188 communes in Chile suffer water crisis – Energy Magazine







The lack of rainfall and human and industrial consumption keep the country’s regions, which cover more than 50% of the territory, on alert.

Santiago de Chile.- These are complex moments for the American country. 188 communes are immersed in a severe drought. To classify a commune with these characteristics, there are a series of requirements that must be met.

According to the Water Code, in its Art. 314, it is established that in extraordinary times of drought, areas of water scarcity can be declared for a maximum period of six months. “During this period, the hydrometeorological conditions of the area are measured, the level of river flows, reservoir volumes and aquifer conditions are measured, according to DGA Resolution No. 1,674, 2012,” explains Elizabeth Garrido, director School of Environmental Sciences and Sustainability of the UNAB.

Precisely, within the framework of the International Water Day, the Andrés Bello University holds in its series of conferences, an instance where it is addressed how water scarcity in Chile is faced from the legal framework, given the current panorama.

To understand this climatic problem -lack of rain- Garrido, maintains that “there is not a sufficient amount of water to meet the ecological and productive demand, the latter associated with the different uses of water, such as agriculture, industry, mining, health services, etc. This brings as a result that more than 50% of Chile is in a notable shortage of the vital element.

So far, the regions in drought are: Atacama, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Metropolitana, Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins, Maule, Los Ríos, Los Lagos and Aysén, which are equivalent to 54% of the country. How to deal with a drought? For the UNAB academic, it is a topic that begins in homes, “it is necessary to understand that all our activities involve the use of water, such as cooking, washing, showering, evacuating waste, etc. When we consume food, it needs water to grow, or water to be processed within the industry, the same with the clothes we wear, the production process requires the use of water. These are just a few examples, therefore, our lifestyle and consumption patterns depend directly on the availability of water,” says the expert, adding that “we must consume sustainable products and goods, with a green label.”

“This situation will worsen in the coming years. Therefore, we need to be aware that we need to adapt to this new reality, because we still believe that we are a privileged country in terms of water resources, which is not true. It is advisable to take care of the consumption of water in our homes, from the showers, the kitchen and the gardens, ideally reusing the water in ponds and places where water is handled. It is also necessary to put aside the hose and invest in a drip irrigation system and start thinking about avoiding green areas and generating more spaces without grass”, reflects the director of the UNAB Environmental Engineering career and Researcher at the Center Research for Sustainability CIS and director of the Environmental Engineering Career.

How to improve the quantities and figures of our water consumption?

On average, each person spends around 170 liters of water per day, this value can even reach 400 – 600 L. per person in some places in the eastern part of Santiago. An efficient consumption in the use of water should be between 50 and 100 L per person.

To improve these figures, Garrido recommends carrying out the following actions:

Ideally, make an investment in efficient water use plumbing, faucets with adjustable water flow.

In the bathrooms use water tanks with double discharge.

It is recommended to take 5-minute showers, these consume 50 liters of water. If a bathtub is filled, a minimum of approximately 200 liters of water is necessary. For this reason, favor showers over baths.

In addition, it is advisable that the water from the showers or washing machine be reused, for example, for the evacuation of waste in the bathroom ponds or garden irrigation, for which loggias and bathrooms must be redesigned or designed to achieve this goal.

For those who have gardens, the recommendation is to implement a drip irrigation system or sprinklers, which are more efficient in the use of water, therefore, it is better than using a hose. At this same point, it is advisable to water before 10:00 AM or after 6:00 PM, to avoid water loss due to evaporation. Another proposal is to replace conventional green areas -composed especially of grass- and replace it with plants that do not need to be watered every day.

The washing machine with a full load is recommended and if the dishwasher is also used, only use it when it is full. In addition, it is important to use them with cold water. This favors water care and energy savings.

Do not abuse chlorine, as it breaks the bacterial balance of the treatment plants and makes their work difficult.

Do not throw polluting products into the water or products such as wipes that are difficult to degrade later or clog the pipes.

Do not pour oil into the pipes. It is one of the products that pollutes the water the most.

And, as a new habit, it is advisable to make a conscious consumption of goods and products, whose production involves an efficient consumption of water.

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