioca explores how this system can be integrated in various urban situations in varying spatial, ecological, cultural and social conditions. It is unique in that it employs the eco-technology of constructed wetlands as a transformative urban planning tool to deliver sanitation and improve livelihoods in a comprehensive, long-term and scalable way. Quick and relatively inexpensive to implement, the system works at multiple scales, from a building to whole neighbourhoods and holds the ability to transform an entire city.

Population: 8,48 Mio

Area: 2.576 km2

Density: 3.284 POP/km2

Water supply: CEDAE & Mountain Springs

Proposal for: 2 Mio buildings  |  8 Mio people  |  1 Mio m3 water/day

Potential of Água Carioca to transform sanitation and water/ ecological quality across the city of Rio de Janeiro

Wooded hillsides surround the city of Rio de Janeiro, with many of its rivers feeding directly in to Guanabara Bay.                  

As the rivers pass through the city’s built up areas, including many that are not connected to a sewage network, they become contaminated and run as open sewers.


Approximately 20,000 litres of human waste flows in to the Guanabara Bay per second.