Who is in charge of Guatemala’s Water Management?

So who the hell manages the water in Guatemala? I mentioned some of the organizations and institutes that are in charge of some aspect of water provision in the last post.  There is no water protection law in Guatemala (although its been on the block for many years). Apparently it has been brought up for debate some 20 times but because of the issue of water privatization, communities oppose it and politicians find it more convenient to just leave things as they are…with nothing. I haven’t seen the draft law so I can’t comment but people who played a hand in its creation claim that water privatization is not part of the law.

As the 2012 Environmental Report makes clear: there are tons of organizations performing the same duties and huge holes where no one is doing anything. So leaving out the 100s of international NGOs working here in the water sector, let’s take a look.

The Environmental Ministry (MARN) is in charge of regulating sewage and waste. They are also nominally (no law exists) in charge of organizing watershed protection committees.  The National Protected Areas Council (CONAP) is also in charge of watershed protection, but in protected areas. The Forestry Institute is also in charge of watershed protection, in terms of reforestation. The Ministry of Public Health (MSPAS) is in charge of ensuring the quality of drinking water. The Agriculture Ministry (MAGA) is in charge of regulating irrigation and agricultural runoff. The Mining and Energy Ministry (MEM) grants water usage rights for hydroelectric and mining projects. Of the four major lakes in Guatemala (Atitlan, Amatitlan, Peten Itza, Izabal) two are managed by the Environmental Ministry and the other two (Atitlan and Amatitlan) are run under special authorities that report to the vice president’s office, completely separate from anything else. Confused? You should be. I discover a new agency or institute or ministry or authority that is in charge of some part of water management about three times a week.

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