Govt plans legislation to crack down on illegal water use

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Chilean government plans to introduce legislation to allow general water authority DGA to impose steep fines on companies that use water illegally, the public works ministry (MOP) said in a release.

The announcement was made following the closure of the more than 20 wells operated by non-metallic mining company Cosayach in northern region I, after the general attorney's office filed charges against the company over illegal water use.

The process of closing the wells began more than two years ago, according to public works minister Laurence Golborne.

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"We have a bill waiting for President Piñera to sign before sending it to congress that will strengthen the role of DGA so cases like this can be solved in a matter of weeks and not years. Additionally, the bill will boost DGA's budget to increase oversight," Golborne said.

Currently, DGA's toughest fine for illegal water use is up to 400,000 pesos (US$775). Under the new rules, fines could reach 200mn pesos in the case of a repeat offense, along with toughening the criminal sanctions against those committing the act.