Brazil’s National Water Resource Council (CNRH), an organ linked to the Ministry of Environment, unanimously approved a resolution determining the collection of a fee for the use of water resources.
In accordance with the resolution, every segment of society that uses water from a specific hydrographic basin will pay a fee for this use.
The coverage of the measure ranges from the industrial sector to common citizens. Rates will be set by regional hydrographic basin committees, according to local needs.
The president of the Technical Chamber on Charging for the Use of Water Resources, Décio Michellis Júnior, says that the resolution will serve as a reference point for basins to define their own criteria for charges and investment.
“Without a doubt, the big investment deficit at present is in the area of environmental sanitation, not just to supply treated water and treat effluents and sewage, but for all the other environmental sanitation activities as well, such as solid wastes, garbage, streetcleaning, and tree trimming. These are investment priorities, without a doubt, but this will be defined by the basin committees,” Michellis explains.
The practice of charging for water use is already being applied in the Paraíba do Sul River basin region, which includes the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro.
The committee is the only one of the 100 existing committees that has begun to impose such charges. The National Water Agency (ANA) estimates that this year alone the fees collected in this basin should generate revenues on the order of US$ 4.4 million (R$ 12 million).
If the rates applied by the Paraíba do Sul committee are taken as a benchmark, the new assessment should represent, at most, a 2% increase in final consumers’ water bills.
Translation: David Silberstein