What is the urgent need to have water rationing in the V region? | Digital medium The Northern Fox

The projections for May and June will be below normal, both on the Coast and in the interior. The climatological period that began in 1991 and ended in 2020 is the driest since records have been kept, with an annual average of 286 millimeters and it continues to drop.

With concern observes the current situation of water crisis that affects the V region, the academic and director of the Center for Environmental Technologies (CETAM) of the USM, Prof. Dr. Francisco Cereceda. According to the latest water balance for the first half of this year, carried out by the ESVAL company, and which analyzes data on fallen water, snow accumulation in the mountains and the volume of the main reservoirs, the problem that affects the V region is not far away of what happens in the entire central zone after the lack of rain and, therefore, a permanence of the greatest water crisis that affects our country.

According to that report, the rain deficit in the coastal area of ​​the region reached 100% on average, with the most affected cities being Viña del Mar, Valparaíso and San Antonio, and where the Portillo station maintains a drop of 98% compared to to a normal year to date. The report also indicates that the Los Aromos reservoir barely has 31% of its volume, which would be enough to cover the population’s needs for just a few more months.

In this scenario, Professor Francisco Cereceda is clear in specifying that it will only be possible to advance in mitigation measures that are consistent over time and that avoid water rationing, “if they work collaboratively, between the different actors and if They develop public policies that are sustainable over time with specialized and first-rate knowledge.”

In this context, his years of experience as an environmental chemist and researcher allow him to assure that “the work that is being carried out from the academic field is a task that should be carried out jointly with the public and private sectors, otherwise it is very difficult to face effectively the mega drought. “The academic world has been working on this line for years, in our case we have addressed this problem by studying the relationship between atmospheric pollution and climate change, as well as its impact on the melting of glaciers and the hydrological cycle of pluvial basins. Our intention is to study these phenomena from an interdisciplinary and holistic perspective, in this sense, public policy in this matter is a must. They do not have the necessary knowledge and current data to address the water crisis at the territorial level,” he says.

The megadrought in which we are immersed, he says, has two components, one global and the other local. The global one is associated with meteorological problems triggered by climate change, aspects that have been progressively intensified in the last 15 years. However, there is a local forcing, which is related to the atmospheric pollution produced by us. In practical terms, air pollutants, such as gases and particles that we produce in cities and industrial sectors, are also playing an important role in this drought and it is something that depends on us. Some of these pollutants, such as Black Carbon (BC), which is ultimately the soot that is generated by the combustion process, are carbonaceous particles that are deposited on the snow and ice of the glaciers of our Andes mountain range, “dirtying the snow”, making it darker, whereupon its reflective properties change, lowering the albedo of the cryosphere (all white surfaces on earth: snow/ice), which acts as the planet’s cooling system. The consequences of the above is an acceleration in the melting of glaciers, an elevation of the snow line (zero level), a modification of the grain of the snow, a decrease in the seasonal duration of snow and ice, among others. negative effects that impact the complete hydrological cycle.

He adds that to study the above, two laboratories (shelters) have been installed; one in the Aconcagua Basin, in Portillo, at three thousand meters of altitude: NUNATAK-1 and in the Yeso Basin, at two thousand five hundred meters of altitude: NUNATAK-2 (NUNATAK) protruding shelter of a rock in a glacier in Inuit language of the Eskimos. “These NUNATAKS are true thermometers of the environment and climate change. They were installed several years ago in the mountain range with the purpose of verifying the changes that are taking place in the Andean cryosphere, since it is the most sensitive area that we can have to identify the behavior of the climate and therefore its impact on the hydrology. “Both basins are of special relevance since they supply drinking water to the largest number of the population of Chile.” he says.

He affirms that what happens in these basins is relevant to project the water scarcity in the central zone of the country: “We are close to having rationing in the RM and the situation in the V region is no less complex”, points out the academic. As a result of the aforementioned projects, a new hydrological-chemical model is being developed to predict the amount of snow that accumulates in the mountain range and, therefore, the amount of water in the rivers. “This new model incorporates variables that were not usually considered in traditional models, those that are related to air pollution and climate change, such as mobile albedo, deposition of particles on snow, BC, among others. The models in use today, unfortunately, are all overestimating the amount of water from environmental variables that were left with fixed values ​​of times of water abundance, so they are no longer reliable. They are not adapted to the new variables that must be considered under a scenario of increasing air pollution and current climate change”, he warns. The director of CETAM explains that the objective is precisely “that the tool that is being developed, that is, the new hydrological-chemical tool and its results are used in the public and/or private sector as a tool for efficient management of the resource. and integrated watershed management. “The ultimate goal of this model is not purely an academic and intellectual effort, but we want to transfer this knowledge developed to support the adaptation to the changes that Chile is experiencing today. At this time, numerous theses and undergraduate and postgraduate reports are being carried out within the framework of these ANID projects, some of them will allow the evaluation of various climate change scenarios, as defined by the IPCC, allowing help to plan the measures that must be adopted. to face the water crisis of the present and the future. The first version of the hydrological-chemical model may already be available in October of this year, to continue refining and adapting it in the future according to the prevailing environmental conditions”, he indicated.

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What is the urgent need to have water rationing in the V region? | Digital medium The Northern Fox

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