Paraguay’s Chamber of Deputies on August 30 rejected the Guarani Aquifer agreement, just one week after Argentina became the second country to approve it.
According to local press reports, the main reason that 46 deputies rejected the report was the “attitude” of nearby Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay following the impeachment trial of former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo Méndez.
On August 17, Paraguayan media outlet ABC had reported that the Ecology Commission in the country’s Chamber of Deputies was pushing to reject the agreement.
The commission expressed concern that the agreement would compromise the country’s sovereignty.
The Guarani Aquifer covers an area of 1.2 million square kilometers in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Regional trade bloc MERCOSUR, which helped draw up an accord for the countries that share the aquifer two years ago, applauded Argentina’s decision on August 24 to approve the agreement. Uruguay had approved the agreement back in May.
Brazil, for its part, has not yet publicly disclosed its position with regard to the agreement.
The agreement binds the four countries to a set course of action in order to protect and conserve the aquifer. It also outlines exchanges of information, methods of conflict resolution and procedures for projects and studies by each country that could affect other parts of the aquifer.
Under the agreement, each country “exerts sovereign territorial domain over its respective portions” of the groundwater reservoir, the largest in the world.
The accord also establishes rights to management, monitoring and sustainable development of the aquifer’s water resources. The resources are to be utilized in a rational and sustainable manner, “respecting the obligation of not causing damage to the environment or other parties (member states).”
If one of the countries caused environmental damage or damage to another party, “the party that caused it must adopt all necessary measures to eliminate or reduce the damage.”
There have been reports recently of potential oil and gas exploration in the aquifer.