Document Details
Conference Paper
Water Management in Brazil

Water Management in Brazil
B.P.F. Braga1, R. Flecha2, D. Pereira3 and J. Kelman4
1 Titular Professor at the Polytechnic School of Sao Paulo University, President of the International
Hydrologic Programme of UNESCO, Vice-president of the World Water Council – WWC and Director of
the National Water Agency – NWA
2 Aid Superintendent for the Management of the National Water Agency – NWA
3 Secretary for Sanitation and Energy in the State Government of Sao Paulo
4 Professor at Rio de Janeiro Federal University – RJFU, Director General of the National Electrical Energy
Agency – NELEA and ex-Director President of the National Water Agency – NWA
1. Introduction
Water is a vital natural resource. On the contrary to other natural resources (crude
oil, gas, aluminium, etc.) for which there could be alternatives, there is no possible
replacement for water. Water can be used for many ends: supplying people and industry,
animal farming, production of foodstuffs through the use of irrigation, sailing, generation
of hydroelectricity, mining, conservation of aquatic flora and fauna, leisure and tourism.
In Brazil, during times of scarcity, supplying the population and animal farming are the
uses with the highest priority. The priority of all the other uses is established according to
the aptitude of the water basin in question for the basin plan as passed by the respective
This chapter is going to deal with the situation of the water resources in Brazil. It
will lay out the conditions of availability and demand in the various water zones in
Brazil. The most recent developments of the last ten years in the legal and institutional
areas for the management of water resources will be presented along with examples of
implementation in water basins that are shared by different States.
2. Water availability and demand
Brazil is a federative republic comprised of the Union, 26 states, 1 federal district
and 5,561 municipalities (Figure 1). This is a very peculiar configuration as regards the
numerous municipalities that have complete administrative autonomy in, for example, the
supply of water and sanitation services. Fortunately, in the matter of the management of
water resources, the autonomy lies with the states and the Union. In accordance with the
Federal Constitution passed in 1988, the following were established as Union goods:
“lakes, rivers and any body of water on federal land or shared by one or more States,
serving as a border with another country…”5 Other watercourses and underground waters
lie within the dominion of the states. Thus, the management of water resources in Brazil
provides challenges similar to the management of cross-border river basins shared by
independent countries.
Figure 1 – Political Division of Brazil
In Brazil, the most intensive use of water is in irrigation for the production of
foodstuffs. Nearly 70% of water consumption goes to this end (Figure 2). Urban supplies
represent 11%, animal farming 11%, industrial 7% and rural supplies 2%.
5 Art. 20, inc. III of the Federal Constitution of 1988
Figure 2 – Water Use in Brazil (NWA, 2007)
Figure 3 shows the 12 water regions (combination of one or more water basins)
considered for water management in Brazil. The limits of these regions do not coincide
with the geo-political limits of the Brazilian States. This fact will have important
implications on the model of water management adopted by the country, as shown later.
Região Hidrográfica Amazônica
Região Hidrográfica do Paraná
Região Hidrográfica
do Tocantins
Região Hidrográfica
do São Francisco
Região Hidrográfica
do Paraguai
Região Hidrográfica
Atlântico Leste
Região Hidrográfica
do Parnaíba
Região Hidrográfica Atlântico Sul
Região Hidrográfica do Uruguai
Região Hidrográfica
Atlântico Nordeste Oriental
Região Hidrográfica
Atlântico Sudeste
Região Hidrográfica
Atlântico Nordeste Ocidental
Figure 3 – Water Regions and Brazilian States
Table 1 shows the average annual flow per capita in these twelve water regions.
The results show that Brazil is rich in terms of water availability. Considering the total of
the average flow for the country as 179,433 m3/s, we can see that the country contains
11% Industrial
7% Rural
12% of the planet’s fresh water. However, this availability varies greatly across the extent
of the country. In addition, there is also a great seasonable variation in this availability.
Even in water regions with high availability, such as the Amazon (74% of Brazil’s total),
major periods of low water can be found. This was the case during a series of serious
droughts in the south of the Amazon in 1983 and 2001. However, these isolated data do
not reflect the problem of water management in Brazil given that they do not take into
account the demand for different uses.
TABLE 1 – Average water flow per inhabitant in Brazil (NWA, 2007)
Studies undertaken by the NWA (2004) evaluated the demand/availability relationship
for water in these 12 water regions. The demand is calculated from the available data
provided by concessions given by both the Union and the states for the various uses of
the existing water in the water regions. The availability is the flow regulated by the
upstream river deposits system, with a 100% guarantee, added to the permanent flow at
95%, in the unregulated stretch. In the unregulated rivers, the availability is the
permanent flow at 95%. With the aim of characterising the situation of the rivers in these
water regions, a qualitative scale has been used for this availability/demand relationship
(1000 inhabitants) (m3/s) (m3/inhab/yr)
Amazon 7,806 131,947 533,062
Tocantins Araguaia 7,178 13,624 59,856
Western Northeast Atlantic 5,302 2,683 15,958
Parnaíba 3,729 763 6,453
Eastern Northeast Atlantic 21,465 779 1,144
Sao Francisco 12,796 2,850 7,024
East Atlantic 13,996 1,492 3,362
Southeast Atlantic 25,245 3,179 3,971
South Atlantic 11,634 4,174 11,314
Uruguay 3,834 4,121 33,897
Paraná 54,670 11,453 6,607
Paraguay 1,887 2,368 39,575
Brazil 169,542 179,433 33,376
which varies from “acceptable” to “critical”, as shown in Figure 4. The situation is
acceptable in the Amazon and Tocantins/Araguaia water region, except for some areas at
the head and in the rivers Jaburu and Formoso – where irrigation activities have
intensified in the last few years. In the Western Northeast Atlantic, the river Mearim is in
a critical condition. The river Parnaíba is able to attend to the demands of the basin
acceptably, with the exception of a few tributaries. In the Eastern Northeast Atlantic the
situation is the most critical. Almost all of the sub-basins in this region have an
availability to demand relationship of above 40%. The Sao Francisco water region also
has a somewhat worrying situation in the sub-basins of the Velhas and Paraopeba rivers
and some tributaries of the Paracatu (the rivers Preto, Sao Pedro and watercourse, Entreribeiros,
and the Upper river Grande), as the majority of these rivers are found in the
semi-arid region of the basin. Some basins in the East Atlantic also have difficulties
fulfilling the water demand: among others – Vaza-Barris, Itapicuru and Paraguaçu.
Additionally, the basins near to urban centres present a more problematic
situation, such as those in the Southeast Atlantic region (for example, the rivers Paraíba
do Sul, Pomba, Muriaé, Guandu and the rivers that flow out into Guanabara Bay) and in
Paraná (the rivers Sao Bartolomeu, Meia Ponte, some tributaries of the river Grande – the
rivers Sapucaí, Turvo, Pardo and Mogi-Guaçu Piracicaba and Tietê, for example). Lastly,
some basins located in the region of Uruguay are in a situation that requires a good
management and intervention mainly due to the conflicts between uses of irrigation (the
rivers Icamaquã, Ibicuí, Santa Maria and Quaraí, among others).
Availability/Demand ratio < 5% 10% 20% 40%
Excellent Acceptable Worrying Critical Very Critical
Figure 4 – Relationship between water demand and availability in the main watercourses
(NWA, 2007)
There are also regions in the country where it can be seen that, despite having
high natural water availability, the intense and disorganised occupation of the land has
led to conflicts over the use of water – mainly with regard to questions linked to the
quality required for particular uses. This is the case of the water regions of Paraná and
Uruguay or the upper courses of the rivers Tocantins and Sao Francisco, in addition to a
good part of the Southeast and South Atlantic water regions, where the conflicts for water
use have, mainly, pollution problems or excessive consumption of water by irrigation.
In the above explaination, it must be highlighted that, despite Brazil having the
largest quantity of fresh water available in the world at 12% of the total, there are serious
problems in the water offer for the various associated uses. These problems derive from
elevated quantitative demands in relation to availability and the compromised quality of
the water through pollution. The most visible result is that the marginal cost for dealing
with urban demand for water in metropolitan areas around the world has greatly
increased (Figure 5). One of the reasons for the increase in the marginal cost is the need
to look for the source of water in neighbouring water basins to the needy region. Two
important Brazilian metropolitan areas, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, supply their
populations with water transferred from neighbouring basins. In the first case, 50% of the
urban water supply comes from the basin of the river Piracicaba. On average, 33 m3/s is
transferred, which in turn is no longer available to the metropolitan areas of Campinas
and Piracicaba. In the second case, the water from Paraíba do Sul River is transferred to
the Light System for hydroelectric generation before being dumped back into the river
Guando. In this transfer, 65% of the water from the Paraíba do Sul (160 m3/s) no longer
flows towards the upstream region of Santa Cecilia, which includes, among others, the
cities of Barra do Piraí and Campos dos Guaitazes.
The challenge for the management of water in Brazil is therefore linked to the
argument of guaranteeing the water offer in water regions with low availability and with
the improvement of water quality through the reduction of industrial and domestic
pollution. The work undertaken by the environment sector with the system of command
and control (fines) has resulted in the containment of industrial pollution. However,
domestic pollution, in other words that produced by sanitation companies, is far from
being resolved. Only 15% of domestic waste is treated before being poured into Brazil’s
urban rivers.
3. National Water Resources Management Policy and System
The National Water Resources Policy – NWRP established under Law nº
9,433/97 (Water Law) – has its primary objective as ensuring the necessary availability of
water for current and future generations, with patterns of quality that are correct for the
respective uses, at the same time that it seeks to prevent and defend against situations of
water and sustainable development crises through the rational and integrated use of the
water resources.
Figure 5 – Marginal cost for domestic supply in metropolitan areas (adapted from the
World Bank, 2006).
The principles on which the national water resource management policy is based
can be summarised in the following way:
– recognition of water as a public good with an economic value;
– guarantee of multiple use of water;
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2
Future cost is more than current
Future cost is more than twice current
Future cost is more than 3 times current
São Paulo
– priority for human consumption and animal farming in the use of resources in times of
– adoption of the water basin as a territorial planning and water management unit:
decentralised management;
– participation of the different levels of public power, from the users to civil society, in
the decision taking process: participatory management.
The Water Resource Policy is guided by the following general action directives:
– systematic management of the water resources considering parameters of quantity and
– conditioning the management of water resources to the physical, biotic, demographic,
economic, cultural and social diversities of the different regions in the country;
– coordination of the water resource management with environmental management;
– coordination of the planning for water resources with that of the users sectors and with
regional, provincial and national planning;
– coordination of water resource management with the management of ground use; and
– integration of water basin management with the estuary and coastal zone systems.
In order to improve the condition of water availability in quantitative and
qualitative terms and with the intention of implementing the NWRP, the National System
of Water Resource Management was created – NSWRM. This system, foreseen in the
Federal Constitution of 1988, was regulated by Law 9,433 in 1997 and it entails an
innovation as regards the environmental system in the sense that it uses economic
mechanisms for the management of water. Through this system, the country is introduced
to the polluter-payer and the user-payer. Water now has an economic value and its use is
subject to a charge. This system (Figure 6) takes the federative character of the country
into account and the possibility of societal involvement in the decision taking process.
The Water Basin Committee was created and it includes members of the government,
users and non-governmental organisations. The Committee is responsible for the
management of the water basin once the basin plan has been passed and proposes the
quantity to be charged for the use of water. Table 2 features the functions of each of the
parties in this sophisticated management system.
The management tools advocated in Law 9,433 and available to NSWRM are:
water basin plan, framework of watercourses, concession, charge for the use of water
resources and information system.
The water basin plan needs an information system with data about water
availability in terms of quantity and quality, in addition to the demands for multiple uses
added per water basin. The basin plans are directive plans whose objective is to lay the
base for and orientate the implementation of the water resource management policy at the
level of water basins, defining the priority of uses and the investment programme for the
development, recuperation and conservation of the water resources of the basin.
TABLE 2 – National System of Water Resource Management – NSWRM (Braga et al.,
Entity Function
National Council on
Water Resources –
Chief body of the NSWRM, responsible for settling conflicts about use as a
last resort and subsidising the creation of the national water resource policy.
Water Resources
Federal entity charged with formulating the National Water Resource Policy,
subsidising the budget formulation of the Union and acting as executive
secretary of the NCWR.
National Water
Agency – NWA
Regulator of water resources in rivers under the dominion of the Union and
coordinator of the implementation of the NSWRM throughout the country.
Provincial Water
Resource Council –
Chief provincial body responsible for settling conflicts about use in the area
of the State and subsidising the formulation of the provincial water resource
Provincial Water
Resource Manager
Chief body and coordinator of the Provincial Water Resource Management
System that has similar powers to the NWA, with the power of concession
and inspection of the use of water resources in the dominion of the State.
Water Basin
Committee – WBC
Collegiate committee constituted by public power, users and civil society
with powers to pass the basin plan, follow up on its execution, establish
charging mechanisms and suggest to the NCWR the quantities that should be
Basin Agency The executive arm of the Basin Committees and responsible for maintaining
the water balance up to date for the availability of water resources,
maintaining a registry of users, making the charges work, managing the
information system and creating the basin plan.
The objective of the framework is to determine quality levels over time in the
different stretches of the water network according to uses and the programmes and goals
in order to attain these objectives. The definitions foreseen in this directly affect the
concession undertaken on the dilution flows, which are – in turn – based on the quality
levels established.
The concession is an instrument whose objective is to ensure the qualitative and
quantitative control of the uses of water. It is the right of access to water or the
entitlement for its use. The implementation of concession needs data relating to water
availability in terms of quantity and quality and of the water users up- and downstream
from the authorisation point from the information system.
Regarding the group of users subjugated to the demands of the concession, a
charge is established for the use of water resources. This is the management tool that
allows resources to be brought to finance the basin investment programmes, in addition to
pursuing the rationalisation of water use objectives and the stimulus to not pollute.
The main objective of the information system is to produce, systemise and make
available data and information that characterises the water conditions in the basin in
terms of quality and quantity in its various uses. These last assume diverse possible forms
of characterisation by maps of uses and land occupation, decline, surface vegetation and
specific charges, referring to harnessing and launching in different areas in the water
network indicated within the registry of water users in the basin.
4. Implementation of the NSWRM
In order to implement such a complicated system, it was necessary to create an
institution that would have competence to act on a national basis. Law nº 9,984, from 17
July 2000, establishes the mission of the NWA as the implementation, within its sphere
of power, of the National Water Resource Policy and the coordination of the National
System of Water Resource Management (NSWRM), with special regard to the execution
and operability of the technical and institutional instruments for the management of the
water resources. Additionally, the NWA is charged with regulating water use in the rivers
in the jurisdiction of the Union through the concession of the right to use and its
The activity of the NWA conforms to the bases, objectives, directives and
instruments of the National Water Resource Policy, particularly in the adoption of the
water basin as a unit of territorial planning and management of water resources, and it
develops in coordination with private entities and organs that form part of the NSWRM.
The NWA also plays the, no less important, role of induction of the processes through the
definition of strategies for the establishment of mechanisms of coordination and
cooperation – independently of the location of the watercourses. Above all, and in
accordance with Law nº 9,984, some of the functions of the NWA must be highlighted:
– supervising, controlling and evaluating the actions and activities derived from fulfilling
the federal legislation relating to water resources;
– regulating, in terms of standards, the implementation, operability, control and
evaluation of the instruments of the National Water Resource Policy;
– creating technical studies to contribute to the definition – on the part of the National
Water Resource Council – of the quantities to be charged for the use of water resources in
the area of the Union, based on the mechanisms and amounts suggested by the Water
Basin Committees;
– stimulating and supporting the initiatives aimed at creating Water Basin Committees;
– implementing, in coordination with the Water Basin Committees, the charge for the use
of water resources in the Union area;
– collecting, distributing and applying amounts obtained through charges for the use of
water resources in the Union area;
– planning and promoting actions aimed at preventing or minimising the effects of
droughts and flooding in coordination with the main body of the National System for
Civil Defence, helping the States and Municipalities;
– promoting the creation of studies to contribute to the application of financial resources
in the Union for work and services in the standardisation of watercourses, the locating
and distributing of water, and the controlling of water pollution, in accordance with that
established in the water resource plans;
– defining and inspecting the operating conditions for tanks on behalf of public or private
agents, with the intention of guaranteeing multiple use of the water resources – as per the
water resource plans in the respective water basins;
– promoting the coordination of the activities developed in the national hydrometeorological
network, in coordination with the public and private entities and organs
that form part of it, or are users of these;
– organising, introducing and managing the National Water Resources Information
– stimulating the recruitment and training of human resources for the management of
water resources;
– giving aid to the States in the creation of water resource managing organs;
– proposing to the National Water Resource Council the establishment of incentives –
including economic ones – for the qualitative and quantitative conservation of water
From the point of view of its organic structure, the NWA is directed by a
Collegiate Board comprising five members nominated by the President of the Republic
and ratified by the Federal Senate, with non-coinciding mandates of four years – with the
possibility of re-election only once. In order to provide technical support to the decisions
of its Board, the NWA has subject matters that it oversees.
5. The challenge of management by water basin
The great challenge to the implementation of the NSWRM in a federative country
like Brazil is the existence, within the same water basin, of rivers administered by the
States and by the Union. The autonomy of the States brings about situations such as that
which can be seen in the basin of the Paraíba do Sul river, where the Basin Committee
decided on the charge for the use of water, the NCWR approved the quantity, the Union
implemented the charge in rivers in its zone and some States have still to implement the
charge on the rivers within their zones. This asymmetry is a risk to the system.
Shared management of the water resources requires, of necessity, compatibility in
the different conflicts of interest. It requires, among other aspects, the creation of
institutional areas that are adequate for the resolution, negotiation and overcoming of the
problems and the great gaps that exist in the legal-juridical formats. These areas are
created from the inter-relation of multiple factors, among which the following are
decisive (Pereira, 2003):
– A common tendency in the objectives;
– An understanding on the part of all the players of the questions and challenges included;
– The creation of bonds of trust through a management process that is ethical, transparent
and democratic, that leads to equity, rationality and efficiency in decision making; and
– The creation of a sense of identity with the basin, a sense of unity of harmonious acts, of
co-responsibility and of co-dependence.
In order to establish the minimum homogenous conditions in concession,
inspection and charging criteria in the area of the water basin, the NWA has created the
body of the integration agreement. This agreement – a pact between the NWA and the
States under the supervision of the Basin Committee – is the commitment between the
federal entities to work together to implement the management tools advocated in Law nº
9,433/97. However, the integration agreement is not enough to guarantee the
sustainability of this introduction. Some states do not have an institutional apparatus that
is compatible with the needs of this new and complicated management system. Therefore,
the NWA has also created the body of the cooperation agreement, through which the
regulatory agency provides technical and financial support to the state to face up to the
challenges of decentralised, participatory management. In addition, it is necessary to
establish a management contract between the federal or provincial body that manages the
area of water, so that the financial resources collected by the Union or by the States can
be transferred on to the Basin Agency. This multi-institution order is shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7 – Organisation of the Water Resource Management in the water basin
(NWA, 2004)
6. Case study: Water basin of the river Paraíba do Sul
With a drainage area of nearly 55,400 km2, the water basin of the river Paraíba do
Sul reaches along the Southeast Region, covering the Paraíba Paulista Valley (13,500
km2), the Mata Mineira zone (20,900 km2) and nearly half the State of Rio de Janeiro
(21,000 km2) (Figure 8). Despite its lack of territorial size – barely 0.7% of Brazil and
just 6% of the Southeast Region – the Basin is one of the most industrial areas in the
country, contributing nearly 10% of the Brazilian GNP, and supplying approximately 14
million people with drinking water – including more then 8 million inhabitants in the
Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, located beyond the boundaries of the basin.
The great water power of this basin is used primarily for public supply and, then,
for other uses such as the generation of electricity, industrial uses and irrigation. Fishing,
leisure and tourism have little presence, though there is great potential for their
development; on the other hand, water transport has never been important nor are there
good sailing conditions on the basin.
Figure 8 – Basin of the Paraíba do Sul: location and main uses (PEREIRA, 2003)
The main user of the basin is the Light System which, through a water transfer
system between basins, uses nearly two-thirds of the average flow of the Paraíba do Sul
in its middle stretch together with everything from one tributary (river Piraí) to generate
electrical energy in the Hydroelectric Complex in Lajes on the Atlantic slope of Serra do
Mar. This transfer generates a serious water offer in the receiving basin of the river
Guando, which has become the main source of water supply to the Metropolitan Region
of Rio de Janeiro and to various industries and thermo-electric generation factories
located in the area. Table 3 presents the main uses of water in the Basin.
TABLE 3 – Main uses of water from the basin of the Paraíba do Sul (PEREIRA,
Uses Harnessed (m3/s) Consumed (m3/s)
Public supply 16.84 3.37
Industrial 13.65 6.19
Irrigation 49.73 Irrigation 30.28
Farming Livestock 3.45 Livestock 1.73
Transfer to Light System Up to 180 Up to 180
TOTAL 83.67 41.57
Including transfer Up to 263.67 Up to 221.57
Source: COPPE (2002)
The development of farming and urban-industrial activities has meant an
accumulation of environmental problems that are growing year on year, showing
themselves in damage to the quality of the water resources. Diagnoses already undertaken
in the basin point out serious problems in all the environmental aspects that could be
taken into consideration, from the scarcity of woodland (reduced to 11% of its original
size) to the pollution of the water due to dumping of domestic and industrial waste that
has been inadequately treated, to the wearing out of the productive capacity of the lands –
degraded by the generalised erosion in the basin. The disorganised urban growth on the
steep sides and the banks of the rivers have created a number of situations at risk of land
slips and flooding. The main conflict linked to the waters of the basin concerns the
transfer of water from the basin of the river Paraíba do Sul to the Light System.
6.1 Organisation of the basin: shared management
At first sight, the gravity of the current problems in the basin of the Paraíba do Sul
contrasts with its history of trying to implement integrated management – something that
dates back to the thirties. In fact, a number of initiatives have had great significance in the
management of the main problems in the basin and have left a serious legacy in terms of
knowledge of the characteristics and problems related to water and the predisposition of
the main players to organise its defence. However, these initiatives have not been enough
to anticipate or face up to the size of the original impact of the accelerated urbanisation
and industrialisation processes – above all between 1950 and 1980 – at a substantially
greater rhythm than the attempts at conserving, protecting and recovering the basin of the
Paraíba do Sul.
From the mid-nineties, the basin of the Paraíba do Sul has experienced an
intensive mobilisation process about its waters, translated into the creation of a number of
basin organisms in the area of the current dynamic that is the implementation of new
management systems. This is a complex process, in large part due to the double dominion
that is imposed by the cohabitation in the basin of four different management systems:
national systems, and those of the States of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro.
The content of the different laws were similar in their beginnings – tools for management
and political-institutional order – but the differences in the rhythm of implementation
have been significant.
These different dynamics are reflected in the internal institutional order of the
basin of the Paraíba do Sul, as shown in Figure 7, which nowadays has various basin
organisms that originated, thus, from different organisational processes:
• In 1994, in the State of Sao Paulo, the first of the new basin bodies for the basin
of the Paraíba do Sul was created: the Water Basin Committee for the river
Paraíba do Sul (WBC-PS) or “Paulista Committee”, which covers the whole of
the Paulista land in the basin;
• The Committee for the Integration of the Water Basin of the river Paraíba do Sul
(CIWBPS) was born out of an inter-provincial coordination with the Union, prior
to the passing of Law nº 9,433/97, and it stands for the legislation and regulation
of the federal sphere.
• The Committee for the Water Basins of the rivers Pomba and Muriaé, federal
tributaries of the Paraíba do Sul was created in 2001 from the demand of the intermunicipal
regional consortiums and is, equally, under federal jurisdiction;
• The Committee for the sub-basin of the rivers Grande/Dois Rios, formally being
in creation since 2001, will form part of the management system of the State of
Rio de Janeiro;
• In a distinctly regional process – as these are spontaneous support bodies which
do not have anything to do with the water laws – several inter-municipal
consortiums and users associations were created from 1997 in sub-basins or
stretches of basin. Returning to the topic of water and the environment, these
basin bodies are created as standard regional spokesmen in the management
process. These are: Inter-municipal Consortium for the Environmental Recovery
of the basin of the river Muriaé (1997), Inter-municipal Consortium for the
Environmental Recovery of the basin of the river Pomba (1998), Association of
Water Users in the Environment of Paraíba do Sul (2001), Inter-municipal
Consortium for the Environmental Recovery of the basins of the rivers Bengalas,
Negro, Grande and Dois Rios (2001), Inter-provincial Consortium for the
Recovery and Conservation of the basin of the river Carangola (2001) and the
Inter-provincial Consortium for the Recovery and Conservation of the basin of the
river Paraibuna (2002).
Figure 9 – Basin of the river Paraíba do Sul: basin bodies (PEREIRA, 2003)
The institutional mosaic that is being created shows that the local players are
interested in the development of their water resources and their protection and recovery.
Within their specific interests, and to a greater or lesser degree of intensity, all of these
organisms have created windows of information, training and discussion about the
principles and tools for the management of the water resources.
However, the multiple fronts equally require a necessary harmony in the joint
actions, while respecting the autonomy of each basin body. This is one of the challenges
in shared management that is currently being faced in the management of the basin of the
Paraíba do Sul. In this context, the role of CIWBPS stands out; in addition to being
formed as the primary institutional application for the Basin as regards the planning and
management of the water resources, the CIWBPS – as an integration committee – has an
important role in the discussion process and in the search for commitments in the
implementation of integrated management in the Basin.
6.2 – Creating the management pact: CIWBPS, NWA and States
Faced with the diverse rhythms and abilities of each of the management systems
included in the basin of the Paraíba do Sul, the implementation of shared management
has been undertaken gradually. Until the end of 2000, the advances occurred primarily in
the creation of basin committees and in the development of diagnoses and planning
studies. From then on, the implementation process of the management tools has received
a great push with the decision of the CIWBPS to begin charging for water use in the
Union area including, above all: the regulating of water use (registry and concession of
licence), the standardising of the charge for different users, the creation of the water
resource plan for the initial charging stage and the creation and installation of the
CIWBPS’s Basin Agency.
All of these activities require systematic and harmonious action on the part of all
the players involved in the management of the basin of the Paraíba do Sul – in other
words, the establishment of a management pact as regards the respective functions and
competences. As for the CIWBPS, their activities were given great impetus from 2001
with the decision to make the basin management operative, in the short term, with their
primary function being the implementation of the charge for water use. In this process,
the CIWBPS has to take important decisions as part of its functions, such as for example:
• establishing a methodology and criteria for the charging for the use of water
resources and suggesting quantities to be charged by the requisite bodies;
• proposing numerous minor uses for the collecting, diverting and launching of
effluents with a view to the exemption of necessity for a licence or charge;
• proposing directives for the creation of a Water Resources Plan for the initial
charge stage in the basin of the Paraíba do Sul, making it compatible with the
plans for the sub-basins, passing it and following up on its execution;
• passing the investment plan agreed in the Water Resources Plan for the
application of the financial resources coming from the charge; and
• creating the Water Agency for the Basin of the Paraíba do Sul, jointly with the
NWA, which should be the executive arm of the CIWBPS.
Therefore, the NWA, the States of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo and
the CIWBPS concluded, in March 2002 and with a duration of five years, an Integration
Agreement whose objective was the integrated management of the basin of the Paraíba
do Sul – wherever it might be in that basin – through a technical and institutional
integration for the introduction and operability of the water resource management tools,
so that the water basin would be consolidated as a single territory for planning and
management. This was the tool used to create harmony between the NWA, the States and
the CIWBPS as regards the criteria and procedures adopted, above all in the area of water
resource plans, the registry of uses and users, the licensing for the right to use water
resources, the charge for water use, the information system concerning water resources,
the inspection of the uses of water resources and their quantitative and qualitative
monitoring, and the development of training activities for human resources.
6.3 – Implementation of the management tools
The management tool implementation in the basin of the Paraíba do Sul was
pushed forward significantly by the decision of the CIWBPS to begin the charges in the
waters under Union dominion. In fact, the operability of the charge had a prior condition
by which other closely linked management tools were put into operation immediately –
basin plan and use regularisation – as well as the creation and installation of the Basin
Water Agency (CIWBPS Deliberation nº 08, 6 December 2001).
In the short term, the strategy adopted for the implementation of these
management tools went through a series of simplifying proposals. Its conception began a
period of difficult discussions and negotiations, becoming a real challenge in technical,
political and institutional terms. The great plus in the process was the consensus
established between the bodies (public managers, users and civil society), which was the
result of numerous discussions in the Technical Chambers and in the full session of the
CIWBPS, based on studies and reports developed especially for the proposed task.
The main sections that formed part of this strategy were the following:
• adoption of a simplified charge equation, including collecting, consumption and
dumping of effluent (DBO5), wherein the untreated effluent was charged for but
not by diluted volume – allowing the possibility of making a distinction, in the
initial stage, between the charge and the classification or establishment of river
decontamination goals;
• creation of the Basin Water Resources Plan from the pre-existing studies, making
use of two of the other management tools, namely: the information system, which
had been developed over many years for the various basin management projects,
and the classification of the watercourses according to types of use – which came
from environmental legislation. The plan basically comprises an Investment
Programme which covers a group of structural and non-structural interventions, as
well as proposals for the development of studies and technical management tools;
• in a new way, the development and implementation of a broad regularisation of
uses process based on public notification, in the Union’s Official Paper and by a
self-registry of the users. The primary objectives of the process were licensing
and the charge. The declaratory-obligatory registry of users has acted as a license
requirement whose introduction has been performed – at all stages – by a joint
process between the Union and the states. Its specific orientation and all the steps
were discussed in the Technical Chambers and were passed by the CIWBPS, with
the participation of the Federal Government and the three provincial governments.
The regularisation was a joint decision by all four of these bodies and
implemented as a single integrated process across the complete basin. The process
had a system that allowed the self-registration of nearly 4,500 users, of whom
81% performed their declarations through internet. A large advertising campaign
was launched – announced through the main media bodies (radio, television and
local newspapers) – with the intention of informing users;
• the effective beginning of the charge came about from the registry that was part of
the regularisation process for all users subject to licenses – independently of their
previous concession.
6.4 – Paraíba do Sul Basin Water Agency
In addition to being organised as a functioning and integrating organism for
discussions and definitions related to the implementation of water resource management
in the basin of the Paraíba do Sul, the CIWBPS became the first Basin Committee to pass
measures and suggest quantities to be charged for water use. The implementation of the
charge in 2003 led to the creation of the Paraíba do Sul Basin Water Agency (PSBWA),
as per article 42 of Law nº 9,433/97. However, the legal regulations to allow it to be
applied were not present. In 2003, through deliberations of the CIWBPS, it must be
pointed out that the NWA delegated the function of being able to directly apply the
resources derived from the charge in the basin – a total of nearly R$ 5.8 million – in
accordance with the Investment Programme passed by the CIWBPS.
On 11 February 2004, the President of the Republic published Provisional
Measure (PM) nº 165 in which the Management Contracts created between the NWA and
the delegate entities for the functions of the Water Agency were regulated, under the
terms of article 51 of Law nº 9,433/97. On 9 June 2004, PM nº 165 became Law nº
10,881, by which the Management Contracts created between the NWA and the delegate
entities for the functions of the Water Agency were regulated for the management of
water resources in the dominion of the Union. Shortly after, on 20 August 2004, the
NWRC published Resolution nº 38 which delegated competences in the PSBWA for
exercising of functions inherent in the Paraíba do Sul Basin Water Agency – which was
legally consolidated by the creation of a Management Contract.
Law nº 10,881/04 satisfactorily resolved the regulation matters to do with Water
Agency constitution, guaranteeing the delegate agencies with Water Agency tasks the
resources derived from the charge for water use – eliminating the possibility of either a
delay or non-payment.
The PSBWA Management Board met in August 2004 and it passed the
Management Contract and the Work Programme. In addition, in separate meetings both
in the PSBWA General Assembly and the Full Meeting of the CIWBPS, the Management
Contract was endorsed. The text passed had the objective of the Management Contract as
reaching the goals in the activities that would be performed as part of the role of the
Water Agency by the PSBWA, fully explained in the Management Contract Work
Programme. In particular, the Work Programme takes into account in detail the macroprocesses
(strategic objectives), goals and results that will be achieved by the PSBWA,
measured by means of performance indicators.
The Management Contract guarantees the return of the financial resources
collected in the Basin, per a schedule of monthly payouts. It also establishes the rules that
should be respected by the PSBWA, published by the NWA, for the selection and
recruitment of personnel and for the purchasing and hiring of work and services by the
7. Final Considerations
Two basin committees are working: that of the river Paraíba do Sul – which
covers the States of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro – and that of the rivers
Piracicaba, Capivari and Jundiaí – which covers Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. In these
water basins there is a plan of action, a charge and an information system implemented.
The results of the charge in operation by the NWA and by the DAEE (provincial
management body for Sao Paulo) for the basins of the rivers Piracicaba, Capivari and
Jundiaí has already reached an annual total of over R$ 10 million. These resources have
been used to construct the Waste Treatment Plants – WTP – helping, in this way, to
improve the water quality in the basin.
It is worth highlighting the work of the National Water Agency – NWA – in the
area of improving the quality of the water in Brazilian rivers. In 2001, the NWA launched
the WBDP – Water Basin Decontamination Programme. This programme, also known as
the Treated Waste Purchasing Programme, subsidises municipalities with federal
resources for the construction of WTPs in an innovative way. Instead of handing over the
financial resources prior to the construction of a WTP, the municipality receives the
resources only once the plant is working correctly, through quarterly payments. The
subsidy is the equivalent of 50% of the total cost as estimated by the NWA. The
guarantee that the municipalities have of receiving these quantities form the NWA allows
them to apply for loans from official financial agents. This programme promotes
technological innovation and combats corruption. By 2004, 37 new treatment plants had
been constructed, with a total investment of R$ 272 million, thanks to the catalysing
effect of the WBDP. In 2007, more than R$ 40 million were applied as part of the
It is hoped that through the use of the nature programmes of the WBDP, the
country will be able to keep up with the commitment taken on during the Millennium
summit in Johannesburg in 2000. On that occasion, the countries belonging to the United
Nations signed a document committing them to reducing the number of inhabitants with
no access to drinking water and sanitation by half by the year 2015. The Brazilian
situation is acceptable as regards the water supply but the areas of channelling and
treatment of domestic effluent lacks investment and adequate programmes to fulfil this
international commitment.
Lastly, it is important to point out that global changes – in particular those related
to climate variability – are going to put forward serious challenges for the management of
resources in the world in general, and in our country in particular. The predictions of
more extensive droughts and more intensive flooding in studies by the IPCC –
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – imply direct consequences in the
definition of the most flexible water infrastructure and more efficient and effective
consumption patterns. Additionally, the non-seasonality of the water series as a result of
the climate change process will require new statistical models for the definition of this
water infrastructure. This is a challenge which the world water science must rapidly
respond to so that the long term decisions can be taken as soon as possible.
NWA, 2007 National Water Agency (NWA). Availability and demands on water
resources in Brazil, Brasilia. (ANA, 2007 Agencia Nacional de Aguas (ANA).
Disponibilidad y demandas de recursos hídricos en Brasil, Brasilia.)