The Environmental Dimension of Groundwater in Brazil: Conflicts between Mineral Water and Water Resource Management


There are three legal categories of groundwater in Brazil. Mineral water and potable table water are considered mineral resources, are part of the Federative Union’s assets, and follow the legal regime applicable for the mining sector. “Normal” groundwater, on the other hand, falls under State’s jurisdiction and is dealt within the Brazilian System of Water Resource Management, which promotes a decentralized and participatory management of water resources on surface or stored underground. This has led to conflicts of competences between federal (mining regulation) and state agencies (water resource management) because different concepts and styles of management are involved. This article argues for the urgent need to reopen the discussion aimed at a possible major revision of Brazilian mineral water legislation, in order to duly take into account the environmental dimension of groundwater as a public good for common use. An open-minded and transparent discussion involving the government and different sectors of society with competing interests in mineralized groundwater would therefore be highly recommended.

Share and Cite:

Gesicki, A. and Sindico, F. (2014) The Environmental Dimension of Groundwater in Brazil: Conflicts between Mineral Water and Water Resource Management. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 1533-1545. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.616140.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Porto, M. and Kelman, J. (2000) Water Resources Policy in Brazil. Rivers—Studies in the Science Environmental Policy and Law of Instream Flow, 7, 250-259.
[2] Benjamin, A.H., Marques, C.L. and Tinker, C. (2005) The Water Giant Awakes: An Overview of Water Law in Brazil. Texas Law Review, 83, 2185-2244.
[3] ANA, Brazilian National Water Agency (2007) GEO Brazil Tematic Series, Water Resources Component of a Series of Reports on the Status and Prospects for the Environment in Brazil. ANA/PNUMA, Brasilia.
[4] Hirata, R., Zoby, J.L.G. and Oliveira, F.R. (2010) Groundwater: Strategic or Emergency Reserve. In: Bicudo, C.E., Tundisi, J.G. and Scheuenstuhl, M.C.B., Org., Waters of Brazil: Strategic Analysis, Instituto de Botanica, Sao Paulo, 149-161. (In Portuguese)
[5] ANA, Brazilian National Water Agency (2011) Permit System for Water Resources Use. ANA, Brasilia. (Cadernos de Capacitacao em Recursos Hidricos, Vol. 6) (In Portuguese)
[6] Drummond, J. and Barros-Platiau, A.F. (2006) Brazilian Environmental Laws and Policies, 1934-2002: A Critical Overview. Law & Policy, 28, 83-108.
[7] Daibert, A. (2009) Historical Views on Environment and Environmental Law in Brazil. The George Washington International Law Review, 40, 779-840.
[8] McAllister, L.K. (2008) Revisiting a “Promising Institution”: Public Law Litigation in the Civil Law World. Georgia StateUniversity Law Review, 24, 693-734.
[9] Pompeu, C.T. (2010) Water Rights in Brazil. 2nd Edition, Editora Revista dos Tribunais, Sao Paulo. (In Portuguese)
[10] Di Pietro, M.S.Z. (2010) Private Use of a Public Good by a Private Party. 2nd Rdition, Editora Atlas S/A, Sao Paulo. (In Portuguese)
[11] Freire, W. (2010) Fundamentals of Mining Law. Juridica Editora, Belo Horizonte.
[12] Trindade, A.D.C. (2009) Mining Law Principles. In: Souza, M.M.G., Coord., Mining Law in Evolution, Editora Mandamentos, Belo Horizonte, 47-76. (In Portuguese)
[13] Trindade, A.D.C. (2011) Perspectives for a Mining Law Reform. In: Martins, J., Lima, P.C.R., Queiroz Filho, A.P., Schuller, L.C. and Pontes, R.C.M., Coord., Mineral Sector: On Route to the New Legal Framework, Camara dos Deputados, Brasilia, Série Cadernos de Altos Estudos 8, 205-220. (In Portuguese)
[14] Quintela, M.M. (2004) Thermal Knowledge and Practices: A Compared Perspective in Portugal (Sao Pedro do Sul Thermal Spa) and in Brazil (Caldas da Imperatriz Hot Springs). Historia, Ciencias, Saúde, 11, 239-260. (In Portuguese)
[15] Serra, S.H. (2009) Mineral Waters of Brazil. Millennium Editora, Campinas. (In Portuguese)
[16] Caetano, L.C. (2005) Mineral Water Policy: An Integrated Proposal for the Rio de Janeiro State. Ph.D. Thesis, State University of Campinas, Campinas. (In Portuguese)
[17] Bertolo, R.A. (2006) Reflections on the Mineral Water Classification and Chemical Characteristics of Bottled Mineral Water in Brazil. Proceedings of the 14th Brazilian Groundwater Congress, Curitiba, 7-18 November. (Revista Aguas Subterraneas, Supplementary Issue) (In Portuguese)
[18] Nickel, E.H. (1995) The Definition of a Mineral. The Canadian Mineralogist, 33, 689-690.
[19] Reboucas, A.C. (2006) Groudwaters. In: Reboucas, A.C., Braga, B. and Tundisi, J.G., Org., Freshwaters in Brazil, 3rd Edition, Editora Escrituras, Sao Paulo, 111-144. (In Portuguese)
[20] Margat, J., Foster, S. and Droubi, A. (2006) Concept and Importance of Non-Renewable Resources. In: Foster, S. and Louks, D.P., Eds., Non-Renewable Groundwater Resources, A Guidebook on Socially-Sustainable Management for Water-Policy Makers, UNESCO, IHP-VI, Series on Groundwater 10, 13-24. (IHP/2006/GW-10)
[21] Foster, S., Nanni, M., Kemper, K., Garduno, H. and Tuinhof, A. (2005) Utilization of Non-Renewable Groundwater: A Socially-Sustainable Approach to Resource Management. The World Bank, Washington DC. (GWMTE Briefing Note Series, Note 11).
[22] Custodio, E. (2002) Aquifer Overexploitation: What Does It Mean? Hydrogeology Journal, 10, 254-277.
[23] Llamas, M.R. and Custodio, E. (2003) Intensive Use of Groundwater: A New Situation Which Demands Proactive Action. In: Llamas, M.R. and Custodio, E., Ed., Intensive Use of Groundwater, Challenges and Opportunities, A. A. Balkema Publishers, Lisse, 13-34.
[24] Caetano, L.C., Pereira, S.Y. and Dourado, F. (2012) Conflicts of Mineral Water Management in Brazil—Study Case: Rio de Janeiro State. Holos Environment, 12, 132-146. (In Portuguese)
[25] ANA, Brazilian National Water Agency (2012) Water Resources Conjuncture in Brazil. 2012 Report. ANA, Brasilia. (In Portuguese)
[26] DNPM, National Department of Mineral Production (2012) 2012 Mineral Summary. DNPM, Brasilia, Vol. 32, 3-4. (In Portuguese)
[27] Andrade, A.M.A. and Almeida, L. (2012) Potenciometric Level Performance of the Thermal Caldas Novas Aquifer – Goias State and Control Measures Imposed by the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM). Aguas Subterraneas, 26, 99-112. (In Portuguese)
[28] Guimaraes, B.C. (2009) Environmental Collective Law and the (un)Sustainable Exploitation of Mineral Waters. Mandamentos, Belo Horizonte. (In Portuguese)
[29] Scalon, M.G.B. (2011) Mineral Waters and Water Resources: A Perspective of Integrated Management. Revista de Direito, Estado e Recursos Minerais, 1, 131-160. (In Portuguese)
[30] Reis, A.M. (2005) Searching for an Integrated Management of Mineral Waters in Brazilian Legislation. In: Freitas, W.P., Ed., Environmental Law in Evolution, Vol. 4, Editora JuruA, Curitiba, 15-39. (In Portuguese)
[31] Queiroz, E.T. (2004) Mineral Waters of Brazil: Distribution, Classification and Economic Importance. DNPM, Brasilia. (In Portuguese)
[32] Bertolo, R., Hirata, R. and Fernandes, A. (2007) Hydrogeochemistry of Bottled Mineral Waters in Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Geociencias, 37, 515-529. (In Portuguese)
[33] Lopes, R.S. (1956) Mineral Waters of Brazil, Value and Therapeutic Uses. Ministério da Agricultura, Rio de Janeiro. (In Portuguese)
[34] Mourao, B.M. (1992) Hydrological Medicine—Modern Therapy of Mineral Waters and Healing Centres. Secretaria Municipal de Educacao, Pocos de Caldas. (In Portuguese)
[35] Bender, T., Karagulle, Z., BAlint, G.P., Gutenbrunner, C., BAlint, P.V. and Sukenik, S. (2005) Hydrotherapy, Balneotherapy, and Spa Treatment in Pain Management. Rheumatology International, 25, 220-224.
[36] Nasermoaddeli, A. and Kagamimori, S. (2005) Balneotherapy in Medicine: A Review. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 10, 171-179.
[37] WHO, World Health Organization (2008) Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality.
[38] Reale, M. (2001) Preliminary Lessons of Law. 25th Edition, Saraiva, Sao Paulo. (In Portuguese)
[39] Reale, M. (2002) Law Philosophy. 19th Edition, Saraiva, Sao Paulo. (In Portuguese)

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.