Water resources management in Uruguay


Water resources management in Uruguay

"Source": WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme ( [http://www.wssinfo.org/en/welcome.html JMP] /2006). Data for [http://www.wssinfo.org/pdf/country/URY_wat.pdf water] and [http://www.wssinfo.org/pdf/country/URY_san.pdf sanitation] based on the WHO World Health Survey (2003).

Irrigation and drainage

Uruguay has approximately 181,000 hectares (ha) equipped for irrigation or about 12.8% of the total agricultural land, 1,412,000ha. The private sector has been the main investor of irrigation infrastructure in Uruguay. The public sector has contributed in some irrigation projects such as Canelón Grande (1 100 ha), Colonia España (815 ha), Chingolo, Tomás Berreta (360 ha), Corrales (3 500 ha), Aguas Blancas (125 ha), and India Muerta. Since 1996, the Natural Resources Management and Irrigation Development Project (PRENADER for its acronym in Spanish) has promoted irrigation techniques and built several hydraulic infrastructures such as small dams and groundwater pumping systems aimed at supplying water for irrigation. cite web
url= http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries/uruguay/indexesp.stm
title=Uruguay Country Profile
author=Aquastat
pages= p.1
publisher=Food and Agriculture Organization
accessdate=2008-09-16
]

Hydropower

The electricity sector in Uruguay has a strong participation of the public sector. According to 2002 data, energy supply is dominated by hydropower generation (51%), followed by gas (34%), wood (11%), biomass (3%) and natural gas (1%).

Three hydropower centrals in Negro River and one binational plant in Uruguay River generate most of the hydropower in Uruguay. The possibility of building new plants is constrained by Uruguay’s geographic characteristics.

Aquatic ecosystems

Aquatic ecosystems, especially fisheries, contribute to Uruguayan economic growth. In 2003, fisheries accounted for 0,3% of GDP, 4.6% of total exports –or US$100 million – and employed directly 2,000 and indirectly over 11,000 workers. Most of Uruguayan captures come from the Plata River and the Atlantic Ocean. According to MVOTMA, most of fish species captured for exports are close to maximum sustainable catch. cite web
url=http://www.cambioclimatico.gub.uy//index.php?option=com_search&Itemid=5&searchword=Segunda+comunicacion&searchphrase=any&ordering=newest
title= Segunda Comunicación Nacional a la Conferencia de las Partes en la Convención Marco de las Nacional Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático
author= Ministerio de Vivienda, Ordenamiento Territorial y Medio Ambiente
publisher= Unidad del Cambio Climático
date= 2004
pages= pp. 46-47
accessdate= 2008-09-01
] The neighbor countries are implementing an Environmental Protection and Sustainable Management project together with the Organization of American States and the World Bank. (See [http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/LACEXT/0,,contentMDK:21873909~pagePK:146736~piPK:146830~theSitePK:258554,00.html video] )

Legal and institutional framework

Legal framework

The Water Code, Decree No 14.859 of 1978, establishes the legal framework for water resources management in Uruguay. The Water Code grants sole ownership and managerial responsibilities of superficial and groundwater resources to national and municipal government, including the establishment of water user fees. The Water Code however maintains water property rights to private owners issued prior to the enactment of the Water Code, if registered appropriately. Uruguayan government grants water use rights through concessions and permits based on quantity, end purpose, and general interest related to water use. cite web
url=http://www.rau.edu.uy/universidad/consultiva/informes/recursos1.pdf
title= Hacia una Gestión Integrada de los Recursos Hídricos en el Uruguay
author= Comisión Social Consultiva
publisher= Universidad de La República
date= 2004
pages= pp. 36-39
accessdate= 2008-09-01
] The Water Code is not an integral piece of legislation. Sectoral laws establish specific provisions for agriculture, industrial, energy production and water supply and sanitation completing the legal framework for water resources management in Uruguay.

Institutional framework

The National Water Authority in Uruguay is the executive branch of the Uruguayan Government together with the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MTOP for its acronym in Spanish) and the MVOTMA. The executive branch of the Uruguayan government is responsible for designing and implementing the water resources management national policy, granting water user rights, establishing priorities for water use by regions or watersheds giving priority to drinking water, establishing water user fees, and developing the Water Code through regulation. According to the Water Code, the State shall promote the study, preservation and integrated sustainable use of water.

The MTOP, through its National Hydrographic Directorate, is responsible for the operation of the water network, execution of hydraulic works, and management of irrigation systems. The MTOP, through its Hydraulic Division, also engages in the processing of licenses and concessions, and the operation of the National Hydrological Data Bank

The MVOTMA, through its National Environmental Directorate (DINAMA for its acronym in Spanish), is responsible for monitoring water quality as well as protecting water resources against environmental degradation. The MVOTMA is also in charge of supervising infrastructural development vis a vis Uruguayan environmental safeguards as well as granting pollution rights.

The National Directorate for Mining Activities and Geology conducts feasibility studies for groundwater exploration and measures groundwater quantity and quality. The Soil and Water Division of the National Directorate for Natural Renewable Resources is responsible for water and soil management for irrigated agriculture though water quality monitoring and erosion and land degradation control. Finally, the National Water and Sanitation Company (OSE for its acronym in Spanish) is in charge of water supply and sanitation in all Uruguay except in the department of Montevideo which is the Mayor’s responsibility. cite web
url=http://www.rau.edu.uy/universidad/consultiva/informes/recursos1.pdf
title= Hacia una Gestión Integrada de los Recursos Hídricos en el Uruguay
author= Comisión Social Consultiva
publisher= Universidad de La República
date= 2004
pages= pp. 23-24
accessdate= 2008-09-01
]

Government strategy

In 1978, the Water Code granted to the Uruguayan Government the responsibility of designing and implementing water resources national policy. However, in 2008 the government is still debating together with public and private stakeholders over the specifics of the National Policy. According to the La Republica University, “despite the existence of a regulatory body like the Water Code, regulations and programs, there is not a defined organizational context or lines of action established by a national water Policy.”

Economic aspects

Water pricing

The Water Code of1979 incorporated the concept of a water fee linked to the use of public water (art. 3). Later irrigation legislation reiterated the no-gratuity of water use in Uruguay. However, the Uruguayan Government has not yet established a methodology to determine fees for different users, or has set canon, prices or other instrument that make applicable these legal provisions. Recognizing water as an economic good is considered a good practice internationally and is part of the Dublin Statement for Integrated Water Resources Management. cite web
url=http://www.rau.edu.uy/universidad/consultiva/informes/recursos1.pdf
title= Hacia una Gestión Integrada de los Recursos Hídricos en el Uruguay
author= Comisión Social Consultiva
publisher= Universidad de La República
date= 2004
pages= pp. 96-97
accessdate= 2008-09-01
]

External cooperation

The World Bank has contributed with Uruguay government in several projects related to water resources management. In the context of the [http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P008173 Natural Resources Management and Irrigation Development Project] a soil and water management strategy was formulated and implemented to increase, diversify and maintain agricultural production and exports of individual farmers. As a result of the project, over 2,400 farmers made investments to increase by almost 20% the irrigated areas in the country (from 35,000 hectares to a total of 190,000 hectares), where land devoted to irrigated rice crops accounted for almost 77% of the total. Despite the fact that irrigated rice fields still maintain a relatively high importance, the Project decisively supported diversification. The expansion of irrigated rice fields (19,000 hectares) financed by the project was almost fully related to the expansion of cattle breeding systems, a process by which the irrigated rice and forage crops were integrated to the use of the soil in rotation with pastures. In addition, the expansion of irrigated areas for the production of fruits and vegetables supported by the project (16,000 hectares) represented an increase of over 100% regarding the initial area where these products were grown which contributed to a considerable growth in the production of high-value crops and non-traditional exports.

Also, the first phase of the [http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=64283627&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P063383 National Water and Sanitation Company (OSE) modernization and systems rehabilitation project] was supported by a 27 million US dollars loan approved in June 2000. OSE was able to successfully implement and disseminate an in-house reference system that compares performance of the water utility in 21 cities, on the basis of eight service quality indicators. In addition, the first phase helped improve sewer coverage in another 12 cities of the interior by expanding—according to demand—the sewerage systems. Finally, three new sewage treatment plants were built in the cities of Minas, Treinta y Tres and Durazno, with a total capacity to serve 60,000 users.

The Inter-American Development Bank has recently approved a consultancy service to design a mixed public company to provide [http://www.iadb.org/Projects/Project.cfm?project=UR-T1028&Language=English stormwater drainage services for Ciudad de la Costa] . The IDB was a strong supporter of several water supply and sanitation projects during the 1990s. Some if this eeforts included the creation of a National Sanitation Program, a Urban Recovery Program, and Sanitation to Montevideo and Metropolitan Areas.

Potential climate change impacts

The Uruguayan Second Communication to the UNFCCC includes and assessment of the vulnerability of water resources to the likely impacts of Climate Change. The assessment, which is also part of the National Program for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change (PMEGEMA for its acronym in Spanish), states that river basins with high water resources demand and limited hydraulic infrastructure will likely be the systems affected the most by Climate Change. These impacts will be worsened by the lack of an efficient, integrated water resources management system country wide. Also, according to the Second Communication climate scenarios show that “there will be likely a increased demand of water vis a vis supply, but this ratio is far from compromising Uruguay’s water resources, except form the Merin Laggon basin, where current water balance is already stressed.”

Floods magnitude and frequency is likely to increase due to intense precipitation and land use change, especially around urban areas. Groundwater recharge will also be affected by change on precipitation, although it is not expected to be substantially lower. However, MVOTMA expects an increase in groundwater use in the future due to an increased water demand for irrigation and industrial purposes. Higher demand could increase pressure in already stressed systems such as the Raigon Aquifer and Southern areas where there is a need for groundwater integrated management systems. cite web
url=http://www.cambioclimatico.gub.uy//index.php?option=com_search&Itemid=5&searchword=Segunda+comunicacion&searchphrase=any&ordering=newest
title= Segunda Comunicación Nacional a la Conferencia de las Partes en la Convención Marco de las Nacional Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático
author= Ministerio de Vivienda, Ordenamiento Territorial y Medio Ambiente
publisher= Unidad del Cambio Climático
date= 2004
pages= pp. 226-227
accessdate= 2008-10-05
]

Notes and References

ee also

*Water supply and sanitation in Uruguay


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