Chilean utilities to upgrade water infra for social housing condos

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, January 04, 2023
Chilean utilities to upgrade water infra for social housing condos

Water utilities in Chile will be required to take responsibility for the water infrastructure of social housing condominiums and authorities warn that some of these facilities require major upgrades. 

Although utilities provide water services and charge fees to these condominiums, current legislation places the responsibility for the water infrastructure on communities of co-owners.

“The legislation doesn't work for us at all,” the head of water services regulator SISS, Jorge Rivas, told the senate water resources committee while discussing infrastructure problems in social housing condominiums served by Valparaíso region water utility Esval

“A lot of these condominiums have potable water or wastewater pumping plants and those aren't the responsibility of the water utility,” he said during a session of the committee that was broadcast live. He pointed out that co-owner associations often lack the knowledge to handle or monitor these facilities, which leaves them unable to deal with emergencies.

Rivas said that it has not yet been decided if this change will be made through legislation or as a regulatory modification. He added that talks have been held with utilities and the housing ministry (Minvu).

Regardless of the choice made, the SISS head warned that major works are needed, as water infrastructure at these condominiums “is very subpar.” 

In October, Rivas told BNamericas that the government is looking to strengthen SISS oversight over water utilities and give regulators more clarity to apply penalties, though the bill that would allow this is still stalled in the senate.

Starting this year, utilities will be required to invest to reduce non-billed water, which in some areas is as high as 30% of the total, and they will face penalties if they fail to meet certain investment targets.

These targets will be specific to each company and were established after two years of negotiations between the SISS and the operators

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