Legislators back agriculture sector in water rights dispute

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chile's national agriculture association (SNA) has found bi-partisan support in the legislature in its dispute with national sanitation service authority SISS regarding the sale of treated wastewater, Diario Financiero reported.

In May, the supreme court ruled 5-0 in favor of SISS in a suit that alleged the authority had erroneously interpreted Chilean laws by allowing utilities to sell the water. Local irrigation users argued that water rights granted to utilities require treated water to be returned to its original source.

Opposition PS party representative Denise Pascal submitted a bill aimed at regulating the issue and ruling coalition party RN senator José García Ruminot met with interior minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter to stress the need for a solution, the paper said.

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In the next few days a group of pro-SNA representatives is scheduled to meet with the public works ministry (MOP), which oversees SISS, and the entity responsible for granting water rights, general water authority DGA.

Along with legislative support, the executive branch is reportedly considering a number of options to prevent the commercialization of treated water, according to the paper.