Currently 85% of Brazil’s population live in urban areas, for the most part connected to a clean water supply. Although water is abundantly produced in a healthy landscape, the continual deforestation has resulted in less water availability. Trees evaporate water into the atmosphere, their roots and humus permit water to percolate into the soil and replenish the water table with a positive net balance.
Water has to be stored and distributed to cities but there have been severe water shortages in the past. As early as 1862, Emperor Pedro II ordered Major Archer to plant Rio city`s “Floresta de Tijuca” the Tijuca forest. This was specifically ordered to increase the presence of small streams and later went on to safeguard the forested Serra do Mar mountain gradient, where REGUA is situated, in order to protect water sources in the large city of Petropolis.
Finally in 1934 a federal law was passed that sought to organise water as a resource and the Brazilian Government became responsible for its administration, issuing licenses to utility companies for its distribution.
As a means of sharing responsibility with this resource the Government fostered the creation of regional Water committees, a stage for decision makers, the users, producers and the Government. Today these committees can shape and share issues on distribution within cities, on sanitation and are working on environmental service payments to encourage water production at its source.