Precipitation in Chile to drop significantly in coming years

Photo credit: Reuters

A view of the Runge reservoir in the town of Runge, some 60 km (37 miles) north of Santiago February 3, 2012. CREDIT: REUTERS/IVAN ALVARADO

Chile says drought here to stay, lays out plan to ensure water

San Pedro de Atacama, Atacama Desert, New Content 2014 33, Desolate, Drought -
San Pedro de Atacama, Atacama Desert, New Content 2014 33, Desolate, Drought –

With no end in sight to a drought that has blighted Chile for the last several years, the government will invest in desalinization plants and reservoirs to ensure access to potable water, President Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday.

The drought, which began in 2007, is hampering copper production in the world’s top exporter, exacerbating forest fires, driving energy prices higher and impacting agriculture.

In the usually lush and verdant south January was one of the driest since records began, with many places receiving zero rainfall. In the north of the country, home to the Atacama Desert, already the driest in the world, climatologists fear the spread of desertification.

Scientists say there is a long-term trend of increasingly dry conditions, linked to climate change.

“Faced with this critical situation, there is no choice but to assume that the lack of water resources is a reality that is here to stay and that puts at risk the development of important regions of our country,” Bachelet said in a televised speech.

Some $170 million will be invested in 2015 to access underground water sources, build and upgrade canals and improve irrigation systems, she said.

Read the full article: Reuters

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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