On 3rd May 2022, the Executive issued the Decree 7017, which regulates Law 3239/2007 on Water Resources of Paraguay, issued 15 years ago, but with full implementation pending since then.
Decree 7017 entrusts the environmental authority, the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (“Mades”), with the task of developing and constantly updating the tools provided for in Law 3239 for the sustainable and comprehensive use of water:
(i) The National Water Resources Plan: It will be the main instrument created by Law 3239 to manage the use of water resources in a sustainable way, setting the criteria to evaluate the use and the granting of the relevant permits.
(ii) The National Water Inventory: The Decree provides greater detail on its content, providing that it must include (i) the location of water resources, contamination sources, streams and works for discharge, collection or regulation that were granted environmental licenses, (ii) the classification of water resources and (iii) other data that Mades considers relevant.
(iii) The National Registry of Water Resources: Whoever is in possession of water resources, has rights of use or carries out activities related to water resources must be registered before this registry. Mades has previously implemented this registry by Resolution 2194/2007, which will be updated.
Likewise, Decree 7017 highlights the importance of wetlands and entrusts Mades with planning their management.
As a consequence of Decree 7017, Mades issued resolution 351/2022, which establishes the timeframe to work on the regulatory process, setting different deadlines to put into practice the different measures required to fully implement Law 3239:
(i) Short term – by September 2022: Setting up inter-institutional commissions or working groups to work on the planning of projects and strategies.
(ii) Medium term – October 2022 to May 2023: Among other things, it is intended, to formalize the National Water Inventory database, update infractions and sanctions related to the use of water, and establish different technical criteria and regulations applicable to permissions.
(iii) Long term – June 2023 onwards: Among the most important regulations to be issued are the granting of permits and concessions, the payment of fees for the use and management of water, and a registry of permits and concessions.
This long-awaited regulation assigns Mades with a series of procedures and measures that imply significant changes in terms of the parameters for obtaining permits and concessions for the use of water, including the payment of fees. It is expected that by 2024 Paraguay will have a regulatory framework for water resources that is substantially more complex and detailed than the current regulation.
Although the changes are expected to be gradual, it is important that companies that use or plan to use water resources are vigilant to the regulations that will be issued by Mades and, as far as possible, seek to participate in their preparation.
Authors: Paula Lovera and Rodrigo Fernández.
* First published in Legal Industry Reviews, Paraguay, September 2022