In the legislative plenary, on November 2, 2017, the substitute text file 17742 referring to the Law for the Integrated Management of Water Resources, related to a project presented in May of 2010, originated in a process of popular consultation that in accordance with the Popular Initiative law, had 2 legislative years to be known, a term that expired on March 31, 2014. On March 27, 2014, it obtained a unanimous affirmative opinion in the Permanent Special Drafting Commission and it was approved in the first debate in the Plenary on March 31, 2014.

However, at the beginning of April 2014 several constitutional consultations were presented before the Sala IV (Constitutional Chamber), on specific aspects of the Law. These consultations were rejected, with the exception of one, where the Chamber decided that two articles and one transitory had actually frictions of constitutionality. This situation causes the bill to be forwarded to the Legislative Assembly to be analyze and once known in the Constitutionality Consultation Commission and resolved by the Constitutional Chamber was then sent to the Legislative Plenary, a series of motions are approved and finally a new substitute text of the original initiative of the referendum is approved, which is voted in First Debate on November 2, 2017.

The original draft of this law was published in October 13, 2009. Therefore, this publication is prior to the approval of the substitute text approved on November 2, 2017, and the text clearly modifies the text of the initial 2009 publication.

The Department of Technical Services of the Legislative Assembly in its Report to the Permanent Special Drafting Commission AL-DEST-IRE-364-2017 of November 6, 2017 regarding this Bill recommends the following:

“Procedure Aspects

Mandatory consultations: This initiative requires the following mandatory consultations:

  • Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AYA)
  • Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE)
  • Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Agriculture (INCOPESCA)
  • National Institute of Housing and Urban Planning (INVU)
  • Country Municipalities
  • Public Services Regulatory Authority
  • National Banking System.
  • National Irrigation and Drainage Service (SENARA)

Connection: The changes incorporated in the opinion of the file, maintains a connection criteria.

Voting: In accordance with the provisions of article 119 and 45 of the Political Constitution, this project requires for approval a voting equivalent to TWO THIRD PARTIES of the members of the Legislative Assembly (38 votes), for imposing limitations on ownership/property privacy, especially in article 34 its subsequent and concordant articles (34, 35, 38, 40 in accordance with articles 70, 71 and 159).

Delegation: NOT delegable

Publication: As it has already been said in this report, this initiative was published in ¨La Gaceta¨ on October 13, 2009. Nevertheless, the substitute text approved prior to the First Debate of the initiative should be published again, in order to comply with the parliamentary requirements and especially with the Advertising Principle.

Also, there has been statements in the Legislative Plenary, that there is a group of legislators with the intention of making an optional consultation, in order to evacuate doubts generated by changes incorporated in the bill, and the scope of the amendment right of the deputies.

Situation that escapes the regulatory analysis allowed to this Commission, which aims to approve the final draft of the initiative and which can only incorporate form changes.

Not having more comments on the present bill, the vote of the final drafting should depend on the criteria of the deputies. ”

There is not the slightest doubt that there is a national consensus on the need to modernize the legal provisions that regulate our water resources in our country, since the old Water Law that originally dates from 1942 and related regulations are not adjusted to our times and less even to the future (with communities affected by scarcity, overexploitation and pollution) to which are also added global problems such as climate change and environmental sustainability and rational, integrated, participatory, equitable use of water, as it affects us by equal to all the citizens of our country.

It is true that there are still some substantive issues that have created dissension in the approval of the substitute text in first debate presenting the original project product of a process of popular consultation that formally expired due to events of legislative and constitutional processes, that will not be mention right now, but the truth of the matter is that there is an urgent national need to adjust our regulations regarding the water resources of TODAY and TOMORROW, because we will all be responsible for the disastrous consequences due to their inadequate regulation, regardless of the ideological and political positions that we have.

The recommendations made by the legislative advisors in their formal aspects will have to be fulfilled to give the correct formation of this Law, not only in their legal consultations and constitutions, adequate publication of the Project to guarantee parliamentary principles, especially Publicity already solved by the Constitutional Chamber of our country and naturally the approval in the plenary by two thirds of the Legislative Assembly.

Last November 2, in the approval of the substitute text in first debate the current plenary of our Legislative Assembly reached that qualified majority (approval by 41 votes), but the tedious and extensive procedure of the law approvals, hardly estimated the integration of the Legislative Assembly that corresponds to the approval of this law.

Today we have not even begun the comments on the object and the principles of the project in comment, neither of the original project of the popular consultation or of the substitute text that are oriented towards the current needs. We only intend to focus on the below:

In conclusion, there is a complex procedure for the approval of this, which is not flawless and whose formal breaches are subsequently declared inapplicable. There are still complex issues to be solved, such as the economic concept and its use by non-state entities, but it is imminent and urgent a prompt and adequate water legislation, a vital element of our existence.


Garro, Jaime