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Editorial

Policies for Water Resources in Nicaragua

Every day, we become more aware of the importance of protect- ing our environment, climate changes occurring on an almost daily basis have made that need clear. It is for this reason, that even though it is of upmost importance that we protect all of our natural resources, water as a finite life source is one of the most important and one of the resources requiring the most protection and preservation.

Nicaragua, has a great wealth of water resources, we have seas, rivers, lakes and lagoons. Despite this, until recently we did not have a policy to regulate the use and consumption of water resources.

Our constitution in its article 102 mandates that "Natural resourc- es are national patrimony. Environmental preservation and con- servation, development and rational exploitation of natural resources correspond to the State ... ".

Based on the above, Decree No.107-2001 "Establishing the National Water Resources Policy" was enacted, and was pub- lished in The Gazette No. 233 of December 7, 2001. The Decree aims to regulate the use and integrated management of water resources and furthermore regulate the legal framework that for this purpose should follow or be enacted.

Within this legal framework is the obligation of the State to estab- lish legal instruments that promote the integrated management of water resources by establishing rights and obligations of the parties involved, this in accordance with Law No. 620, General Law on National Waters, which it was published in The Gazette No. 169 of July 4 of 2007 and its Regulations Decree No. 44-2010 Regulations of the General Law on National Waters. Law 620, aims to "establish the legal and institutional framework for the management, conserva- tion, development, use, sustainable exploitation, equitable and preservation in quantity and quali- ty of all water resources existing in the country, be they superficial, underground, wastewater and any other nature, while ensuring the protection of other natural resources, ecosystems and the environment."

For this purpose the Law 620 created the National Water Authority (ANA), which among other powers will be the governmental authority responsible for granting the respective concessions to natural or legal persons, and public or private institutions, for the use and utilization of national waters and their inherent public goods.

ANA will also grant the administrative titles exclusively for the use or exploitation of national waters, which is exclusively for the use intended for the supply of aqueducts supplying drinking water to the population or for the generation of electricity. It is important to note that in the case of licenses destined to supply aqueducts, those will only be granted to the competent institutions of the State.

It should be noted that both titles for concessions, authorization, licensing, allocation of access to water use and permits for wastewater discharge granted by the ANA should be registered in the National Public Registry of Water Rights (RNDA) in order to prove ownership (applicable to titles, concessions, etc.)

Additionally, it is important to note that not obtaining the title of concession, permit, authorization or license etc., for the use and utilization of water resources, can lead to the opening of an administrative process by the ANA, and the corresponding fine without prejudice to environmen- tal crimes that may apply.

Currently there is a policy to identify, authenticate and monitor all forms of use and exploitation of water resources and the ANA is currently promoting a legalization campaign promoting the fact that all those using water resources illegally can obtain titles or the required licenses for users (according to the type of use or exploitation, whether it is agricultural, poultry, agriculture, mining, etc., ) without a penalty. The above policy besides promoting the legalization of the use and utilization of water resources is also particularly effective in keeping track and control of the real use and exploitation respect of water resources and with this information can make the adjust- ments to state politics for its safekeeping.