Santiago 'running out of water' as crisis intensifies

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Santiago 'running out of water' as crisis intensifies

Santiago’s water crisis shows no signs of abating and is currently coinciding with a heatwave, which is prompting local authorities to start drafting plans of their own.

“Santiago doesn’t have a future without water, and we’re running out of water,” metropolitan region governor Claudio Orrego said while launching a water strategies program in the Chilean capital.

The initiative, led by the regional government, Fundación Chile and Escenarios Hídricos 2030, will aid 30 municipalities in the region to draft water strategies of their own that can be implemented within 12 months. 

Chile, where the government is highly centralized, held its first regional elections last year, though it is still debated what attributions governors should have in terms of developing projects of their own.

When BNamericas asked Orrego if his administration was considering creating a regional water agency to deal with the scarcity crisis, he said that is not currently under discussion.

“What could be reevaluated is the public institutions,” he said, stating that the country has over 50 agencies related to water management, which he called “a guarantee of failure.”

Earlier this year, the regional government presented a water rationing plan for Santiago, something that Orrego said was unthinkable just a few years ago.

At the same event, Fundación Chile’s Pablo Zamora told BNamericas that municipalities should step up water management efforts. 

“A lot of the solutions presented by Fundación Chile must be implemented at a territorial level. The apathy of municipalities sometimes prevents those solutions from achieving their objectives,” he said.

Zamora also said many businesses are currently abusing water sources, and that municipalities are not sanctioning them properly due to lack of resources and political will. 

On the possibility of a regional water agency, he said the new program announced Wednesday could serve as a testing ground to see if local players can create the necessary harmony needed for water management. 

“If this strategy fails, if we’re not capable of agreeing, we will clearly need a more centralized approach,” Zamora said.

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