Copiapó Basin Library

Integrated Water Resource Management and Energy Requirements for Water Supply in the Copiapó River Basin, Chile

Author Francisco Suárez, José F. Muñoz, Bonifacio Fernández, Jean-Marc Dorsaz, Christian K. Hunter, Christos A. Karavitis and Jorge Gironás
Date 2014
Type Artículo
Contents Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion, Conclusions
Summary Population and industry growth in dry climates are fully tied to significant increase in water and energy demands. Because water affects many economic, social and environmental aspects, an interdisciplinary approach is needed to solve current and future water scarcity problems, and to minimize energy requirements in water production. Such a task requires integrated water modeling tools able to couple surface water and groundwater, which allow for managing complex basins where multiple stakeholders and water users face an intense competition for limited freshwater resources. This work develops an integrated water resource management model to investigate the water-energy nexus in reducing water stress in the Copiapó River basin, an arid, highly vulnerable basin in northern Chile. The model was utilized to characterize groundwater and surface water resources, and water demand and uses. Different management scenarios were evaluated to estimate future resource availability, and compared in terms of energy requirements and costs for desalinating seawater to eliminate the corresponding water deficit. Results show a basin facing a very complex future unless measures are adopted. When a 30% uniform reduction of water consumption is achieved, 70 GWh over the next 30 years are required to provide the energy needed to increase the available water through seawater desalination. In arid basins, this energy could be supplied by solar energy, thus addressing water shortage problems through integrated water resource management combined with new technologies of water production driven by renewable energy sources.
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