Situation of the Basin

July 14th, 2016

The Rapel basin is a rich hydrographic system that feed the different used for water in the O’Higgins Region. This system is formed by the Rapel river and its affluents, the Cachapoal and Tinguiririca rivers, with come together in Las Juntas which is located in the Mountain Range of the Coast.

The regional productive activities that consume the most water are agriculture (93%) and mining (6%)1, which are also the ones that most contribute to the regional economy. Actually, while agriculture contributed 15% of the regional PIB (GDP), mining contributed with a 19%2. The water resources of the basin are also for human use, hydroelectricity, industrial activities and to sustain healthy ecosystems.

Traditionally, the availability of water in the basin has allowed for the development of the aforementioned activities without greater difficulties. However, it is estimated that water demand in the centre-north and centre-south will rise in all economic sectors: agriculture, mining, energy, citizens, tourism, etc3. Additionally, water supply in the region is also being affected; a decrease of 20-30% is predicted in average rainfall towards the end of the XXI Century4 and furthermore, air quality is diminishing due to the growing domestic and industrial discharges and contamination from pesticides5. In view of this scenario, the basin faces an important challenge in water management, specially if the region what to consolidate itself as a agrifood power. If an anticipated water management is not carried out, it is probable that in the medium term, water will begin to be scarce, which will lead to social conflicts, an environment deterioration of ecosystems and to economic inefficiencies. Therefore, it is essential to consolidate an integrated management of water resources in this area.

Currently, from its vast and global experience, CSIRO can deliver answers from applied science to generate spaces for a better governance and water management that consider local needs and the development of world class technological tools.


1. Fundación Chile (2015), Reporte Huella Hídrica en Chile: sectores prioritarios del a cuenca del río Rapel

2. Banco Central de Chile (2015),

3. Jiménez, J.P., Plan Maestro de Gestión de Recursos Hídricos Región de O’Higgins, DGA, 2012

4. FCCyT, Diagnóstico del Agua en las Américas, 2012

5. Fundación Chile (2015), Reporte Huella Hídrica en Chile: sectores prioritarios del a cuenca del río Rapel