Chile plans water rationing in capital after 12 years of drought

Officials say the amount of rainfall during the southern hemisphere winter will decide whether rationing needed.

Dried-up El Yeso Reservoir, located in the Andes, in San Jose de Maipo, Chile.
The dried-up El Yeso Reservoir, located in the Andes; Chile has been in drought for 12 years [File: Javier Torres/AFP]

Authorities in Chile have announced possible plans to ration water in the capital Santiago due to a drought that has lasted more than a decade.

“We have had 12 years of drought, therefore it’s quite likely that we will have this type of situation,” said the governor’s office in Santiago.

The plan has four stages. The first one, called the ‘Green Alert’, emphasises water conservation and prioritises the use of groundwater.

Then comes the ‘Preventive Early Warning’ and ‘Yellow’ stages, which stipulate a reduction in water pressure, while actual water rationing is applied only when the ‘Red Alert’ is declared.

If water cuts are applied, they will just be in one sector of the city at a time, and for a maximum of 24 hours, according to the authorities.

The programme covers some 142,000 households that are supplied by the Mapocho River, which crosses the city from east to west, and a further 1,545,000 dwellings that are supplied by the Maipo River, which feeds the communes in the south of the city, home to 7.1 million inhabitants.

Whether or not the government ends up rationing water in the capital will depend on the levels of southern winter rainfall, officials said.

Source: AFP