The Water Giant Awakes: An Overview of Water Law in Brazil
60 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2006
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
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