Water crisis in petorca basin, Chile: The combined effects of a mega-drought and water management

ARIEL ANDRES MUÑOZ NAVARRO, Karin Klock-Barría, Camila Alvarez-Garreton, Isabella Aguilera-Betti, Álvaro González-Reyes, José A. Lastra, ROBERTO ORLANDO CHAVEZ OYANADEL, Pilar Barría, Duncan Christie, Moises Rojas-Badilla, Carlos Lequesne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since 2010, Chile has experienced one of the most severe droughts over the last century, the so-called mega-drought (MD). The MD conditions, combined with intensive agricultural activities and the current water management system, have led to water scarcity problems in Mediterranean and Semi-arid regions of Chile. An emblematic case is the Petorca basin, where a water crisis is undergone. To characterize this crisis, we analyzed water provision by using tree-ring records, remote sensing, instrumental data, and allocated water rights within the basin. Results indicate that the MD is the most severe dry period over the last 700-years of streamflow reconstruction. During the MD, streamflow and water bodies of the upper parts of the basin have been less affected than mid and low areas of this valley, where consumptive withdrawals reach up to 18% of the mean annual precipitation. This extracted volume is similar to the MD mean annual precipitation deficits. The impacts of the current drought, along with the drier climate projections for Central Chile, emphasize the urgency for faster policy changes related to water provision. Climate change adaptation plans and policies should enhance the current monitoring network and the public control of water use to secure the water access for inhabitants and productive activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number648
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Conflicts for water
  • Drought
  • Streamflow reconstruction
  • Water access
  • Water management
  • Water scarcity

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