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Groundwater abstraction rights : from theory to practice (Inglês)

The note addresses the importance of groundwater abstraction rights, and why water rights' systems are needed. The right to abstract (or divert), and use water (including groundwater), can be granted to individuals, public entities, or private corporations, under certain terms or conditions, and such rights are generally issued by the water resources authority, or by the law courts directly. A 'water right' usually constitutes the right to use (but not ownership of ) the water itself. Lawyers call this a 'usufructuary right'. Grants to abstract, and use groundwater are instrumented through permits, licenses, concessions or authorizations, generally called here 'water rights'. A system of groundwater rights (permits to abstract, and to use groundwater) is often first introduced as a means to reduce interference, avoid counterproductive conflicts, and resolve emerging disputes between neighboring abstractors. However, the development of a stable system of water rights has far wider benefits, since it provides a sound foundation for the development and protection of water resources, and for the conservation of aquatic ecosystems. The note strongly recommends a water rights system should have the following key attributes: requirement for effective and beneficial use of water; reasonable security of water-use tenure; and, flexibility to reallocate water. Groundwater rights are thus normally subject to a series of terms, and conditions. While wastewater discharge permits are outside the scope of this note, it is preferable to issue them concomitantly with water abstraction and use rights, so as to ensure an integrated approach to water resources management.

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