Óscar Cristi, Water Director-General at the Ministry of Public Works of Chile, closed the last session on investment plans in Latin America held at INVESTAGUA on April 20.
He started his talk emphasising that “Chile is one of the countries most affected by climate change”; it has been particularly impacted by a severe drought lasting now ten years.
The Directorate General for Water (DGA), with a core mission to contribute to water security in the country in a context of increasing disparity between supply and demand, strives to provide legal certainty and integrate efficient management models and new technologies into their activity. Cristi noted that water resources may diminish by 25-50% in the coming decades; the Chilean government is very concerned about this and convened the National Water Roundtable in October of 2019.
Concerning water security, human consumption is the priority use, and services are divided into two areas: rural water services, with investments in rural drinking water amounting to $342 million for the period 2020-2021 (185% higher than the average for 2010-19); and urban water services with investments of $700 million during 2019-2023. Furthermore, he mentioned the strategic basin management plans of the DGA - they expect to develop 61 plans out of 101 basins in the country by 2022 - as well as the Water Infrastructure Investment Plans (PIIH) of the Ministry of Public Works for 2050. The latter comprise a project portfolio available at the regional level, with water resource and economic assessments, including more than 700 rural drinking water projects and 243 projects to generate water in 38 basins.
Moreover, he stressed the efforts related to water quality and ecosystems, specially concerning the protection of groundwater aquifers, related to water rights for non-consumptive purposes such as conservation or tourism, and the protection of urban wetlands and glaciers. Another area of work, according to Mr Cristi, is the legal and institutional framework, including proposed legislation to create a water resources undersecretariat, as well as other bodies with water resource responsibilities, based on a new Water Resources Policy.