CHILE’S 1981 WATER CODE  

Visualized Landscapes
Dominique Bruneau S. And Camila Romero I. For Lofscapes
27.08.2015
Infographic © Dominique Bruneau S. for LOFscapes . Own elaboration based on: Interview with Rodrigo Weisner on Hablemos en Off  (Let’s Talk Off the Record) Radio Duna (July 6, 2015) <http://www.duna.cl/programas/hablemos-en-off/2015/07/06/rodrigo-weisner-3/> • Esquema Derechos de Aguas (Water Rights) by Javiera Infante in “Canal San Carlos. New Ecological Corridors. Interactions between a Decontextualized Infrastructure and the City of Santiago and the Maipo Valley,” Thesis for degree in Architecture and Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (2015) • Water Code of Chile (1981) in <http://www.leychile.cl/N?i=5605&f=2014-09-04&p=> (cons. 29 Oct. 2014) • A. Guzmán and E. Ravera, Estudio de las Aguas en el Derecho Chileno (Study of Chilean Water Rights) Santiago: Ediciones Jurídicas Congreso, 1998 • Reform of the Water Code in <http://reformacodigodeaguas.carey.cl/> (cons. 6 Ene. 2015) • H. Santelices, Medida del Derecho de Aprovechamiento de Aguas (Aspects of the Use of Water Rights) Santiago: Editorial Metropolitana, 2002) • A. Gómez-Lobo and R. Paredes, “Mercado de Derechos de Agua: Reflexiones sobre el Proyecto de Modificación del Código de Aguas” (Water Rights Market:  Reflections on the Project to Modify the Water Code) in Estudios Públicos 82 (Otoño 2001) • [Articles about Chile’s Water Code in <http://www.leychile.cl/N?i=5605&f=2014-09-04&p=]> • Background Image: Sergio Cerda, Cumbres del Valle Río Olivares (Summits of the Rio Olivares Valley) 2012

The Infographic Water Code of Chile is based on an interpretation of the text of 1981, which stipulates that the State of Chile understands water as a National Public Use Good, recognizing both the right of use on the part of individuals, and the condition of the good as a scarce resource.

The Chilean Water Code Infographic is based on an interpretation of the aforementioned 1981 text by Javiera Infante (1). The Code stipulates that the State of Chile understands water as a National Public Use Good, recognizing both the right of use on the part of individuals, and the condition of the good as a scarce resource. In addition, other general aspects of this code are presented, such as the divisions of rainwater according to the place where it falls, the types of domain (public or private) and the legal nature of water. In this last point the dual condition of water is explained: as that of a movable good (because it moves) and as that of real estate, the basis on which to generate property rights (corresponding in turn to being categorized as something seizable, divisible, transferable, movable, mortgageable and under the domain of the ownership holder). Also, the Water Use Law is presented, which in turn is broken down into a scheme that presents the general elements that comprise it, namely: exercise rights, types of exercises, forms of obtaining rights, administration and organization, protection, measurement, forms of use and easement (2).

(1) See Javiera Infante, “Canal San Carlos. New Ecological Corridors. Operaciones de Articulación entre una Infraestructura Descontextualizada y la Ciudad de Santiago y el Valle del Maipo,” (Canal San Carlos. New Ecological Corridors. Interactions between a Decontextualized Infrastructure and the City of Santiago and the Maipo Valley) Thesis for degree in Architecture and Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (2015)
(2) See Infante (2015).


To this interpretation of the text, and by way of exemplifying the scope of this code, the relationship between the network of channels that currently exists in Chile in relation to the length of the country is added. This shows that the network covers 35 times the national extension, highlighting that the greatest use of water is for agricultural activities, with 73% of the total as established by Rodrigo Weisner, General Director of Water during the first government of Michelle Bachelet. Weisner projects, in turn, that the area that would be under irrigation at the national level would grow from the current 1,200,000 ha to 2,000,000 ha in the next few years, if the strategy “Chile Agroalimentary Power” is continued (3), which is comparable to the total area of the Metropolitan Region (4).

(3) In October 2006, the Advisory Council “Chile Food Power” was set up in order to develop a nationwide strategy to develop the Chilean food sector at the level of a world food power. See Jorge Abner Campos G. and Emilio Polit G., Nuevos Enfoques para Chile Potencia Alimentaria y Forestal (New Approaches for Chilean Food and Forestry Power) Santiago, January 2011. In <http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/AGRO_Noticias/docs/PotenciaForestalAlimentariaChile.pdf>
(4) Rodrigo Weisner in Hablemos en Off (Let’s Talk Off the Record) Radio Duna (July 6, 2015) <http://www.duna.cl/programas/hablemos-en-off/2015/07/06/rodrigo-weisner-3/>


Weisner based his position in the context of the discussion of the new reform of the Water Code in force in Chile. In his opinion, one of the dilemmas that this reform presents lies in the discussion about maintaining the perpetuity of water rights because, to date, there have not been temporary permits in the country. The simple reason for this is that such temporality creates uncertainty for investors because the long-term right would not be guaranteed. Weisner’s criticism is that a reform of this code should assume the possibility of attributing equity of use to the resource, for which he suggests key questions such as if we know that a large amount of the water used is stolen, where is the water surplus then located? And if there is a surplus of water, an amount of which, in practice, is not properly registered, why do we insist then that we face a drought situation? Weisner’s approach opens up a much more complex regulatory aspect than simple ownership: water ownership in Chile cannot continue to be supported by price regulation.

2019-10-28T17:34:19-03:00