Chile announces unprecedented water rationing plan as drought enters 13th year – Metro US

Rungue reservoir during a drought

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – As a record and punishing drought enters its 13th year, Chile on Monday announced an unprecedented water rationing plan for the capital of Santiago, a city of nearly 6 million people .

“A city cannot live without water,” said Claudio Orrego, the governor of the metropolitan region of Santiago, during a press conference. “And we’re in a situation unprecedented in Santiago’s 491-year history where we have to be prepared that there won’t be enough water for everyone who lives here.”

The plan includes a four-level alert system that ranges from green to red and starts with public service announcements, moves to water pressure restriction and ends with rotating water cuts of up to up to 24 hours for approximately 1.7 million customers.

The warning system is based on the capacity of the Maipo and Mapocho rivers which supply the capital with most of its water and have seen their water levels decline as the drought drags on.

The government estimates that the country’s water availability has dropped by 10% to 37% over the past 30 years and could drop another 50% in northern and central Chile by 2060.

The water deficit of the rivers, measured in liters per second, will determine whether cuts will occur every 12, 6 or 4 days. In each case, a different area would face water cuts each day.

“It’s the first time in history that Santiago has a water rationing plan due to the severity of climate change,” Orrego said. “It is important that citizens understand that climate change is here to stay. It’s not just global, it’s local.

Certain areas of the city center would be exempt due to the high concentration of capital cities. Areas supplied with water from wells or other sources other than the two rivers will also be exempt.

(Reporting by Natalia Ramos and Alexander Villegas; Editing by Mark Porter)

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