Here’s a very brief article that’s almost a year old, yet is as important and vital as one that may have been reported yesterday. We do live in a global economy, and probably think more globally than at any time in our history, mostly due to the continuous stream of global news. Yet, we each also live in a locality. And although an issue such as this one on water rationing may not seem applicable, as “it’s over there, and it’ll never happen here,” as the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. It’s best to plan before panic sets in.
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Chile announces unprecedented plan to
ration water as drought enters 13th year
Rivers that supply Santiago with water are running low,
forcing rotating cuts to different parts of the city.
Reuters in Santiago
11 Apr 2022
As a punishing, record-breaking drought enters its 13th year, Chile has announced an unprecedented plan to ration water for the capital of Santiago, a city of nearly 6 million. Claudio Orrego, the governor of the Santiago metropolitan region, said in a press conference …
“A city can’t live without water. And
we’re in an unprecedented situation
in Santiago’s 491-year history where
we have to prepare for there to not be
enough water for everyone who lives here.”
The plan features a four-tier alert system that goes from green to red and starts with public service announcements, moves on to restricting water pressure and ends with rotating water cuts of up to 24 hours for about 1.7 million customers.
The alert system is based on the capacity of the Maipo and Mapocho rivers, which supply the capital with most of its water and have seen dwindling water levels as the drought drags on.
The government estimates that the country’s water availability has dropped 10% to 37% over the last 30 years and could drop another 50% in northern and central Chile by 2060.
The water deficit in the rivers, measured in liters per second, will determine if cuts will take place every 12, six or four days. In each case, a different area would face water cuts each day. Orrego said …
“This is the first time in history that
Santiago has a water rationing plan
due to the severity of climate change.
It’s important for citizens to under-
stand that climate change is here to
stay. It’s not just global, it’s local.”
Areas fed by well water or other sources besides the two rivers will be exempt from the cuts.
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In reading this report, I was impressed that a mayor stepped forward to declare a move that was likely unpopular but essential for the survival of the city. I was also impressed at the mayor’s recognition of the climate change problem as “here to stay” – an issue that still has deniers among political leaders in the U.S. – and his linking of a global issue to his city. Was he at risk of being shot by rioters, as is happening elsewhere?
In the U.S., we have population shifts to the southwest, where water is scarcest. The underground aquifer, the Ogallala, is reported to be only 20% of what it was. And mainstay rivers such as the Colorado or Rio Grande, are increasingly running drier. A few years ago, a town in Colorado did run dry, and water had to be trucked to it “until the rains came.” But that was seen as an anomaly, and most have forgotten about it. And the city with the highest per capita water use, Las Vegas, lies in a desert!
Now, reports still creep into the news “here and there,” about towns running out of water. But no long-term solutions for solving these water problems are reported.
“Mother Nature isn’t going to tell us where we can live!”
Do we even need to remove school book references to civilizations that ran out of water and vanished, so citizens won’t rebel and will just die quietly?
I’m a bit caustic this morning, as I learned of Citizens for Responsible Solar, a group that’s leading the rejection of solar power in rural communities. (Where is solar irresponsible?) I understand that people who produce oil and make their living from oil products want to maintain their businesses. But further profit increases at the expense of Earth, the planet we all need and enjoy, seem overly greedy and also short-sighted. Departing from my mood, here are D’s comments …
“We applaud the mayor of Santiago for looking ahead and acting in response to a future crisis. It is a lesson for all of us.
“Each and every person lives within an ecosystem that is fragile in different ways. And each person in their different ecosystems needs to determine what can be done to mitigate the fragility in which they live.
“Trina and Stuart picked Virginia to develop their Garden Atriums net zero sustainable community because water is fairly abundant. And yet, oceans are rising and hurricanes are potential hazards, so they built their homes up, and they designed them to be self-sustaining to allow the fragilities to be mostly mitigated. Our question to each reader is:
“What do you need to prepare for?
“And how can you become more
in tune with your local ecosystem?
The article didn’t say why the rivers were drying up. Was it purely due to diminished melting of snow from the Andes? Could farmers shift to Israeli drip-irrigation systems, so they could provide sufficient food with less water? Could homes begin to use more water-efficient appliances or native landscape materials that don’t require watering, as grass lawns do? Could they install rainwater harvesting systems? Or is 6 million simply too many people for the resources Santiago has?