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Selected Water and Sanitation Law Instruments Around the World


National legislation is the outcome of processes, both local and the global. The interaction and influence between the domestic and the international legal systems, is mutually enriching. Certain aspects of water management have first been the product of legal initiatives of a state, seeking to address local problems. International conferences and the sessions of international organs, tackling environmental, development or human rights issues, provide a framework for their discussion and for the exchange of information, techniques and standards that ultimately strive for the coordinated solution of common problems affecting different jurisdictions. As a result of this process, states have subsequently moulded their legislation following the trends that are perceived in force, globally. They have passed legislation incorporating in their domestic legal systems - with varying degrees of success - the consensus reached internationally.

Water and sanitation are increasingly the subject of all-encompassing legislation that tries to address and coordinate the different uses, it is put to. Wide-ranging water acts often ascribe the property rights of water to the state or to the private owners of the land, under specific circumstances. In cases where it is declared a public commodity, the grant of concessions or licenses to individuals is addressed. A state agency is typically created and charged with the task of surveying the status of the resource (monitoring the quality and quantity available of water) and dealing with the administration associated with licenses and concessions. The newer legislations are decisively strict in protecting the national stocks of water, not only by embracing the sustainable management of the resource, but also by punishing more severely the pollution and any other prejudice, inflicted to the resource. Further, several acts explicitly acknowledge that the state has the duty of granting access to freshwater to the population. In addition, sanitation is increasingly often the focus of legal instruments.

The selected water and sanitation law instruments listed include a diverse set of recent water and sanitation laws from countries around the world. For water and sanitation law instruments in India please follow this link.

Note: The use of this page and the documents contained therein is free but acknowledgment of the source ( – International Environmental Law Research Centre) is compulsory.


African countries

Algeria - Water Code (2005)

full text   105 [KB]

Bostwana Water Act (1976)

full text   722 [KB]

Burkina Faso - Law providing the orientation for water management (2001)

full text   2273 [KB]

Burundi Code de l'eau (2012)

full text   1208 [KB]

Cameroon - Water Regime Law (1998)

full text   28 [KB]

Cape Verde Water Code (1984)

full text   881 [KB]

Ethiopia Water Resource Management Proclamation (2000)

full text   808 [KB]

Kenya Water Act (2002)

full text   1853 [KB]

Kenya Water Act (2016)

full text   1303 [KB]

Lesotho Water Resources Act (1978)

full text   598 [KB]

Madagascar - Water Code (1999)

full text   1280 [KB]

Mauritania - Water Code (2005)

full text   66 [KB]

Morocco Law on Water (1995)

full text   121 [KB]

Namibia Water Resources Managemente Act (2004)

full text   223 [KB]

Niger - Decree 93-014 Water Regime (1993)

full text   1382 [KB]

Nigeria Water Resources Management Decree (1993)

full text   33 [KB]

South Africa - Free Basic Sanitation Implementation Strategy (2008)

full text   423 [KB]

South Africa Free Basic Sanitation Implementation Strategy (2008)

full text   423 [KB]

South Africa National Water Act (1998)

full text   239 [KB]

South Africa Water Services Act (1997)

full text   429 [KB]

South Africa Water Services Act - Regulations Relating to Compulsory National Standards and Measures to Conserve Water (2001)

full text   392 [KB]

Swaziland Water Act (2003)

full text   201 [KB]

Tanzania Water Act (1974)

full text   106 [KB]

Tanzania Water Resources Management Act (2009)

full text   3112 [KB]

Tanzania Water Supply and Sanitation Act (2009)

full text   612 [KB]

Tunisia Water Code (1978)

full text   2775 [KB]

Uganda Water Statute (1995)

full text   6927 [KB]

Zambia Water Act (1997)

full text   68 [KB]

Zimbabwe Water Act (2003)

full text   219 [KB]

American countries

Argentina - Law 26.221

full text   663 [KB]

Argentina: Decree creating 'Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos S.A. ', a state company under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Public Works (2006)

full text   68 [KB]

Argentina: Decree rescinding the concession contract signed between the Argentinean State and the company Aguas Argentinas (2006)

full text   57 [KB]

Belize Water Industry Act (2001)

full text   4403 [KB]

Bolivia: Law 2066 of Drinking Water and Sewerage Services (2000)

full text   164 [KB]

Bolivian Law on Drinking Water and Sewerage Services (1999)

full text   202 [KB]

Brazil - Law on Basic Sanitation (2007)

full text   127 [KB]

Brazil National Water Resources Policy (1997)

full text   105 [KB]

Canada Water Act (1970)

full text   75 [KB]

Chile - Law 18.778 creating a subsidy for water services (1989)

full text   28 [KB]

Chile - Law 19.949 creating a social programme of aid for families in extreme poverty (2004)

full text   22 [KB]

Chile: DFL 382/88 "General Law on Water Services" (1988)

full text   141 [KB]

Chile: Law 18.902 "Creation of the Agency of Supervision of Water Services" (1989)

full text   62 [KB]

Colombia Project for a Comprehensive Water Law (2005)

full text   176 [KB]

El Salvador Water Resources Integrated Management Law (1981)

full text   87 [KB]

Guyana Water and Sewerage Act (2002)

full text   242 [KB]

Honduras Framework Law for the Drinking Water and Sanitation Sector (2003) [in Spanish]

full text   574 [KB]

Mexico National Water Law (1992)

full text   369 [KB]

Nicaragua - General Law on National Waters (2007)

full text   186 [KB]

Nicaragua - Law 440 suspending concessions in the water sector (2003)

full text   15 [KB]

Nicaragua Water Law (1998)

full text   73 [KB]

Paraguay General Law Governing the Regulatory and Tariff Framework for the Public Drinking Water and Sanitation Services (2000) [in Spanish]

full text   756 [KB]

Quebec - An Act to Affirm the Collective Nature of Water Resources and Provide for Increased Water Resource Protection (2009)

full text   940 [KB]

Uruguay - Sanitation Law Nº 18.840 (2011) [in Spanish]

full text   164 [KB]

Venezuela - Organic Law for the Service Provision of Drinkable Water (2001)

full text   429 [KB]

Asia and Oceania

Australia National Water Initiative Agreement (2004)

full text   149 [KB]

Australia Water Act (2007)

full text   1413 [KB]

Australia Water Reform Framework (1994)

full text   153 [KB]

Australia Water Resources Act (1998)

full text   342 [KB]

Bangladesh - National Sanitation Strategy (2005)

full text   6860 [KB]

Bangladesh Water Act (2013)

full text   2461 [KB]

Ground Water Management Ordinance (1985)

full text   80 [KB]

Indonesia Law on Water Resources (2004)

full text   329 [KB]

Jordan Water Authority Law (1988)

full text   1699 [KB]

Pakistan - National Drinking Water Policy (Draft) (2007)

full text   124 [KB]

Vanuatu - Water Resources Management Act (2002)

full text   44 [KB]

European countries

Armenia - Water Code (2002)

full text   259 [KB]

Belgium - Decree for the provision of drinking water in the Bruxelles-Capitale Region (1994)

full text   24 [KB]

Belgium - Decree of the Wallon Region on the cycle of water and creating a public company for the management of water (1999)

full text   78 [KB]

Belgium: Decree regulating a minimal provision of electricity, gas and water (1996)

full text   19 [KB]

Finland - Water Services Act (2001)

full text   34 [KB]

France - Instruction du Gouvernement du 4 mars 2014 - Tarification sociale de l'eau

full text   203 [KB]

France - Loi 64-1245 - Répartition des eaux et lutte contre leur pollution

full text   110 [KB]

France - Loi 92-3 sur l'eau

full text   126 [KB]

France Loi sur l'Eau et les Milieux Aquatiques (2006)

full text   291 [KB]

German Federal Water Act (2002)

full text   394 [KB]

Ireland - Water Services Act (2007)

full text   660 [KB]

Latvia Law on Water Management (2002)

full text   62 [KB]

Netherlands Water Law (Waterleidingwet 2003)

full text   23 [KB]

Portugal - Water Act (2005)

full text   256 [KB]

Spain National Hydrological Plan (ley 10/2001, 5/7/2001)

full text   212 [KB]

Spain Water Act (Real Decreto Legislativo 1/2001, 20/7/2001)

full text   218 [KB]

Sweden - Water Act (1983)

full text   2672 [KB]

Swiss Federal Water Law (1991)

full text   542 [KB]

UK Water Industry Act (1991)

full text   119 [KB]

United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) - Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order (2006)

full text   1505 [KB]