Chile drought: Bachelet mulls US$1bn action plan

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Drought-hit Chile could be gearing up to spend US$1bn over four years to tackle water scarcity, local paper Diario Financiero reported.

The proposed investment is included in an action report put together by the presidential delegate for water resources, Reinaldo Ruiz. President Michelle Bachelet has had the document since June.

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Ruiz's report is part of Chile's drive to deal with water supply issues as the country remains in the grip of a five-year drought.

Planned investment would be used to build desalination projects benefiting the country's north in particular, to build reservoirs and to bring existing storage and regulation ponds back into operation.

Ruiz is also proposing a restructuring of the institutional framework of the sector, in which over 40 entities currently play a role. The changes could include the creation of a water resources ministry or a dedicated department within the public works ministry.

The proposal also calls for a reform of the country's water law so that water rights can be restricted or terminated, and for an end to perpetual water rights. Constitutional reform to prohibit ownership of water rights is also called for.