Mega-drought continues to strain Chile’s freshwater resources


A 13-year-old mega-drought is testing Chile’s groundwater supplies, from the country’s southwest to Patagonia.

Large areas in Chile are suffering from the mega-drought

As shown in the recent report by The Guardianuntil the end of 2021, the fourth extremely dry season in history, and more than 50% of Chile’s 19 million people resided in districts experiencing extreme water scarcity, and an extraordinary program of hydropower restrictions for Santiago was revealed in April.

Chileans are totally dependent on relief trucks to transport drinking water to many remote areas in the center and north of the country.

According to Pablo Garca-Chevesich, a Chilean hydrologist at the University of Arizona, water is now a national economic concern – it’s so serious. It is the nation’s most serious economic, societal and energy concern and if the government does not address this problem, fresh water will be the catalyst for another rebellion.

Many people have called for a reform of Chile’s 1981 freshwater legislation, a remnant of General Augusto Pinochet’s regime (1973-1990) which maintains one of the largest privatized drainage systems on the planet, allowing citizens to buy and trade water quotas like commodities, Enviweb report.

There is a fundamental problem with this: the end goal of fresh water is to create profit, not to provide welfare to citizens.

“This is where I was born and raised, and it kills me that the reservoir is no longer there, that the forests are drying up and that the birds have disappeared, remarks Caru, who hopes that the reservoir will reappear one day. day.

According to 73-year-old Alfonso Ortz, a grower who has always hired many people to grow cantaloupes, squash, corn and citrus fruits with marsh water, he served all the surrounding markets and villages.

While for Carolina Vilches, who was appointed to the country’s constituent assembly in March 2021, the humanitarian right to water is violated every day in Chile.

Aculeo Lake – which means “where the streams cross” in the indigenous Mapudungun dialect – had a floating cafe welcoming tourists in the 1990s, and watercraft cruised the lagoon throughout the season.

Among their demands, which ranged from a higher pension to an overhaul of welfare, was the slogan ‘it’s not drought, it’s theft’. Likewise, Flipboard published about a current discovery in which co-authored by Garca-Chevesich, discovered that the acquisition of maritime claims, regional population increase and global warming have all conspired to completely dry up the lake.

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The Chilean administration should solve the drought problem

Huge agricultural developments and residential properties officially gained access to the river’s fresh water in 2010, siphoning off the primary streams.

This is why what the officials wrote into the legislation is so important – the experts should change our view on irrigation. Officials should really hit the floodgates and accept responsibility for all the mistakes that have been made before.

Although it represents only 3% of Chile’s GDP, reforestation consumes more than 59% of the country’s natural resources, depending on land ownership.

Chile is arguably the only country on the planet whose legislation expressly states that irrigation rights are a private matter. Chilean industry, the highest in South America in terms of GDP per capita, relies on water-intensive extractive sectors such as mining, forestry management and agriculture.

Another 37% is allocated to agriculture, leaving only 2% for human use in Chile. President Boric in April signed an amendment to the 1981 irrigation policy that had been stalled in Congress for 11 years.

Boric, 36, has signaled his goal by appointing renowned environmental expert Maisa Rojas as his environmental diplomat – but he doesn’t need to go far to be warned of the challenge ahead, according to daily climate.

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