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A Cross-sectional Analysis Of Brazil’s Effluent Discharge Regulation


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A. Magrini, A. Szklo, L. B. E. Veiga, R. Henriques, R. F. G. Silva & A. L. Peres


From a regulation based only on command and control instruments, applied up to the 1970s, Brazilian environmental policy switched to a more preventive approach in the 1980s, and finally became, at least in conception, an integrated environmental policy in the 1990s. The target of this new policy is the use of environmental management policies and economic-based instruments. Law 9433 (enacted in 1997), which focused on water management, incorporated this issue by defining the hydrographic basin as a unit for environmental planning, considering the multiple uses of water resources. However, almost 10 years after this law took effect, Brazil’s policy has in many ways regressed to the command and control instruments that prevailed in the 1970s. An example of this is the revision of the code that defines water quality standards and effluent limits. This revision established fixed limits for effluent discharges, thus making no distinction between these discharges according to the related activity or technology. It did not consider the carrying capacity of the water bodies that will receive the discharges, and is not linked to the other instruments set forth in Law 9433 (e.g., economic-based instruments). This might reduce the efficacy of the instruments and generate diseconomies for public and private agents. To contribute to a new revision of Brazilian water codes, this paper presents a crosssectional analysis comparing the Brazilian water regulation to those applied in France (whose water regulation inspired the Brazilian model) and the United States. Effluent discharge regulation is emphasized in this comparison, along with water quality standards. Finally, the comparison also analyzes how the regulation of effluent discharges is incorporated in the water management policy of these countries. Keywords: water management, effluent discharge limits, water quality standards, Brazil.


water management, effluent discharge limits, water quality standards, Brazil.