Water resources conflicts in shared water basins: the Piranhas-Açu Water Basin case study

ABSTRACT Water resources conflicts have their roots not only in water shortage but also in water resources management failures. There are many shared water basins around the world and agreements may help solve, minimize or avoid water conflicts. In Brazil, the Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte states share the Piranhas-Açu Water Basin. Considering this, a Regulatory Framework was defined between them designed by the Brazilian Water Agency (ANA), Brazilian Department Against Droughts (DNOCS) and both states. This Regulatory Framework was established by ANA Resolution nº 687/2004 and defined the discharge that must flow through the border of those states. In this article, the Regulatory Framework during its ten years of existence (2004 to 2014)is analyzed, verifying aspects which led to its creation and contribution in resolving/mitigating conflicts. This research also analyzed the role of the Water Basin Committee as the first instance to deal with conflicts and the consideration of the Regulatory Framework in the new water basin plan (which is in elaboration). It is concluded that the Regulatory Framework allowed a reasonable discussion about the problems of the basin but that the lack of sufficient monitoring and water uses control actions made it difficult to solve conflicts during water shortage periods. However, the ongoing negotiations to define a “new” Regulatory Framework are considered positive.