Chile’s 14-year megadrought is straining freshwater resources to breaking point, and by 2021, the fourth driest year on record, more than half of the population will be suffering from severe water scarcity.
Protesters in Chile demanded better pensions and healthcare reform and a rewrite of Chile’s 1981 water code, allowing people to buy and sell water allocations like stocks.
Chile’s economy is built on water-intensive, extractivist industries, principally mining, forestry, and agriculture, and only 2% of Chile’s water is set aside for human consumption.
Across central and southern Chile, watersheds are in danger of suffering the same fate as Lake Aculeo. President Boric signed a reform to the 1981 water code in April 2021.
Boric, 36, appointed a renowned climate scientist as his environment minister, but a recent paper found that the lake Aculeo, once a tourism hotspot, was wiped off the map in less than a decade.
Now, jetties and slipways sit uselessly meters above the dry mud, and restaurants and campsites sit dry and abandoned.
In 2010, large agricultural plantations and private estates legally acquired the water feeding the lake. Local farmers were forced to move to Santiago or find work in the gated holiday communities.
Chile’s new draft constitution declares that water must be protected in all its states and phases and is essential for life and nature. It will be put to a referendum on 4 September.
Up in the United States:
Forty Million people depend on Lake Powell, Lake Mead, and The Colorado River for their drinking water. That water supply is rapidly dwindling, with both lakes hitting 24-year record lows this year.
While Nevada has already been ripping out all non-functional grass and fully recycling Las Vegas resorts water use, other states in the region are far behind. With California still using record levels of water. Water that isn’t there to go around.
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