Water Pollution Control in Honduras

Pollution control is obviously regarded as an important issue in Honduras, as reflected in the legal provisions found to control the quality and safety of the water resources, the management of waste water, and the quality of drinking water. Despite the fact that it does not fully recognise the human right to a clean and healthy environment ( HRHE ) in its constitution, many aspects of this right are nevertheless included in law.

Note that the Human Right 2 Water legal review is designed to map references to relevant laws, and does not assess compliance in practice, however, legal recognition is a strong first step.

The governance overview shows Honduras to be a democratic constitutional republic with its government separated into three branches: the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. The Congress has the power to promulgate laws and the executive power decrees and executes those laws. Additionally, the Constitution establishes the referendum and plebiscite as mechanisms for consultation. Both the human right to water and the human right to sanitation are mentioned in the Constitution. 

Regionally and internationally, Honduras has ratified treaties that include water and sanitation in binding policies. The transboundary water resources that the country shares with its neighboring countries have led to the establishment of a Binational Management Group for the Goasocoran River Basin (GGBCG), micro-councils for the Lituy River (Honduras), and Honduritas River (El Salvador).

At the national level, the General Water Law establishes Basin Councils to integrate and represent sub-basin and micro-basin councils. These allow citizen participation and empowerment in water-related decision-making. Other authorities involved in water governance would be: 

  • The National Water Resources Council 
  • The Water Authority (The National Institute of Water Resources and Regional agencies)
  • The National Council for Drinking Water and Sanitation (CONASA)
  • The National Autonomous Service of Aqueducts and Sewers (SANAA)
  • Regulatory Entity of Drinking Water Services and Sanitation (ERSAPS)
  • Secretary of National Resources and the Environment (SERNA)
  • National Council of Water Resources (CNRH)
  • National Institute of Water Resources (INRH)
  • Water Authority (a decentralized body of the public administration attached to the Secretariat of State in the Natural Resources and Environmental Bureaus)

Regarding domestic legislation on water, there is a specific National Water Policy implemented by SERNA. Water planning is managed by a National Water Plan that has to be approved by the executive power. Furthermore, there are also other national strategies and action plans that include the HRHE and HRWS. The law also establishes conditions for the use, exploitation, development, and application of water and the ecosystem. It recognises human consumption as the main priority for the use of water.

Honduras scored well on water pollution control. This infers that the country has mechanisms in place to regulate waste disposal procedures. The law states that it is the responsibility of the municipalities to adopt the system for the collection, treatment, and final disposal of water. For groundwater, in order to use this resource and be granted a permit, there are studies that need to be conducted to analyze the environmental impact. It is also a violation of the law to discharge substances that pollute groundwater without authorization. The municipalities and the Water Authority have the responsibility for authorizing where wastewater can be dumped. If there are violations of the law, then the entities can be fined and penalized accordingly to the infraction committed. 

For detailed references and analysis please download the full report here.

Disclaimer: This is not a statement of compliance nor a legal review of this countryWhite & Case has provided valuable pro bono assistance for this project but bears no responsibility for the benchmarking of countries in the dashboard which reflects the sole view of Human Right 2 Water.

This information is a desktop review and has been generously provided as pro bono support,  based on a preliminary research of the legal framework in this country. It will be verified by our legal team .in collaboration with local authorities.