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Market overview

Brazil is investing in water treatment and reuse. Whilst companies are increasingly considering water recycling for reuse in the production process, the authorities are forming public private partnerships for the development of sewage treatment systems.

What drives the investments?

Increasing water prices and tougher regulations are the main drivers for investment. In 2011, the average water price for the whole country was 2.30 BRL, around 1.38 USD per m³. However, the most populous regions of the South and South East, where demand for water is highest and availability limited, have the highest water prices. The supply is mostly controlled by concessionaires creating a sales channel for water.

In general, the industry captures water directly from basins regulated by special committees due to the high water prices from concessionaires. The superficial water is cheaper, but over the past 20 years the prices have risen.

Among the three analyzed sectors, the steel industry distinguished itself with a history of water reuse and an impressive water reuse of 96.5% in the production process. Food & beverages and pulp & paper industries are conscious about legislation requirements and benefits of reducing water dependency, but have still a long way to go to reach same reuse levels as the steel industry.

The market is receptive of new trends

Large companies with production units often dealt with water treatment through an EPC system (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) and building facilities on site. EPC was seen as the best option to treat the high volumes of water. Recently however, BOT system (Build, Operate, Transfer) has become a more cost-effective alternative for treatment of effluents and offsite is seen as an alternative for small-medium sized companies.

At the same time, the public sector and municipalities are rethinking public sanitation. For instance, the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) is seen as a means of stimulating faster development in the hopes of overcoming public sector inefficiency by hiring private companies to provide public service for a period of time.