South American country will ration water — Analysis

The Governor of the Santiago metropolitan region Claudio Orrego has announced an unprecedented water rationing plan to avoid catastrophe, as Chile is living through a more-than-a-decade-long drought and the country’s capital is facing the possibility of being cut off from water resources.

“A city can’t live without water. And we’re in an unprecedented situation in Santiago’s 491-year history, where we have to prepare for there to be not enough water for everyone who lives here,”The governor made these remarks at Monday’s press conference. “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,”He added.

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The governor’s plan features a multi-tier alert system. Green alerts will prioritize groundwater usage. Yellow protocol means that water flow pressure is being reduced and water access for some 1.7million residents will be severely restricted under the red alert scenario. The duration of rotating water cuts may be as long as 24 hours.

Based on the measurement of the capacities of the Mapocho River and Maipo rivers which provide water for Chile’s capital, the alert system was developed. Since the beginning of the decade, Mapocho has seen a decline in water supply due to the droughts that have afflicted the trans-Andean nation.

More than three-quarters (75%) of Chile are now affected by the drought, which has lasted for ten years. The drought has caused the South American country to experience the most severe water shortage in western hemisphere. Experts blame the drought on inadequate rainfall but also the 1982 water ownership scheme. Former military ruler and president Augusto Pinochet’s Water Code gave nearly 80 % of the country’s water resources to private agricultural, energy, and mining companies.

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