CIPR | Center For Inter-American Policy & Research

Tulane University

Podcast & Summary: Water Law in the US & Brazil

January 24th, 2011

Listen to the lecture here.

On Friday, January 21, 2011 the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research (CIPR) and the Law School’s Payson Center for International Development welcomed Romulo Sampaio as the first speaker in CIPR’s Spring 2011 lecture series. Sampaio is the Academic Coordinator for the Center of Law and the Environment, and Professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sampaio’s lecture, “Water Law in the U.S. and Brazil: Climate Change and Two Approaches to Emerging Water Poverty” compared regulatory water laws and systems in the U.S. and Brazil and indicated that both countries are “poorly suited to manage water resources in an era of scarcity.”

Sampaio’s “x-ray” of water laws in the U.S. and Brazil revealed two very different approaches to the water scarcity problem. The U.S. allows access to water without cost based on antiquated riparian and prior appropriation laws. Brazil, in contrast, recently endowed water with economic value. Implementation of a 1988 law in Brazil is currently underway, which stipulates charges for public water usage charges.

Sampaio pointed out that both the northeast region of Brazil and the western region of the U.S. are predicted to face extreme droughts in the near future. A drought in both countries, he argued, would likely have important implications for agriculture and energy production and health. Sampaio concluded his lecture on climate change and water scarcity by advocating that both Brazil and the U.S. move faster in the policy and regulation realms. In order to better manage scarce water resources, the U.S. must overcome a regulatory deficit and Brazil must improve its enforcement mechanisms.