The first evidence of sanitation in Brazil occurred in 1561, when Estacio de Sá had to dig in Rio de Janeiro the first well to supply the city. In 1673, the first aqueduct of the country construction was initiated, completed in 1723, carrying water from the river Carioca towards the Chafariz river, currently the aqueduct known as Arcos da Lapa. In 1746, it was inaugurated the supply lines to the convents of Santa Tereza, and Luz, in São Paulo. In São Paulo´s capital, the first fountain was built in 1744, and in 1842, there were five fountains in the city. During the colonial period, sanitation actions were done individually, summing up the drainage of land and fountains facility.
In the late nineteenth century, the organization of sanitation occurred and the provinces gave concessions to foreign companies, mostly English. The Government of São Paulo built the first piped water supply system, between 1857 and 1877, after signing with the company Achilles Martin D’Éstudens. In Porto Alegre, the city water supply system was completed in 1861, and Rio de Janeiro´s in 1876, by Antonio Gabrielli. Using the Dortmund settling tank, the Rio de Janeiro´s system became a pioneer in its opening worldwide of a Water Treatment Plant (WTP) with six quick pressure air / water filters.
With the poor quality of services provided by foreign companies, Brazil nationalized sanitation service in the early twentieth century. From the 1940s, it began the marketing of sanitation services. Then came the autarky and funding mechanisms for the water supply, to influence the Special Public Health Service (SESP), now called the National Health Foundation (FUNASA).
On October 13, 1969, the Decree Law 949, authorized the National Housing Bank (BNH) to apply in financing transactions for sanitation, in addition to their own resources, the Guarantee Fund for Time of Service (FGTS) In 1971, the National Sanitation Plan (PLANASA) was established, which were consolidated the values that emerged in the 1950s, autonomy and self-sustaining, through tariffs and financing based on reusable resources. Decisions became concentrated, with impositions of state companies on municipal services, and a separation of the institutions that took care of the health and that planned sanitation.
With the bankruptcy of PLANASA and the extinction of BNH, the sanitation sector experienced an institutional emptiness. In 1991, the Federal Court initiated discussions with the processing of the PLC 199, which provided for the national sanitation policy. After four years of discussions, the PLC 199 was fully vetted, on the grounds of the federal government that it was incompatible with the Law on Concessions. In 1995, the Law on Concession 8.987 regulated the Article 175 of the Federal Constitution, which provided for the grant of public services and authorized the grant of such services. Privatization strategies were attempted with other Bills for sanitation, such as PLS 266 that sought to transfer the ownership of services to the State, with an inter-relationship between Federal, State, Federal District and Municipalities.
The PL 4.147/2001 was another attempt to take ownership of Municipalities of sanitation services. All projects were rejected in the Congress by initiative of the Brazilian municipal movement, which fought for the permanent filing of such proposals. In 2004, the PPP Act (Public Private Partnership), No. 11.079, set general rules for bidding and hiring public-private partnerships by the Federal, State, Federal District and Municipal, allowing the first awards to be made for private companies. Resolution No. 518 of the National Environmental Council – CONAMA and the Ministry of Health, established norms and patters and water potability for human consumption, initiating the formation of cool water sector in March in Brazil.
In 2005, the Public Consortium Act No. 11.107 fixed the conditions for the Union, States, Federal District and municipalities to establish public consortia in order to develop projects of common interest. After intense fighting of Municipalities for ownership of the sanitation services, on January 5, 2007, the Federal Law No. 11.445 was enacted, called the National Sanitation Law – LNSB, which took effect as of February 22 of that year, establishing national guidelines for basic sanitation in Brazil, determining that the Union shall draw up the National sanitation Plan (NBSP). In order to enjoy the benefits provided by law, the municipalities shall elaborate their municipal plans setting universalization sceneries of service rendering.
The Federal Law No. 11.445 clarified and gave referrals to several issues that were not covered by the law until then, setting national guidelines for the provision of water and sewage services, establishing the rights and obligations of the Union to maintain, setting regulation, surveying and planning policies for the sector. The law determined that creation of specific regulatory authority in each government body and set objectives for the municipal planning sanitation and established legal and political pressure mechanisms to achieve goals.
After approval of the regulatory framework, in addition to Law No. 11.445, the municipalities started to be structured as grantor. Since then, the participation of private companies in the sanitation sector has been crescent, arriving in 2014 to just over 10% of the sector and the expectation of ABCON (Association of Dealers Water and Sewerage Private) is that the private sector reaches 30 % of the sector by the end of 2017, when the regulatory framework will complete 10 years.