Huasco River Basin (Chile)

Water Users/ Stakeholders

In 2000, the World Resources Institute characterized Chilean water consumption as widely dominated by the agricultural sector. Looking at the Huasco watershed, current results of CAZALAC (2012) indicate no change in that respect. Once, only human use is accounted for (excluding nature as a net consumer of water), agriculture represents 85% of total water consumption. Since the country economically still relies strongly on the distribution of primary goods such as agricultural and mining products, water consumption is concentrated in these sectors. Even though it is one of the most developed countries in South-America, sectoral water consumption in general shows values of a development country, with agriculture representing around 80% (UNEP, 2008).

 

Water Quality  

Water quality in the basin is mainly influenced by the following factors (DGA, 2009): 

  • Extensive agricultural activities, especially table grape production above Santa Juana Dam and of olives, fruit trees and vegetables from Vallenar towards Huasco. 
  • Large-scale agro-industrial projects (Agrosuper) 
  • Mining projects in the Andean mountain range towards Argentine (Barrick, El Morro). 

According to the last water quality analysis of CONAMA in 2010, most water quality values stay below the national limit10. Minor problems evolve from low water conductivity throughout the whole basin and occasional nitrite excess in some up-stream sections (Núnez & Cortés, 2011). However, water quality may be an issue in the near future, since mining and agro-industrial projects are being developed and will come to full productivity in 2013.

 

References and further reading:

Agrosuper (2006) Declaracion de Impacto Ambiental - Modificación Proyecto Agroindustrial del Valle del Huasco: Planta Rendering, Planta, Vallenar. 

Aguilera, G., Pouilly, M. (2011) Iniciativa Agua y la Naturaleza (WANI), Vallenar, Huasco, Chile 

Bitar, S., Weisner, R., Atenas, M., Musalem, M., Zenteno, P., López, A., Mardones, C., et al. (2009) Análisis de Impacto Económico y Social de Anteproyecto de Normas Secundarias de Calidad - Cuenca Río Huasco, Santiago. 

Cepeda, J., Fiebig, M., Morales, H., Salas, S. (2004) Description of the Elqui River Basin, La Serena. 

DGA (2004) Cuenca del Rio Huasco: Diagnostico y clasificacion de los cursos y cuerpos de agua segun objectivos de calidad, p. 105. 

Fernández, J., Novoa, E., Córdova, A., Salvatierra, A., Sierra, C., Vásquez, C., Jimena, C., et al. (2008) Caracterización Textural de Suelos: Valle del Río Huasco, La Serena. 

Gonzáles Aravena, V. (2011) Embalse Santa Juana y la Administración de las Aguas de la Cuenca del Río Huasco, Vallenar. 

NSW (2010) Returning environmental flows to the Snowy River: An overview of water recovery, management and delivery of increased flows, Office, Sydney. 

Núnez, J., Cortés, A. (2011) Modelo Para la Gestion Hidrica e la Cuenca de Huasco: Evaluacion de Caudal Ambiental y Valoracion de Servicios Hidrologicos, La Serena, Chile. 

Núñez, J., Soto, G., Guitierrez, S., Barrera Martínez, L., Pizarro, I., & Wagnitz, P. (2012) Proyecto Desarrollo de un Modelo Para La Gestión Hídrica Sustentable del Valle del Huasco, Mediante la Evaluación de Caudales Ambientales y la Valoración Económica-Social de los Servicios Hidrológicos, Informe Final, La Serena, Chile. 

Pizarro Barraza, I. (2012) Geomorfologia Cuenca Huasco, La Serena. 

Pouilly, M., Aguilera, G. (2012) Evaluación preliminar de caudales ecológicos en la cuenca del río Huasco (Chile) mediante la simulación del hábitat físico del pejerrey Basilichthys microlepidotus y el camarón de río Cryphiops caementarius, Paris. 

Pti (2010) Agricultura en el valle del huasco, Vallenar. 

Pti-CORFO (2008) Plan Terretorial Estratégico en el àmbito Productivo en la Provincia de Huasco: Informe Final, Vallenar. 

Stehr, D., Álvarez, G., Chávez, A., Isensee, P., Canepa, B., Acevedo, J., Bórques, M., et al. (2006) Aplicación de Metodologías para Determinar la Eficiencia de Uso del Agua: Estudio de Caso en la Región de Coquimbo, Coquimbo: Gobierno Regional - Region de Coquimbo.  

Wagnitz, P. (2012) Cost-benefit analysis regarding environmental flow implementation in the semi-arid Huasco watershed, northern Chile, La Serena. 

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