Study on water regulation points out gaps in legislation and need to restructure regulator

The FGV Rio de Janeiro Law School’s study also indicates a lack of transparency regarding the two institutions’ activities, given that the regulatory agenda was only publicly disclosed in 2019
Law
21 September 2020
Study on water regulation points out gaps in legislation and need to restructure regulator

At a time when water is an essential element in the fight against the coronavirus, Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Rio de Janeiro Law School has published a study called “Diagnosis of Water Regulation in Brazil.” This is the first ever nationwide examination of water regulation at federal level.

According to researcher Bianca Medeiros, one of the study’s coordinators, one of the main points detected is the lack of national parameters for regulating water use for crop irrigation (the biggest consumer of water in Brazil) and industry. Because of this situation, she says that each case is dealt with individually, making it hard to build systematic policies.

“Despite the importance of the rules applied to specific cases and states’ autonomy to propose their own rules, the lack of national parameters for water use in irrigation and industry hinders the construction of policies for the country’s heaviest water users. In addition, states do not have any guidance for their rules. As we know, many states lack technical capacity, and in these cases, national guidelines would be useful,” Medeiros explains.

The FGV Rio de Janeiro Law School’s study, produced by Bianca Medeiros, Natasha Salinas, Rômulo Sampaio and Thauany Vigar, compiles the results of research at federal level, focusing on rules issued by the National Water Regulatory Agency (ANA) and the National Water Resources Council (CNRH). All the 841 sets of regulations issued by these two organizations between the time they were created, in 2001 and 1998, respectively, and December 2019 were examined.

The researchers detected that ANA has been timid in regulating the provision of water-related services, as it has issued just one set of national regulations on this subject. Bianca Medeiros argues that the agency therefore needs to undergo structural reforms to take on the new duties established in the New Basic Sanitation Regulatory Framework (instituted by Law 14,026 of 2020).

The FGV Rio de Janeiro Law School’s study also indicates a lack of transparency regarding the two institutions’ activities, given that the regulatory agenda was only publicly disclosed in 2019. According to Medeiros, the lack of such an agenda has hampered planning in the sector and meant that rules have been drawn up as problems have appeared, without a clearer “action plan.” This also prevents the population from having more knowledge about how the sector is organized.

The researchers also found fragmentation regarding two aspects of water regulation: quantity and quality. While ANA and CNRH mainly regulate quantity, the National Environment Council (Conama) regulates water quality. “This fragmentation hinders coordination between the different organizations and the creation of more robust policies for the water sector,” Natasha Salinas says.

The complete study is available here.

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