Copiapó Basin Library

Water Use and Existing Experience on Water Recycling and Reuse Applications in Copiapó River Basin

Author Jorge Gironás
Type Informe
Contents General Information, Water Resources Information, Existing Experience on Water Recycling and Reuse (WR&R) Applications, Potential for future WR&R implementation in the Area,
Summary The Copiapó River Basin is located in the Atacama region of Chile and has a semiarid climate with an average annual precipitation of 28 mm. The population of the Copiapó River Basin has increased exponentially during the last 40 years reaching almost 200’000 inhabitants in 2012, and will face a rapid development in the next 20 years driven mostly by the development of the mining industry. The main economic activities and water users of the region are agriculture and mining. The consumption is estimated to be around 153 million of m3 for the agriculture sector, 11 millions of m3 for the mining industry and around 17 million of m3 for domestic use The water demand is met using all surface water resources of the region (the entire Copiapó river flow is used for irrigation) and groundwater resources. Unfortunately the increase of the demand has led to a situation where the intakes from the aquifer is bigger than the recharge (6’000 L/s against 4’000 L/s) which cause a decrease of the volume stored in the aquifer and a situation of water scarcity. The main water management problem in the region is that too many water rights have been granted during the last decades and that not all of them have been registered to the water agency. Between 20,000 and 25,000 l/s of water rights have been distributed but only 6’000 l/s are actually exploited by end-users
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