PUBLIC Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said his ministry is doing a feasibility study to determine whether the controversial, and now abandoned, Beetham Wastewater Reuse Plant (BWRP) can be made operational.
Chilean water utility Aguas Antofagasta plans to keep expanding its desalination capacity both in regional capital Antofagasta and the municipality of Tocopilla, despite criticism of the alleged environmental impact of brine discharges into the sea.
In December, the company received environmental approval for a US$115mn project to increase the capacity of its plant (in photo) in Antofagasta city to over 1,600l/s, and expects to have the expansion ready by late 2023 or early 2024, the firm’s operations manager Cristián Jiménez told BNamericas at the Desalination Latin America congress held by Vostock Capital.
And that is making some short-term investors to await these results to see which road to take,” Carlos Foxley, chairman of Chilean desalination association Acades, told BNamericas. He said two regulatory pushes are happening in parallel.
One in the constitutional convention, which drafts a new constitution, is focused on overall water management, while the second push comes from the senate and concerns a desalination bill submitted by the previous administration.
The Pacific Ocean could quench the thirst caused by 10 years of drought in Chile, but the operation of desalination plants of various sizes has a long way to go to become sustainable and to serve society as a whole rather than just corporations.
Some twenty of these plants are already in operation providing desalinated water to small fishing communities, another three to the inhabitants of various municipalities and eight more to large mining companies, all but one of which are concentrated in Chile’s arid North.
The extensive development and availability of solar and wind energy has lowered the operating cost of desalinating and purifying seawater, which offers hope for a stable supply of water in this Southern Cone country with 4,270 kilometers of coastline.
The Water and Sewerage Authority advises customers in parts of Central and South-West Trinidad, who are presently experiencing low water pressures or no water that, this is as a result of the shutdown of the Point Lisas Desalination Plant, due to what has been described as raw water quality issues.
However, a time for restarting the plant has not been given. As such, a limited truck-borne water service will be available with priority given to special homes, health care and government institutions.
Chilean lawmakers are debating how to regulate the increasing number of desalination plants in the country, noting that there are no frameworks for their environmental assessment, use of maritime concessions and their position within the country’s overall water strategy.
A motion currently being reviewed by the senate’s water resources committee would declare desalinated water an asset for public use, prioritize it for human consumption, set requirements to request maritime concessions and establish a national strategy for the sector that would create incentives for technological innovation and development.
During the legislative discussion, senator Isabel Allende said that the bill could be improved, but that “we’re heading down the right path,” as it would create regulations “that don’t currently exist, which is the worst-case scenario.”
A twenty-meter high (60 feet) tower of spiraling nets will be unveiled this summer in the city as a solution to the threat which a warming climate poses to the shaky foundations of water availability in Lima.
Aside from glacial runoff from the Andes, and water from the stressed Rímac River, Peru’s capital city accumulates just one inch of rain a year. The city sees high annual temperatures, and water consumption rates, despite being located in a desert, are higher than world averages.