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Sustainability 2016, 8(2), 128;

Water Scarcity and the Impact of the Mining and Agricultural Sectors in Chile

Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad del Desarrollo, Av. Plaza 700, San Carlos de Apoquindo, Las Condes 7610658, Chile
Laboratory of Comparative Policy in Water Resources Management, Departamento de Recursos Hídricos, Facultad de Ingeniería Agrícola, Universidad de Concepción, Chillán 3812120, Chile
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Giuseppe Ioppolo
Received: 24 September 2015 / Revised: 14 January 2016 / Accepted: 22 January 2016 / Published: 2 February 2016
PDF [2010 KB, uploaded 2 February 2016]


Chile contains some of the driest areas in the world, yet human activities in these areas require large volumes of water, the result is regions experiencing high water scarcity leading to environmental degradation, conflicts and reduced industrial productivity. The aim of this paper was to quantify the water scarcity in the central and northern regions by calculating the water scarcity index—the ratio of annual water demand to availability. A focus of the paper was to determine the impact of the main industries in each region and investigate the benefit of implementing water reduction strategies within these industries. The water resources of each investigated region were found to be greatly overexploited and particularly so in the region of Antofagasta. The mining industry was found to be the greatest water consuming sector in this region and further analysis demonstrated that the degree of water scarcity could be greatly reduced by the implementation of water reduction strategies. The agricultural sector dominated water demand in all other regions and it was found that upgrading irrigation efficiency alongside reducing consumption in mining improved the situation in all regions. Nevertheless, given the scale of water scarcity, further investigation is necessary to obtain more recent and accurate data and analyze alternative strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: water scarcity; sustainable water management; mining; chile water scarcity; sustainable water management; mining; chile

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Aitken, D.; Rivera, D.; Godoy-Faúndez, A.; Holzapfel, E. Water Scarcity and the Impact of the Mining and Agricultural Sectors in Chile. Sustainability 2016, 8, 128.

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