`Chile’s Ongoing Drought Leads to Water Rationing in Santiago - Olive Oil Times

Chile’s Ongoing Drought Leads to Water Rationing in Santiago

Apr. 28, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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The unprece­dented sever­ity of a major drought plagu­ing Chile has resulted in excep­tional cop­ing mea­sures.

As the drought enters its 13th year, author­i­ties in the Santiago met­ro­pol­i­tan region have announced a water rationing plan that will last at least 12 months and will involve almost all dis­tricts of the cap­i­tal city and its six mil­lion res­i­dents.

This is the first time in his­tory that Santiago has a water rationing plan due to the sever­ity of cli­mate change. It’s impor­tant for cit­i­zens to under­stand that cli­mate change is here to stay. It’s not just global, it’s local.- Claudio Orrego, gov­er­nor, Santiago Province

The extra­or­di­nary mea­sures come on the heels of the new gov­ern­ment funds announced in recent weeks for farm­ers in cen­tral Chile whose activ­ity is pro­foundly affected by the pro­longed drought.

A city can’t live with­out water,” Claudio Orrego, the gov­er­nor of the province, said in a press con­fer­ence. And we’re in an unprece­dented sit­u­a­tion in Santiago’s 491-year his­tory. We have to pre­pare as there might be not enough water for every­one who lives here.”

See Also:Time Running Out to Prevent Worst Impacts of Climate Change, U.N. Says

Most of the prob­lems for the city come from the sig­nif­i­cant and pro­gres­sive drop in the water capac­ity of two rivers, the Maipo and Mapocho. Together, they rep­re­sent the major water sup­ply for Santiago and the deploy­ment of the new mea­sures will depend on their water lev­els.

Four degrees of sever­ity will cover pro­ce­dures rang­ing from ini­tial pri­or­i­tiz­ing actions for city water reserves to warn­ings to the pop­u­la­tion as well as the pos­si­ble reduc­tion of avail­able water pres­sure.

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The high­est level of alert sig­ni­fies water rationing for the pop­u­la­tion, with rotat­ing turns among dis­tricts for water cuts that should not last more than 24 hours at a time. The emer­gency reserves will be used for spe­cial enti­ties such as health ser­vices.

Local author­i­ties empha­sized how the coun­try has lost 10 to 37 per­cent of its water avail­abil­ity in the last 30 years and another 50 per­cent drop is expected in north­ern and cen­tral Chile within the next four decades.

This is the first time in his­tory that Santiago has a water rationing plan due to the sever­ity of cli­mate change,” Orrego said. It’s impor­tant for cit­i­zens to under­stand that cli­mate change is here to stay. It’s not just global, it’s local.”

Orrego has also warned that the water rev­o­lu­tion we are now talk­ing about involves changes to be adopted through­out all sec­tors, includ­ing agri­cul­ture, indus­trial pro­duc­tion and the gov­ern­ment itself.”

See Also:Water Scarcity is the Biggest Challenge Facing Food Production

At the end of March, Minister of Agriculture Esteban Valenzuela had renewed an emer­gency decree that will finan­cially sup­port the rural com­mu­ni­ties and farm­ers in cen­tral Chile who are cop­ing with the worst effects of the last­ing drought. The inter­ven­tion will last three more months.

In the affected loca­tions, many munic­i­pal­i­ties have been build­ing water ponds to col­lect even­tual rain­fall and reserves are being used to feed ani­mals in smaller farms.

According to the Meteorologic National Direction (DMC), 2021 was the dri­est year since mea­sure­ments began, with an aver­age of 50 per­cent less rain­fall in many regions.

Local experts believe that lack of rain­fall is just one of the causes of the wors­en­ing phe­nom­e­non, as one of the larger prob­lems is believed to be the pri­vate prop­erty of the water sys­tems.

Large farm­ing, min­ing and energy com­pa­nies con­trol most of the water infra­struc­ture as stated by a 1981 law enacted by the gov­ern­ment of the for­mer dic­ta­tor, Augusto Pinochet.

Given the dire sit­u­a­tion in many regions, the min­is­ter has also con­firmed that the gov­ern­ment is study­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of declar­ing a state of national dis­as­ter, which would allow it to deploy even more sig­nif­i­cant mea­sures over a large area of the coun­try. Many regions and dis­tricts have asked the gov­ern­ment not to delay such a mea­sure.



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