The year of the reservoirs? – The Discussion 2024-02-27 21:04:10

Ñuble is one of the three regions of Chile that proportionally allocates the highest percentage of water use for irrigation in the entire country, so it is highly relevant to analyze the efficiency with which this natural resource is being managed, since the relationship between Its correct use and the performance of crops and food production is widely proven.

In this sense, modernization, the use of water, its reuse in other activities, the education and training of farmers regarding new irrigation modalities, allow greater efficiency and, therefore, greater care. Progress has been made in that. The role of the private sector, SMEs and consulting firms, as well as universities and state agencies, has been very relevant.

But where the same has not happened is with the accumulation works, despite the fact that by 2040 a 40% decrease in precipitation is projected in the central-southern area and an increase in temperatures of between 2 and 5 degrees towards the end of this century, which will cause snow storage, which is the country’s true natural reservoir, to gradually decrease.

This year, however, that picture could change, since the three most important reservoir projects in the region are in the defining stages.

The Punilla

The most advanced is La Punilla, despite the fact that the bidding process, which began in November 2021, has been postponed 5 times. But now the scenario is different. A greater will is perceived on the part of the political authorities, which has been evident in the statements of the Minister of Public Works, Jéssica López, and even the President of the Republic himself, Gabriel Boric.

Last year the Government reactivated it and set the opening of technical offers for April 19, 2024 and the opening of economic offers for May 17. The successive deadline extensions during 2022 and 2023 sought to give the Executive time to reevaluate the project, addressing the questions of neighbors, environmentalists and political representatives, however, the head of the MOP herself assured, last June, in Chillán, not only that The government confirms its willingness to carry out the project, but also that the design of the work will not undergo modifications, without prejudice to implementing new compensations requested by the San Fabián organizations and the municipality.


The Zapallar reservoir (Diguillín River), meanwhile, has also had a new boost in the current administration, after it decided to prioritize it and finance it directly with fiscal resources, and not through the concession system, as defined in the government of Sebastián Piñera . Furthermore, on January 21, it took an important step by approving its Environmental Impact Study, after more than three years of processing.

This reservoir seeks to capture excess water during the four months when the river shows the highest flow, storing nearly 80 million cubic meters of water. In addition, it guarantees human consumption, strengthens Rural Health Services (SSR), provides water to fight forest fires and controls river flooding, preventing overflows and floods.

“We understand that this is a strategic work for the region and that it also has the support of our government, because it will allow the irrigation of some 10 thousand hectares that are currently dryland, which will benefit more than 1,200 farmers. However, we are also working to reduce the social impact and improve compensation, mainly for the 12 families directly affected. We understand that it is an important work for Ñuble and that is why it must be carried out respecting people and communities,” commented the regional presidential delegate of Ñuble, Anwar Farrán Veloso, who also had to head the Environmental Assessment Commission (Coeva). , in which the Environmental Impact Study was approved with conditions. Such conditions are associated, precisely, with economic and environmental compensation for the affected communities and areas, and for their implementation, working commissions were created that will begin to operate at the end of this month.


Finally, the Chillán reservoir, which will store 210 million cubic meters (a third of La Punilla’s capacity) and will irrigate 20 thousand hectares of an area that combines traditional and export agriculture, is concluding its feasibility and engineering studies, which should be delivered in March by the company Miguel Nenadovich y Cía Ltda, which was awarded this consultancy in 2021 for an amount of more than $3.6 billion. In fact, it is likely that in mid-March the Chillán River Surveillance Board will summon the water shareholders of that organization to provide details of the study that – as has emerged – would be positive in terms of recommending its feasibility and continuing with the stage. following, referring to its Environmental Impact Study.

This reservoir – which, like Zapallar, will be financed by the State – will be located on the Chillán River, in the Los Pellines sector, in Pinto, and will have a storage capacity of 210 million cubic meters, benefiting 20,650 hectares, of which 14,979 hectares will be improved and 5,671 hectares are new, with irrigation security of 85%, covering approximately 2 thousand properties of small and medium-sized farmers in Coihueco, Pinto, Chillán, Chillán Viejo and even producers from the northern zone would be favored. of Bulnes.

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