The Water Giant Awakes: An Overview of Water Law in Brazil

60 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2006

See all articles by Antonio Herman Benjamin

Antonio Herman Benjamin

University of Texas -School of Law

Claudia Lima Marques

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) - School of Law

Catherine Tinker

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) - School of Law

Abstract

Brazil is home to the largest reserve of water resources on the planet, containing approximately 8% of the world's existing freshwater. Its territory encompasses several gigantic water basins, including the vast Amazon River basin. Except for the Northeast, the entire country possesses an enviable abundance of water, for it sits upon enormous underground water reserves estimated to total 112,000 cubic kilometers. While in theory there are nearly 34 million liters of water available for each of Brazil's inhabitants, the truth is that water is distributed unevenly throughout the territory. The North and Central-West, for instance, have both the highest mean water discharge rate and the lowest population density in Brazil.

Brazil is the largest country in South America; with an area of more than 8.5 million square kilometers, it is larger than the contiguous United States. Brazil shares a border with ten countries, a fact that highlights the importance of adding international legal arrangements to the national system of water use regulation. Organized into a federal republic (a fact that, as will be seen, creates both difficulties and opportunities in the legal-administrative organization of a water resources system), Brazil is divided into 26 states and a federal district (Brasilia). There are distinct variations in size, population, and wealth among the states, and this diversity determines, to a greater or lesser degree, the level of investment in the implementation of policies and norms for water use and basic sanitation.

Keywords: water, Brazil

Suggested Citation

Benjamin, Antonio Herman and Marques, Claudia Lima and Tinker, Catherine, The Water Giant Awakes: An Overview of Water Law in Brazil. Texas Law Review, Vol. 83, No. 7, pp. 2185-2244, June 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=874819

Antonio Herman Benjamin (Contact Author)

University of Texas -School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

Claudia Lima Marques

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) - School of Law ( email )

Av. Carlos Gomes 1111
Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul 90480-004
Brazil

Catherine Tinker

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) - School of Law ( email )

Av. Carlos Gomes 1111
Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul 90480-004
Brazil

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