According to Resolution 385 of March 12 of 2020 of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, adequate and frequent hand washing, with soap and water, might reduce 50% the risk of contracting the virus COVID-19. Therefore, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Business (MADS) has established a series of transitional measures that aim to ensure the supply of drinking water within the Colombian territory.
Hence, by means of Decree 456 of March 23, 2020, MADS established that the environmental authorities must implement a series of provisions so long as the sanitary emergency is in place, namely:
• Prioritize and process immediately the applications for surface and groundwater intake permits requested by municipalities, districts and the providers of water and public sewage.
• Extend water intake permits granted to providers of water and public sewage that are about to expire or expire in the framework of the sanitary emergency.
• Reduce to a third the terms to grant a surface water intake permit.
• Allow activities of prospection and exploration of groundwater without environmental authorization, as long as there is registration before and endorsement by the environmental authority.
• Apply to the providers of water and sewage public service the minimum rate for water use and water dumping.
• Deliver invoices related to water utilization rate and the remuneration rate for specific dumping, corresponding to 2019 in the four months following the end of the sanitary emergency. In the event that said invoices are accumulated with those of 2020, the environmental authorities must sign a payment agreement with the user.
On the other hand, the Rural Development Agency may allow municipalities to use water stored within irrigation districts of Ranchería, Triángulo del Tolima and Tessalia-Paicol.
Finally, MADS established that in the event that authorized managers of hazardous waste with biological or infectious risk exceed their installed capacity, the environmental authorities may authorize other managers of other types of hazardous waste to conduct activities related to the management of wastes with biological or infectious risk generated by COVID-19.