Water resources management in Brazil

Water resources management in Brazil

The 1988 Constitution established a distinction between federally controlled water, for rivers, lakes, and lagoons across state boundaries (article 20), and state-controlled water, for rivers and groundwater that remain completely within state boundaries (article 26). This definition of state-controlled water complicates the effective management of some of the country's important rivers since the main stem of a federally controlled river cannot be effectively managed without controlling water resource development on the state-controlled tributaries of the river.

After negotiating for six years, Congress adopted a National Water Law, No. 9433 (NWL) in January 1997 that incorporates most modern water resources management principles and instruments. The NWP states that water is a public good and a limited natural resource with an economic value; in situations of scarcity the priority use of water is for human and animal consumption; water resources management should always assure the multiple use of waters; the river basin is the territorial unit for water management; and management of water resources should be decentralized and participatory. In July 2000, Federal Law No. 9984 established the National Water Authority (Autoridade Nacional da Agua - ANA) with the mandate to implement the national water policy and establish criteria for granting of water usage rights and pricing mechanisms.

The legal framework is completed with several water resources management laws created by the states starting in 1991. Although implemented at different times in the last 20 years, most of these state laws are structurally very similar among themselves and with National Water Law No. 9433.

State water resources management Law

"Source": MMA, 2001

Institutional organization

The National Water Resources Management System is a combination of organized public organizations, private entities, and civil society representatives which make the implementations of the water resources management instruments possible, in accordance with the principles established in the law. The institutional framework consists of the following:

The National Council on Water Resources (NCWR) is the highest organization in the system’s hierarchy. It aims at promoting the integration of water resources planning at the national, regional, and state levels and between user sectors. The NCWR consists of representatives of the Federal Government ministries as well as representatives designated by the State Councils on Water Resources and representatives of water users and civil organizations concerned with water resources management. The Chairman of the National Water Resources Council is the Minister of the Environment.

The National Water Authority (Autoridade Nacional da Agua – ANA) is in charge of implementing the National Plan for Water Resources formulated by the NCWR. ANA consists of ten functional superintendencies with implementing and administrative functions headed by a president and four directors. ANA is under the Ministry of the Environment but has administrative and financial independence.

The River Basin Committees (RBC) are connected organizations that bring together stakeholders to discuss and decide on their own problems with the objective of protecting water resources in the river basin region. Under Brazilian law, they do not have legal status. RBCs include representatives of the Federal Government, the states, or the Federal District in which they are located (even if only partially), the municipalities, the water users and the water resources civil organizations that have a demonstrated record of action in the basin. The number of representatives from each sector mentioned, as well as the criteria for their appointments, are defined in the regulations of the Committees.

The River Basin Water Agencies act as the executive secretariats of the River Basin Committees. Although there is a close relationship between the committees and the agencies, the latter are very different from the former. The main difference is in their nature and organization: while the Committees act as what is called in Brazil "water parliaments," the Water Agencies operate more like executive organizations.

The Water Resources Civil Organizations (CWO) should be represented on the National Water Resources Council and should participate in the decision-making process. CWOs can be any of the following: (i) inter-municipal consortia, (ii) river basin associations, (iii) regional, local, or sectoral associations of water users, (iv) technical, academic, and research organizations, and (v) nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).cite web
title=Water Resources National Policy in Brazil
author=Garrido, Raymundo
publisher= [http://www.dams.org/ World Commission on Dams]
pages=pp. 1, 4–11

Government strategy

The National Water Resources Policy was approved by Federal Law No. 9433/97. The National Water Resources Policy can be divided into three main sections:

* Sector Principles. These are: (i) the river basin is the territorial unit for the implementation of the National Water Resources Policy; (ii) management of water resources should allow for multiple uses of water; (iii) water is a limited resource with economic value; (iv) the management of water resources should be decentralized and should involve participation by the government, the users, and the community; and (v) when there is a shortage of water, priority is given to human consumption and watering of animals.

* Management Instruments affecting water users directly, such as water permits and water tariffs, and decision-making, such as water resources planning at the river basin, state, or national level, water resources information system and classification of bodies of water according to main uses.

* The institutional framework for the operation of the principles and implementation of the instruments, including: (i) National Water Resources Council, (ii) the water resources councils of the states and the Federal District, (iii) the river basin committees, (iv) the government agencies with functions related to water, and (v) the river basin water agencies.

In addition, Brazil’s Government is undertaking a number of water resources management initiatives such as PROAGUA and PRODES. [http://jurua.ana.gov.br/proagua/ PROAGUA] (Programa Nacional de Desenvolvimiento dos Recursos Hidricos - Federal Water Resources Management Project) aims at bettering the population’s quality of life, especially that of the poor, by combining integrated water resources management with expansion and optimization of hydraulic infrastructure, promoting rational integrated and sustainable use and participatory management of water resources in Brazil. PRODES (Programa Despoluição de Bacias Hidrográficas or Basin Restoration Program) is an innovative program by the Brazilian Federal Government to finance wastewater treatment plants while providing financial incentives to properly operate and maintain the plants. It is a type of Output-based aid, as opposed to financing programs targeted only at inputs.

Users' Commissions

More recently, the advent of river basin or sub-basin commissions has changed the terms of the debate over the "ideal scale" of water services provision cite web
title=Sustainable water services and interaction with water resources in Europe and in Brazil
author=Barraqué, B., Formiga Johnsson, R.M., and Britto, A.L.
publisher=Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
pages=pp. 3447-3449, 3463
] .

The creation of Users’ Commissions, such as COGERH (created in 1993) in the Lower Jaguaribe/Banabuiú, and a (short-lived) similar organization in Curú, have served the overlapping goals of public participation, decentralization, and transparency. [Lemos and de Oliveira 2005.] According to Lemos and de Oliveira, such Users' Commissions have effectively mobilized "multidisciplinary" teams of experts—including sociologists, geographers, agronomists, and engineers—"not as organizers but as facilitators," for more participatory decision-making processes. [Lemos and Oliveira 2005: 140.]

The river basin committees represent a "new decision-making" arena which has begun to challenge the " =closed and technocratic" bureaucracy that Brazil inherited from its pre-democratic past.cite web
url=http://www.media.gwu.edu/~ibi/minerva/Fall1996/Helena.Kerr.Amaral.html|title=Brazilian Water Resource Policy in the Nineties
author=do Amaral, Helena Kerr
publisher=Instituto Cultural Minerva
pages=p. 1
] For example, COGERH’s recommendation to reduce water consumption voluntarily came as a shock to the traditional water policy-making establishment [Lemos and Oliveira 2005: 143.] . The Piracicaba, Capivari, and Jundiaí River Basin Committee (created by Law No. 7663/1991, formalized by November 1993) pioneered a shared decision-making model between users and state and local officials, which has been used as a model by several other committees in the state of São Paulo.

Water management at the river basin level – The Alto Tietê river basin

Unlike the semi-arid region which has had a long history of federal intervention, water management practices in the State of São Paulo have historically been a local affair, even for the federal waters crossing it. The Tietê Riverthe State of São Paulo’s largest river— runs 1,100 km from its eastern source in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region to the western border of the state where it joins the Paraná River, which then runs southward toward the Rio de la Plata estuary between Argentina and Uruguay. The area covered by the Alto Tietê basin is almost coterminous with the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo. With a drainage area of 5,985 km2 (2.4% of the state’s territory), the basin encompasses 35 of the 39 municipalities and 99.5% of the population of Greater São Paulo.

In 1991, Law 7.663 was enacted calling for the creation of the Alto-Tietê Basin Committee. However this committee was only formally established in November 1994, a result of a deliberate effort by the state técnicos (technical staff) to mobilize the municipal government and, especially, civil society. Its functions include setting guidelines and approving river basin plans; proposing pricing criteria and values for bulk water pricing and a program for allocating proceeds derived from such water charges; integrating the decision making and programs of water-related institutions working in the basin; and other responsibilities. The 48 seats of the committee's assembly are divided equally among representatives of three sectors: municipal government, state government agencies (including public water users), and organized civil society groups (including those representing private water users). Local issues are decided in the five sub-committees created after 1997. Although the Alto-Tietê Committee created its basin agency in 2001, it is little more than a symbolic organization, while the state water management agency remains the committee’s executive arm in charge of technical and administrative support.

As elsewhere in São Paulo, fully working basin institutions have yet to be created in the Alto Tietê Basin, mostly because the financial vitality of these bodies remains very limited. All in all, the Alto Tietê management system can be characterized as reasonably advanced, even though the rhythm of implementation has been much slower than the initial process of approving the water law and creating the basin committees.

Bulk water tariffs

In 1999, no water fees were charged for the use of water for irrigation or for water supply in Brazil. In the hydroelectric subsector, a royalty fee (based on a percentage of the revenues collected by power companies) is paid to those states and municipalities where hydroelectric infrastructure and facilities are located. Water users in urban centers pay for the treatment and distribution of water and the collection of sewage, whereas farmers in public irrigation projects pay a tariff for the O&M of the projects.

The establishment of bulk water tariffs is currently one of the most emphasized pricing mechanisms in Brazil. However, the actual implementation of bulk water supply tariffs varies by state. For example in the State of Ceara, prices for industrial users are 60 times higher than those for municipal users, who in turn pay as much as 10 times as that paid by agricultural users.cite web
title=Management of Water Resources: Bulk Water Pricing in Brazil
author=Asad, Musa (et al.)
publisher=World Bank
date=June 1999
pages=pp. 1, 18–32

Bulk water pricing structure in Ceara "Source": World Bank, 1999

Water-related natural hazards

Droughts In the Northeast of Brazil droughts are a cyclical phenomenon occurring every 10 to 12 years, and some of them are very severe. The region has an annual average rainfall ranging from 400 to 800 mm, and an average water availability per person ranging from 1,320 to 1,781 m3 (the world's average was 8,209 m3 in 2007). The effects of droughts on the local, mostly poor, population are devastating.cite web
title=Proagua Semi-Arido: Achievements and Results
author=Agencia Nacional de Aguas
publisher=Agencia Nacional de Aguas
pages=pp. 1
] Droughts are also frequent in the South, home of most of Brazil’s industry, where the latest drought in 2000 culminated in a national energy crisis. (See Electricity sector in Brazil). Formiga Johnson "et al." (June 2005), "op. cit.", p. 38-42]

Floods Along the Amazon River there is a complex mosaic of fluvial forms, including channels, active sandbars, islands, levees, scroll-dominated plains, and abandoned belts highly prone to floods in the summer months.cite web
title=The Holocene alluvial plain of the middle Amazon River, Brazil
author=Latrubesse E.M. and Franzinelli E.
date=May 2002
pages=pp. 1
] Hydrological variability and rapidly growing urban areas have caused new environmental problems in Brazilian cities, such as inundations in non-planned river basins. One of the causes of flood impacts is that public funds (national, state, or municipal) have barely introduced wise proactive polices to follow up rapidly growing urban areas.cite web
title=Urban Flood Risk Insurance Models as a Strategy for Proactive Water Management Policies
author=Graciosa, M C
publisher=University of São Paulo
pages=pp. 1

Potential climate change impacts

Brazil’s Government considers that, despite many studies, there is still much uncertainty about the consequences of climate change and its links to worsening critical events. On the other hand, the Technical Summary of the Fourth Assessment Report of the UNFCC, reflecting a consensus view, indicates a potential Amazon forest loss of between 20 and 80% as a result of climate impacts induced by a temperature increase in the basin of between 2.0 and 3.0 degrees Celsius. The IPCC is also indicating a likelihood of major biodiversity extinctions as a consequence. Specifically, according to the Earth Simulator, temperature increases and disruption in precipitation cycles (up to a 90% reduction by the end of the century) could seriously hamper the workings of the Amazon as a forest ecosystem, reducing its capacity to retain carbon, increasing its soil temperature, and eventually forcing the Amazon through a gradual process of savannizationcite web
title=Visualizing Future Climate in Latin America: Results from the Application of the Earth Simulator
author=Vergara, Walter (et al.)
publisher=World Bank
date=November 2007
pages=pp. 1, 13
] . These predictions were reinforced in 2005, when large sections of southwestern Amazonia experienced one of the most intense droughts of the last hundred years. The drought severely affected human population along the main channel of the Amazon River and its western and southwestern tributaries.

External cooperation

The World Bank is contributing US$1.2 million to assess the prospects and identification of the implications of Amazon dieback induced by climate change as well as assessing the long-term options that would be required to maintain the integrity of the basin. The World Bank is also collaborating with Brazil’s Government on two projects for integrated water resources management in [http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=64283627&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P089929 Rio Grande do Norte] and [http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=64283627&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P006449 Ceara] . The World Bank also contributed US$198 million to the Federal Water Resources Management Project, PROAGUA, in 1998.

The Inter-American Development Bank has contributed technically and financially to the development of Brazil’s [http://www.iadb.org/projects/Project.cfm?project=BR-T1015&Language=English National Water Plan] . The National Water Plan aims at assuring water quality, quantity, and availability needed for Brazil’s sustainable development. The IDB has also contributed to the governments of states such as Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul in the preparation of a [http://www.iadb.org/projects/Project.cfm?project=BR-T1018&Language=English Master Plan] for the Sustainable Development of the Region of the Upper Rio Uruguay Watershed.



* Lemos, Maria Carmen, and de Oliveira, João Lúcio Farias. 2005. "Water Reform across the State/Society Divide: The Case of Ceará, Brazil." "Water Resources Development", 21(1): 133-147.

See also

* Brazil
* Irrigation in Brazil
* Water supply and sanitation in Brazil
* Electricity sector in Brazil

External links

* [http://jurua.ana.gov.br/proagua/ PROAGUA]
* [http://www.ana.gov.br/ Agencia Nacional de Aguas]

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