Govt to invest over US$200mn in four reservoirs

- Thursday, November 17, 2011

Govt to invest over US$200mn in four reservoirs

The Chilean government will build four reservoirs under the administration of President Sebastián Piñera, with total investments reaching over US$200mn, according to public works minister (MOP) Laurence Golborne.

"We've established with President Piñera to give priority to four reservoirs during his administration. Work has already begun in one of them, [region V's] Chacrillas reservoir, that will be completed at the end of 2013, beginning of 2014," Golborne told journalists at an international water sustainability conference in Santiago.

The 27Mm3 reservoir is being built by Spanish firm OHL, and will be managed by the Putaendo irrigation council.

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Two more reservoir projects, northern region IV's Valle Hermoso reservoir and the Chironta reservoir in northernmost region XV, will also go ahead before Piñera's term ends in March 2014.

The fourth project will be decided in the coming months, according to Golborne.

PRIVATE INVESTMENT

Asked by BNamericas whether the government has made progress with its plan to increase private sector participation in the construction and operation of reservoirs, Golborne said the process is under review.

"We're reviewing the model and looking at how to improve it to see if it's possible to incorporate private sector participation," Golborne said.

Chile's only experience with privately operated non-hydroelectric reservoirs was phase II of region VI's Convento Viejo reservoir, which the public works minister cited as an unsuccessful initiative. The reservoir was built and is now operated by concessionaire Besalco, but third-stage works to build a 300km irrigation network were never completed.

MOP aims to ensure that private involvement "will translate into real participation and not simply a government subsidy or a transfer of resources to the private sector," Golborne said.