He Lima Drinking Water and Sewer Service (Sedapal) reported this Saturday that “the sediment cleaning work” carried out by the multinational Enel at the Huampaní hydroelectric plant, located on the Central Highway, could generate a shortage of drinking water in Lima and Callao.
Through a statement, the state company indicated that the flow of the Rímac river, which feeds the installation, “will be affected by losses, due to the pollution generated by infiltration, as well as the collection of the V intakes.” Consequently, “water production for the city of Lima will be at risk.”
“Given the critical levels of the regulatory ponds, where the water is stored after the pretreatment process, Sedapal asked Enel to reschedule the works (…), since it could affect the supply of drinking water to users. However, the company “chose to carry out the work,” he said.
He added that, due to contamination in the flow, “the collection of water has also been interrupted, which directly affects the production and distribution of the liquid element in Lima and Callao”. Faced with this panorama, Sedapal has activated a contingency plan “to ensure the continuity of the service” and called on “the population to make responsible use until this situation is resolved.”
Enel clarified, however, that its actions are part of a preventive plan of which even the National Water Authority (ANA) was aware. “Among the tasks that would be carried out (these days) is the removal of rocks and clearing the Rímac to prevent its overflowing in the event of an increase in flow,” reads a statement in response to the state firm.
He also mentioned that the work began at 6:00 a.m., although four hours later he received Sedapal’s request to suspend it. “At his request, we immediately proceeded to stop the activities and informed him (…) We must also indicate that at this time there are different entities that, like us, are carrying out cleaning activities in the river bed. All of these are necessary actions of preparation for the next Niño,” he continued.
Last August, the president of the board of directors of Sedapal, Hector Piscoyawarned that the capital suffers from water stress because rainfall was reduced this year compared to previous periods due to the climate phenomenon.
“Neighbors of Lima and Callao, I ask you to save water because later it could be too late with consequences that we do not want,” he said in an interview with the Sunday newspaper. Final point. He also pointed out that the lagoons that provide water to Lima, such as Huascacocha and Marcapomacocha, have faced a reduction in their capacity by 30%.
According to Sedapal, in an ideal year, all the dams would be able to store around 331 million cubic meters of water. However, to date, only 70% of that amount has been stored. For his part, the head of the National Center for Stimulation, Prevention and Disaster Reduction (Cenepred), Miguel Yamasakirecalled that Lima is the second largest city in the world located in a desert, and stressed the importance of managing the resource efficiently.
Alberto Cairampoma, professor at the Catholic University and author of the book Public Drinking Water and Sanitation Services in Peru, pointed out to Infobae Peru that the situation, even without El Niño, is worrying.
“In Lima there are more than 635 thousand people (6% of the population) who do not have drinking water,” so they have to buy water from tanker trucks, “sometimes at a higher price,” he said.
History reveals that every time the phenomenon occurred, with abundant rains, civilizations suffered and even disappeared, swept away by the huaicos and the economic and social destruction they caused.
Now, several of the largest infrastructure works underway seek precisely to bring water from the eastern slope of the Andes, which feed the great Amazonian rivers and where this resource is very abundant, to the desert area.
Demographic pressure has also led people to occupy areas near rivers, ravines and natural drainages that are more susceptible to flooding or being swept away by floods and landslides, which multiplies the effects and damage caused by rainfall.