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Chile looks to tighten oversight of water utilities

  • Chile looks to tighten oversight of water utilities

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Water utilities in Chile will be obliged to invest to reduce non-revenue water, which in some areas of the country is up to 30%. If the utilities do not meet certain goals, they will face sanctions.

During the II Expo Agua Santiago event, Jorge Rivas, the head of water services regulator (Servicios Sanitarios de la República de Chile (SISS)), told BN Americas: “We have been through 14 years of water scarcity, and water utilities can’t afford to lose water.”

The non-billed water includes, according to Rivas, water lost due to infrastructure failure, water extracted illegally, and water delivered to informal settlements by the government.

All utilities in the country will have specific goals assigned to them and will go into effect in 2023 following two years of negotiations between SISS and the operators.

According to Rivas, the country must first focus on improving water management before it looks into new water sources, for example, desalination and water reuse, as these take a long time to develop and are more expensive, meaning bigger water bills for the population.

“It could increase bills by 50%, 70% or 100%. Since they are so expensive, this unfortunately turns into a socio-political issue,” he said.

Rivas also added that a bill to reform the water utilities law, which has been stalled for two years amidst the constitutional reform process and the pandemic, would give regulators more clarity to apply sanctions.

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