The Guaranì Aquifer which Uruguay benefits in part, is the third largest underground water reservoir in the world and the first for charging capacity, with an estimated reserve of 30.000 to 40.000 km3.
Its great environmental value, social and economic, can only be maintained through sustainable management of this resource. The Aquifer area is shared between 4 countries: Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, (MERCOSUR). On 1994 the University of Buenos Aires and Litoral of Argentina, the one of the Republic of Uruguay, the university of Paraná and of St. Paul of Brazil and the one of Paraguay Asunciòn made a joint intention to improve knowledge of the aquifer. On 1997, Paysandu's Declaration created a stable coordination to manage and to preserve the aquifer but also to have a fair use of the water among the countries.
Thanks to university initaitives and with the monetary help of some international organization, the "project for environmental protection and sustainable management of the Guarani Aquifer System" PSAG was established.The Organizaciòn de Estados Americanos (OEA) is the executing agency of the project and the Wolrd Bank is the agency that administers the funds provided by the Global Environment Fund (GEF).
The Guarani aquifer system, because of its potential economic and strategic importance, has been considered a flagship of the surrounding countries and many international companies.
It could quench the thirst of the entire planet for 200 years but the absence of a specific law regarding the use of groundwater, there has been a clear lack of control and supervision that has allowed the irrational use and the risk of degradation due to human activity or by overexploitation using illegal wells, tereby increasing the risk of ground water contamination. In Argentina, Paraguay but also in Brazil there is a great use of chemicals such as insecticides. In Mato Grosso for example, a state in Brazil, the land burned because of agrotoxins were thrown from airplanes as rain, without any control. Nowadays, in this country, thanks to the struggles of the Sindicato de Los Trabajadores Rurales in Lucas de Rio Verde, the situation is improving through the dissemination of news and reporting of events.
The Guaraní are the indigenous people who live in these lands. These communities have a relationship with surface water also with what they consider their future, which is the Guaraní Aquifer reserve. Historically, the activity of communities in their ancestral way of life, does not impact the aquifer; their forms of production have no impact on the water and on the land. Nevertheless, large international companies have taken control of these lands. Because of factory farming (whose meat is consumed in Europe), mineral extraction, large plantations and monocultures of soy and sugar cane, the soil is getting polluted and forests are disappearing.
The Guaraní, deprived of their lands, they can no longer take care of rivers and springs. They are forced to work in the fields of sugar cane; even children and teenagers are used for work, only to receive a paltry compensation which helps to support the family.
The struggle of this people is through the "retomada" reoccupation of some of their ancestral lands. These are the lands that belonged to the ancestors.
All this seems to warn man to have a greater respect for a resource, the water, which can be both a source of life and death. Water is a primary asset, it is a common good, it is a human right.