Uruguay and the Right to drinking water

Uruguay and the Right to drinking water

March 22: World Water Day, 2012, Uruguay.

Uruguay was the first country to declare in its Constitution that water is a fundamental human right, through the reform of Article 47 with the October 2004 plebiscite. Chapter VII Article I says: Everyone should refrain from causing negative environmental impacts or harmful in water resources, adopting preventive measures and the precautions necessary.  For its part, Article 8, Chapter II, point G establish: That the supply of safe drinking water is the main priority of use of water resources. Other uses are determined taking into account the priorities established by regions, watersheds and aquifers.

Water pollution

The water pollution problem  in our country, and in several of the region, is getting worse due to the expansion of agriculture and forestry. This expansion has occurred in agribusiness scheme involving the large spread of monocultures for export and the massive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, recognized worldwide for their negative impacts on water resources.

The massive use of chemical fertilizers causes eutrophication of waterways. This process is the result of increased levels of nutrients present in the water, usually from phosphorus and nitrogen used as agricultural fertilizers. Eutrophication causes excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants, which die they sink to the bottom of rivers, reservoirs and lakes, generating organic waste that its decompose consume much of the oxygen dissolved in the water and thus can affect aquatic life and cause death by asphyxiation of fauna and flora.

In recent years, the  water pollution by pesticides has been a concern expressed by various sectors of society, who witness increasingly compelling findings of the danger of uncontrolled use thereof. Moreover, in recent times there have been cases of death of fish and other animals in different parts of the country. Furthermore, in January 2010 found atrazine residues in the Santa Lucia River, which supplies drinking water to the city of Montevideo. The herbicide atrazine is a highly toxic and very difficult to remove once it reaches the water.


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