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Constitution of the Republic of Uruguay (1967)

Section II, Chapter II, Article 47:

“The protection of the environment is of general interest. Persons must abstain from any act that causes grave depredation, destruction or contamination to the environment. The law shall regulate this provision and may provide sanctions for transgressors.

Water is a natural resource essential for life.

The access to potable water and the access to sanitation, constitute fundamental human rights.

1. The national policy concerning water and sanitation shall be based on:

a. the ordering of the territory, conservation and protection of the Environment and the restoration of nature.
b. the sustainable management, in solidarity with the future generations, of the hydro resources and the preservation of the hydrological cycle which constitutes [a] matter of public interest. The users and the civil society, shall participate in all the instances of planning, management and control of hydro resources; establishing the hydrological basins [cuencas] as basic unities.
c. the establishment of priorities for the use of water by regions, basins, or parts of them, having the first priority [be] the provision of potable water to the population.
d. the principle that the delivery [prestación] of the services of potable water and sanitation, must have preference for reasons of social order over the economic order.
Any authorization, concession or permission that in any manner infringes the provisions above[,] will be considered of no effect.

2. The surface waters, as well as the subterranean [waters], with the exception of rain water, composing a hydrological cycle, constitute a unitary resource, subordinate to the general interest, that forms part of the public state domain, as public hydraulic domain.

3. The public service of sanitation, and the public service of the provision of water for the human consumer will be provided exclusively and directly by state juridical persons.

4. The law, by three-fifths of the votes of the total of the members of each Chamber, can authorize the supply of water, to another country, when such [country] encounters [the] inability to provide it[,] and for reasons of solidarity.”