• The activity organized by Escenarios Hídricos 2030 was carried out in an online format, due to the prevention measures for the health crisis.
• With this first “Water Transition Workshop”, a multi-sector dialogue initiates. Its goal: to develop a roadmap that guarantees water availability in the area.
Over 65 representatives from the territory’s organizations and institutions interested in achieving a responsible and sustainable use of the water that flows into the Maipo River participated in the first “Maipo Water Transition” workshop held on Thursday, April 2. The meeting was called by the Escenarios Hídricos 2030 (EH2030, Water Scenarios 2030) initiative, to collectively build a roadmap that will achieve water security in this river basin, covering territories in the Valparaíso, Metropolitan, and O’Higgins regions.
The activity took place despite the health crisis caused by the Covid-19, changing from the in-person mode to a virtual format, and to which the guests entered without major difficulties. Among the attendees the event counted with the participation of local community representatives such as rural potable water programs (RPW), surveillance boards, cooperatives, municipalities, NGOs, State institutions, as well as the private sectors and academia.
The meeting kept going for 4 hours and was divided into 2 blocks. The first part, the EH2030 technical team presented the baseline for the basin, that is, the current situation of the four strategic axes in which progress is expected: management and institutionality, water ecosystems, water uses and water sources. Subsequently, the participants were divided into 4 groups, according to the geographical sector of the basin – upper, lower middle north, lower middle south, and urban center – where they proceeded to review and validate the water problems and associated causes identified in each zone. This analysis will allow generating a shared baseline to later build the roadmap.
Gladys Contreras, president of the potable water committee Las Canteras in the Colina district, considered that it is very important to move forward improving the institutionality of water. “The fact that we have to concur to so many agencies, and that they don’t seem to agree with each other, makes things take much longer to happen. For instance, our RPW is asking for a catchment change -request presented in September at the Governor’s Office- so that it could be entered into the DGA (Dirección General de Aguas, or the Chilean General Water Directorate), and we are still waiting for the DOH (Dirección de Obras Hidráulicas, or the Chilean Directorate of Hydraulic Works) to give us permission”.
“We need faster solutions. We have been applying for an overall improvement of the RPWs for 4 years now, we have been admitted in the Ministry of Social Development, but it takes way too long,” regretfully stated the Colina leader.
Luis Catalán, general secretary of the rural potable water cooperative Hospital- Champa, in the commune of Paine, was satisfied with the dynamics of the workshops. He also underscored the importance to translate this work into concrete measures, so it does not remain only on paper. “The context was very well explained and the goals of what we are looking for are very clear through the four programmatic lines”.
In Catalán’s opinion, there are at least two aspects that aggravate the situation of water scarcity in his area: the lack of awareness of some users, who indiscriminately occupy the resource in pools and pastures; and State bureaucracy, which prevents the implementation of solutions when they are required. “The situation is urgent. For the RPWs, for the farmers (…), the measures are needed today, not tomorrow”.
Manuel Contreras, Executive Director of the Centro de Ecología Aplicada (CEA, Center for Applied Ecology), presented the baseline of the water ecosystems axis: “In the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the Maipo Basin there are local and global pressures that are affecting the conditions of the natural ecosystems and, in their great majority, a significant change in their ecological status has been detected. Particularly, the aquatic systems present modifications in quantity -in terms of reduction of their surface area and volume- and in quality -in terms of the physiochemical characteristics of the water-, which has been graphically shown with an increase in the eutrophic state of the systems”.
“We propose the implementation of a territorial strategy that considers conservation and restoration, with an adaptative approach and a very important emphasis on preserving the resource,” concluded Contreras.
The results of this workshop and other similar activities will enable EH2030 to develop a roadmap for the basin, that is, to establish an optimal combination of measures, actions, and solutions that can be applied in the short, medium, and long term to ensure the availability of water required for human well-being and socio-economic development in the Maipo River area.
The coordinator of EH2030 for the Maipo River Basin, Ulrike Broschek, explained that it is necessary to continue advancing in this process, despite the circumstances the country is going through. “The urgency of the water problem forces us to maintain all efforts to promote a prompt implementation of measures that will lead us to achieve sustainability of the resource. That is why, using the technology at our disposal, we are moving ahead with this workshop, noting that there is great interest, since we had representatives from all over the territory from the highest area to the outfall,” she explained.
For his part, Diego Luna, Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano’s representative in Chile, and dialogue facilitator, valued this first Maipo’s working session, pointing out that “The vision from the basins is fundamental to advance towards a water transition in Chile, proposing collective and collaborative solutions, based on local knowledge and the needs of management and use of water resources in the territories”.
EH2030 is an initiative coordinated by Fundación Chile, Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano, and Fundación Avina, developed with the financial support of Zomalab, IDB, and CORFO’s Innova Chile, which in the past three years, have generated an updated information database on the country’s water situation, making it possible to understand which territories are most affected and, on from there on, develop concrete proposals to begin a transition to water security.
The participants were invited to the next workshop “Maipo Water Transition”, to be held on May 28, where a wide range of measures applicable to the territory will be presented, such as conservation and restoration, nature-based solutions, water efficiency, strategic use and new water sources.