The water situation in Latin America is facing challenges such as climate change, emerging pollutants and overexploitation of urban water sources due to leaks in supply networks. However, governments and private enterprises are taking action to address these challenges..
Governments, and public and private organisations in Latin America are aware of the challenges posed by climate change, population growth and economic and industrial development, and the associated implications for drinking water access and supply. They are, therefore, planning strategic investments aimed at fostering desalination, water treatment, and wastewater treatment for reuse and/or consumption, as viable alternatives to mitigate limited access to water.
The Latin American Association of Desalination and Water Reuse (ALADYR) is supporting this effort through the creation of spaces and events for the purposes of training and updating of knowledge. The aim is to foster the implementation of these alternatives within the framework of sustainability and social benefit standards. One of these events was held on March 20 and 21 in Buenos Aires, and another will be held on May 22 and 23 in the city of Salvador in Brazil. 31% of the worlds freshwater reserves are in Latin America.
By comparison, Asia, home to 60% of the world’s population, only has 28% of the world’s freshwater resources. This contrast indicates that the problems of water supply to the population in Latin America is a result of the weakness of some countries in the region in terms of efficient water resource management.
Moreover, in general terms, countries from this part of the world lose almost half of their water due to leaks in supply networks, which leads to overexploitation of resources and higher costs.
The water sector is beginning to view with concern the increasing presence of elements such as pharmaceuticals, drugs and microplastics in freshwater sources. These are known as emerging pollutants and recent research focuses on how to treat them.
Although Latin America is facing a number of challenges in order to meet the demand for water, different developments and projects are being undertaken to ensure that solutions to
these problems will be found.
Latin American countries must invest millions of dollars to increase and improve the supply of water, and integrate the aforementioned alternatives. And this must be done in tandem with environmental measures. The following figures, provided by public authorities demonstrate that this is happening:
• Mexico 2019 – Conagua – 2,560 million dollars.
• Peru 2019 – Ministry of Housing – 644 million dollars.
• In Brazil, the president, Jair Bolsonaro, has openly expressed
his interest in desalination. The annual 2019 budget of the
Brazilian Ministry of the Treasury envisages the allocation of
225 million dollars for sanitation alone and over 500 million
US dollars for water resources.
• Argentina 2019 – Ministry of the Treasury – 614 million dollars.
• Chile 2019 – Ministry of the Treasury – 197 million dollars.
Juan Miguel Pinto
President of the Latin American Association of Desalination and Water Reuse (ALADYR)