A private corporation is exporting water from Chile during the fourth year of a drought.
Chilean Ambassador Jean Paul Tarud was quoted in Qatar as saying, “Chile has some of the largest fresh water export capabilities in the world,” and that Chile was exporting fresh water to Qatar. Qatar has a serious shortage of water and is implementing multiple projects to attain the water needed by its people. After the quotes sparked a public outcry in Chile, which is suffering from water scarcity in several regions, Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno assured Chileans that the project is a private enterprise and not a government one.
While Minister Moreno’s point is probably that tax dollars are not being used to benefit a foreign country, his assurances seem to miss the point. Chile is experiencing their fourth year of a severe drought. In the Coquimbo region, reservoirs have only four percent of the water they should have. Agricultural lands are declining in productivity. Population in the region has dropped by 20% as people are no longer able to make a living.
34% of Chile’s power is generated from hydroelectric sources. With some rivers running at just over half their normal rate, there is not enough water flow to produce electricity. Shortages in energy will affect Chile’s economy as businesses have to cut hours.
Chile’s government spent US$152 million last year building reservoirs and seeding clouds. Even if the Chilean government isn’t spending tax dollars to ship the water internationally, they’ve certainly invested a great deal in making sure it’s there. The private company is taking advantage of the government programs and enjoying the profit.
Salt plain in Chile photo via Shutterstock