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Legal Quality Analysis Of Water Services In Buenos Aires, Argentina

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Clara Minaverry (Buenos Aires)


Keyword(s): Sub-theme 15: Water law,
AbstractIntroduction The majority of water resources are salty (97.5%), and the rest belongs to lakes, rivers, reservoirs, underground resources, soil humidity, glaciers and snows. This is one of the main reasons why we should pay attention to what sources we consume every day, as this represents a part of a minority. Another limitation in connection with this is water distribution among the world, its quantity and world population location. In South America this equation is positive, because there is more water resources available than people living in this territory (with the exception of the area of Chile). Only 6% of people living in South America have access to the 26% of the world water resources. The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the efficacy of selected case law and some regulations regarding piped water service quality in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The territorial area of this paper receives water in a direct way, because it is easy to access to the River Plate. This gives these places a physical advantage if we compare it with other territories of the country. Methods/Materials Regarding methodological tool, first, we searched first for regulations and case law in connection with water service quality in Buenos Aires, using the following legal tools: Microjuris, Ecolex and Lexpro. We used the documentary observation method, and the qualitative data were categorized as secondary (regulations and case law). Them, we analyzed three leading cases, which might be useful to set general guidelines for future law projects and public policies in order to achieve a more sustainable service. Results and Discussion At the first place, we analyzed regulations regarding water service quality applied to the Province of Buenos Aires such as: a) Decree 878/2003. b) Law 26.221. We could state that there is a legal overlapping between both regulations, because they apply to the same area and oblige different issues in connection with water quality. The Decree creates a water category which can be used for human consumption, without any quality obligation required to water companies. It also states that this water category can be consumed only for shorts periods of time, but it doesn´t explain for how long. In contrast, the other law fixes different quality requirements to water resources for the same territorial area. Also we studied three leading cases in connection with this analysis: - "Municipalidad de Berazategui against Aguas Argentinas S.A." - "Biondo Esteban against Natural Resources and Human Environment Secretary" - "Conde, Alberto José Luis against Aguas Bonaerenses S.A." Our results show that sanctions are tougher than in other environmental cases which were resolved at a national level. Also, when sanctions are imposed; environmental standards and fines amounts are usually out of date and not relevant to companies finances. In these cases, the defendant is obliged to do something, which is very important in order to have access to a good quality water service. These judicial courts found that public control was not efficient as it should be according to law. Also they set the obligation to design a monitor plan as an additional legal requirement, to complement public control. Conclusions Finally, all along this paper we could achieve our main purpose which was to analyze case law and regulations efficacy, in connection with quality water service in the city of Buenos Aires. We could state that this efficacy is partial, because none of the two regulations provide tools or solutions in connection to improve quality protection for this public service. According to these laws, public controls are lower at the Province of Buenos Aires and also sanctions levels applied for legal unfulfillments or omissions. Also, there is a legal gap because they do not fix dissuasive sanctions for quality water unfulfillments in the city of Buenos Aires, nor an effective quality control system. On the contrary with what happens with case law analysis, sanctions were useful to dissuade legal infulfilment in connection with quality water provision in the city of Buenos Aires, and the existence of a quality control system which were developed by the public sector. But the bad news is that in some case law we found little interdisciplinary willingness in order to work between for the different areas and public offices. ALCAZAR, L.; ABDALA, M.; SHIRLEY, M. The Buenos Aires water concession, The World Bank Development Research Group, Regulation and Competition Policy, p. 21-22, 2000. AGUA Y SANEANIMENTOS ARGENTINOS S. A. – AYSA. Web site. 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