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legal regimes governing the ownership, use and transfer of recycled water and water facilities

Water represents an indispensable element for the existence of life on Earth, a renewable natural resource, vulnerable and limited, raw material for productive activities, source of energy and way of transport and a determinate factor in maintaining ecologic equilibrium.

In the context of Romania’s adhesion to the European Union, by its modifications, in 2004, 2006 and 2007, Law no. 107/1996 assimilated the general objectives and instruments of the Water Framework Directive no. 2000/60/ CEE from 23 October 2000. The main purpose of the Water Framework Directive was to achieve, by the year 2015, a „good quality” for all water corps in the Member States, in order to obtain similar life conditions, from this point of view, for all European citizens. Among the declared objectives of the directive, lies the elaboration of an integrated European water policy, taking into consideration the entire water surface in Europe. Therefore, an important role is in preventing surface and ground water corps from deteriorating and also their protection, improvement and recovery, an also for the artificial water corps, in order to achieve the necessary ecological potential.

The Framework Directive establishes a transparent, efficient and coherent legal frame, also by defining general principles, such as a global action frame for maintaining a good quality of the aquatic environment. In the same time, the document has, as main objective, a sustained reduction in the elimination of toxic and dangerous wastes in the water and also in the identification of any tendency of important rise in the quantity of any pollutant, so that the concentrations could be as close as possible to the normal ones.

According with the Romanian Constitution, property can be public or private. Public property is guaranteed and protected by law and belongs to the state and its territorial entities and private property is intangible, in the conditions of organic law. According with paragraph 3 of the same article, the water with energetic potential, of national interest, beaches, territorial sea, the national resources of the economic area and of the continental plateau belong exclusively to the area of public property; public property goods are inalienable and, in the conditions of organic law, they can be given in the administration of other public entities or can be given for concession or rented. Also, public property goods can be given for the free use of public utility entities.

According with Law no. 213/1998 governing the legal regime of public property in Romania, are part of state’s public domain: ground waters, with their river beds, lake shores, underground waters, inland maritime waters, beaches, territorial sea, inland navigation ways, (annex, point 3); navigation channels (point 13), irrigation distribution networks (point16), accumulation lakes and dams (point 19), sea and river harbors (point 22).

Water law has, as main objective, to establish a regime of protection, conservation, quality improvement and rational use of water resources, independent of the property regime which governs them. Therefore, according with Law no. 107/1996, water has a double statute: „a casting factor for maintaining ecological equilibrium” and a „natural heritage”. This last statement, taken tale quale from the Water Framework Directive, has a very important legal significance: water, considered as „merchandise”, enters in the commercial circuit, has a price and an owner.

Governmental Emergency Ordinance no. 195/2005 (article 55) makes a distinction between the protection of surface waters, underground waters and aquatic ecosystems (having as object maintaining and improving their quality and biological productivity, having as purpose to avoid negative effects on the environment, human health and material goods) and conserving, protecting and improving the quality of coastal and maritime waters (having as purpose to progressively reduce evacuations and emissions of hazardous substances, in order to attain the quality objectives established in the 1992 Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution. In the same context, the law of environmental protection establishes obligations for the physical and moral persona related to water protection, such as: to execute all the necessary works in order to recover natural resources, to ensure the migration of aquatic fauna and the improvement of water quality, according with the terms established in the water management endorsement or authorization or in the environmental authorization; to asses the impact area; to ensure marine platforms for the ships, with waste treatment utilities, with utilities to purge waste waters; to equip harbors with utilities in order to collect, process, recycle and neutralize oil wastes or any other wastes collected on ships and to gather intervention teams for situations of accidental water pollution and pollution of coastal areas; not to evacuate waste waters from ships directly into water; not to wash any objects, packages, products or materials which could produce hazardous effects on surface waters; not to evacuate waste waters, oil substances, or hazardous substances into surface waters, underground waters and maritime waters; not to throw or deposit on the shores, on the river beds and in the wet and coastal areas wastes of any kind and not to introduce explosive substances, electricity, narcotics or hazardous substances in the water.

According to Water Law, the regime of using surface and underground water, independently of the property rights, is established exclusively by the Government, through the central authority in the field of water, meaning the Ministry of Environment. In the same time, waters that belong to public domain are given in the administration of the National Administration „Romanian Waters” (NARW), by the Ministry of Environment.