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Sharing water resources and water allocation

IWRA World Water Congress 2017 - Cancun Mexico
4. Water policy and governance
Author(s): Juliana Santos Vianna
Hudson Rocha de Oliveira
José Bento da Rocha

Juliana Santos Vianna
Hudson Rocha de Oliveira
José Bento da Rocha

Keyword(s): Sharing, water resources, allocation


This paper aims to present the shared use of water resources through the negotiated allocation of water with the river basin and the establishment of local councils of water resource management as references. The allocation of available water resources in a basin can be done through optimized sharing in which the objectives of all users are taken into account. The main objective is to promote the multiple usage of water resources through a harmonious management that takes into account the individual and collective goals of all involved, generating benefits for the environment and the society.

The management of water resources of the basin is articulated in a negotiated fashion.  The governmental agencies responsible for the management of water resources and the users of the basin will be considered the legitim actors of this process and management will be performed based on the regulatory requirements established by regulators.

In short, decisions on shared use of water are taken at a meeting between users, regulators and government agencies with an interest in the basin. In order to properly conduct the negotiation, accurate information about supply and demand for water is mandatory.

In the Brazilian Federal District, the negotiated allocation of water takes place every year after the rainy season. It is done by means of seminars on the current situation, simulation of streamflow forecasting, assessment of demand flow setting to be released and formation of a committee of users, with official registration of agreed decisions.

The trading model used generated many gains in the participatory aspect. Note that the water allocation agreement was reached after much negotiation, and especially without violent conflict, as happened in past disputes relating to water use.

The decentralization of decision-making process - combined with the centralization of guidelines and democratization of the organizations of the system - indicates a milestone in the institutionalization of the role of society in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of public policies in Brazil. A system with this complexity and without a central directive could become innocuous, could lose their systemic character or would not produce results. Without decentralization, decisions and actions could get lost in administrative irrationality. Without democratization, the transference of governmental structures to a new shared public space with new meanings, the legitimacy of decisions could be lost in the absence of transparency.

The process of sharing water resources allows efficient coordination between public policy of command-and-control – as is the case of official concession to explore water resources – and economic instruments, such as taxation for their use.

The system proves to be efficient – especially in its strategy to converge into the same decision-making process various public agencies, users and civil society, often with conflicting interests –, so the interests of each sector and the related social costs are openly discussed and accommodated by all interested actors.

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